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Small business seems to be improving, at least according to the NFIB monthly survey of small business owners. For years, it was usually trapped between two recession bottoms, but it has broken through of three consecutive surveys. It's an encouraging report, but it's not bullish. The NFIB commentary states “More owners still think business conditions will be worse in six months than think they will be better. Few see the current period as a good time to expand. The outlook for improvements in real sales volumes faded. Interest in borrowing continues to remain at record low levels; owners are satisfied with inventories and aren’t planning a lot of investment.” The NFIB is still in the range of a 2+% GDP growth level, but sees not robust small business activity in the near term. Basically, the NFIB report is good news in that conditions are better, but a big positive breakout in activity will remain elusive.
Apple recently announced the release of its iPhone 6. As many predicted, the device includes an NFC chip. The assumption was that Apple would offer tag-oriented capabilities with its iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, but this is not the case. For the time being, the NFC chip with the iPhone 6 cannot be used with anything other than Apple Pay. This article provides an overview of the new phone’s technology and the implications for service providers.
“Virtuous and healthy: those are the attributes of tomorrow’s packaging.” That proposition keynotes Packaging trends / The future of manufacturing, a white paper addressing the ethical as well as the technical mandates that packaging manufacturers must uphold in changing consumer cultures.
Versioning, the use and integration of digital displays, eye-tracking, point-of-purchase displays, mobile technologies, and payment software, “virtualization”—where a company offers a particular printing service but outsources the actual production, and printing as a service are quickly becoming the status quo in the wide-format printing business.
This product spotlight focuses on three areas of the EPMS Print MIS offering: the continuous expansion of Print MIS direct users, the support for an industry that is aggressively diversifying, and the ability to make EPMS work uniquely for your business through customization and integration.
Bioplastics—plastics made partly or wholly from renewable raw materials such as cellulose, vegetable oils, and other natural substances—are deepening their reach into packaging for food and other consumer products. Behind their rise are distinct economic and market forces driving global demand for alternatives to fossil-fuel based plastics.
Senior Editor Cary Sherburne recently spoke with Documation Vice President and COO Martin Aalsma in developing this HP-sponsored feature. Documation is the proud owner of two HP T230 Color Inkjet Presses that it is leveraging to reduce costs, improve throughput and develop new product offerings
Streamworks acquires design and production boutique, Maidstone Capital adds EU Services to its portfolio to join with Com-Pak Services, YGS Group acquires Print Management, Performance POP buys Miramar Designs, RockTenn purchases display division from American Greetings, and more - August M&A transactions and restructurings are posted at The Target Report.
Consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies need to plan for a “1-5-10” market in the United States during the next five years, in which digital’s current 1 percent penetration will likely expand to 5 percent and could accelerate to as much as 10 percent in short order. The source is a new report, The Digital Future: A Game Plan for Consumer Packaged Goods, prepared for the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), Google, and Information Resources, Inc. (IRI).
Second quarter US commercial printing profits were $1.13 billion, based on the recent Quarterly Financial Report issued by the Department of Commerce and combined with other Commerce Department and Bureau of Labor Statistics data. This was down -7.5% compared to Q2-2013. For the last four quarters, total profits were $3.67 billion, and that is +20% higher than the equivalent measure a year ago. The Q1 four-quarter moving total was revised down from $4.03 billion to $3.77 billion.
Just being a printer is no longer enough. Today’s customers are seeking marketing service providers with a variety of skills. This article cites recent survey data from eMarketer and InfoTrends to explore the shortcomings that marketers see within their agencies and how service providers can fight back and become more valuable in the eyes of their customers.
Dynamic digital signage (DDS) is being touted as a hot opportunity for sign shops and other wide-format service providers. But where does one start? And how can digital complement print signage?
Corrugated board meets a wide range of consumer and non-consumer packaging requirements. Customers who appreciate the full range of functional and creative possibilities with corrugated board are turning to Axis Corrugated Container for help in migrating their packages to the substrate.
The three top reasons web-to-print projects fail; the lack of business leadership, the sales team fails to sell the solution, and the customer fails to adopt the solution.
Last week, KPMG published a Forbes Insights report entitled Setting the Course for Growth: CEO Perspectives. The report provides a direct reflection of how all owners and executives—including those in the graphic communications industry—should be thinking about their businesses. This article outlines the key findings from the study.
Dr. Joe's Key Recovery Indicators were started in 2009, and track the monthly ups and downs of the economy in terms that are relevant to small and mid-size businesses.
The fantasy goes like this when implementing software or managing a software project: "this project will be completed on time and under budget". The reality of many is that "the project is late, we didn't deliver on what we said we would, and we went over budget".
With Graph Expo around the corner, attendees should take some time at the show to investigate the latest developments in color management, a field that is changing quickly due to the availability of a broad array of new technologies. In an interview with Senior Editor Cary Sherburne spoke with John Sweeney, Business Development Manager for matchmycolor talks about color management developments inside and outside the printing industry.
In Part II of this feature, we examine some of the trends engendered by digital printing, and how they apply to wide-format printing—and how they are changing.
The growth of the folding carton market is being driven by a complex of forces, some obvious, others unexpected. The Smithers Pira research organization identifies the ones it believes will raise global folding carton volume to $180 billion a few years from now.
We confuse tools for solutions. Print software is a required tool that is part of an overall investment in making your business more productive, profitable, and competitive. The business results come from your vision, your plan, and the deployment of your labor who utilize the tool to deliver the business results you desire.
The Fed has been in unchartered territory with its post-2008 actions, and unwinding them may take a bit of creativity. One of their obstacles might be the rates of long term government bonds around the world. The chart below shows the yield of 10-year bonds earlier this week. The rate on US 10-year bonds is more than 4x Japan's and more than 2x Germany's. In an odd situation, US bonds are actually paying less than those of Spain. Global investors looking for yield (pension funds, governments, mutual funds, and others) may thwart Fed actions by finding US funds to be compelling deals on a relative basis. The Fed can usually affect only short term rates, which was one of the reasons they became aggressive in buying long term debt in their Quantitative Easing (QE) actions. Getting yields down for all durations is what made their actions were essentially unprecedented for the US. If they attempt to sell their holdings quickly to raise rates, there might be more buyers than they anticipate, making the action fruitless. It still looks like once the QE buying is done in the next few weeks the Fed will simply let their most of their holdings mature rather than force-feed them to the market. Listen for the word “macroprudential” in the next months. That's how Fed officials are describing the gentle prodding they may have to take to reverse their course. It turns out that some of the Fed members are worried their actions may encounter resistance, so they will resort to some arm-twisting to push banks to act in the manner they want. That hasn't worked well in the past, and it probably won't work well now, but it does add a word to our vocabulary.
Later this month, InfoTrends will release a new study that examines various industry segments and drivers for success among print service providers. This research uncovered five key factors for success in today’s transforming market. This document provides an overview of the findings from the survey and explores how successful service providers are bringing increased value to their customers.
Lots of Print MIS systems have added CRM modules to their offering. This makes sense, the Print MIS should be your system of record for all the interactions you have with current customers, adding a layer on top of your Print MIS would give you access to all the business the customer transacts with you.
The first-generation Memjet-based devices have hit the market, and have helped wide-format inkjet conquer the speed challenge. What will second-gen Memjet look like?
We Americans love our pets, and there’s no surer proof than the staggering sums we spend on feeding them. That spending drives a gravy train for packagers serving the pet food vertical.
Digital presses in B2 formats are starting to make their presences felt in corrugated, folding carton, and even flexible packaging, where analog production predominates but where the demand for short-run, variably printed packages is rising. Although placement of these presses remains modest, interest in them is undeniable, and adoption will grow.
Undoubtedly one of the hardest and most stressful parts of configuring and then running your Print MIS is the job costing component. Being in a position to use your Print MIS to accurately compare estimate to actual costs is often given up on in frustration due to the complexity of the setup and configuration. However, when it is done, and done properly it is the ultimate definition of a successful Print MIS system.
Redefining Print: Joel Quadracci Discusses Quad/Graphics and the View from the Industry’s Front Ranks ()
At the recent PRIMEX East leadership conference by IDEAlliance, Quad/Graphics Chairman, President and CEO Joel Quadracci gave a keynote presentation in which he reviewed the state of the industry, discussed the impact of new technologies, and commented on Quad’s rise to the number two position among all U.S. printing firms.
Would you put your Sales department in charge of your next IT project? Heck no! So why do you put your IT department in charge of your web-to-print projects?
Developed in partnership, the Graphium offers a unique combination of digital printing, conventional flexo and various finishing options geared towards the tag and label market. It is a totally modular solution that lets printers configure the press to fit the needs of their customer bases.
Commercial and industrial loans took a while to start growing again, almost two years after the recovery started. Loans now total $1.7 trillion, the highest amount in the history of the data series, a little more than 10% of GDP. Overall, they are up about 40% on a current dollar basis since mid-2010.
We all know that mobile technology is prevalent in our day-to-day lives. Beacons are capturing the attention of technology junkies, retailers, and event planners alike. This article, which is part of a series discussing disruptive forces that are expected to impact the market, explores the effects that beacons are expected to have on retail shopping, tradeshows, and events.
If you have ever purchased a heritage home with the vision of renovating it to become a beautifully restored family home for a reasonable budget that you have carefully considered and thought out, you know how foolish that budget may feel once you have actually completed those renovations and uncover all of the hidden heritage wonder. I call our 1908 house the lovely money pit – it’s lovely but it sure proved to be a money pit.
GI Solutions in Leicester UK is on its second generation of high-speed production inkjet presses. Senior Editor Cary Sherburne spoke with Patrick Headley, Deputy Managing Director, to find out what the drivers were for the technology replacement and what benefits the company is seeing.
Creating a printing business that can cope with a changing market for print and that is “future-focused”—is imperative as we hurtle toward 2020. If you’re a wide-format printer, you may be halfway there—but that’s no excuse for complacency.
If looks were everything, consumers would be over the moon about their packaging. According to packaging solutions provider MeadWestvaco, appearance is the one aspect of packages that consumers rate higher in performance than they do in importance. It's what prompts two-thirds of them to buy products off the shelf without knowing anything about them or doing any research into them.
Lofton Label targets its vertical markets with care and serves its customers with scrupulous attention to detail. In this company profile, CEO Mike Lane talks about how he developed the objectives and implemented the strategy that turned the business around.
Customers expect more from their vendor partners than simply delivering the product on time and at a fair price. As the print industry continues to contract, differentiation is required to remain competitive. Printers are at risk from print-manufacturing independent service providers because customers are looking to reduce the number of vendors and engage with vendor partners who make doing business with them very easy.
Your business generates a lot of data; your Print MIS should be the system of record for that data. The data should drive your business decisions based on meaningful metrics/key performance indicators (KPIs). Making data a part of your culture will make you a better leader and help your staff understand how their daily actions impact the business.
As the number of employed workers has been slowly increasing, and the total workforce has been growing, initial claims for unemployment have been decreasing. The historical perspective is very interesting. This past recession, as bad as it was, did not come close to the levels of the 1970s and 1980s recessions (about 0.6% of the workforce). This most recent recovery is already at the best levels of prior expansions. It doesn't feel “that good”; what's different? The workforce has not kept up with population growth, and about 2 million workers have permanently left the workforce. Also, companies have been cautious in their hiring, meaning, that there are fewer workers to dismiss when businesses of the past needed to. One could look at the chart and say that when this ratio reaches this current level (0.2%) a recession has always followed. Probably not in this case: this ratio may go to unprecedented lower levels because of the workforce exodus and the slow pace of hiring that has made this recovery so different than previous ones. Economist Mark Perry at the American Enterprise Institute discussed the steady rise in job openings at his blog. They are at a 13-year high (not adjusted for population growth), and still less than January 2000 by 800,000.
Changing how you are perceived in the minds of your customers is one of the biggest challenges that print service providers face. This article provides a brief overview of the strategies that successful service providers are pursuing to bring more value to their customers.
Forbes achieves stunning price in sale to Asian investment group, Scripps and Journal Communications merge and immediately spin off all their printed publications, commercial printer SG360° buys Lehigh Direct from Visant, and more - July 2014 –Mergers, Acquisitions & Restructuring in the Printing, Packaging & Related Industries
Customer preference is trending towards self-service, yet most printers continue to offer only one way to do business with them – a full-service order entry process that involves multiple back and forth communications between customer and printer via e-mail/FTP.
What could arguably be deemed the strongest of the printing industry trade associations is now surveying its members, asking them to describe whether the future of "print" is grim or bright. They will get a wide range of responses, and setting aside the value of reporting to their members what those members already think, the question itself is much too broad.
Dr. Joe's Key Recovery Indicators were started in 2009, and track the monthly ups and downs of the economy in terms that are relevant to small and mid-size businesses.
In one of our recent active discussions on the new Print Software section, a WhatTheyThink reader asked “in your support for mobile do you recommend looking for just the sites being "responsive" or applications to be "native" or just plain "compatible", i.e. no Flash?” After my third paragraph response to this question I decided this warranted a full length feature article to describe and comment on the varying degrees of mobile support in web software.
GLS, founded in 1984 as a small printing company, is now celebrating its third decade in business. This article provides a brief overview of how the company is remaining on the cutting edge by updating its services and making strategic acquisitions to further expand its offerings.
The Role of Professional Services in a Complex Production Environment - A Conversation with Canon Solutions America ()
Workflows are becoming more complex and savvy print service providers are looking to streamline and automate business and production processes for a more sustainable business and production environment. Utilization of vendor professional services can be an effective means of finding opportunities to take time, cost and touches out of both business and production processes as well as to introduce innovation. Learn what Canon Solutions America has to say about the changing world of professional services.