When designers are looking to spice up a room, they want something that “pops!” When retailers are looking to spice up sales, they turn to POPs. Point-of-purchase (POP) and point-of-sale (POS) signage have proven to be effective sales tools. They help draw in customers and influence them into spending more money once inside. Wide-Format Imaging recently contacted a variety of printers from around North America to find out what’s new, what’s hot, and what’s happening in the world of POPs and POS’.
Big Mountain has seen a shift in the use of POS signage. “Efficiency and cost consciousness have become much more of a factor,” said Jason Cardonick, president, Big Mountain, Philadelphia, PA. He says advertiser have come up with more creative methods of getting their brand to the consumer and have had to rely on more non-traditional methods of advertising. When the economy was flourishing, Cardonick said advertisers were relying on more traditional brands of reaching consumers. Today, they have to look for more cost-efficient products, more environmentally friendly, and faster-to-market substrates.
“At Big Mountain, we are constantly trying to find products that reach more people for less money,” he said. “We have utilized our trade-show segment product mix to appeal to a diversity of end users and advertising agencies.” Cardonick credits his company’s PES240 fabric material and the ability to print white directly to acrylic as examples of huge wins for Big Mountain. “We have seen the demand for our capabilities on the POP/retail category more than double in past three years,” he reported.
Cardonick said hot trends in POS signage include pressure-sensitive adhesives, stand-up displays, fabric banners and window signage. Big Mountain is currently running a QS3200 Vutek printer. “It is a six-color printer with a white-ink option and has been a tremendous machine for us,” he said.
The company recently completed a job for Glaceau Smartwater. It was printed on 3M 36-20 and took approximately six hours to run. It was printed in 24 different size panels and each panel had to be color managed. “Utilizing our G7 technology, we were able to hit the color match immediately and it allowed us to produce this job with tremendous quickness.”
Jerry Jacobs, president, Coyle Reproductions, La Mirada, CA, said wide-format POS has enabled the retailer to promote their store, or the products within the store, with greater clarity and impact. “Be it in the window or hanging from the ceilings as aisle banners, these large graphics give life and visibility to the promotion and sales event that is taking place,” said Jacobs. He says POS creates awareness and has been proven to incrementally increase sales dollars and create a shopping experience in the store that customers can enjoy. “Customers will actually stay in the store longer, because POS gives them the feeling that there is a sense of activity going on, and the longer they are in the store, the more they will typically spend,” observed Jacobs.
The biggest challenge, according to Jacobs, is the actual space within the store. “There are many product manufacturers fighting for that space and that, of course, becomes a negotiating point for the retailer as to which specific products they choose to promote.”
Jacobs says that environmentally friendly materials have been getting more attention as of late. He added, however, that there is always a struggle between using these alternatives, which tend to be more expensive, versus using materials that are potentially more cost effective and within the budgets that are allocated for specific projects. “We have seen some products that have been manufactured from sustainable forests and, in fact, Coyle has already been FSC certified,” reported Jacobs. “No question that these types of materials are the hot topic of today.”
There are many different types of equipment in the marketplace today and Coyle Reproductions employs a wide variety of printers. “If we’re screen printing, 5- and 6-color inlines like our Thieme (62x102 inches), CMS (62x84 inches) or Argon (72x148 inches) would be typically used for producing large-format graphics cost effectively in quantities of 150 or more,” said Jacobs. “If the quantities are less then that, our digital presses like our Durst Rho, Acuity, Inca flatbed or the Scitex grand-format printer would be the choices depending on the resolution requirements of the client.”
Coyle recently completed a job for a small chain of fast casual restaurants called Farmer Boys, which was challenged with the task of creating a new indoor and outdoor menu-board system. “Their current boards were not easy to navigate, they were not flexible in there ability to add items or change pricing and the graphics were not of a quality that would create appeal that typically drives incremental sales,” said Jacobs. “Through our design and engineering capabilities we came up with a completely new and innovative menu-board program that successfully accomplished all of their objectives.” The net result was an almost immediate increase in business of five to eight percent.
Holland & Crosby
The old saying “bigger is better” has never been more true than it is right now in the world of POS, according to Scott Crosby, vice president of sales and marketing at Holland & Crosby Limited, Mississauga ON, Canada. “Retailers are looking for larger spaces to communicate with their prospective customers in an effort to hold onto their share of an increasingly tough and competitive marketplace,” he said. “Window graphics, wall graphics, large banners, column wraps, food-court tables and chairs…anyplace that is common and beyond the perimeter of the store itself [is a potential POS].”
Holland & Crosby has three large-format digital presses: an Inca Onset S70 digital flatbed with a 5x10-foot printing surface; an Inca Onset S20 digital flatbed with a 5x10-foot printing surface; and a Durst Rho 320R digital roll-to-roll which is three meters wide.
The company just handled the opening of a new store in the Toronto market. The POP support at the mall was quite extensive, according to Crosby. “It turned out to be the biggest grand opening in the company’s history,” he reported.
Marketers are continuing to execute more local, customized campaigns, said Maureen Gumbert, marketing manager, KDM P.O.P. Solutions Group, Cincinnati, OH. “Digital Print-on-Demand and Variable Data Printing methods are requested more in order for the campaign to be more relevant to the particular demographics,” she said. “We are also seeing a decline in the larger, blanket orders to be held for fulfillment. It is more affordable now to order just what they need.”
The trend, according to Gumbert, continues to be shorter lead times in order to provide greater speed to market. Thus, the amount of wide-format digital printing has increased.
“Wide-format printing has allowed an increase in the amount of, and type of, substrates that are available to print on,” she explained. “For example, a slew of fabrics for soft signage are available through dye sublimation. We can direct print via flatbed technology to wood, metal, and about any plastic or paper substrate. So, the possibilities to stand out at the store level are huge.”
While Gumbert has not seen an increase in any one certain type of POP or a particular material/substrate request, she has noticed one surprising trend. “Many clients have put their requests for green processes and green materials on the backburner,” she reported, adding that with so many more green substrates available, “We will be ready when the market requests green again.”
KDM’s Digital Print division has been growing for the last several years, which has allowed the company to move forward with the recent purchase of its second new HP Scitex FB7500 UV flatbed. This, in turn, has increased the company’s productivity to include 13 large-format digital presses. Other flatbed presses include the Vutek QS3200 126-inch, Vutek QS2000 80-inch, and the roll-to-sheet HP TurboJet 8550. Rolled media presses include HP DesignJets, Seiko 64S Eco-Solvent for outdoor, Roland SolJet Pro for dye sublimation and an Oce Lightjet 430 for continuous tone photographic imaging. The company also purchased its second MGE I-cut digital die-cutter in order to keep up with the finishing of the digitally printed workflow.
Gumbert noted that the most successful projects would be determined by whether or not they helped KDM’s clients increase their sales at the point of purchase or increased brand awareness. “We are confident that marketers will continue to realize the effectiveness of in-store POP especially with all the supporting data that shows as much as 60% of shoppers will make their buying decision while in the store, regardless of their shopping lists,” she explained. “There is also data to support that this method has greater ROI than other traditional advertising methods such as TV and billboards.” Gumbert said marketers are utilizing some very creative in-store methods of capturing which types of POP have the greatest impact on shopping behavior, including special eyeglasses that track what catches the consumers’ eye.
Rob A. Harrison II thinks the biggest impact wide-format has had on the retail market is the incredible amount of flexibility and options it has given advertisers to market their products. “A decade ago, everyone advertised the same way because print providers did not have the capacity or the media to match the creative imagination of the customer,” said Harrison, senior vice president of operations, LSI, Memphis, TN. “Today, the options are endless and creativity is no longer stymied because of the options available through wide-format.”
Beyond the standard POS options (banners, posters, etc.), LSI is seeing a lot of interest in wall graphics and wallpaper. “The wall graphics allow the customer to ‘go big’ and get very creative,” said Harrison. “You can turn an ordinary, solid painted wall or support beam into an attention grabbing marketing or artistic display.”
LSI, which uses Gandi Jeti 3324, Epson GS6000, and Vutek QS 3220 printers, recently produced custom wall graphics and menu boards for a local restaurateur who was rebranding his chain of stores in the Mid-South. The interior menu boards were direct printed to .75-inch birch panels. These panels contain only static information. Individual panels for different food products were printed on .25-inch birch so the restaurateur could alter his menu daily. Menu boards for the drive-thru were produced in a similar fashion on Sintra. The wallpaper was printed on a dreamscape material.
The growth of wide-format digital has allowed retailers to make their POP much more focused on a specific market, product, time, promotion, etc., according to Mark Truan, president, Primary Color, Inc., Dallas, TX. “Retailers are no longer required to create large numbers of the same piece to make the promotion cost effective,” he said. Wide-format has allowed much larger displays and attention-grabbing graphics.
Truan says in-store floor graphics and printed fabrics are hot because new materials and methods make them cost effective, attractive and very obvious to the prospective shopper/buyer.
Primary Color uses Durst and Vutek flatbed printers for its POP work as well as the banner and “soft sign” printing. “For best resolution printing we use our HP9000 solvent printer and the HP 65500 latex printer,” said Truan.
“Wide format allows retailers to create signing and communications hierarchy at the store level and the ability to create localized messaging and/or solutions,” said Jon Nedland, vice president, marketing and business strategy, Yunker Industries, Lake Geneva, WI. “What this does is assist in simplifying the shopping experience for consumers and creates a cleaner, more personal visual store environment.”
Nedland said the holiday season is always a big [no pun intended] time of year. “Over the last several months we have seen an increase in retailers looking to freshen their visual presentation through updated interior wayfinding and décor programs,” he said. “As a result of the current economic climate, the investment cost to retailers is lower than it has been in years. It’s also an environment where retailers are doing whatever possible to attract and retain consumers.”
Yunker utilizes Inca machines, specifically the Turbo and the S-20, which was added this year. The company recently produced and installed displays for a new multi-level store for a national retail chain. “A combination of signage and print methods were utilized, from wallpaper to wayfinding to seasonal and promotional signage, all printed on our Inca and Vutek machines,” reported Nedland. “The retailer set aggressive sales targets based on the location and, after 30 days, their sales targets were exceeded by double-digit percentages.”