As barcode printing is developing as an essential asset for tracking voluminous operations in global e-commerce and retail sector, economic outlook delivered by thermal printing market is gaining attention

Since the inception of e-commerce industry, operations relevant to logistics such as efficient packaging, timely dispatch and tracking of parcels have gained tremendous momentum. To keep a track on parcels and avoid counterfeiting of products, automatic identification and data capture (AIDC) technologies are employed with the help of security printing of digital watermark, barcode, and RFID (radio-frequency identification) technology on shipping labels. This is a major factor positively influencing the global thermal printing market demand in the modern competitive landscape comprising of various printing technologies. As majority of the e-commerce and logistics vendors are leveraging the inexpensive traits delivered by ink-less thermal printing technology for printing barcode labels, the market size is gaining substantial impetus. Another pivotal factor with noticeable effects on the market is the digitalization of economy that has drifted consumers as well as retailers including sub-sectors such as grocery product, food & beverages, and clothing & apparel towards adoption of card or internet transactions. However the demand for an invoice in the form of receipts and labeling of products are mandatory, thermal printing technology owing to its mobile and compact physicality traits are employed in Point of Sale (POS) Printers in retail sector, and KIOSK booths in banking and financial services as well. Moreover, with RFID and barcode being the modern era unique identification code employed by manufacturing, retail, transportation and logistics, healthcare, and government sector, Global Thermal Printing Market size is estimated to be $ 34.78 billion as of 2018. Since thermal printers have economic cost and enhanced speed that is primarily deemed by retailers and wholesalers for lean and agile business operations, demand in the market is progressing at a global CAGR of 5.3% during the forecast period of 2019-2025.

Retail, Transportation and Manufacturing; Key Sectors Shaping the Future of Thermal Printing Market Size:

Global Retail Sector Transition towards E-Commerce - An analysis of e-commerce undertakings along with its increasing logistics operations and undisputed growth of physical retail market:

The retail industry is among the largest end user verticals of thermal printing technology, since it employs specialist point-of-sale POS printers designed for delivery of transaction receipts, barcode printers for products labelling and KIOSK for informative engagement with customers. The advent of e-commerce is interrupting the scope of application in retail as receipts move to an online storage with electronic payment, but the virtual market is also creating humongous opportunities in the form of barcode labels and RFID employed during logistics and operations maneuvers since the commencement of an order till the delivery of package. According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNTAD), global B2B and B2C e-commerce markets size was evaluated to be $25.3 trillion in 2015, a staggering increase of $9 trillion above the 2013 value. As the future of retail sector is e-commerce, such rampant growth in the digital counterpart can impact various adjacent sectors including thermal printing. Further analysis by UNTAD revealed B2B and B2C e-commerce in the United States to be having a share of 39% in nation’s GDP, followed by Japan, China and Korea with magnificent 60%, 18% and 84% respectively. And in 2018, in China alone online retail sales exceeded $1.38 trillion in 2018. Similarly, according to India Brand Equity Foundation, India's retail market is estimated to witness an upsurge by 60 % to reach US$ 1.1 trillion by 2020, with developments in the online retail sector forecast to be progressing at an unprecedented growth rate of 31%. Undoubtedly the growth of e-commerce is marked but progression in the number of retail outlets is yet to decline globally. Very recently Walmart Investments Cooperative U.A invested $ 37.68 million in Wal-Mart India Pvt Ltd., and Beccos, a South Korean designer brand agreed to arrive in the Indian market with an investment of approximately US$ 14.25 million and open 50 stores by June 2019. Similarly in China, physical retail market witnessed a positive rebound in 2017. By the same year, sales growth of specialty stores was the highest with (+8.3%) followed by professional stores (+6.2%), supermarkets (+3.8%), and department stores (+2.4%). Hence, the globally flourishing physical retail sector along with rampant progressions in the e-commerce industry are delivering growth prospects for thermal printing market demand.

Transportation and logistics including airlines, distribution, mail, package and freight delivery being the core components of e-commerce is estimated to be the fastest growing application segment of the market progressing with a combined application CAGR of 6.7% going through to 2025. Transportation sector was among the initial employer of barcode technology for operations such as tracking airline baggage and shipping packages with courier and delivery service providers including UPS, DHL, TNT and FedEx. “An expanding economy, employment gains and surging household net worth are also contributing to the growth in demand for air travel” – Airlines for America Vice President John Heimlich. In 2017, the number of air travelers reached an unprecedented mark of 4.1 billion supported by improvements in global economic landscape. Similarly, air cargo volumes grew at a substantial pace and was estimated to be 118.6 million metric tonnes in 2017. Hence, owing to such unprecedented developments in the civil aviation sector and freight industry, increasing demand for barcode technology employed for keeping track of baggage and freight throughout the entire distribution process as essential tool in controlling costs, managing inventory and ensuring quick and reliable delivery, is adding impetus to global thermal printing market share.

Global Anti-Counterfeit Packaging Market Reliant on Barcode Printing-

Anti-counterfeit technology is a secure packaging technology that is employed for brand protection with the help of security printing of digital watermark, barcode technology, RFID technology, and other anti-counterfeit label. Exchange of pirated products is worth nearly half a trillion dollars a year as indicated by Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). And as per the counterfeit product report released by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), most of the counterfeit products are exported from China and the occurrences are increasing annually. Considering such situations, the anti-counterfeit market is projected to increase at a tremendous rate influencing thermal printing market. The e-commerce giant announced a new project entitled “Amazon product zero”, the program aims to reduce the counterfeit rated to zero.

Technological Advancements Creating Room for Barcode Application in Manufacturing Sector:

In manufacturing industries, resources or raw materials go through dozens of checks and inspections such as product marking, carton or pallet labelling, and shipments labelling to ensure their stability, quality and location. These tests are documented for authentication purposes, allowing inspectors to screen the position and regularity of specific batches. Barcode scanning after regular intervals of testing, quality reassurance monitors have a precise record of all resources or output units at all times. Similarly, the transition of manufacturing industry towards mobility in capacities including warehousing, inventory control and parts picking has augmented the application of mobile printers, utilized by production personnel or mounted on pallet trucks. It is an imperative constituent of a complete system that includes printer, scanner, microcomputer or smart device that is wirelessly connected to the host system for exchange of real time data. For instance, the cumulative application of 2D barcode labels for locating parts and components in the automobile industry that require high temperature durability is creating demand for thermal transfer printing.

Global Thermal Printing Market Demand Dominated by APAC's Impeccable Array of Manufacturing Centers:

After an acute analysis of the regional markets, APAC is reckoned to be the most lucrative marketplace for thermal printing, with 37.8% share of global demand in 2018. The absolute dominance of APAC is well supported by the rampantly bourgeoning e-commerce sector in economies such as India, China, and Japan with demand for economic printing. Moreover, with unmatched output from sectors including automotive, iron and steel, textile, and agriculture, demand for labelling of units with efficient technoly such as barcode and RFID is creating further demand for thermal printing in APAC. Analyzing the modern aviation sector of APAC, it was figured that airlines in the Asia-Pacific region, had the highest share of 36.3% in global number of passengers in 2017 that is 1.5 billion passengers, an increase of 10.6% from the preceding year. Similarly, freight volumes in APAC airports escalated substantially, with Hong Kong (HKG) occupies top spot as the largest air cargo center handling more than five million metric tonnes of cargo in 2017. Volumes at HKG grew by 9.4% year-on-year. Shanghai (PVG), and Doha (DOH) witnessed double digit growth of 11.2%, and 15.0% respectively. As a consequence of its increasing manufactories hubs along with expanding aviation sector, APAC is a primary source of thermal printing market demand.

Global Thermal Printing Market Companies:

Some of the key players operating in the global thermal printing market are Zebra Technologies, SATO Holdings, Seiko Epson Corporation, Star Micronics Co., Ltd, Honeywell AG, Bixolon, Fujitsu Ltd, Brother International , Toshiba TEC, and TSC Auto ID.

Since strong and innovative supply chain along with broader reach is imperative for success in this highly challenged and competitive market therefore, companies are focusing on mergers and acquisitions to leverage other’s ground presence and innovative technologies. For example, in 2018 Zebra Technologies Corporation, completed its acquisition of Xplore Technologies Corporation. Xplore’s offerings complement Zebra’s industry-leading printing portfolios in retail, manufacturing, transportation, logistics and healthcare, which will attract a broader assortment of enterprise customers and accelerate growth.

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