Abstract
At a time when the customer experience can be an important competitive differentiator, personalization has emerged as a powerful feature to bring to the table. For financial institutions, prepaid program managers, retailers, healthcare providers and more, delivering personalized experiences through uniquely customized cards, imagery and collateral can contribute to critical relationship-building and serve as a key competitive advantage. Print-On-Demand (POD) solutions enable companies to extend a bespoke touch in their programs and allow them to do so with no compromise to their cost-efficiency. Instead, the integration of POD technology provides flexibility and streamlines operational processes to create cost efficiencies and enhance speed to market – while adding versatility in design, order, and fulfillment functions that enhance the effectiveness of campaigns and ROI. By partnering with an effective and next generation POD provider, businesses can benefit from a dynamic solution that goes above and beyond the call of duty, infusing added value that further strengthens internal returns and external competitiveness. This white paper from CPI Card Group takes a closer look at these advantages, illuminating the value proposition of POD and the factors making it an essential tool for companies today and tomorrow.

Background
Businesses have long been pulled in opposite directions. On one side, shrinking budgets demand that they enhance their cost-efficiency. On the other, 21st century customers – with millennials being the largest group blazing this trail – prefer an experience more customized and individualized than ever. While this trend has been driven by consumers’ embrace of mobile and digital platforms, the expectation is for 1-to-1 communications to be ubiquitous, extending back into traditional physical channels and shaping the holistic customer  experience. Evidence for personalized messaging becoming the new norm is growing – in 2015, Forrester researchers found that 77 percent of consumers recommended or paid more for a brand providing personalized experiences or chose a company for those specific services1.

Businesses can’t afford to overlook distinct and personalized offers and communications any longer. This means creating a unique experience for customers, from card production and design to communications and collateral. But this also leaves them in a conundrum: being pressured to be more meticulous in the customer experience they deliver to customers, while having to do so with fewer resources, regulatory changes and other market-driven factors. Fortunately, innovations in on-demand card and collateral production and fulfillment can facilitate improved customer experiences and greater efficiencies.

Through partners like CPI Card Group and its CPI On-Demand™ solution, companies across a number of industries can leverage these benefits via best-in-class print quality and capabilities, and dynamic, next generation digital interfaces enabling digital portfolio updates and management in real-time from start to finish. The time for businesses to utilize such solutions is now, as market demands and competition increasingly shift into the customer experience arena.

A New Standardization of Personalization
In 2015, a Gartner survey found that 89 percent of companies believed customer experience would be the primary basis for competition by 20162. Today, it’s clear that these sentiments weren’t predictions so much as foresight – with personalized offerings being a key route for businesses to competitively differentiate the customer experiences they provide.

Similar to how variable data printing works for marketers, companies can use POD to seamlessly design and tailor personalized payment or other cards for customers; customizing names, offers, messaging, imagery and more. For example, if a customer has purchased a specific product, an incentive card and communications for a complimentary product or service could be sent within days. This dynamic, on-demand technology revolutionizes card personalization and fulfillment by combining imagery, card and carrier data – all in one pass. Advanced POD solutions offer the ability to develop, update and maintain a full library of designs for cards, whether it’s a gallery of provided generic images, a library of photos and imagery they create themselves, or both. Companies can also deliver high-quality cards leveraging state-of-the-art, 1200 DPI print technologies, further enhancing the ‘wow’ factor from a visual standpoint.

The customization benefits of POD extend beyond the card as well. Components of the packaging can be designed with an advanced level of specificity – including the messaging, number of cards, collateral pieces, and envelope in addition to both the size and look of the card carrier and package. For companies managing loyalty and redemption programs – whether it’s frequent flyer programs, car rentals, hotels and hospitality or credit card rewards – the ability to issue individualized cards in a timely fashion can make for an impressive, differentiated touch. This next-level customization allows companies to expand their reach not only by providing unique collateral and messaging, but by also offering the ability to include several personalized cards on a single carrier.

Customization with POD does not have to be all- inclusive, but may also be considered for a hybrid solution. For example, an issuer can print their cards in bulk using traditional print methods, and utilize POD to customize the carriers based on state regulations, or customer data. As consumer demand ushers in a future where personalized offers become the standard – as opposed to a product perk – the end-to-end customization possible via POD can play a significant role in elevating the customer experience and building brand engagement and loyalty.

This dynamic, on-demand technology revolutionizes card personalization and fulfillment by combining imagery, card and carrier data – all in one pass.

On-Demand Cost-Efficiency
While the costs associated with delivering truly customized experiences to each and every customer can appear daunting, this is exactly where the operational efficiencies of POD solutions make a difference.

POD solutions virtually eliminate the need for inventory management. Card production and fulfillment has traditionally required businesses to forecast and estimate inventory, in hopes of avoiding excessive waste or shortages at critical times. POD solutions streamline this process – allowing one-off, on-demand orders that provide a level of flexibility, versatility and speed to market to meet the needs of each campaign – while alleviating the burden of inventory management, order management, and associated vendor storage fees. In the event that a forecast is off and inventory falls short of demand, a POD solution can quickly bridge any gaps without missing a beat. Additionally, for businesses that roll out promotions and incentives at a higher frequency – requiring art and collateral to change on a continuous basis – the ability to produce cards and associated materials as needed and eliminate waste in inventory can be even more valuable.

Furthermore, today’s POD solutions can bolster onboarding efficiencies. Channeling fully digital portfolio management capabilities of POD, including online interfaces and tools to manage digital assets, companies can take programs to market faster. The onboarding process which conventionally requires 4-6 weeks for printing cards and materials can be significantly decreased by utilizing a full POD solution, delivering cards and communications to customers in days, rather than weeks. With advanced POD solutions, every element of this function is managed digitally. Organizations can make adjustments and changes online in an easy to use interface – helping them to avoid having to scrap the entire product when correcting errors and significantly improving the efficiency of the design process. This process also provides the ability to quickly adapt to unexpected industry or regulatory changes.

Additionally, such versatility can infuse inspiration into organizations, providing marketing teams with added flexibility to test new campaign ideas on the fly, identify what works best and optimize campaign results within weeks versus months. Using the online platform, organizations can evaluate digital proofs of components in addition to hard copy versions. This combination of abilities can enable companies to rethink their boundaries – and to excel in delivering 1-to-1 customer experiences, positive campaign results, and incremental sales growth opportunities and value.

Added Value of a Dynamic POD Partner
In today’s business landscape, any new solution must generally promise two things for an organization to consider its implementation. First, that it will improve quality – and second, that it will lower costs. But the most innovative partners deliver in a third area: added value. The top solutions providers behind POD technology do exactly that for companies, creating benefits that go beyond personalization and cost- efficiency to far exceed expectations.

Leading-edge solutions are not only delivering on ease-of-use but also simplifying onboarding and implementation. POD suppliers should accommodate a variety of data transmission methods – secure FTP, API integrations, or other file submission methods an organization prefers. Additionally, POD suppliers should support the integration of secure data with the design elements behind the scenes while providing a user-friendly online interface, delivering a seamless experience to the customer. The integration of backend automated data management functions with high-tech equipment accommodates production for even the most complex programs, eliminating the margin for human error, and incorporating quality assurance checks through barcoding and camera verification.

Companies must also consider additional benefits possible through the right partner. For example, if an employer has conventionally featured magnetic stripe cards for their payroll program but must plan to eventually migrate to EMV, the task can be best addressed by a partner with expertise in both POD and EMV card production. It will be important to choose a partner that can accommodate needs for both the present and future, and ensure payment cards are not only EMV- compliant, but also equipped for emerging trends such as contactless payments going forward. Given the dynamic nature of the marketplace and evolving customer expectations, consideration should be given to selecting a well-rounded partner who is strategic, innovative and able to deliver high-quality, next generation products and solutions.

Tailoring Success Through the Customer Experience
For businesses in any category, getting in front of customers and prospects with impactful communications and products is just as important as it always has been. However, the playing field has transformed, driven by new technologies, crowded marketplaces and discerning consumers, leading to individualized customer experiences being one of most valuable means for engaging and building rewarding customer relationships. Companies across a number of industries should consider POD, and with good reason – a 2017 study found that 79 percent of companies that exceeded their revenue goals had a documented personalization strategy3.

POD solutions provide an easy, seamless route to individualizing key aspects of the customer experience, while doing so in a manner that creates cost efficiencies and adds opportunities for more flexible campaigns. Furthermore, the combination of capabilities from a partner like CPI Card Group and its CPI On-Demand (POD) solution can provide significant added value for multiple aspects of the process, from dynamic, digital management and intricate production capabilities to best-in-class quality. The benefits of this dynamic solution aren’t only reserved for those seeking to fully replace conventional functions with POD either – it can easily fit into and strengthen hybrid models as well. The litany of benefits POD can provide for companies is remarkable, with some being competitive necessities for today, others being competitive advantages for tomorrow. Therefore, the question to circle back to shouldn’t be whether or not one can afford POD – it should be whether or not one can afford not to have it.

Learn more about CPI Card Group’s CPI On-Demand solution here: www.cpicardgroup.com/cpi-on-demand

1 “Digital Experiences Drive Customer Expectations,” Rich Langan, Customer Communications, 2016 (https://customercommunications.com/digital-experiences-drive-customer-expectations/)

2 “Gartner Predicts a Customer Experience Battlefield,”
Tom McCall, Gartner, February 18, 2015. (https://www.gartner.com/smarterwithgartner/test/)

3 “2017 Personalization Development Study,” Monetate, 2017. (https://info.monetate.com/personalization-development-study.html)