POP Opportunities Abound

For more than 50 years, Tree Towns Reprographics, Inc. has delivered quality and service excellence to the Chicagoland design and corporate marketplace. Utilizing state-of-the-art technology, their experienced team provides valuable guidance throughout a customer’s entire project, with a goal of 100 percent client satisfaction. Recently, Tree Towns has created new business opportunities for the company in the form of short-term, on-demand point-of-purchase (POP) retail signage with the Océ ColorWave 600 printer.

The recent economic recession has hit the architecture/engineering/construction (AEC) market hard. In turn, reprographers who rely heavily on this revenue source have also faced challenging times. But for many of those willing to seek out new opportunities in the retail industry, providing customized, high quality POP signage can be richly rewarding. Tree Towns has been able to build color print volume, increase profits and diversify its revenue stream by utilizing the Océ ColorWave 600 printer to quickly and cost effectively deliver on-demand, disposable signage to a growing roster of local merchants.


The Perfect Match for Retail Needs

Although consumers appear to be slowly loosening their purse strings—the National Retail Federation’s 2011 economic forecast projects a modest four percent increase in retail sales (“NRF Forecasts 4.0% Increase in Retail Sales for 2011”, February 17th, 2011, The National Retail Federation, accessed on March 18, 2011)—competition for customer dollars remains intense. Eye catching color signage that is tailored to local market preferences and easy to update with pricing or inventory changes can help small retailers stand out, attract customers and boost sales—especially at the point-of purchase. In fact, POP signage has proven to be an especially effective sale accelerator, with consumers making as many as 70 percent of purchasing decisions at point-of sale.

At Elmhurst, IL-based Tree Towns Reprographics, president and owner Chuck Wingard quickly saw the potential to branch out beyond his traditional AEC client base into the retail market. “Using the Océ ColorWave 600 printer enhances our ability to reach a different marketplace,” he said. Traditionally we hadn’t played in the retail marketplace signage arena for several reasons, including production rates and product pricing.”

However, he saw the Océ ColorWave 600 printer as part of a solution to enable Tree Towns to generate a steady stream of business from previously untapped sources, particularly retailers. “Retailers are constantly trying to get new information in front of people, and we can be a part of that,” he said.

Wingard already considered the printer a valuable addition to Tree Towns’ operations. Originally, he invested in the Océ ColorWave 600 printer to expand color printing services to his traditional AEC client base. “We already had a variety of inkjet devices, but we couldn’t get where we wanted to go as far as speed and quality of product,” he said. “Knowing we wanted to go after more color business, we needed to be able to streamline the entire printing process.”

At first, Tree Towns focused on selling the printer’s advantages for mechanical drawings—electrical, plumbing, HVAC and fire protection—because color documents offered clear benefits compared to monochrome versions. “With color, customers instantly see what they need to do on a particular project. So the color almost sells itself, as long as the pricing structure is correct,” Wingard said. “But it does take pricing flexibility on our part because we don’t want them to migrate back to monochrome. With the Océ ColorWave 600 printer, we can be more flexible—and consistently provide a high quality product.”


Exploring New Sales Frontiers

By using the printer, Tree Towns also had a solution to offer customers seeking affordable short-term, short-run signage. “The Océ sales team worked closely with us right from the start,” Wingard explained. “We identified a series of retail signage opportunities. Then Océ helped us refine our approach.”

Tree Towns focused on retailers such as small grocers, butcher shops, auto parts stores and pet suppliers that utilize disposable signage featuring up-to-the-minute pricing, special promotions and limited-time offers to drive customer sales. “Basically, we looked for any place where the graphic was going to change frequently,” Wingard said.

After experimenting with different sales approaches, Tree Towns’ sales representatives have developed a successful formula. Before talking to the store manager, they physically scout out a retail location to see what the existing signage looks like, how it’s displayed and how Tree Towns can enhance it. Back at Tree Towns, they would create a few templates and print sample signs in a variety of sizes, colors and styles. Signage examples in hand, they then return to the retail location and meet with the store manager to visually demonstrate how Tree Towns can assist in improving in-store marketing and merchandising.

“We show the managers the difference we can make, and that we know a little about how their business works,” Wingard said. “The selling process is different than AEC, but once you’ve got the manager interested and involved, you’ve pretty much taken care of the selling side.”


Fast Turnaround, Immediate Impact

The printer made it easy for Tree Towns to produce customized short-term signage, minimizing turnaround time. “We’re constantly looking for better, more efficient ways to get the end product to customers, and that’s where the Océ ColorWave 600 printer has always been able to shine for us,” Wingard said. “We can quickly RIP the file, print it and deliver the finished product. That keeps our production staff and our customers happy.”

He also appreciates how the printer helps keep production costs low and print production capacity high, allowing him to maximize pricing flexibility. “The faster we can get a job in and out, the more flexible we can be on pricing. And the more flexible our pricing, the more customers are going to order. That’s the way we look at it,” Wingard said.

The equipment has not only helped Tree Towns’ diversify its revenue stream—it has also increased it. “The beauty of it is that when a retailer is changing out the signage, it’s in multiple units, and it changes perhaps every week. There’s nothing quite like coming in on Monday morning and seeing a queue full of print orders,” Wingard said. “I like the recurring volume and recurring revenue stream.”

At the same time, Wingard credits the Océ solution with boosting business across the spectrum. “Customers are adapting to it more and more, even in the AEC world. And we’re selling it more, using a variety of marketing techniques to heighten awareness of what we are truly able to do,” he said. “We’re able to offer a cost effective solution to a marketplace that really needs this type of signage.”

Wingard sees even more business-building possibilities on the horizon. “We’re starting to talk about where else we can go with this. We’re planning to put together some templates here in the shop for people to look at when they come up to the counter. These premade signs could be for a meeting, a birthday or an anniversary. Customers can literally put together anything they need for a quick sign and wait for it,” he said.

“That’s something I really like with this particular product package. Before, we couldn’t do that in the inkjet world. We had to RIP the file, wait for the sign to dry, maybe have it mounted or laminated. Now we have customers waiting for color graphics at our front counter. They were never able to do that before.”