As we approach the end of another year, we have a natural desire to look back and consider how the next twelve months will pan out. But 2020's COVID-19 pandemic has turned any forecasts - and how many businesses in our industry operate - on their head. For this reason, it's even more important to learn from the changes we have experienced this year so we can prepare, as best we can, for 2021. Here are some lessons and predictions for the future.

OKI Europe is offering customers a free* Business Agility Pack valued at approximately €500* as part of its ‘Adapt Today’ campaign. The offer is another step in OKI Europe’s ongoing efforts to help businesses and organisations adapt and respond to the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

As the impact of the pandemic continues and looks set to shape all our working lives for the foreseeable future, what steps should Print Service Providers (PSPs) now consider?

Describing the performance of his International Minute Press franchise in Cary last year, Neal Sugarman says, “We were steadily growing each year in what was just our fourth year in business.” Since printing is an essential business and Neal is dedicated to his clients and his community, he did not let COVID-19 get in the way of his determination. Instead, he adapted his products and services, reinforced his marketing strategies, and thrived as a result.

THE LATEST creation by the UK’s leading online upload and print platform will help care home residents stay in touch with their loved ones.

The in-house printing department at UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) has installed a new Ricoh Pro L5130 latex printer and Summa cutter, giving it the power to produce more graphics on-site.

Marketing speakers from the Independent Print Industry Association’s (IPIA) 2019 EPIC conference will again return to the ‘stage’ this December to reflect on how effective their advice proved in 2020’s challenging Covid-19 conditions.

Minuteman Press International has created a free holiday marketing e-book – Rethinking Retail: Must-Use Holiday Marketing Ideas in the Time of COVID-19 – to help retailers and businesses reach their target audiences effectively during the 2020 holiday season.

It has been a difficult year for many UK manufacturers, with the COVID-19 pandemic, and dual challenge of keeping staff safe while coping with significant market and supply chain volatility.

When the UK was placed into lockdown on March 24th 2020, many of us forecast the effect on our industry. We expected food retailers, medical facilities and pharmacies to stay open, albeit with strict social distancing measures in place, while non-food retailers, schools, and bars and restaurants would reopen (with limited opening) in two or three months. Travel would recommence towards the end of the summer - domestic, followed by international - before the return of exhibitions and large gatherings such as sporting events and conferences, likely towards the beginning of October. Now, as we head towards the end of 2020, we can look back and see which of our predictions came to pass.

Nothing escapes the attention of Minuteman Press franchise owner Avi Kumar when it comes to the growth and support of his local business community. Avi’s Minuteman Press printing and marketing services center in Greeley, Colorado is known as the place to go for marketing growth. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that Avi’s locally owned and operated essential business is the place to go for marketing salvation, too. He sensed an early downward dip affecting clients in March and his pulse remained steady as he lined up new strategies to best serve his diverse range of clients.

Bosy Colak, President at Kernow North America shares his thoughts on where the future could be heading for the synthetic print industry…

Gerber Technology continues to expand its global network and today announced a collaboration with Alvanon that will further strengthen their powerful 2D-to-3D for fit solution. The new collaboration between Gerber and Alvanaon will allow fashion and apparel companies to accurately simulate their customer’s size and fit. As COVID-19 continues to drive an increase in online shopping, it is important for fashion companies’ clothing perfectly fits the body shape and sizes of each of their customers. Through this collaboration, Gerber’s AccuMark® 3D users will be able to leverage the Alvanon Body Platform (ABP) to develop production-ready 3D samples and reduce fit errors. The collaboration, which will be demonstrated at ideation 2020, will empower and accelerate digital product development and eCommerce.

Avery Dennison® Graphics Solutions in Mentor, Ohio, sponsored the donation of approximately 10,000 social distancing floor graphics to the boards of election in three Northeast Ohio counties to help keep people safe when they come to vote on Election Day and at early-voting locations. Installation has already begun at some of the 384 polling locations across Lake, Cuyahoga and Geauga counties.

It's hard to say when normal business will resume in our industry - if, indeed, it ever will. With the second wave of the pandemic now biting, new restrictions are impacting the market. However, businesses have adapted since COVID-19 hit early this year and there are many more ways to stay connected, ensuring businesses are stronger going forward.

Jeff Wereley and Karen McArthur own the Minuteman Press digital printing, design and marketing franchise in Guelph, Ontario, which has remained open throughout the COVID-19 pandemic since print is an essential business. They have worked hard on behalf of their business community and their expertise as printing and marketing services providers continues to make a powerful impact for the better.

Following action from the Graphics and Print Media Alliance (GPMA) – which saw all 15 of its members back a joint statement to Government that praised its work to support business while proposing a means-tested 'disaster relief' fund be set up to support thousands of print businesses facing closure by the end of the year – it has received a confidence building formal response.

We need to keep a social distance – strange terminology, as being 'social' is getting close to each other. We are working via Zoom, Skype and other platforms, meaning we don't get to talk and gossip around the coffee machine anymore. All the essentials we experience as human beings at work are taken away by something we can't see, smell or feel. That is really creepy. 

For long-time Minuteman Press franchise owners Paul and Sharon Rayner, the COVID-19 pandemic is unlike anything they have experienced in their 18 years of business ownership. Paul says, “We started just after the dot-com financial downturn in 2002 and we survived the 2008 financial debacle, but we had never experienced anything like COVID-19 - our business was basically shut down overnight. Our decision to be strong financially with our savings will be the most important reason our business will be fine. We have been able to retain all of our employees at just a couple of hours less per week.”

Regency Design, the specialist print business, has appointed Dominic Riley, former Chairman of The Morgan Motor Company and a passionate supporter of British manufacturing, to help take the business to the next stage of growth as companies plan for a post-pandemic resurgence.

Kernow Coatings, leading manufacturer of OEM certified printable digital synthetic papers, has launched a scratch resistant coating developed for ultimate hygiene of sneeze guards, splash guards and dividers. The product is aimed at the retail and healthcare industries to provide an easy to apply solution which is resistant to harsh cleaning chemicals that are necessary to kill viruses such as coronavirus.

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