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Industry Data Commentary & Analysis

Do Customers Know What “Wide Format” Printing Is? (Premium Content)

What’s in a name? Does the term “wide format” mean anything to today’s print buyers? Avoiding industry jargon in sales and marketing efforts—and especially in one’s online presence—can help attract potential customers who may not be hip to our jive.


Pricing the New Stuff (Premium Content)

New technologies, new equipment, and new applications can play havoc with traditional pricing. In the third installment of his series on pricing, Robert Lindgren looks at how to price new capabilities such as digital printing and VDP, wide-format printing on unique substrates, and more.


Tracking Shifts in the Customer Communications Market

As part of its coverage of the customer communications market, Keypoint Intelligence – InfoTrends conducts annual research of enterprises and consumers. This article provides a brief overview of recent survey findings and also highlights the data points that will be uncovered in upcoming research.


Putting Numbers to Direct Mail’s Ability to Drive Purchases

In concert with Pebble Post, Murphy Research released a study that puts data to what we intuitively know but can’t always document: that direct mail drives purchase consideration and plays a central role in the path to purchase. These are good numbers to have!


Idealliance PPC: Global Collaboration—Where Standards are Born

Idealliance’s Ron Ellis and Tim Baechle provide an update on the Print Properties and Colorimetric Council (PPC), a global think tank in which the top color scientists, consultants, OEMs, brands, service providers, creatives, educators, and global innovators that develops standards, specifications, datasets, profiles, targets, research, and the globally leading practices in order to propel the industry forward.


EXCLUSIVE: Adobe, Datacolor, and CSI Team to Enhance Adobe Textile Designer (Premium Content)

Adobe, Datacolor, and Color Solutions International (CSI), have teamed up to continue the enhancement of Adobe Textile Designer for Photoshop by making it easier for designers to seamlessly capture inspiration colors, sending them directly into Photoshop. Adobe’s Mike Scrutton explains the details.


Self-Improvement Is Business Improvement (Premium Content)

What does it take to be successful as the leader of a business? It’s not enough just to be qualified to do the job. Are you behaviorally suited? Do you have the strong key traits that distinguish high-performing CEOs from everyone else? Determining how you stack up against the “best and the brightest” can identify areas in which improving yourself can help improve your business. Wayne Lynn of Lynn Consulting explains how.


FESPA 2019: Key Takeaways (Premium Content)

FESPA 2019 in Munich was, by all accounts, its most successful show yet. The WhatTheyThink team walked all six halls, attended lots of press events, and did video interviews with a number of exhibitors that will be running over the next few weeks. Here are our key takeaways from the show.


Sports Illustrated Print Edition Heads to Hospice—May 2019 M&A Activity

Meredith sells off Sports Illustrated branding rights, Welch Packaging stays focused, and more…


Looking to Combine Print with Social? Check Out These Data

This article looks at the data from Merkle’s “Digital Marketing Report” (Q1 2019). Specifically, it looks at growth (or lack thereof) in ad spending and impressions for the top social media channels.


Smithers Pira Research Identifies Major Growth Technologies for Spunlace Nonwovens to 2024 (Premium Content)

Spunlace nonwovens have a compelling commercial future in expanding end-uses—including adult and infant wipes, home care, and industrial applications—according to the latest research from Smithers Pira.


Enabling Sales with the Right Story—Part 3

In part 3 of Pat McGrew series on selling in today’s print environment, she talks about how to use print samples in the sales process.


Memjet for Packaging: DuraLink Entries Are Ramping Up

Memjet’s second-generation technology, DuraLink, achieved its first commercial placements from a few OEMs, and is now expanding into industrial applications. This article provides an overview of DuraLink technology, explores how it compares to VersaPass, and considers how Memjet’s offering may compare to more established industrial jetting technologies.


Enabling Sales with the Right Story—Part 2 (Premium Content)

In part 2 of Pat McGrew's series on selling in today’s print environment, she talks about how print samples are at their most effective when there are compelling stories associated with them. 


Study: “Nudge” Customers into Going Green

Printers have become accustomed to incentivizing customers to use environmentally friendly consumables by minimizing the cost difference from non-green versions. But a new research study shows that this approach may be counter-productive. Would charging more for a “green marketing package” actually increase your customers’ green purchasing intent? This study suggests that the answer is yes.


How Timing Impacts Strategic Print Software Decisions (Premium Content)

Being strategic about print software is nearly impossible when you are in a crisis. Too many print software decisions are made under duress. When you have the discipline to plan before the crisis, you are being strategic.


Rebirth of Flexo: Part 2...Can This Type of Effort Translate to Other Analog Printing Technologies? (Premium Content)

In Part 2 of “Rebirth of Flexo,” David Zwang looks at an example of a flexo solution and its components that provides a significant deterrent to the onslaught of production inkjet in packaging production.


Five Steps to Creating a Process Control Culture

Timothy Baechle of Idealliance identifies five steps that will help establish a process control culture in your print business. Creating an environment based on equipment measurement and monitoring, combined with continued investment in employee education, will lead to more satisfied and productive employees, better and more consistently performing equipment, and, ultimately, more satisfied customers.


How Data Analytics Bring Value to a World of Information

In a recent survey, Keypoint Intelligence – InfoTrends examined the behaviors of different types of print service providers (PSPs). We determined that the most successful PSPs possess unique qualities that separate them from their competitors. One such quality that enables this group to be successful is their use of data analytics to process and leverage the marketing information they obtain for self-promotion.


Print MIS Product Spotlight: Avanti’s Slingshot

Jennifer Matt reviews Slingshot by Avanti, and feels that its integrated warehouse management, multiple approaches to scheduling, and approach to implementation are its core strengths.


Do You Have Your “Do Good” On?

Doing good has become good business practice. We not only see it in action, but the research bears it out, too.  Fortunately, we are seeing printers taking up the mantle and investing in various areas of social responsibility, cementing customer relationships and (hopefully) creating positive peer pressure to do the same.


Rebirth of Flexo: Technology Shifts…Are We Asking the Right Questions? (Premium Content)

During new printing technology introductions there has usually been displacement and realignment of the existing print technology roles. During those transformational times, there are many old and new options. Packaging production is now going through one of these periods, raising the question: what type of print technology is best? In packaging production, this decision is getting harder, as a result of the rebirth of flexo printing.


Design Pool Aims to Make Fabric Design Selection Easier for Interior Designers (Premium Content)

In the world of interior design, finding the exact fabric needed for a commercial or residential interior design project can be difficult. But why not have the exact fabrics you need, designed and printed on demand in the exact quantity you need? That’s the concept behind Design Pool.


Beyond PRINT: With Tarsus Alliance, APTech Begins a New Chapter for Itself and for the Industry (Premium Content)

Last week, the Association for PRINT Technologies (APTech) announced that it has joined forces with Tarsus Group, the owner and organizer of the Labelexpo and Brand Print Global trade shows, to launch a new show called Brand Print Americas. We spoke with APTech president Thayer Long about what the new alliance means for the future of APTech—and for the industry.


The Power of the Hit Ratio (Premium Content)

In the second installment in his series on pricing, Robert Lindgren looks at the “hit ratio”—the percentage of quotes that turn into actual orders. Differentiating customers based on their respective hit ratios, and adjusting pricing accordingly, can lead to a substantial increase in the bottom line.


Yesterday’s Workflow Tools: Spreadsheets, Email, and PDFs (Premium Content)

The toolset for solving business workflow challenges has completely changed in the last decade. If the only tool(s) you’re deploying are email, spreadsheets, and/or PDFs, you are using yesterday’s tools to solve today’s challenges.


Is In-App Use the Future of QR Codes?

Is in-app use the future of QR Codes? As in, not a QR Code app, but someone else’s app? Maybe this explains research that shows that QR Code use is increasing.


A RIP Designed with Label and Packaging Production in Mind: Harlequin RIP v12.1 (Premium Content)

We are seeing significant advancements in label and packaging production in both digital and analog production. However, one thing in common is rapid growth. Global Graphics released the Harlequin RIP v12 about a year ago with some of the new PDF 2.0 features. This new Harlequin RIP/Renderer v12.1 has added many additional features designed for print and further targeted at label and packaging production. David Zwang takes an in-depth look at this new release.


Do Your Employees Work Well as a Team? (Premium Content)

The printing industry is in the middle of a talent crisis. It’s getting harder and harder to find employees, let alone ones who work well on a team. In this article, Wayne Lynn looks at the three characteristics of good team players, and how print business leaders can help identify and improve these characteristics in their own employees.


Direct-to-Garment Printing Landscape Grows Across Commercial and Industrial Sectors

Digital has become a viable method for printing a variety of fabric applications, and the technology is now extending its reach into the direct-to-garment (DTG) market. This article offers a brief discussion about the growth in DTG printing and discusses some key trends for the commercial and industrial printing sectors.


A Conversation About Web-to-Print With Slava Apel, Founder of Amazing Print

If today’s online storefronts and web-to-print workflows don’t look anything like they used to, there’s a reason. The software has advanced leaps and bounds from where it was even a few years ago. This interview with founder and CEO of Amazing Print Tech Slava Apel reflects how the technology is changing...and how it is changing those who use it.


How Clean Is Your Print Business Data? (Premium Content)

All print business owners want more data about their businesses so they can make better decisions. It isn’t about reporting packages or business intelligence tools—it’s really about how your business generates data on a daily basis.


Kodak Flexographic Packaging Reborn—Introducing Miraclon (Premium Content)

In this age of digital print transformation, what is so exciting about the rebirth of a plate manufacturer? Well, first of all, it is a flexographic plate manufacturer, and second, it was formerly owned by Kodak. With this new life, how will Miraclon leverage their expertise to grow into a market leader?


2019 Sign and Display Graphics Franchise Review (Premium Content)

In WhatTheyThink/Printing News’ Annual Sign and Display Franchise Review, Cary Sherburne takes a look at the major franchises—Alliance Franchise Brands, FASTSIGNS, Signarama, and SpeedPro—as well as the non-franchise Sign Biz network. She analyzes how they fared in the past year, as well as where they see growth opportunities in the future. Franchise center growth across all the networks has been strong, and will likely remain so. What is driving it?


Print China Gains Ground as Asia’s Largest Printing Exhibition

Held every four years since 2007, Print China alternates with China Print and offers a unique focus on Southern China’s printing industry for local and international visitors. This article provides a brief overview of the most recent iteration of the event, which was held in April at the Guangdong Modern International Exhibition Center.


Lesson from the Cracker Jack Box: Let’s Use AR Responsibly

Even as the technology and implementation of augmented reality races forward at blazing speed, many marketers are still stuck in the past. As a result, and as illustrated by my recent experience with the prize in a Cracker Jack box, it hurts the entire industry.


Solve Problems Your Customers Care About (Premium Content)

I wish all customers’ top priority was purchasing high-quality print; it isn’t. Your customer’s have upstream problems. The printers who go upstream and solve these problems will be rewarded as manufacturers downstream.


Enabling Sales with the Right Story—Part 1 (Premium Content)

Pat McGrew launches a new series on selling in today’s print environment. In this introductory installment, she identifies some of the “prerequisites” that today’s print sales people need to take with them on any sales call—regardless of what kind of sales method they use.


Idealliance Develops XCMYK Color Space for Inkjet and Digital

Inkjet and digital technology typically have a large color gamut—larger than Idealliance GRACoL and Fogra. This market needed a color space, profile, and dataset so Idealliance created XCMYK.


High-Value Digital Applications: New Opportunities on the Horizon

High-value applications and the digital devices that are required to produce them are becoming increasingly prevalent. These solutions are now moving downstream and have become accessible to medium-sized and even small print service providers. This article explores how high-value applications are coming to represent the fast track to the digital transformation.


A Culture of Accountability to Learning in Your Print Business (Premium Content)

Learning is the experience of trying to do something without parental supervision. It is not watching a trainer do something and shaking your head that you understand. Holding your people accountable for learning activities is the most important part of improving user adoption of new tools in your print business.


Survey: Does Color Variation Matter as Much as We Think?

Heidi Tolliver-Walker summarizes Eddy Hagen’s recent study on the impact of product packaging damage and color variation on consumer purchases. Hagen’s surveys always challenge our assumptions, and this one is no different. The conclusion? Color variation isn’t as important to consumers as it is to the rest of us.


Embellishments: What’s Old Is New Again and Still Adds Value!—Part 2 (Premium Content)

Embellishment has been a function of print production for as long as there has been printing. In fact, it almost goes back to the beginning of the writing of documents. There is no doubt that embellishment does add value to the printed product. Especially with the more recent introduction of digital embellishment technologies designed to complement digital printing. Now that embellishments have finally begun to capture market awareness, new developments are happening all the time. In part 2 of this series, David Zwang will look at new mainstream technologies that add embellishments and value to print and packaging production.


Signs.com and Ferrari Color: The Inside Story (Premium Content)

The acquisition of Ferrari Color by Signs.com caught our attention. Senior Editor Cary Sherburne spoke with Signs.com cofounder and chief operating officer Nelson James to get the inside story.


Technology Evolution Supports New Priorities in Print Signage  (Premium Content)

The latest research from Smithers Pira identifies five key trends underpinning the shifting dynamics of demand and profitability in the market for printed signage: increasing automation, soft signage, the changing retail landscape, the evolution of Asian retail, and competition from digital signage.


Tailored Industry Revitalizing Knitwear Manufacturing in Brooklyn (Premium Content)

Up until about 25 years ago, knitwear manufacturing was a big deal in Brooklyn. But since then, much of it has moved offshore. Tailored Industry is looking to revitalize knitwear manufacturing in Brooklyn using proprietary on-demand software and 3D full-garment knitting technology.


Control Waste to Improve Your Bottom Line

Although today’s printers understand that they must automate their print operations, a bias seems to exist between the potential benefits of investing in equipment vs. software. This article cites recent research from Keypoint Intelligence – InfoTrends to highlight the importance of controlling waste. By implementing processes, procedures, and software, printers can accurately measure waste and improve their quality control.


The Proven Path to High Profits: Sell as Much as You Can Produce for as Much as the Customers Will Pay (Premium Content)

The key to effective pricing (aka profitability) is not just understanding costs, but understanding the market for print and what customers are willing to pay. Tailoring estimating and quoting to individual customers, or groups of customers, can help maximize the contribution from current customers, and potentially win customers who may have been hesitant to do business with you.


Pattern Recognition as a Path to Print Business Efficiency (Premium Content)

Your print business is rich with patterns. By looking at patterns we can find ways to codify those patterns into processes that make us more efficient. You need real human processing for your business—free this up by taking the recurring stuff off their plates.


Four Millennials and One Gen Z Dish on QR Codes

I got four Millennials and one Gen Z in a room and peppered them with questions about QR Codes. Did they use them? Why or why not? If they didn’t, what was holding them back? What I discovered is that, in the mind of these generations, if it ain’t broke, why fix it?


When Mayhem Calls—Part 4 (Premium Content)

Planning for a catastrophe is something that every business owner knows they should do. At some point there is usually some effort applied, a plan developed, filed away, and the box checked that there is a business continuity/disaster recovery plan on file. It makes the auditors happy! But, when mayhem actually calls, will your plan actuallywork? In part four of this series, Pat McGrew offers tips on how to design and execute a continuity plan.


SPESA President Explains Association’s Value to the Sewn Products Industry (Premium Content)

Are you a supplier to the sewn products industry? If so, are you a member of SPESA? And if you are not, this article from Senior Editor Cary Sherburne lays out why you should be. SPESA’s President Michael McDonald shares his thoughts on the association’s role in promoting and supporting the sewn products industry from the supplier’s perspective.


Xeikon in Packaging: Ramping Up, Branching Out

The 2019 Xeikon Café event, which took place in late March, attracted 1,000+ visitors from about 250 companies. This article provides a brief overview of Xeikon’s recent progress while also discussing the effects of its annual event.


Production Inkjet: It’s Not Just About the Technology Anymore (Premium Content)

Canon Solutions America President Peter Kowalczuk and Production Print Solutions Executive Vice President Francis McMahon talk to WhatTheyThink/Printing News about the company’s new emphasis on the services part of the organization and how today’s production inkjet vendors are tasked with not just offering top-of-the-line technology, but playing a more consultative role in helping customers with business development.


It’s Not Just Birds That Migrate—Printers Do, Too

According to a new survey, printers are doing more than adding new products and services. They are migrating into fundamentally new lines of business...and doing it in large numbers.


Workflow Automation and Standard Operating Procedures (Premium Content)

Automation starts with an understanding of the business process and how it’s done “manually.” Documenting this business process is called a “standard operating procedure” which is where you can begin your journey to some level of automation.


Annual Print Franchise Review (Premium Content)

In WhatTheyThink/Printing News’ Annual Franchise Review, Cary Sherburne takes a look at how the five major print franchises fared in the past year—and looks back at the last decade to see how franchises were tracking compared to commercial print and draws some conclusions about the value of franchise networks vs. an independent small commercial printing firm operating on its own.


Embellishments: What’s Old Is New Again and Still Adds Value!—Part 1 (Premium Content)

Embellishment has been a function of print production for as long as there has been printing. In fact, it almost goes back to the beginning of the writing of documents. There is no doubt that embellishment does add value to the printed product. Especially with the more recent introduction of digital embellishment technologies, designed to complement digital printing technologies. New developments in digital embellishment are happening all the time now that it has finally begun to capture market awareness. In part one of this two-part feature, David Zwang will look at the added value and long history of embellishments.


So Many Uses for Cotton! Who Knew? (Premium Content)

At TechTextil North America, Senior Editor Cary Sherburne stopped by the Cotton, Inc., booth to learn what’s new with this staple fiber (pardon the pun) and was amazed at all the uses cotton is being put to these days. It’s not just for T-shirts anymore!


CJK Group Opens Next Chapter with Loan-to-Own Strategy—March 2019 M&A Activity

Thomson-Shore under the Gavel, Salem One and Envision3 Acquire Mailing Services, and more…


Windigo Signs Takes Soft Signage to the Next Level (Premium Content)

Printed textiles are rapidly replacing vinyl and rigid materials for signage, and Tempe, Ariz.’s Next Level Signs has leapt into so-called “soft signage.” Founder Mark Baldwin has launched a sister company Windigo Signs to offer a robust, custom-made, and weather-resistant alternative for outdoor soft signage mounting.


Secure Printing Is an Industry-Wide Challenge (Premium Content)

Security printing is no longer about just about foiling counterfeiters. From packaging to book printers to retail to businesses that serve the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry, along with financial printers, protection of files and products must be considered. There is a need for a broader definition of what security printing means and for a greater number of print providers to think of themselves as “security printers.” Maybe instead it should be called “secure printing.”


“Alexa, Tell Me About Voice Technology”: A Conversation with Bradley Metrock of Score Publishing (Premium Content)

Voice technology is appearing in more and more places—and is starting to become relevant to printing and publishing. WhatTheyThink talks to Bradley Metrock, CEO of Score Publishing, producer of the VoiceFirst Events portfolio which includes The Alexa Conference, the Voice of the Car Summit, and Digital Book World, about the current and future state of voice technology.


Sustainability Initiatives to Impact Growing Functional and Barrier Coatings Market, According to Smithers Pira

Functional and barrier coatings are extremely important in the production of paper and board packaging as they provide a protective barrier against water and water vapor, oil and grease, and oxygen and aromas. The barrier coatings industry faces ongoing change in preferred material usage as governments and brands increasingly look for alternatives to plastic packaging for sustainability and recycling purposes. A new report from Smithers Pira details these new sustainability initiatives.


When Mayhem Calls: Part Three (Premium Content)

Business as usual is great...when business is usual. But what happens when disaster or some other disruption hits the shop? It can be a business killer if it prevents execution of contracted customer work. Do you have an emergency plan? In Part Three of this series, Pat McGrew offers tips on setting up contingency plans for when mayhem calls.


Early Express Rocks with Direct Mail Retargeting

Direct mail retargeting used to be a new and untested technique. Today, an increasing number of PSPs are offering it, and the results are pouring in. Here are two terrific examples from Early Express.


Is Your Print Production Lifted by a Platform?

The first platforms appeared over four years ago and have steadily increased their performance, functionality, and partnerships over time. This article explores the characteristics of true print workflow platforms and discusses how platforms can benefit print production.


Buying Web-to-Print Software Under Duress (Premium Content)

Your customers want convenience. Printers who prioritize around making it easy to do business with their customers will differentiate themselves. Don’t wait until your best customers demand online ordering and self-service access to the business they do with you—do it proactively and strategically instead of under duress.


Do You Practice This Art of Top Print Executives?

There is a trait that top executives of growing print companies share. It’s the art of being still and listening. Here are three examples of how top print executives do this in their own way...and why.


There Are Opportunities in Labels and Packaging—But Where Do You Start? (Premium Content)

Whether you are already a converter or are a print service provider looking at expanding your product and services portfolio, it is important to develop a long-term strategy in order to capture your share of the changing and developing market. In this new series, David Zwang takes a deep dive into the opportunities, changes, and challenges that you need to focus on in Labels and Packaging.


The Print Management Market: Where Is it Growing and How Big Can it Get?

Through consolidated purchasing, print management providers offer cost savings and upgraded efficiencies that in-plants struggle to match, as well as a wider array of products, applications, and expertise than a single print manufacturer can manage. This article provides an overview of the print management market and discusses key opportunities for growth.


Why Do You Need a Print MIS Administrator? (Premium Content)

Software is like a press; it needs to be staffed. Software is like a press; it needs to be maintained. Software is like your business; it needs to keep evolving. Your most important piece of software is your Print MIS—dedicate the tasks of your Print MIS to one individual.


Forget Passalongs—What If Print Is “Shared” Instead?

Traditionally, when people share a printed piece they have received with others, we use the term “pass-along.” But what if we want to think about print in a more current context? What if we started using the term “shared” instead?” In other words, what if we started thinking about print the same way we think about digital channels?


Is Personalization Important to Labels and Packaging? (Premium Content)

We have all seen the studies and even experienced first-hand the value of personalization in direct mail and other forms of communication. But what about the value of personalization in products and packaging? There are a lot of projections into what the market value “could” be, but how do you take advantage of that?


Retail Expert Shares Thoughts on Digital Transformation (Premium Content)

While the retail and apparel industries are moving to more digital technologies and processes, many observers still believe we are in the infancy of the analog-to-digital transformation the industry will ultimately need to undergo. Senior Editor Cary Sherburne recently spoke to a digital advocate to gain insight into the industry’s progress. Kelly Price, Director of Business Development for consulting firm ArcherGrey, made some interesting observations.


What Hololens 2 Means for PSPs

Last month, Microsoft announced the introduction of its Hololens 2 mixed reality headset. This article explores what the upcoming product could mean to the print market, while grounding print service providers’ expectations.


Give Your Employees Better Tools (Premium Content)

New software tools are often rejected because the humans feel like their jobs are being replaced by computers. Software does math better, faster, and more accurately than humans—that is not debatable. But new tools augment brainpower—not replace it.


Do You Know the Psychology of Discounts and Deals?

Part of being a marketing services provider is helping your clients with their marketing, and this goes beyond integrating marketing channels and improving databases. It includes selecting and tweaking the right offers, too. Studies on this topic provide fascinating insight into the psychology of discounts and deals.  


When Mayhem Calls: Part Two (Premium Content)

Business as usual is great...when business is usual. But what happens when disaster or some other disruption hits the shop? It can be a business killer if it prevents execution of contracted customer work. Do you have an emergency plan? In part two of this new series, Pat McGrew offers tips on planning for the worst and how to manage customer expectations.


TechTextil 2019 Generates Inspiration, Excitement (Premium Content)

Techtextil North America was a success by any measure. The show, which moved from Chicago to Raleigh N.C., drew more than 3,000 textile and apparel professionals and included an impressive symposium program. Cary Sherburne provides a quick summary.


Printing Outlook 2019—Has the Industry Turned a Corner? (Premium Content)

WhatTheyThink’s annual printing industry outlook report, including the results of our Winter 2018–2019 Business Outlook survey, is now available in our Report Store. This article offers some of the top-level results from that survey.


Is the Offer One of Your Database Variables?

To move the needle on direct mail responses, your customers may change up their copy, their images, or their list. But what about their offers? A new Bed Bath & Beyond mailer raises an interesting question.


The Importance of Uninterrupted Time in a Print Business (Premium Content)

Your print business is being invaded by software tools. These tools require a level of thinking/concentration that requires blocks of uninterrupted time for your employees. Without this uninterrupted time, your software will remain grossly underutilized and lacking measurable ROI.


When Mayhem Calls: Part One (Premium Content)

Business as usual is great...when business is usual. But what happens when disaster or some other disruption hits the shop? It can be a business killer if it prevents execution of contracted customer work. Do you have an emergency plan? In part one of this new series, Pat McGrew offers tips on planning for the worst.


Roland DGA Enters Direct to Garment Market (Premium Content)

Senior Editor Cary Sherburne spoke with Roland DGA President Andrew Oransky about the company’s entry into the direct-to-garment (DTG) market as well as its overall go-to-market strategy and its future plans relative to direct-to-textile printing.


Sustainability and E-Commerce Driving Growth in Luxury Packaging

The demand for luxury packaging across the world continues to increase. Sustainability, e-commerce, and material trends are driving the luxury packaging market and will continue to shape it over the next five years. A new Smithers Pira report details these key products, materials, and market trends.


Here Comes the Flood—Going Live with Print Software (Premium Content)

Think of your go-live date for your Print MIS as a flood. Prepare for it by training everyone how to create sandbags and then monitoring that everyone actually applied the learning and figured out how to do their jobs in the new system BEFORE go-live.


When Did High-Speed Inkjet Become Just Another Capital Investment?

Looking at a series of case studies on high-speed inkjet, the takeaway is how unremarkable investing in this technology has become. The decision is no longer about the readiness of the technology itself. It’s about market pressures and cost-justification...just like any other capital investment. How times change!


Hunkeler Innovationdays Does It Again! (Premium Content)

Hunkeler Innovationdays is a biennial event that brings together some of the latest digital press workflows and equipment with the latest finishing equipment to showcase complete solutions. Surprisingly, this is done in an atmosphere that presents exhibitors as equals, without much of the hype or fanfare that you might expect at a print show. The theme of this year’s event “Success with Automation” is a very timely topic considering the growth and impact of production inkjet technology. As they have done in the past, they have accomplished their goal.


Minnows, Whales and Digital Technologies, Oh, My! (Premium Content)

As the analog-to-digital transformation heats up for textiles, the opportunities for entrepreneurs heats up as well. Experience in transformations of other industries shows that not only do opportunities abound for entrepreneurs, but established businesses risk the most from non-traditional competition. We share some of their transformative stories in this article.


Wide-Format Printing: Still a Compelling Business Opportunity and Investment Category (Premium Content)

As we put the final touches on our Printing Outlook 2019 report, based on our Winter 2018–2019 Business Outlook survey, this article highlights a few of the findings specific to wide-format and specialty printing. Is it still a compelling business opportunity? And what are print businesses’ wide-format investment plans?


Why Legacy Publishers Struggle in the Digital World (Premium Content)

Much has been written recently about the issues legacy publishers are facing as they try to navigate the digital world, including Jill Abramson’ book "Merchants of Truth." Setting aside the plagiarism charges, Abramson, formerly an editor at the New York Times, makes some excellent points. Senior Editor Cary Sherburne wanted to add her two cents’ worth in this article.


Saving $1 Million with Workflow

Although printers acknowledge that dealing with a high number of small jobs is a major workflow bottleneck, many have not automated their processes. This article offers some quick tips for getting started with automating processes to aid employees and benefit customers.


Study: Marketers Focusing More on Acquisition Than Retention

A new study from Yieldify shows that, even though it costs more to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one, marketers are more focused on customer acquisition than retention. What does this mean for you?


Learning Through Engagement at Print Vendor User Conferences (Premium Content)

User conferences are a great way to change your perspective and get a break from your day-to-day activities. The learning happens when you engage with both the presenters and the participants.


Three Ways to Unleash the ROI of New Equipment (Premium Content)

Once a new piece of equipment has been installed and the vendor training team has exited the building, the work is just beginning. Without understanding the real advantages of the new equipment, assessing and updating “talk tracks” for sales team members, and revisiting the marketing collateral and campaigns, the return on that investment may not be truly realized. Pat McGrew explains how to optimize pricing, sales, and marketing to get the most out of the new equipment investment.


Consumer Trends and Developing Food Contact Regulations Driving $271 Billion Printed Food Packaging Market by 2023 (Premium Content)

New research from Smithers Pira forecasts growth opportunities for suppliers in the printed food packaging market, driven by trends including sustainability, and premiumization features such as 3D and metallized effects on packaging. That growth will come in the context of navigating continual developments in the regulatory landscape for food contact materials, however.


Gen Z Marketing Madness: What Was Old is New Again!

Gen Zers—despite being branded as digital natives—are embracing more traditional media types. This article explores how Gen Z consumers interact with communications and discusses how increased knowledge about this generation can be turned into actionable implementation of direct mail marketing, TransPromo communications, and advertising support.


Let’s Hear a Round of Applause for TOMS!

TOMS has just given us more to love. Not only is the company an outstanding example of effective branding, but now its branding efforts are driving a new high-volume direct mail campaign.


All or Nothing with Print Software (Premium Content)

When buying and implementing print software, start with the simple jobs software does well, implement and learn. Do not get stuck in a myriad of “use case exceptions” as an excuse to do nothing. You will never get ROI and you’ll never find software that can do everything.


Kodak Doubles Down on Packaging (Premium Content)

Kodak Enterprise Inkjet Systems Division (EISD) has officially put a stake in the ground—and that stake is positioned in the heart of volume label and packaging production. While they have been flirting around the edges of packaging production since drupa 2012, outwardly their focus has seemed to be in their legacy wheelhouse; transactional, direct mail, and commercial print. That is about to change, and in fact it already has….


Jordache Leverages Browzwear 3D Solutions for 80% Reduction in Failed Fit Attempts (Premium Content)

Once a 3D skeptic, Jordache Executive Vice President Shaul Cohen is now a true believer. Initially adopting 3D technologies from Browzwear to solve issues with getting fits right, Cohen not only achieved better fits and a rapid ROI, but is looking to expand its use of 3D technologies to solve other issues as well.


BCC Solidifies Position in Mail Preparation Software—January 2019 M&A Activity

Satori Software acquired by BCC, Diversified Labeling Solutions sells out to Taiwan-based TSC, McClung acquires Commonwealth, Oliver buys DISC, and more…


Save Postage and Add Print Volume with 2019 USPS Promotions

In early February, the USPS opened the first of its six 2019 promotions. These new promotions encourage mailers, marketers, and printers to work together to create unique and engaging mail pieces. This article provides a brief overview of this year’s promotions.


Print Estimating is Simply a Time Calculator (Premium Content)

A lot of crazy things can happen in estimating departments. But estimating is the foundation of your print business. If your estimates are grossly inaccurate, you risk the utilization of your precious resources for the privilege of losing money. If your estimates are right on target, you are able to make very strategic decisions about customer pricing. Essentially, the estimating department is your profit management center.


Study: Environmental Issues Matter More Than Ever

Consumers care about environmental issues more than ever, and they are using their spending dollars to reward companies that share their values. A new study shows just how important this trend has become.


Production Printing Presses: How Do You Compare Them? (Premium Content)

Today we have many different print technologies available, including a variety of offset, electrophotographic, and inkjet presses from many different manufacturers using a variety of unique manufacturing and design techniques. Additionally, all of these at a minimum have a DFE which controls the file processing prior to print. They all have the potential to be used to produce commercial print, labels, packaging, and industrial printing. So how do you determine that the press you are using or about to purchase is up to the challenge? And how do you compare it to other similar and even different presses?


ShareCloth Looks to Facilitate On-Demand Apparel Manufacturing (Premium Content)

ShareCloth has developed an integrated cloud-based solution that is designed to fill the gaps that exist in the apparel design and manufacturing ecosystem to facilitate profitable on-demand manufacturing of apparel, minimizing forced markdowns, overstocking, and waste. Senior Editor Cary Sherburne spoke with ShareCloth CEO Sergey Moliavko to learn more.


If Price Isn’t the Real Motivator, What Is?

According toForrester Research, price isn’t a dealbreaker for most customers. If price isn’t the deal breaker in a purchase decision, then what is? That’s where data comes in.


Print Business Leadership in the Digital Age (Premium Content)

Leading by example is the most powerful way to approach challenging business environments. When the leadership is engaged in constant learning, the culture of the company is much more likely to be a learning organization. If I could pick only one characteristic of a business, it would be learning because if you’re learning, you’re staying relevant against any future changes.


Pricing for ROI in 2019 (Premium Content)

If you have invested in new equipment in the last year, did you go back and change your supporting processes to ensure you are pricing your work appropriately? The ability to understand the actual cost of goods sold after new equipment is installed and put into production is essential. Despite best intentions, few organizations go through this process. Make 2019 the year that you update your understanding of your true costs and update your quoting, estimating and pricing assumptions.


Browzwear 3D Enhancements Bring Added Functionality to Virtual Fashion Design (Premium Content)

Browzwear began its life as a 3D solution dedicated to fashion. While the initial concept back in 1999 was to create a virtual dressing room, a concept that was ahead of its time, the company has pivoted to create a suite of 3D solutions for fashion that can have a positive impact on all phases of the supply chain. We spoke with Browzwear’s Chief Commercial Officer, Lena Lim, to learn more.


Leveraging the Power of Personalization

Thanks to ongoing innovations in customer segmentation and data mining, today’s enterprises now have access to more information about their customers than ever before. In parallel, consumers’ expectations are also shifting—people understand that their providers have access to a great deal of their personal information, and they now expect any communications to reflect this level of knowledge. This article explores the impact that personalization has on the effectiveness of customer communications.


What Do Printing News and an Instagram Post Have in Common?

What do the content of Printing News and an Instagram post have in common? They are both “print worthy.” Read on to find out more.


Every Employee in Your Business Needs to Be Technical (Premium Content)

Technical people are a differentiator in your business—not just the typical geeks, but technical people at every position in your company. When your print business is staffed by technical people, they have a greater potential to deliver profitable growth.


MGI AlphaJET: An Industrial Print Factory? (Premium Content)

MGI’s AlphaJET is unique and it goes to the core of their company’s DNA: building “application-based” printing presses. However, it is designed to support a much wider range of solutions than just commercial printing applications, with a primary focus on packaging and industrial. It sure looks like a print factory…


Reed Between the Lines: Evolving Sign Codes Impact Exterior Signage—and Potentially More (Premium Content)

One of the most important issues concerning the production and installation of exterior signage is the ever-evolving sign codes and regulations. The landmark 2015 SCOTUS decision in Reed v. the Town of Gilbert is still impacting city planners, and, in turn, signmakers and their clients. What should PSPs know about sign codes? What are the latest issues regarding sign regulations? And why might vehicle graphics be the next frontier for sign codes?


Sewbotics: The “Last Mile” in Automated Apparel Technology (Premium Content)

As brands look to take time and waste out of the apparel design and manufacturing process, there is a strong focus on automation. Much progress has been made—yet the sewing stage has provided challenges. Softwear Automation is tackling that challenge with SewBots—robotics designed to automate the sewing process. Senior Editor Cary Sherburne spoke with Softwear Automation’s Chief Commercial Officer, Pete Santora, to learn more.


Mass-Optimize Your Workflow in 2019

Although many personal resolutions fizzle out by February, your workflow resolutions should be targeted and easy to follow. Keep things simple by committing to three resolutions and automating three tasks. This article explores why building mass optimization into your print production workflow should be a key initiative in 2019.


Print Software Integrations Are Integral to Your Print Business (Premium Content)

Integrated software is a requirement for an end-to-end workflow. You will be faced with lots of decisions around integration when you’re purchasing new software tools. Never let integration to be a yes/no question—it requires much more exploration and understanding.


Consumers Are More Willing to Share Data than Ever...Under Certain Conditions 

As you help your customers gather data to improve their targeted marketing, the good news is that consumers are more willing than ever to share it. But it’s not a given. As a recent study reminds us, trust and transparency are key to getting them to open the vault.


Flatland: What’s New(s) and What’s Next for Flatbed Wide-Format Printers? (Premium Content)

It’s been nearly 20 years since the advent of the flatbed wide-format printer. They’ve come a long way, baby; what’s new with the technology and where do they go from here?


RayWear Gives Cannabis Workers as Much Protection as the Plants (Premium Content)

Do you use sunscreen when in the sun? Of course you do. But if you are working under the powerful lights used to artificially grow plants—say, legal cannabis—are you taking the same precautions? Because that light can be as dangerous—or even more dangerous—than sunlight. Senior Editor Cary Sherburne spoke with Daniel Jordan, founder of RayWear Clothing Company, who has made it his personal mission to provide clothing that will protect cannabis workers from the harsh environments in which they work.


The Importance of Awareness for Print-Based Augmented Reality

As businesses seek to remain competitive in today’s increasingly digital landscape, many are turning toward content that is enhanced with augmented reality (AR). This article discusses how print providers can inform their clients about AR content in printed products. It also explores some barriers to market entry, including app surplus and the limited use of AR headsets.


Inkit Changes the Way Clients Do Direct Mail

This Minneapolis-based startup is changing the way retailers and others are thinking about direct mail. No batches. No minimums. Just programmatic direct mail generated by a trigger determined by the customer that puts the mailer into the queue in real time.


The Manifestations of Fear in Print Software Implementations (Premium Content)

Software implementations evoke fear in the minds of your employees—these fears are manifested in a variety of ways. You should be looking for fear, not reacting to the symptoms of fear that cause all kinds of issues with print software implementations.


Consolidation in Commercial Printing Rolls On—December 2018 M&A Activity

Mittera acquires Henry Wurst, H.I.G. Capital invests in print, GSB Digital expands in NYC, Alliance adds another franchise system, and more…


Welcome to 2019: The Beginning of the Next Chapter in Print and Packaging? (Premium Content)

2019 has all the potential to become a pivotal year in print and packaging. It is a Hunkeler Innovation Days year and the leadup year to drupa 2020…and available technology is maturing. Strap yourselves in for an exciting year!


What’s the Top Use for AR/VR for Marketers?

Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are changing the way consumers interact with brands. But much of this technology is operating in the background. What is the current status of awareness and adoption of AR/VR and what does it mean for marketers?  A survey from GlobalWebIndex provides some insight.


Want Higher Profits? Hire More Women

Research consistently shows that companies with gender-diverse leadership teams have significantly higher profits than those that don’t. The reason? Different approaches to hiring, problem-solving, and relationship-building, all of which have positive benefits on the bottom line.


Selling Print Requires More Than Order-Taking (Premium Content)

Your customers expect more than a “print order taker” print sales representative. Successful printers require a sales team that can dig in and learn about their customer’s business processes that involve print. When you understand the business process that print is involved in, you get the opportunity to solve other challenges and create more value for your customers. This is now an expectation of most customers.


Technology and Brand Trends Contributing to Changing Global Inks Market (Premium Content)

Significant market drivers are having profound impacts on the printing ink market. Technology, changes in world population, and shifts in brand use of printed packaging and graphics, among other trends, are causing disruption in the global inks market that will be seen to 2023. Smithers Pira presents some highlights of its new report “The Future of Global Ink Markets to 2023.”


We Are the World (Premium Content)

With the Christmas season upon us, our European correspondent, Morten Reitoft of INKISH.TV, looks back at all the friends he has made in the printing industry around the world, and entreats us to think of all the things that unite rather than divide us.


Wide-Format 2019: What’s Next? (Premium Content)

As we head into 2019 and toward 2020, what are the emerging and accelerating trends in wide-format and specialty printing? The buzzword is “convergence,” which will only accelerate, but what other forces are changing the nature of applied graphics?


An Augmented Future: How AR is Helping Production Printing

Augmented reality (AR) is a technology that superimposes a digital or computer-generated display (image, video, or words) onto the real world. Although AR is still young, it has advanced enough to impact multiple industries. AR enables a variety of improvements in the print space, and this article explores how AR is affecting the production print market.


Frustrating, Tedious, and Detail-Oriented Print MIS Work (Premium Content)

The topic of Print MIS software can be a dangerous topic to bring up if you want to keep things low-key or drama-free. Most printers are really frustrated with their MIS. I’ve been working on customer-facing technology (web-to-print) my whole career—the Print MIS is by far the most important software tool you have in your business.


Cognizant Projects +148% Growth in Fashion Designer Jobs, Highlights the Future of Work (Premium Content)

I was intrigued to read in a recent Axios newsletter that fashion designer jobs are expected to increase by +148%, according to Cognizant, a technology and business services company. I reached out to Ben Pring, who runs the company’s Center for the Future of Work, to learn more. And boy, did I learn more!


The Waning Fortunes of the Time Inc. Magazines—November 2018 M&A Activity

Meredith sells off iconic American magazine titles, Quad/Graphics acquires Periscope, PE continues love affair with labels, and more…


Digital Textiles: The Next Frontier for Commercial Printers

For the most part, commercial printers are locked out of the existing supply chain for digital textiles. This article explores the more accessible textile segments that commercial printers can participate in, including textile-based sign and display graphics and direct-to-garment.


Wide Format 2018: What Kind of Day Has It Been? (Premium Content)

What were the big trends in wide-format and specialty printing in 2018? It’s been a year of convergence and while shops that were likely to transition to wide-format have largely done so, the applications that can be produced are constantly changing, as new materials and new inks hit the market. Let’s have a look at what’s been happening.


Understanding the Software Feature Request (Premium Content)

Software is never done. It has to keep moving to stay compatible. It operates in business processes that keep changing. The consumer expectation of how fast and easy software can change is being set by some of the most valuable companies on the planet.


Data: Wide-Format Still Front and Center

Wide-format is here with a vengeance. One webinar provided a great summary of data on the growth and opportunities in wide-format graphics.


Esko—Firing on All Cylinders (Premium Content)

Esko has been the premier provider of software and hardware solutions for label and packaging prepress. Now that the market is changing, what are they doing to address these new requirements? A lot!


As Industry Convergence Continues, Xplor International and ISA Colocate Events (Premium Content)

The convergence continues: the International Sign Association and Xplor International have announced that in April 2019, the Sign Expo 2019 and XPLOR19 will colocate.  


Achieving Successful Sales in 2019

As 2018 draws to a close, you’re likely doing one of two things: focusing on meeting/exceeding your sales goals for the year or reflecting on why your goal has proven to be unreachable. In many cases, the process used to achieve the goal fails to deliver the desired results. This article explores methods for exceeding your business goals in 2019.


Print Business Differentiation (Premium Content)

What are you investing in that will result in the true differentiation of your print business? An important question in a market where many commercial printers look alike (same equipment, same sales approach, similar online tools). I think differentiation is about solving additional customer challenges that your competitors don't even know about.


In The Mail: November 2018—What You Need to Know About Postal Issues

PRC approves 2019 price increases…USPS reports $3.9 Billion loss…The Universal Postal Union reacts to U.S. withdrawal…Mailers less satisfied with USPS overall…Marketing Mail controversy continues…Next steps for Regulatory Review?


Grant Graphics’ Print & Cut Conference Offered Wide-Format 101—and 102—for Northeast Printers (Premium Content)

Earlier this month, print shop owners and managers from around the Northeast journeyed to Grant Graphics in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., for a day-long program of wide-format educational sessions and equipment demonstrations.


From Hybrid Workflow to i300 White Paper Factory: Some Numbers

Thanks to some internal numbers from United Mail, we get a look inside the cost savings and QC improvements of switching from a hybrid to a Canon Solutions America VarioPrint i300 workflow.


Setting Up Estimating in Your Print MIS (Premium Content)

Your Print MIS should be your trusted system of record for your business; the estimating module is the most critical component of your Print MIS. When you implement estimating brilliantly, it provides you a healthy daily dose of ROI forever.


New Services: Are You Ready for the Domino Effect?

As you tease out the last bits of efficiency and productivity from your operations, the primary way to continue to grow your business is to add new services. The question is, which ones? How do you make smart decisions about what is best for your business? Sometimes the considerations go deeper than you might think.


InfoTrends’ Global Forecast Data Suggests Growth in Emerging Countries

United States, Western Europe, and Japan accounted for nearly two-thirds of total production printing placements in 2017. This article provides a brief overview of how global placements and print volumes are expected to shift over time.


Key Print Trends in Packaging to 2028 (Premium Content)

Smithers Pira shares its recent research that looks at the future of packaging to 2028, quantifying the overall market by packaging type and identifying the major emerging drivers of packaging market growth.


Flexo’s Transformation—It’s All About Controlling Variables (Premium Content)

Flexography is going through a renaissance. While it has been around since the late 19th century, it has never really had a role in “quality” printing, although that seems to be changing. This change is proving that it can fight off the increased use of digital printing for packaging production with better productivity and lower cost. In this article, David Zwang looks at one of the more significant changes facilitating that transformation.


Where’s the Flash Point for Cloud Software?

Although the industry has not yet hit a “flash point” that would result in the significant growth of cloud-based software solutions, there are indications that this spark may not be far away. This article explores the growth potential and lingering challenges associated with cloud software.


Personalized Video Part 2: How to Maximize Effectiveness (Premium Content)

Personalized video advertising is a relatively new marketing method empowered by the digital revolution. This article is the second in a two-part series. It explores how companies can most effectively use personalized video advertising to reach the widest share of audience.


Personalized Video Part I: Marketing for Future Generations (Premium Content)

Personalized video advertising is a relatively new marketing method empowered by the digital revolution. This article, the first in a two-part series, provides an overview of personalized video advertising and explores the role that age plays in a consumer’s acceptance of the technology.


Developing the Right Mix of Client Care (Premium Content)

Shifting consumer expectations are increasing the demand for relevant and personalized communications, so it is becoming ever more vital for print service providers to offer their clients the tools and expertise they need to compete via all channels. This article cites recent research from Keypoint Intelligence – InfoTrends to explore how communication practices are changing.


Taking Stock of Industry Associations: Part Two (Premium Content)

Last summer, we took a look at the state of industry associationswith the goal of reminding our members about the many resources available to them to help move their businesses forward. By popular demand, we are now presenting Part Two in order to cover additional organizations that were not included in Part One. I’m sure there are still more!


Key Components of the Digital Textile Printing Industry (Premium Content)

Consumer demand and technological innovations continue to drive growth within the apparel and home décor industries. This article outlines the key components of the digital textile printing industry and highlights how mass customization is fueling the adoption of various technologies.


Inkjet Printing Builds Towards $100 Billion Market (Premium Content)

Value in the world inkjet market will rise at 9.4% across the next five years according to the latest market report The Future of Inkjet Printing to 2023 from Smithers Pira. As the worldwide print market transforms, shifts in buyer demands—short runs, versioned and personalized products—and higher quality are aligning with the capabilities of inkjet. This is making it a key focus for technology developers. Smithers’ analysis shows that across the next five years inkjet will grow, both by deepening its penetration into existing markets, and exploiting new emergent market opportunities.


Continued Innovations Drive Growth in Digital Textile Printing (Premium Content)

Consumer demand and technological innovations are driving growth in the apparel and home décor industries. This article explores some of the ongoing shifts that are occurring in the industry and considers how these shifts are affecting the digital textile market on a global basis.


Memjet’s DuraLink, One Year Later (Premium Content)

Unveiled in 2017, Memjet’s DuraLink technology appears to be catching on with OEMs. Keypoint Intelligence – InfoTrends believes this is due to its improvements in head life and other features, which will enable Memjet products to address high-volume applications. As DuraLink evolves, it looks poised to succeed in industrial print applications such as high-speed label and packaging printing.


Who Buys Continuous Feed Inkjet? (Premium Content)

Keypoint Intelligence – InfoTrends records publicly announced placements of continuous-feed inkjet printers, along with the types of PSPs that acquire these devices and the major applications they print. This article provides an overview of these placements in the past nine years by major application and vendor.


B2 Digital Saves the Day for Cut-Sheet Color (Premium Content)

Every year, Keypoint Intelligence – InfoTrends publishes its digital printing forecast to identify placements of digital devices, installed base, print volumes, and revenues achieved. This article provides an overview of some recent top-level forecast data and also explores how new developments in a long-established market can create new opportunities while also driving print volumes.


Food Packaging Printing Set to Evolve From 2018–2023 (Premium Content)

New research from Smithers Pira highlights the future growth potential and technical challenges for printing food packaging, and how these will be realized against a backdrop of tighter focus on safety and environmental performance.


Inside Technical Textiles: The Glen Raven Story (Premium Content)

This is the second of a series of articles by Senior Editor Cary Sherburne on technical textiles—how they fit in the industry, why they are important, and interesting new developments. In this installment in the series, Sherburne shares the Glen Raven story, a 138-year-old company that has almost completely reinvented itself.


Print E-Commerce Marches On, Consumes More of Total Shipments (Premium Content)

E-commerce activities continue to ramp up in the printing industry. Thanks to the proliferation of digital printing technologies, the number of products within consumers’ reach is simply remarkable. This article explores how print service providers can take advantage of online print growth.


Graphic Arts Companies Feel the Pinch of Aluminum Tariffs (Premium Content)

Last month, the Trump Administration levied a 10% tariff on imported aluminum and a 25% tariff on imported steel. At present, the tariffs are having the biggest impact on manufacturers of aluminum lithographic plates—although that may be just the beginning. Plate manufacturers are deciding how best to respond, while industry associations are helping to fight back.


Identifying Successful Sales Practices for Print Providers (Premium Content)

Every company has a sales process. Although these processes are sometimes well-established and well-documented, this is not always the case. If you’re struggling with your sales process, this article provides a quick-start guide on performing a sales audit.


Taking Stock of Industry Associations (Premium Content)

It’s been some time since we have taken a look at the state of our industry associations. Senior Editor Cary Sherburne conducted 17 interviews in late Spring 2018 with key industry players to get an update on status and strategies. We don’t cover every organization in the industry—there are simply too many—but it gives a good overview on the organizations and resources available to help printing businesses be more successful.


Twenty Technical Innovations Set to Transform Packaging into a Sustainable Industry (Premium Content)

Smithers Pira presents the highlights of its latest study, identifying the top 20 technical innovations that will underpin a greener and more sustainable future for packaging.


Pricing for Digital Part 3: Challenges in Developing Comprehensive Pricing Plans (Premium Content)

As digital delivery proliferates within the customer communications market, service providers with a legacy in print have been challenged to devise pricing models that position their operations for long-term sustainability. As part of its recently published research study entitled Pricing for Digital: Exploring New Models for Transactional Communications Delivery, Keypoint Intelligence – InfoTrends conducted more than a dozen in-depth interviews with print service providers in North America to gain a deeper understanding of the primary pricing obstacles that stakeholders face in today’s changing market. The final in a three-part series, this article explores the challenges that providers must overcome when developing comprehensive customer communications pricing plans.


The Final Column: The Security Guard Will Take Your Badge and Escort You to the Lobby

Back in 2002, Dr. Joe agreed to do a regular column for WhatTheyThink for “only one year and no more”...for 15 years. This farewell column explains how it started, behind-the-scenes intrigue, the problems, and why it turned out the way it did. And then…he explains the exciting adventures ahead.


Technology and the Changing Face of Flexographic Printing for Packaging (Premium Content)

Technological advances and market trends are forever changing the face of flexographic printing. Smithers Pira values the global flexo print market in 2013 at $147 billion, with a forecast for 2.3% CAGR. Key to this growth are packaging-related industries including corrugated board packaging, flexible packaging, bags and sacks, and others.


Pricing for Digital Part 2: Hurdles in Demonstrating Value through Services (Premium Content)

As digital delivery proliferates within the customer communications market, service providers with a legacy in print have been challenged to devise pricing models that position their operations for long-term sustainability. As part of its recently published research study entitled Pricing for Digital: Exploring New Models for Transactional Communications Delivery, Keypoint Intelligence – InfoTrends conducted more than a dozen in-depth interviews with print service providers in North America to gain a deeper understanding of the primary pricing obstacles that stakeholders face in today’s changing market. The second in a three-part series, this article examines the hurdles that providers encounter in the market as they attempt to demonstrate value through their services.


Pricing for Digital Part 1: Overcoming Obstacles on the Path to Profitable Pricing (Premium Content)

As digital delivery proliferates within the customer communications market, service providers with a legacy in print have been challenged to devise pricing models that position their operations for long-term sustainability. As part of its recently published research study entitled Pricing for Digital: Exploring New Models for Transactional Communications Delivery, Keypoint Intelligence – InfoTrends conducted more than a dozen in-depth interviews with print service providers in North America to gain a deeper understanding of the primary pricing obstacles that stakeholders face in today’s changing market. The first in a three-part series, this article explores the hurdles that providers encounter in the market and considers the approaches they have developed as they attempt to establish profitable pricing models.


Learn from Print Sales Losses (Premium Content)

When you lose a sales deal, how does your company react? Do you have a culture of learning from losses or do you have a culture of blaming? A sales loss is a treasure trove of learning—successful companies evaluate and adjust for their next pitch.


What Do These 5 “Mail Trends” Tell Us?

These five mail trends from DirectMail 2.0 raise interesting questions about how we are (or are not) proving the value of print and the opportunities that are lost when we don’t.


Breaking Into the “European” Print Market: Understand Geographies and Cultures (Premium Content)

Morten Reitoft of INKISH.TV kicks off a new series of editorials offering advice for U.S. companies seeking to enter the European print market. In this first installment, Reitoft stresses that “Europe” is not a single, monolithic market.


Web-to-Print is a Tool for Your Customers (Premium Content)

Prepress automation, streamlining your customer service department, and reducing the time between inquiry and jobs getting on press – these are common feature requests for web-to-print systems. They are all about you (the printer) – web-to-print isn’t about you! Web-to-print is for your customers!


In The Mail: May 2018 - What You Need to Know About Postal Issues (Premium Content)

NPF Report: USPS puts the spotlight on Informed Delivery & Informed Visibility; PMG Brennan speaks of “shared purpose”…BOG nominees advance…Taskforce gets August deadline…Senator proposes postal banks.


Good News Could Be a Full-Time Job, but for Most Economists It’s Only Part-Time (Premium Content)

Some people say that the news is always bad, and they wish someone would report good news now and then. There is good news but no one seems to report it. You’d think that would be a full time job for someone. The economy has set a record for full time employment, and all we hear are crickets. The economy has been doing better lately in some key measures of employment, but the Fed is scaring markets by preparing to raise rates. TINA, meet TAMA, the result of the Fed’s actions; don’t worry, we’ll explain it. The statisticians at the Commerce Department revised printing shipments data. Revising data seems to be a full time job in the Beltway. Dr. Joe clarifies it all for one nearly last time.


Quad/Graphics Accelerated Insights: A Digital Revolution in Direct Mail Testing

Quad/Graphics has launched Accelerated Insights, a cloud-based software tool to enhance—and some might even say revolutionize—direct mail testing. This article explores the features of Accelerated Insights and describes its effects on direct mailing.


Intelligent Packaging Creates New Markets for Print Industry (Premium Content)

In 2018, the combined active and intelligent packaging market value is projected to reach $5.68 billion and will continue to present new value-adding options in the future according to the latest market analysis from Smithers Pira. Read on for more highlights of Smithers Pira’s latest report.


Where Are Marketers Getting Their Data?

According to new research, marketers are increasingly investing in second- and third-party data to create 360-degree views of their customers. Are your customers doing the same? Are they prepared to compete? Read more. 


Marketing and Publishing Guru Seth Godin to Keynote PRINT 18

Seth Godin, world-renowned entrepreneur and marketing and publishing guru, will be keynoting this September’s PRINT 18. Cary Sherburne spoke to him about the changing role of print in today’s marketing and publishing landscape. Read on for some insights from one of today’s thought leaders.


New Trends in Color Management (Premium Content)

Managing color in today’s ever-changing environment has long been a challenge for printers. No two scanners, monitors, or printers will reproduce colors identically, making it necessary to implement specialized color management systems to achieve an exact match across devices. This article explores some of the options that are available for printers.


Xerox: Innovation and/or Investment (Premium Content)

Xerox has just introduced the very interesting Xerox® IridesseTM Production Press into the global market, the latest electrophotographic machine in its product lineup. With all of the media hype surrounding the Xerox Fujifilm merger, this new press shows how well Xerox and Fuji Xerox can work together to create technology that brings innovation and value to the market and the company, something you may not be hearing in the distracting news streams. Read on for more.


The Pre-Mortem to a Print MIS Transition (Premium Content)

If you’re on your way to embarking on a Print MIS transition, then you need to sit down and pretend the whole thing was a spectacular failure. Once you’re in that uncomfortable place—work backwards and build a plan to prevent its untimely death.


InPrint Reflections: Moving the (Digitally Printed) Goalposts

A major theme of last week’s InPrint Industrial Inkjet Conference in Chicago was the emerging distinction between two specific kinds of industrial printing: printing as part of a larger manufacturing process and what we have often called specialty printing. The conference explored the differences between them, where the growth areas are, and what the drivers of that growth are. Read on for some reflections on the conference.


A Big Focus on Small Print Shops (Premium Content)

Smaller print shops face many of the same challenges as larger shops, so the need for a single system of record to manage the business is just as critical. Until recently, the only solution was purchasing an expensive print MIS with integration capabilities and pay for professional services to set up the connectivity to the other software solutions. This article explores how things are beginning to change for the better for small print shops.


Your Customer’s Workflow Challenges are Your Opportunities (Premium Content)

There is a conflux of pressures on businesses today: increase speed, personalize products, respond to the market faster, localize the messaging, and do all this with less people on a tighter budget. Read on for tips on how to cope with these challenges.


E-commerce Is a $20 Billion Market for Corrugated Packaging—and Growing Fast (Premium Content)

New research from Smithers Pira points to major growth for corrugated in serving the fast-developing e-commerce packaging markets. Read on for more detail.


Direct-to-Shape: An Intriguing Corner of Digital Print for Packaging (Premium Content)

Within the direct-to-shape printing for packaging market, digital printing is generally growing as a complement to offset, flexo, and other analog presses that print labels, folding cartons, flexible packaging, and corrugated. This article explores the direct-to-shape market by answering some basic questions about it.


In The Mail: April 2018 – What You Need to Know About Postal Issues (Premium Content)

President Donald Trump signs an Executive Order forming a Task Force to evaluate operations and finances of the U.S. Postal System…The PRC Scolds the USPS for performance shortfalls…Promo standstill…No returns needed.


"Do I Have to Go Through an Account Manager?" (Premium Content)

Our important customers get our attention and our dedicated resources. What happens when customers prefer online tools over dedicated resources? Read on to find out.


A Significant Speed Boost and Cost Reduction with Hybrid Production Inkjet for Flexible Packaging (Premium Content)

UTECO Group, in conjunction with Kodak, has released and will be installing the first Sapphire EVO aqueous-based production hybrid inkjet press for flexible packaging. This newly designed press significantly raises the bar on production speed while lowering operational costs compared with existing digital solutions.


The Migration to Digital Continues... But Printed Customer Communications Remain Popular (Premium Content)

The results from InfoTrends’ annual transactional communications survey uncovered some surprising shifts in opinions about paper-based and electronic communications. This article cites recent survey data to explore how printed and electronic bills and statements continue to coexist in the customer communications market.


Lost in the Economy: Patience (Premium Content)

“Staying the course” does not refer to golf, but might be an answer to “Aren’t we there yet?” When all of your economic models are based on something old, and not something new, that could make you blue, and confused. Since we’re now talking about weddings of the business kind, the Amazon-USPS wedding has gotten a lot of press lately. Don’t they take such a pretty picture together? Well, maybe not. The relationship solves one problem and creates another. No, not the in-laws again… what do they want now?


Rarity: Another Reason (Good) Personalization Works

Despite all the talk about personalized mailings, how often do any of us really receive relevant data-driven direct mail? Is the rarity of truly personalized mail part of what makes it effective?


Print, Personalization, and Media Integration: Delivering Results to SMBs (Premium Content)

Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) offer a great deal of opportunity for print service providers. This article highlights key communication trends and opportunities in the SMB market, as identified in Keypoint Intelligence – InfoTrends’ recent research study In Search of Business Opportunities: Finding the Right Prospects.


To Robotize or Not? The Real Numbers Behind Production Chain Productivity (Part 2 of 2) (Premium Content)

In the second of this two-part feature on production chain productivity, guest-writer Henrik Christiansen of Graphic Robotics addresses the quantitative aspects of automation, and how the robotization of finishing processes in the appropriate production environments can greatly reduce labor costs and improve productivity. Read on.


In Praise of Data: How PRIMIR Industry Research Can Improve Your Business (Premium Content)

The Association for Print Technologies (APTech), through its PRIMIR Research Unit and Market Data programs, provides a wealth of woefully underutilized industry research that can be of great practical use to all the links in the print supply chain—not just suppliers and vendors but print service providers, as well. Read on to see how.


The Value of Platforms: A Revolution is Coming! (Premium Content)

All printers are seeking ways to embrace a business and production infrastructure that enables them to add new tools as needed and depreciate tools that no longer serve a need. This article provides a brief overview of the platforms that facilitate these skills as well as a specific example of the Chili Publisher platform.


The Customer Experience Potential of Critical Communications (Premium Content)

Today’s empowered consumers are conditioned to expect instant access to information, goods, and services. These expectations are forcing businesses to reconsider their marketing strategies. This article cites recent research from Keypoint Intelligence – InfoTrends highlighting the importance of a positive customer experience in driving revenue growth and improving customer satisfaction.


The Changing Role of Print Sales Representatives (Premium Content)

Your sales team must do more than sell. They must be good learners (that means less talking, more listening, and more curiosity about how they can help their customers). Your customer’s time is valuable. When they give you their time they are voting on your value.


In the Mail: March 2018 - What You Need to Know About Postal Issues (Premium Content)

An industry coalition of more than 50 mailing stakeholders expresses opposition to the ratemaking plan proposed by the Postal Regulatory Commission; the USPS rolls out an electronic payment system, reduces truck mileage, continues to lose money. Read on for this month’s postal system update.


Developing Sales Talent Requires Coaching! (Premium Content)

When it comes to managing—and more importantly coaching and developing sales talent—the skills that are required are different than the ones that make a good salesperson. This article highlights research from Keypoint Intelligence – InfoTrends to explore how high-growth sales organizations develop the best talent.


Are You Distinguishing Between Macro and Micro Conversions?

Are you helping your clients track both micro and macro conversions? If not, you’re losing opportunities to understand not just what works and what doesn’t, but why.


Retail, Transportation, and Manufacturing Central to Hot Future of Thermal Print Supply (Premium Content)

New Smithers Pira Research forecasts strong growth for thermal printing, identifying retail, transport, and manufacturing as the top three applications for thermal printing equipment and supplies. Read on for an overview of the thermal printing market from 2018 to 2023.


Conflicts, Inconsistencies, and Misrepresentations: Situation is Normal (Premium Content)

Trade tariff talk has confused the markets, but so have the recent economic data. Employment data look great, retail sales look bad, consumer confidence surges in the lowest third of households by income. Explain that, Dr. Joe! He does, and offers insight into the selection of Larry Kudlow as the President’s economic advisor. There may be no free lunches, but Dr. Joe has some free podcasts and a webinar. Get them now before someone proposes a tariff on electrons.


Latest WhatTheyThink Webinar Looked at the Current Economic Climate and Print Business Conditions

Last Wednesday, Dr. Joe Webb presented his quarterly economic conditions webinar, which included a look at the overall macroeconomic environment as well as current printing industry business conditions. Read on for a brief summary of what Dr. Webb discussed.


Emerging Technology Assessment: Personalized Video Outlook (Premium Content)

Personalized video is a popularizing tool with potential for modern customer communications strategies. The technology provides inherently engaging one-to-one audio-visual experiences, but that doesn’t mean that it’s effective independently and by default.


If You Act Like a Printer, You’ll Be Treated Like One (Premium Content)

The definition of a successful printer is changing with the times. The updated definition is forcing printers to solve more than a manufacturing challenge. For printers who refuse to move out of their comfort zone; price will be the primary subject of conversation in every sale.


What is Smart Print Manufacturing? (Premium Content)

The industry remains focused on reducing costs through automation. The next decade will be about making print manufacturing smarter as we transition to the next industrial revolution. This article discusses why it is important for all print service providers to prepare, plan, and take steps to implement their own version of Smart Print Manufacturing.


Color Inkjet Improves Business Communications (Premium Content)

The combination of more and better consumer data, the drive for personalization, and the affordability of inkjet have finally made creating higher-value communications a market reality. This article explores how IDS.com (a Doxim company) has implemented inkjet production printing technology to make messaging and color more flexible and efficient.


The State of Labels and Packaging (Premium Content)

We have a new report out, the Printing Forecast 2018, based in large part on the results of our Fall 2017 Print Business Outlook survey. There is quite a lot in the 172-page report, but here are some highlights specific to label and packaging printing. Thus far, commercial plants don't see tremendous opportunities in digital label or packaging—but that may be changing.


Highlights of the WhatTheyThink Printing Forecast 2018

WhatTheyThink’s Forecast 2018 report, by Dr. Joe Webb and Richard Romano provides detailed analysis of the most recent Print Business Outlook Survey, the latest industry economic data and macroeconomic trends, as well as industry and cultural technological trends to look out for in 2018.


Open Wide: The State of Wide-Format Printing (Premium Content)

We have a new report out, the Printing Forecast 2018, based in large part on the results of our Fall 2017 Business Conditions Outlook survey. There is quite a lot in the 172-page report, but here are some highlights specific to wide-format printing.


Economy Growing, Big and Small; Who Owns Our Businesses? (Premium Content)

Dr. Joe has a special message: he was wrong 15 years ago, and it worked out fine. The economy is showing improvement, and some reluctant data series are starting to be break their recession levels. Government shutdown? That won't stop them from collecting taxes! Many of the economic indicators show a strong Q4-2017 GDP report is in the offing - but the shutdown may prevent that data release. Dr. Joe warns of a data issues ahead - if small business booms, it may not be recognized right away. But there's one difference in big and small that's showing up right now in printing profits data.


Dr. Joe: A Potpourri of Workers, Taxes, Profits, Rates, Digits, and More (Premium Content)

The fifteenth year of Dr. Joe at WhatTheyThink comes to a close, and he’s got a lot of topics (and some charts, of course) to get off his mind. Tax reform, recruitment, hours online, profits, consolidation...you name it, it’s probably mentioned in this year’s final column. Oh, and we forgot Bitcoin...that’s here too.


Tax Reform May be Near; Only Dr. Doom Would Celebrate a Recession Anniversary

What’s more important than tax reform? A tenth anniversary! It’s been ten years since the recession started. What does one get as a gift? We’re told it’s tin or aluminum. Does that mean someone’s giving all of us litho plates? Tax reform is a much better gift for the celebration. The reform is flawed, but better than nothing. There are some signs that the economy is improving for real, and Dr. Joe has his unique twist to offer.


The Truth is Not Always in the Headline

Look at the shiny object, and please don’t peek behind the curtain. It’s a data game that’s played by many, and it starts with a good headline, and sometimes includes a great chart. A rising stock market without increasing revenue? Declining e-book sales that conveniently ignore niches that are contrary? And then there’s one for the record: the LP record. A pretty chart makes that story convincing, but only if you forget history. Don’t fall into that vinyl LP trap: there’s a hole in the middle of it.


Fed Change Means Fed Same, Shipments Tumble, Economy Muddles, and Can I Interest You in the Best Leftovers Ever? (Premium Content)

We have a new chair at the Fed who is likely to stay the course, no matter how damaging that is. This month’s shiny object is the unemployment rate; don’t look at how it got there. A kerfuffle and a scuffle, and it all happened because of used equipment, which means the once mighty aren’t any more. And printing shipments… can we talk about something else?


The Fed, Economic Data, and Other Topics (Premium Content)

It’s an interesting time at the Fed, especially when Dr. Yellen’s turn is expiring and one of Dr. Joe’s favorite candidates is in the running. There’s a lot of claims about jobless claims, and the claims are not really what they’re claiming. Labels and wrappers? That’s a tiny niche market in the big printing industry. Now 1 in 8 commercial printing dollars are in that specialty.


High Winds Uproot Data (Premium Content)

The hurricanes affected not just the lives of the people who experienced them, but also affected basic economic data. And yes, you can be employed and unemployed at the same exact time, in the same exact government department. The data seem strange, but the long term trends stayed the same. That’s why we call them long term trends. And August’s printing shipments? Don’t ask! There’s a video from a distinguished leader that’s worth seeing… and worth pondering… about print as a medium and you as a business.


Are Your Strategic Assumptions Really True? (Premium Content)

There are many “common wisdom” assumptions in the industry. One that refuses to die relates to print volume being related to GDP. The data are very clear; it’s technology that plays a bigger factor than macroeconomics. The other is that the effects of digital media will come to an end or will slow down. That one is obviously false; Moore’s Law may not be what it used to be, but we see how technology gets faster, cheaper, and more convenient every day. Bad assumptions lead to bad strategy, lead to dismissing opportunities that should be pursued, and reduce the urgency to act. Don’t let that happen to you or your business.


The Old Guard and the Economy Limps into Print 17; a Different Industry Takes Charge (Premium Content)

Who didn’t envy or aspire to become a big, high profile printing business? The print business has been turned on its head, where small and medium businesses are outperforming their much bigger counterparts. The latter are still dealing with the relevance of legacy processes and assets while trying to bring new focus to rich digital media interactions to static formats like print. There’s no doubt: The Third Wave is being released at a pivotal moment. While the industry is churning, there are warning signs in the economy and for content creation markets. Dr. Joe is getting that 2008 feeling: he doesn’t like it.


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