Ringing Up Sales in Retail Signage & POP

New and unique products are transforming store interiors into settings that attract customers like bees to honey. Print service providers are a key part of that effort, as they integrate new technologies into their creative retail signage and point-of-purchase display output. By so doing, these PSPs are picking up new retailer customers and ringing up added sales with current ones.

Among companies leveraging new technologies into business-boosting opportunities is Inkjet International in Dallas. The 19-year-old shop deals only in large-format color, handling both printing and installation. “We do lots of trade, and we were born as a billboard company and still do billboards,” says business development manager Charles Martinez. “We do building wraps, stadium wraps, wall graphics for luxury boxes, transit graphics and fence wraps.”

The increasingly wide array of equipment available to PSPs gives his company the chance to tackle virtually any kind of project. An example was a recent project that involved producing window coverings for two downtown Dallas buildings, The Continental and Mercantile Place. The company owning the buildings needed full window coverings to promote its ground-floor retail space to prospective tenants, and to advertise the condominiums for sale in each building.

Inkjet International landed the job to wrap 20 windows of The Continental and another 43 across the street at Mercantile Place. The company started measuring windows at the end of July 2013, and began printing the graphics the first week of August. Installation proceeded from August 16 to September 1.

“We look at implications for the user, and how [the graphics] will be used,” Martinez says. “End users, like commercial property companies, sometimes ask for materials that aren’t appropriate. Originally, the customer asked for interior window mounts, but because the windows are tinted, that would not have worked. So as always, we did a site survey, and made a recommendation of exterior window perfs, to make these very vibrant graphics pop.

“We had [available] our UV machine and our latex machine. But we thought given the quality of the art, our HP latex printer would be most appropriate. That’s the HP LX 850, which has been around a couple years.”

The decision was based above all on a simple realization. These images were what Martinez called “close-up graphics,” installed at pedestrian eye level. As such, the only viable option was the higher-resolution latex printing.

“Because of the photo-quality art, and vibrance of the ink, we felt it would be better to sacrifice UV speed for the quality of the latex printer,” he says.

The ground-floor leasing office for the condos was covered in a perf that allows would-be condo buyers to look out at 1800 Main Street, right in the heart of downtown Dallas, Martinez says. He adds “the downtown vibe and feel is right outside the window,” and helps convince buyers of the location’s strong appeal.

Although the materials were 53 inches wide, some of the windows were an expansive 104 inches wide, meaning those windows had to be paneled and the graphics split across two panels. That made experience and expertise in mounting oversized window graphics even more important, he recalls.

Produced for TGE Graphics, a family-owned Dallas-based sign printing company, which had as its own client Forest City, owner of The Continental and Mercantile Place, Inkjet International’s project was a big success, and points up the advantages in retail and POP offered by today’s technology.

“It’s the ability to have choices, and the flexibility to print on different kinds of equipment, that opens up new opportunities,” Martinez says. “We can listen to what our clients feel is most important about the project and make our best recommendations. In this case, it was pop, vibrance and graphics.”

 Knocking Out the Competition

Technology is also helping remake the way point-of-purchase displays can be designed and produced, observes Kevin Scharfstein, production manager of the four-year-old Union, NJ-based family-owned company 2XL Imaging.

The shop was established by its parent, SAS Graphic Supply, a three-decade old distribution company selling printing supplies to offset printers. 2XL Imaging has two Kongsberg XP24s, one VUTEk printer, one Durst and a Fotoba cutting device, and is acquiring a new high speed Durst and a Kongsberg C64.

Each day, 2XL Imaging can print 30 or 40 jobs, including trade show displays, window and building graphics, wall murals and museum graphics.

“One of the most recent projects we did for a big store we finished last Friday,” Scharfstein says. “They had decided to change their end cap display technique, from a straight poster to a three-dimensional foam board box. And because we have the Kongsberg tables equipped with the V-notch tool, which cuts a 45-degree angle out of the foam, allowing you to fold the foam to create a perfect-looking box, we were able to win this account and produce the end caps. That turns out to be a twice-yearly job as long as they keep that display.”

His company would not have been able to tackle the job a few years ago, he adds. “This technique is fairly new, and we invested in the equipment and training to be able to do it. Not a lot of our competition is able to do so.

“We can also cut a Falcon board, a pretty sturdy, triple-wall kind of corrugated material. This allows us to offer a point-of-purchase customer something very few of our customers can offer. And with the new Durst printer and the new Kongsberg table, it will raise the quantities we‘ll be able to hit, and we‘ll be able to really knock out our competition. It puts us right into that screen print market that hasn’t existed in the Tri-State area for years, because too large a facility is needed to produce that work conventionally.”

Also benefiting from newer technology as it creates an array of point-of-purchase display work for its clients is Rolling Meadows, IL-based Modagrafics. Launched 40 years ago as a fleet graphics operation in its founder’s garage, the company evolved into a leader in fleet graphics, retail POP and OEM decals.

“One thing that’s really big for us is that we recently purchased a five-color press from Thieme press,” says the company’s sales and marketing executive Charissa Quezaire. “This allows us to do large quantities of any substrate screen printed for point-of-purchase displays. More exciting, we are working on some new 3-D design capabilities. These can end up as floor graphics, wall graphics, [and] window graphics. Anywhere the in-store consumer can see it, we can put these really eye-catching graphics. They’re not something you see all the time. We’ve only been working on this in retail side for the last few months, and we are exploring providing it for a couple Fortune 500 clients.”

Modagrafics also has a proprietary product called Metcal. This is a badging technology that allows decals to be produced in any screen color, and in different finishes such as chrome or matte, Quezaire says. “They’re very eye-catching decals that can be used in an array of retail applications,” she adds.

Quezaire believes it’s critical for companies to continue pushing the envelope in pursuing new production technologies. “The consumer is always evolving,” she says. “And the space we have to catch their attention is getting smaller as we go from billboards to mobile advertising.

“In addition, there is always more advertising, so there’s less opportunity from that perspective of getting the consumer’s attention. So we’re constantly trying to find interesting and innovative techniques to catch their eye.”

Magnetic Options

Back in 2012, Luc Goderis of Image Magnetics, a Belgium-based design firm and printer, discovered Mendon, MA-based Visual Magnetics, a system that matches magnetic receptive technologies with high-quality print media, allowing retailers to quickly and easily change their retail signage as their needs dictate.

Goderis flew to Spain to learn more about the product and, he remembers, “immediately started to experiment with the product and fell in love with it.”

The power of the proprietary Visual Magnetics Graphics System is found in its under layer, the patented InvisiLock magnet, and the wide range of printable media available.

“The InvisiLock magnet not only opens visualization opportunities, but also 3D dynamic applications, which are realized by the magnet ‘lock’ system, allowing two surfaces to be locked together using the magnet,” he reports. “This is unique in the market. Using an eyeglasses-holder, provided by a magnet, you could move or replace the holders very fast and easy, just like the media underneath. This combination of 3D objects and wall visualization gives a stunning effect.”

The framework is comprised of magnets and a plain white background. “Window displays are now really easy for retailers to redecorate,” Goderis adds. “Visual Magnetics Graphic System allows background images to be replaced very fast in different seasons, or you can add sales actions and images.”

Goderis prints on a Mimaki latex printer, which offers a “nice color spectrum,” he explains. “We use LX101 ink.”

Light and Luxurious

Color Reflections Las Vegas is a 19-year-old company specializing in wide-format graphics. While it is well known for trade show and exhibit work, it is growing more prominent in the retail market, and using new technology, products and equipment to expand its in-store and point of purchase offerings.

“We’re concentrating on the same basic design, but with a lot lighter weight to save on shipping,” says company president Joe Castellano. “We are doing a lot of fabric point-of-purchase, and a lot of the recycled bio-board for point-of-purchase. It’s a lighter weight for shipping, plus the fabric gives it a more luxurious look than a vinyl banner or a poster on the wall.”

Color Reflections has discovered many custom-cut products can be in the shape of the product being sold, such as a bottle, and that some type of display stand for the product can be incorporated. “It spurs impulse buys, but it’s also a visual inducement for the shoppers to stop when they see, for example, 20 shampoo bottles and one large bottle holding those products,” he says.

Like Modagrafics’ Quezaire, Castellano reports retailers’ demands serve as a catalyst for technology advances in retail displays and point of purchase. “Their products are among many on a shelf; they’re always look for ways to claim an advantage, whether it’s a flashing LED light, or a large custom-cut display.

“And they want to be able to change out their existing pieces. So if you can make it economical for them to promote shampoo one day and mouthwash the next, you’ll extend the life of the piece and cut costs.”

Finally, retailers are seeking ways to recycle and to use a greater number of green elements. “We’re also looking at green options,” he says. “And green comes different ways. It can be a recycled plastic bottle, or it can be a lighter weight display that reduces the amount of energy needed in transportation.”

No matter how much technology contributes to speeding the evolution of point-of-purchase and retail signage, however, it’s still old-time fundamentals like persistence and patience that underpin success in this market. Says Castellano: “You have to call on these [retailers] over and over again. You can’t make one phone call and get a job doing POP. One phone call won’t do.”