While the commercial printing industry has seen an overall decline in demand for print over the last 15 years, the demand for wide-format printed graphics is actually increasing. As a result, more and more commercial printers are looking at adding wide-format to their offerings.  By integrating wide-format inkjet technology into a company’s current workflow, commercial printers can expand the scope of services offered, opening up new profit centers.  There are some steps that should be taken, however, to ensure that this integration is successful. 

As part of an initiative to help commercial printers expand their reach into the lucrative wide-format market, Roland DGA Corp. has partnered with WhatTheyThink to offer businesses a free white paper and educational webinar.

Titled “Going Wide: Understanding the Opportunities in Wide-Format Printing,” the new white paper features expert analysis from WhatTheyThink Senior Analyst Richard Romano who gives commercial printers several compelling reasons to “go wide.” 

According to Romano, not only is wide-format the fastest growing area in the printing industry today, it is one of the few applications not easily replaced by online and mobile technologies.  Additionally, commercial printers are generally a trusted source of wide-format graphics, as reflected in recent research.

In fact, according to industry analyst firm InfoTrends, commercial printers are the first choice of more than 39 percent of buyers looking for wide-format graphics.  In a 2013 study titled “Wide-Format Printing: A Critical Element in the Communications Mix,” InfoTrends Director of Wide-Format Printing Consulting Service Tim Greene surveyed key decision makers in organizations that provide digitally printed wide-format graphics, as well as those that purchase wide-format graphics, across six vertical industries in the U.S., including advertising/media, entertainment/amusement, events, healthcare, hospitality and retail. 

Greene’s findings show that “wide-format graphics are a major component of communications spending and represented a sixth of survey respondents’ overall marketing budget. Buyer respondents also expect to increase their wide-format spending. The share of buyers expecting to increase wide-format graphics purchasing in the next 12 months was 6.5 times higher than the share expecting to decrease it.”  The study projects the retail value of wide-format printing in North America to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.9%, reaching $23.6 billion by 2016.

According to Romano, commercial printers are well positioned to get a share of this market.  To get into wide-format successfully, though, they must both invest in new digital technologies and change their business approach. He said, “One of the biggest challenges we find is that despite the emphasis on the items that wide-format equipment produces, you are not really selling products.  You are selling a service. Wide-format printing is all about variety, but it is first and foremost about helping the customer increase his or her own sales via compelling graphics.” 

Wide-format devices can help a commercial printer produce, in-house, everything from banners, window graphics, wall coverings and signage to point of purchase displays, posters, apparel decoration, labels and vehicle graphics.  In addition, a wide-format device gives the commercial printer a foothold into the proofing and package prototyping market. Regardless of the application, though, what really makes wide-format printers unique is their ability to handle short and custom runs easily.  Personalized graphics continue to be in high demand, and they are extremely profitable to produce on a per-unit basis. 

Consider also that commercial printers enter the wide-format market with the design skills, color management expertise and mastery of other printing processes they need to serve customers well.  And since many of their customers are purchasing wide-format graphics elsewhere, it makes great business sense to bring this service in-house and become that one-stop shop for them. 

Probably the best reason to get into wide-format is the versatility of the production platform.  In addition to traditional applications, wide-format has been used to customize items such as glass coffee tables, cloth handbags, leather jackets, tablet computers, home décor items, and even entire Hollywood sets.  Many wide-format printers can print, score, kiss-cut and die-cut inline while adding embossing, varnishing and metallic finishes as well.  New digital materials further open up design and production options. 

In short, there simply is no better way to let the imagination take flight, transform the ordinary into the extraordinary, and add style and sophistication to a graphic than with a wide-format device.  More than an expansion of your existing production environment, a wide-format printer can serve as the foundation for new, exciting – and profitable – business opportunities to come.

Join Roland Tuesday, Dec. 3rd at 9 a.m. Pacific for a free webinar titled “Expanding Your Business with Wide-Format.”  Visit Roland Academy online at www.rolanddga.com/RolandAcademy to register.