Print is declining! How much more can you optimize OPEX?


By Muhammed Abdulla NC | Published on May 17 | 5 Minute Read


Print is declining! How much more can you optimize OPEX?


The print decline has been a significant trend in recent years as digital platforms have gained prominence. This shift has prompted organizations to explore ways to optimize their operational expenses (OPEX) to adapt to the changing landscape. While the extent of optimization depends on various factors, including the specific industry and business model, print cost optimization strategies can be employed. 


These may include streamlining production processes, adopting digital platforms and automation, implementing business automation, implementing cost-effective distribution channels, and leveraging data analytics to enhance targeting and efficiency. By embracing these optimization measures, businesses can navigate the print decline while maximizing their OPEX efficiency.


Overview of the declining print industry 


By 2023, the worldwide printing market is expected to be worth $821 billion. Between 2019 and 2020, income from print advertising grew by 18%.  The growth of digital technology and shifting customer tastes have contributed to the collapse of the print sector in recent years. 


This pattern results from several connected factors:


  • Digitalisation: Because of the rise of affordable and accessible digital devices like smartphones, tablets, and e-readers, people's behaviors for receiving and consuming news and entertainment have altered. Digital content has various benefits, accounting for its growth and the fall in print consumption.


  • Online Advertising: Advertisers are turning away from print media due to the growth of digital media. Due to the great targeting accuracy, fast response, and wide readership of Internet advertising, print media advertising has decreased.


  • Cost and Sustainability: There are substantial manufacturing, transport, and storage costs associated with printing and delivering physical products. In addition, there has been a shift in focus on sustainability, which has prompted the rise of digital substitutes for paper.


  • Changing Reading Habits: People's preference for digital news and information consumption is mainly attributable to the rise of online news sites, blogs, and social media platforms. The declining sales of print media are primarily attributable to the widespread online information availability.


  • Technological Advancements: Digital printing technology has lowered the price and increased the availability of short-run, on-demand printing. This has harmed the conventional printing industry, which has always thrived on producing substantial print runs.

Between 2017 and 2023, the US Printing market is expected to contract at a rate of 2.6% annually.


The print business, however, has shown resilience by finding new uses for printed materials. 


Custom printing, packaging, and other unique items are just some of the latest offerings from printers. They have also experimented with cross-media integration by fusing digital and printed aspects. A major industry-wide trend, however, is the continuing death of print.


OPEX in the print industry 


The printing industry's OPEX (Operating Expenses) are the continuing charges that printing businesses must pay to keep their operations running smoothly. Equipment, materials, labor, utilities, maintenance, and other overhead costs are all included in this category of expenditures. 


Some familiar places where print companies shell out cash include:


  • Equipment: Printers, presses, binders, finishing machines, and prepress machinery are essential for printing businesses. Acquisition, leasing, operating, and maintenance expenses are all included in OPEX.


  • Materials: All printers need a consistent supply of paper, ink, toner, plates, and other consumables to do their jobs. Expenditures for buying and replenishing these supplies are considered OPEX.


  • Labour: Skilled workers are essential in the printing sector for various reasons, including running machines, doing prepress work, ensuring quality, overseeing production, and assisting customers. Employee compensation, benefits, and training are all considered part of OPEX.


  • Utilities: Utilities like electricity, water, heating, and cooling are essential to the operation of a printing company. These utilities are paid for via operating expenditures.


Importance of optimizing OPEX


Minimizing OPEX costs is essential to a company's bottom line. OPEX stands for "operation and maintenance expenditures," or the regular bills a business must pay to keep the wheels turning. Employee salary, rent, utilities, supplies, maintenance, and other recurring costs are examples of this category.


These are just a few of the many justifications for reducing operational expenditures:


  • Cost Efficiency: Businesses may save money without compromising quality or output by focusing on OPEX optimization. Because of this, businesses may improve their operations, make better use of their resources, and reduce their expenses.


  • Profitability: The bottom line is immediately impacted by OPEX. Less money spent on running the business means more money kept as profit. Companies may enhance their financial standing and bottom line by practicing diligent cost management and cutting down on wasteful expenditures.


  • Competitive Advantage: Gaining an edge in the market is possible via OPEX optimization. Businesses with lower running costs can better compete on price, spend on product growth, and get more customers. As a result, they may increase their market share and outperform rivals.


  • Cash Flow Management: Effective management of OPEX helps in managing cash flow. By cutting costs where they aren't required, firms may free up capital that can then be used toward development projects, debt repayment, or savings. This improves the group's financial security and adaptability for maximizing business efficiency through technology.


Successful businesses understand the need to minimize operational costs over time. A company's bottom line, competitive position, cash flow, expansion efforts, and exposure to financial risk may all benefit from careful cost management.


Types of OPEX in the print-industry 


The printing industry is one where businesses often suffer a variety of OPEX. Some common types of operating expenses (OPEX) in the printing business are as follows:


  • Equipment and Machinery Costs: Acquisition, upkeep, and repair costs for printing apparatus and tools, including presses, binders, digital printers, and laminators. The price includes all payments made for rent, purchases, supplies, replacement parts, and routine maintenance.


  • Consumables and Materials: Materials and consumables include paper, ink, toner, plates, chemicals, adhesives, and packaging materials, and their costs must be accounted for.


  • Labour Costs: All employees contributing to the printing process are included in this category, from machine operators and press operators to bindery workers, prepress technicians, quality control specialists, and administrative staff.


  • Utilities and Facilities: Utility costs include running the printing facility's power, water, gas, and HVAC systems. This category includes expenditures for building upkeep and repairs, cleaning, security, and insurance.


  • Rent or Mortgage: Monthly rent, property taxes, or mortgage payments, whether the printing company works out of leased or owned facilities, would all count as OPEX.


  • Miscellaneous Expenses: A print company's various expenditures include license fees, taxes, permits, subscriptions, professional services, and anything else that pops up unexpectedly.


The size and kind of print firm will determine the particular OPEX components and their relative importance.


Strategies for optimizing OPEX in the print industry


Here are listed some of the OPEX reduction techniques- 


  • Efficient Workflow: Implement effective processes, eliminate bottlenecks, and reduce the amount of human involvement to streamline the manufacturing process. This can include using work management software, using automation technologies, and planning and allocating resources more effectively.


  • Supply Chain Optimization: To get reasonable prices for raw materials, inks, and consumables, bargain with vendors to reach advantageous arrangements. To cut down on waste and storage expenses, use just-in-time inventory management. To cut down on transportation expenses, think about working with nearby suppliers.


  • Energy Management: Reduce energy usage by using energy-saving tools and technology. Regularly conduct energy audits to find development opportunities for digital transformation for print businesses. Consider using sustainable energy sources like solar and wind to save long-term energy expenditures.


  • Waste Reduction: Start collecting paper, ink cartridges, and other disposables for recycling. Print plans should be set up to use as little paper and ink as possible. Reduce paper and ink use using digital proofs and prepress tools.


  • Continuous Improvement: It is essential to evaluate OPEX optimization solutions regularly. To find problem areas and creative solutions, it is necessary to solicit input from both workers and consumers.


Businesses in the printing sector may maximize OPEX, save expenses, boost efficiency, and increase profits by adopting these practices.


Challenges faced in OPEX optimization 


When a business's OPEX (running Expense) is optimized, its running costs decrease while its productivity and performance increase. Although OPEX optimization is desirable for many companies, it has its share of difficulties. 


Critical difficulties include the following:


  • Lack of Data and Visibility: A significant obstacle is the need for more reliable, up-to-date information on operating costs. Finding ways to improve requires having clear insight into expenses and performance measures.


  • Complexity and Scale: Complex, large-scale processes may make OPEX optimization difficult for an organization. Identifying cost-saving possibilities across the whole business efficiency may be challenging, and managing several departments, processes, and systems simultaneously demands a comprehensive approach.


  • Resistance to Change: Changes in OPEX optimization procedures, systems, and business culture are familiar. Employee and stakeholder aversion to change may hinder development and make it tough to roll out novel cost-cutting approaches.


  • External Factors and Market Volatility: OPEX optimization attempts might be hindered by external variables, including economic swings, shifting legislation, and volatile markets. Businesses must be agile and flexible to react to these external problems.


Overcoming these obstacles requires a holistic and strategic strategy that includes cross-functional teamwork, data-driven decision-making, and an openness to change. To maintain operational efficiency and cost savings gains, businesses must regularly review and adjust their OPEX optimization initiatives.


Best practices for OPEX optimization


Reducing operating expenditures (OPEX) is essential to a company's long-term growth and financial stability. The best techniques for reducing operating expenses are as follows:


  • Regular Expense Review: Examine your spending habits regularly to find places you might cut down. Verify that no unnecessary money or time is being spent.


  • Budgeting and Forecasting: Determine when and how much your business will spend. This will help you budget, maximize resources, and identify areas where you may save expenditures.


  • Prioritize Cost Reduction Opportunities: Determine which cost reduction measures would significantly impact your firm and rank them accordingly. Focus your resources where you expect to get the most significant financial returns.


  • Technology and Automation: Automate as many processes as possible to save time and effort. You may save money on labor by finding activities like data entry, inventory management, and customer service that can be automated.


  • Data-Driven Decision-Making: You must gather and evaluate data to make intelligent choices. Please use KPIs to track the progress of your cost-cutting efforts and assess their success. Insights derived from data may point you toward patterns, trends, and places for growth. 




Companies are looking for ways to save costs in response to the demise of print media. However, the extent to which OPEX may be optimized in this setting is finite. Digitalization, process automation, and operational streamlining are only a few examples of the massive advancements that have already been realized. 


Businesses may need to look into other income sources, diversify their product lines, and use new technology to maintain their current level of OPEX optimization. 


Moreover, investing in data-driven decision-making and adjusting to customers' changing tastes might reveal untapped possibilities and boost productivity. While minimising operating expenditures (OPEX) is necessary, ensuring survival in the dynamic media industry is insufficient.

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