The printing industry is riddled with technological transformations that are changing the nature of business and marketing. It's not just that companies today are placing more of an emphasis on digital platforms to handle various processes and tasks. Paper-based materials are still a necessity for most organizations, with many relying on transaction forms and documents in day-to-day operations. Plus, print media and advertising are still alive and well.

However, business printing needs are evolving and providers must adapt to the emerging trends to guarantee a constant stream of revenue. And, for some, this means switching to a distributor that is better able to provide them with the advanced solutions and services needed to exceed customers' expectations.

Below are four of the most important factors to consider when searching for a new print solutions company.

1. Document security
As more organizations incorporate the Internet of Things and digital processes into their operations, there is a rising concern about the potential security risks threatening these businesses. Most corporations, from financial institutions to automotive companies, deal with sensitive information and data. Many of the forms and paper materials exchanged between businesses and their customers contain personal and payment details.

To guarantee the highest level of safety and protection, businesses must be able to ensure their products are safeguarded at every level. This means partnering with a distributor that can offer document security features that minimize the chance of fraudulent behavior, such as artificial watermarks, indicator stains and invisible fibers. Leveraging the services of a company that has a comprehensive document security program can give paper and print providers the assurance and convenience needed to increase customer confidence and satisfaction levels.

2. Customization capabilities
Being able to have custom forms and paper products created to meet the specific needs of a customer is crucial. In today's crowded consumer market, businesses are tasked with making their brands stand out, and integral to that is being able to personalize and tailor materials. Print distributors that offer a range of customization capabilities give companies more flexibility and enable them to adapt to changes in customer demand without having to outsource a specific job function to a different provider.

3. Automated workflow and order management
One way digital technology has benefited the printing industry, as with virtually every other type of segment, is that is has provided tools and systems that streamline production and enhance efficiency. Of course, print providers face a distinct set of challenges when it comes to increasing performance without exceeding budget. As Jennifer Matt recently worded it in a blog post for What They Think, "Our current reality is defined by more orders, lower order value, shorter turnaround times, more digital, more customer order entry and less margin to play with to get the job in and out the door."

It is highly recommended that businesses work with print distributors with online portals that have exact repeat online features, which facilitate better order management. Customers can place and track new orders, as well as access inventory levels in real time. Distributors will be able to more accurately, quickly and reliably complete orders. This elevated level of insight provides print distributors with the means to deliver better service and both the buyers and the sellers will be able to save time, thus increasing productivity.

4. Data and analytics
The use of big data and analytics has rapidly emerged as one of the most useful and critical aspects of operational success across all industries, including printing. The more data a business is able to collect on its customers, the better positioned it will be to engage them. As InfoTrends recently pointed out, "For marketers, data is a key enabling factor behind efforts towards consistent and relevant consumer experiences."

Furthermore, being able to monitor metrics is essential to uncovering opportunities for cost-savings, tracking activity and identifying trends. Print distributors should be able to provide on-demand reporting that gives businesses a better picture of their orders and allows them analyze the data and adapt accordingly.

Before hiring a new print service provider, it is imperative that companies take the time to evaluate all aspects of the organization. Assessing the capabilities of a distributor to meet the dynamic needs of a business will better prepare the company to anticipate the level of service it will be able to offer its own customers.