How tech innovations in digital print packaging connected the dots of speed, time, and cost

Innovation in the digital printing space has helped startups with solutions to attain a seamless customer experience, thereby, increasing production speed, and reducing months to days.
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The digital disruption caused by the pandemic has dramatically transformed industries, catalysing the growth of several D2C brands from India. This has again led to the outbreak of enormous opportunities for several sectors including the digital print packaging space.

A recent fireside chat by YourStory, saw Appadurai A, Country Manager- Graphics Solutions Industrial Business, HP, in conversation with Madanmohan Rao, delving deeper into how startups can benefit from innovation in the digital print packaging space, and how HP is helping brands add a touch of personalisation to their products with its packaging solutions.

Opportunities amidst the crisis

Talking about the exciting trends and solutions provided by various brands, Appadurai roots back to a statistical study which states that e-commerce as an industry took almost 10 years to penetrate itself into the market by almost 10 percent in the pre-pandemic era. However, interestingly the next 10 percent arrived in the post-pandemic period in almost eight weeks. “Of course, the remarkable growth of e-commerce in almost eight weeks served as a major aid to startups, and also came as a blessing to us as the packaging industry doubled its business,” he said.

Appadurai also mentioned the trend noticed in the shift from conventional modes of printing technology to an advanced form of printing technology from the service providers of HP.

Currently, millennials account for almost 34 percent of the country's total population and are the prime target groups of new-age startups in the consumer business. “A recent study states that almost 70 percent of the millennials in India are ready to pay a premium for a brand if they feel that the brand invests in sustainable practices,” said Appadurai.

The above-mentioned thoughts also translate to how a company packages its manufactured products. “Today we jokingly place packaging as a salesman that helps to generate revenue for the brands. So, along with quality products, it’s necessary to have good packaging to achieve seamless customer experience,” he adds.

In today’s dynamic market, startups have mostly adopted a pay-as-you-go while opting for their packaging system, and producing what is needed for the day. “The hi-tech printing technology has allowed the startup owners to evolve, especially with the pay-as-you-go subscription model, while increasing the speed of production, reducing months to days, thereby connecting the dots of scale, speed, and cost,” adds Appadurai.

Tech innovations and solutions by digital printing

Consumers might change the way brands and printing companies service their brands. Based on the thought, Appadurai feels that consumers are changing the way printing companies operate. “The printing and packaging space is an allied sector and is directly affected by the way startups function or change their methods of working,” he added.

Here, he mentions how one of his clients, a homemaker-turned-entrepreneur churned healthy batters for idlis and dosas, but soon realised the need to scale up from the polythene pouches to proper packaging. It was then she met Appadurai and his team, liked a few packaging designs, and decided on the pay-as-you-go model on a monthly or weekly basis. “She tried selling it again after premium packaging, and today, after five years, her brand is the most sought after dosa batter brand, getting sold out both virtually and in supermarkets,” said Appadurai.

Innovation is essential for businesses, be it large or small. “We believe that every startup survives on innovation, and we take pride in the fact that we are working as technology providers, enabling startups to complete work at a faster pace and reach out to the target market,” he shared.

Culturally relevant and evolving industry

In the packaging and printing context, what might sell in Punjab might not be relevant in Tamil Nadu, or vice versa owing to India’s cultural diversity. “Every startup needs to stay culturally relevant, and we help you in that by creating packages in sync with the occasion or the person receiving the package. We have personalised packages for brands like CocaCola and Cadbury, and want to stay relevant for other projects that are coming up,” added Appadurai.

Printing as an industry is evolving well, and a host of companies emerging from this space are seen catering to startups at the manufacturers’ level. “There are startup companies in the printing space providing solutions through the package, also collecting data and information about the customers, uniquely curating the database, which wasn’t possible before,” said Appadurai while describing the transformation, which he feels is here to stay.

Focus on sustainable printing

Appadurai considers HP Indigo’s digital method of printing to be the ‘greenest printing technology available in the world. The process starts with waste reduction at the manufacturing level. “From the printing process perspective, we don’t use chemicals which are otherwise used in the traditional printing processes. Conventional printing processes need water at almost every step, as compared to digital printing that doesn’t even use a single drop of water. Lastly, it is the power consumption where HP consumes almost 15 percent less power than the normal printing process,” added Appadurai.

Innovation, integration, and impact are the three Is to be focused on. With so much integration occurring across industries, there is a need for innovation. Community is also key, but equal importance should be deployed to the partnership between startups and technologically innovative companies.

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