Make the most of paper’s enduring qualities
With Christmas fast approaching, consumers will be celebrating the news that Royal Mail is expanding its small parcels category to include shoebox-sized items (see page 15). The change in allowable dimensions means that more parcels will qualify for the industry’s cheapest tariff: small parcels under 1kg, Royal Mail, second class. The change will be especially welcome for online merchants, as new research by IMRG reveals that in the last year, 77% of online shoppers have abandoned a trolley before checking out: more than half (53%) said they did so because of the high cost of delivery.
Parcels are becoming more important for Royal Mail as email causes letter volumes to fall. In the business world, the switch to paperless working is well under way, even if the transition from paper-based to electronic processes is happening more slowly than one might have expected. A major obstacle to end-to-end digital workflows remains the need for a handwritten signature. However, as we explain on page 41, this a is a cultural choice rather than a legal necessity. According to digital signature specialist ARX, businesses that adopt electronic signatures can enjoy productivity gains of five or six minutes per document.
ARX chose October 24, or World Paper-free Day, to release figures highlighting how many documents are printed unnecessarily. The key word here is unnecessarily. There is nothing wrong with printing per se, only printing wastefully. The same applies to direct mail. As Neopost explains in the cover story on page 12, direct mail is still highly valued by consumers but only if it is relevant and targeted.
At a time when desktop print technologies offer so many creative options, paper-bashing for the sake of it is blinkered. Business Infohas just returned from Viscom in Dusseldorf where Oki was demonstrating a new five-station A3 colour printer (covered in more detail in PrintIT). In addition to the four process colours, it offers a fifth option, currently limited to white or clear toner but likely to include metallic and ultraviolet options in the future. Having a fifth colour will enable businesses to produce short-runs of eye-catching marketing material in-house, more quickly and cost-effectively than ever before. Embrace everything digital by all means, but don’t let the process blind you to paper’s enduring qualities.