The retail sector drives much of the production in the specialty imaging community because retailers know that consumer purchase decisions are being made closer to the product. This realization has shifted advertising dollars from expensive TV and magazine advertisements to more cost-effective point-of-purchase (POP) print options.
Almost 76 percent of graphic imagers report that the retail sector is the industry’s primary market, according to the 2010 SGIA Market Trends Survey Report. As we enter 2011, POP, floor graphics, building graphics, window displays and indoor wall graphics continue to be a strong profit center.
The challenge, however, is that increased competition for retail work has tightened margins while raising the competitive bar. Graphics producers need to find ways to support the retail sector in order to increase their value to the customer and improve revenue opportunities. Successful companies are serving this market by leading the community in production efficiency, quality control, color management and fulfillment capability. They are finding profitability by carefully managing the system, as well as providing additional value to their customers.
Invest in the latest digital technologies
According to Ford Bowers, general manager of Miller Zell, Inc., retailers are seeking shorter runs, lower inventory and the ability to provide more regionalized offerings. Last year, the retail design company installed a new digital press to meet clients’ demands as well as added G7 methodologies to address quality management issues. With the printer’s digital wide-format capability and quality management solutions, the company can now easily regionalize messages and provide fast inventory replenishment.
One project the company worked on during 2009 was a multi-store rollout for a national grocery chain consisting of interior POP displays and signage that required a combination of both rigid and flexible substrates. It also presented a number of corporate color-matching challenges. Bowers reports that G7 and the printer’s color management solutions minimized what otherwise could have been a more painful process. By investing in the latest trends and technologies, the company can now meet clients’ evolving needs.
Keep installation at a high priority
While the wide variety of graphic options is great for business, the retail market can get a little complicated when it comes time to install. According to PDAA Master Certified Installer Pete Kouchis, president of VisuCom Signs & Graphics, Inc., the retail market is much more time sensitive than most installs because it typically requires off-hour installations on a specific date as well as registration with building and mall management. These are just some of the things graphics producers may not regularly think about.
“Quite often, there is a complete renovation or rebranding that must be completed overnight to offer a new and fresh image to the customers in the morning. This can be a logistical challenge when you are part of a national rollout,” said Kouchis.
There is a lot that can be gained by communicating with the installation company in the early stages of a project, Kouchis says. Installers can offer suggestions or ideas to make the job more successful.
“You can hire anyone to apply graphics, but not everyone can represent you to your client in your absence the way you would if you were on site,” Kouchis said. “Managing the relationship with the client on behalf of the graphics producer is a critical part of working in the retail sector.”
Stay on top of retail trends
In an effort to provide the most up-to-date retail insights, SGIA recently partnered with newmarketbuilders (NMB), a consulting firm specializing in the retail sector. NMB President Carol Spieckerman will be SGIA’s “go-to resource” for information and will help imagers compete in the valued retail landscape.