Wide-format printers are focusing on point-of-sale (POS) signage more than ever, eager to take advantage of opportunities for sales and profit. Unlike traditional POS marketing tools, printers in the wide-format arena are using new technology and products to boost the sales of their clients and, in return, themselves.
Sustainability is currently one of the biggest buzz words in the industry. Unfortunately, there are not too many people that actually know what it means when it comes to printing. People automatically think of recycled inks and citrus-based solvents but little else. The truth is that the number of sustainable substrates is higher than ever before. Printers have literally hundreds of different sustainable substrates that can be used from recycled and recyclable papers, cartons, fabrics, plastic bottles, glass, aluminum, and more. The decision lies not in determining if there are materials available, it is about determining which sustainable materials are best suited for the job.
Bob Bekesha, vice president sales and marketing of DGI-Invisuals, LLC in Burlington, MA said there are many materials available that will suit the clients’ needs while reducing the carbon footprint. DGI prints on a wide variety of substrates from dye sub fabrics to vinyl and paper. The choices are myriad. Bekesha said: “In each category of substrates there are green options.”
These options are often not without problems. Some companies eager to manufacture sustainable products have yet to produce products that can stand up to the demands of the printer, the client, and environmental factors and conditions. “Some of the materials out there aren’t ready for primetime,” said Bekesha. “They won’t hold up or perform well in certain situations.”
Rob Sullivan, director of Sales for superGraphics North America, approaches the sustainability issue with practicality in mind. While there are many sustainable products on the market, not all are appropriate for the job at hand.
“I think right now a lot of retailers have a focus on sustainability,” said Sullivan. “There are many more options for recyclables and recycled products. You pick your spots where you are able to implement these things.”
Like Bekesha, Sullivan believes sustainable products are not as far along as many people think. “It’s still really a challenge to tell the full cycle or recyclability,” said Sullivan. “A product may be recycled but it can’t be recycled at the end. Nobody’s developed a full scale solution.”
Greg Pried, general manager of Canada’s Category 5, also relies on the knowledge of the company’s vendors and their varied products. Category 5 often works with vendors in Europe and elsewhere since they seem to have more availability regarding sustainable items.
“We tend to work with vendors from overseas because they’ve already gone through an environmental push,” stated Pried.
Staying on Top
There will always be a place for large-format printing in the retail sector yet the economy has made the format and use of POS more difficult as it needs to do more than ever to attract a client and prompt him into buying product. As the economy took a downward turn, many companies thought that the easiest and fastest way to cut their budgets was to cut advertising. Studies have shown that the companies that keep up—or even increase—their advertising fare much better over time. Bekesha believes that cutting the budget is a mistake. “It’s counterproductive to what needs to be done.”
How do printers stay on top and manage to take advantage of a situation that could easily be fatal? It’s simple. The printer must make their work affordable while maintaining high quality and still produce a piece that can capture the eye of the consumer. Quick turn around and flexibility are two big assets when selling to retailers, particularly smaller retails that may be more apt to make changes with very little notice.