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.
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’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…
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?
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.
In 2010, there were a total of 57,674 employees in U.S. screen printing establishments (NAICS 323113). By 2016, screen printing employment had grown to 63,056—the opposite of what we have seen in general commercial printing during that same period.
Why we perceive horizontal and vertical lines differently. An old typeface returns. Superior sleep with pricey pjs. Nike’s new sneaker is a fitness tech platform. Finding alternatives to venture capitalists. A 16th-century book that opens six ways. Why do Mile Marker 480 signs keep disappearing?
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.
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.
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.
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.
Overall printing employment stayed roughly the same from November to December 2018, and, compared to December 2017, declined -1.6%. Non-production printing employment was up a bit in December, production employment down by about the same bit. PR employment continues to be the industry growth spot.
New barefoot training footwear. What color is your parachute—and how safe is it? 5G connectivity is coming—but accept no imitations. Are paper maps back on the...map? If it were really intelligent, would it be a toilet? The visual look of jazz. Is it better to read a book or listen to it? All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.
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.
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.
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.
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!
On a recent visit to Miami, Senior Editor Cary Sherburne stopped by to visit Carla Llull at House of Llull Atelier, an apparel design and manufacturing operation focused on delivering high quality swimwear. House of Llull is celebrating its fifth anniversary.
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.
Phrozen, ironically, helps heat up the desktop 3D printer market. Is the U.S. missing the digital textile transformation bus? A new typeface is based on eye test characters, while another does away with the Latin alphabet entirely. Livetweeting an IoT toothbrush firmware update. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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?
A cheap, easy-to-use desktop 3D printer. RIP, Evelyn Berezin, inventor of the word processor. Jules Van Sant’s next adventure. Anonymous New Yorkers’ war on signage. A Massachusetts town creates its own broadband. “Please check for all your personal belongings.” All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.
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.
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.
A look at a well-intentioned personalized mailing that illustrates why it’s so important to get these communications right. Not just so the client gets the best return on investment, but to preserve your own relationship with the client. Poor personalization = poor results, and poor results = disengaged clients. Nobody wants that.
MakerBot, a subsidiary of Stratasys, has two primary missions: Helping to innovate in STEM education to better prepare kids for the future, and to help companies bring product to market faster. It is in this latter category that today’s announcement of MakerBot Method falls. Senior Editor Cary Sherburne spoke with Forrest Leighton and Shawn Miely of MakerBot to learn more.
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!
Open Source versions of the Creative Cloud applications. A new font aids reading for dyslexics. Yet another take on what’s happening with retail. Cutting Greenland down to size. Futurists in 1988 predict the jobs of the future. Have a time machine? Skip A.D. 536. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.
Industry profits data came out earlier this week, and it was good and bad news. Overall, annualized profits for Q3 2018 were $3.07 billion—not a huge gain from Q2, but a gain nonetheless. But it’s the ongoing saga of the low profitability of large printers dragging down average industry profitability.
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.
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.
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.
A new kind of electronic paper. The science of paper crumpling. How Choc became a ubiquitous typeface. A “guerilla artist” produces life-affirming stealth signage. Alexa has been integrated into Big Mouth Billy Bass, for reasons passing understanding. A collision of vehicle graphics, AI, and public shaming. All that and more in WhatTheyThink's weekly miscellany.
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.
When we look at case studies, we immediately scan to the bottom of the page to see what the metrics are. One case study from IMS Direct illustrates why it’s important to look deeper into the numbers to find the real story.
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.
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?
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.
I first got to know Kirby Best when he was running on-demand book printer Lightning Source. And I was interested to see him turn up as Chairman at OnPoint Manufacturing, an on-demand garment manufacturer. We connected for a wide-ranging discussion at the recent Gerber Technology Ideation event, including the newly announced FashionTech Platform 1.0 initiative.
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.
How do you reinvent a 160-year-old business to address the new market requirements? This is a challenge that we have been seeing over and over again, and many companies have not been able to make that change. Heidelberg seems to have found the formula that looks at their internal organization, but more importantly, at their customers’ changing requirements as well.
Officially launched in September 2018, the Rhode Island Textile Innovation Network (RITIN) is another example of initiatives across the country that are working to revive the U.S. textile and apparel industry, both with innovations that improve efficiency and to reshore textile and apparel manufacturing. We spoke with RITIN steering committee chairman and CEO of textile company Trans-Tex Michael Woody to learn more.
EFI Reggiani held a gala launch event for its new EFI Reggiani BOLT single-pass digital textile printer at Reggiani’s Bergamo, Italy, headquarters. Attended by nearly 300 media, customers, and potential customers, the event generated a high level of excitement. With high-quality print speeds of up to 90 meters per minute, this press looks to be a game changer for high-volume digital textile printing.
In 2010, there were 2,080 establishments offering prepress and/or postpress services; by 2016, that number had dropped to 1,545. (The Census Bureau stopped breaking out prepress and postpress establishments separately in 2012.) It’s not difficult to understand why the number of these establishments has been dropping; prepress is being absorbed into the printing process itself (especially in digital printing), and more print businesses are acquiring their own finishing capabilities.
Mix-and-match jigsaw puzzles. Postcards from World War I. The bestselling books of 2114. Alexa stars in a reboot of "Rear Window." Friendly skies, unfriendly seats. Weighing in on the kilogram. All that and more in WhatTheyThink's weekly miscellany.
Recognizing the challenges associated with making the digital transformation in customer communications, Taylor Corporation created a new organization called Taylor Communications, Secure & Customer Solutions, Inc. (Taylor Communications SCS). This article explores how Taylor has taken its printing and mailing capabilities to a new level by integrating its communications with advanced digital platforms to enhance the customer experience.
After a decade in the ad agency world, Shira Kollins took her graphic design and production background and launched SpeedPro Chicago. By taking an active role in local business associations—and being “pleasantly persistent” when it comes to sales and marketing—she has built a business creating cutting-edge display graphics for some of Chicago’s biggest retailers and restaurants.
Once you make a print software decision, you have to enforce it by communicating the strategy clearly and then repeatedly. Your people will forget, your business will evolve, sales people will appear from other solutions trying to convince your team of a different path.
Europeans in general like Americans, American culture, and American entrepreneurship. However, one of the things Europeans often find difficult to understand is the extent to which money seems to influence almost every aspect of American business. Our European correspondent Morten Reitoft of INKISH.TV explains.
As if you needed one more reason to add packaging to your product mix! A new study from WestRock, a leading provider of differentiated paper and packaging solutions, shows that consumers are loving packaging more than ever. The study, “2018 Packaging Matters,” outlines the key factors that influence consumer decisions.
Austin Community College in Texas has launched an innovative Fashion Incubator with the goal of creating a real-to-industry learning environment in partnership with the City of Austin, Gerber Technology, and others. This is a unique approach to bringing new talent into the industry and giving new fashion-oriented businesses a jump start.
Printing shipments for September 2018 came in at $6.52 billion. That’s down from August—and it’s well below August 2017’s $6.76 billion. Are we seeing a new seasonality in the printing industry—or the end of any seasonality?
Virtual fitting rooms for men. Create customized wrapping paper. Safety apparel for grow lights. Is the flying car on its way? Boots for Mars. Chinese news media introduces AI-based virtual presenters. What’s the deal with “The Piña Colada Song”? All that and more in WhatTheyThink's weekly miscellany.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The USPS announces new prices for 2019…Postal Service continues outreach on proposed new Marketing Mail Content Standards…U.S. intends to withdraw from 144-year-old Universal Postal Union Treaty…New Mail.dat version for January price changes.
The digital transformation in textiles and apparel is well underway. Senior Editor Cary Sherburne writes about the drivers for this transformation and how fashion designer Rebecca Minkoff is leveraging digital technologies in unique ways.
Rumors of retail’s death have been greatly exaggerated (to coin a phrase). But there is no doubt that it is changing. We look at how it is changing, and what that means for POP/retail graphics providers.
In 2016, there were 5,150 total U.S. commercial screen printing establishments. As with most printing categories, the majority have under 10 employees, but screen shops tend to be smaller than other kinds of printing establishments.
Don’t spoil the ends of books...or else. Heidelberg heads to InPrint Milan with the Omnifire. A new meaning of the phrase “high on the hog.” Pantone and United Way develop a new color to raise awareness of social issues. Could you power your home with hamsters? All that and more in WhatTheyThink's weekly miscellany.
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.
Your web-to-print solution is underutilized. Do all functional areas of your company—sales, customer service, technology—understand all the challenges your current web-to-print system solves? Probably not. You can’t be “solution focused” without understanding the challenges your toolset solves.
With its new CEO in place for just two weeks, I wanted to tune in to the company’s third quarter financial analyst call to get a feel for his approach to the business. This brief article summarizes what I heard and my thoughts on EFI moving forward.
Two Sides has reported that brands are moving away from “Go Paperless—Go Green” messaging because of negative publicity around greenwashing. As consumers start to recognize these ads as dishonest and really intended to save companies money, brands are switching from environmental messaging to convenience messaging instead. T.J. Maxx is one of them.
The Vomela Companies, headquartered in St. Paul, Minn., started in 1947 doing promotional product printing. Now, 71 years later, the company has expanded through both organic growth and acquisition to produce retail, POS, décor, event, and fleet graphics for a wide variety of local and national brands and venues. Their most recent project: wrapping 3M’s 14-story corporate headquarters.
What were you thinking about at eight years old? Probably not the career that would be your life’s passion! That’s when Ariel Swedroe began her fashion career. At Age 11, she began exploring digitally printed fabrics. Today, at age 15, she has a full-fledged fashion business. But she’s not stopping there! You’ll love this story.
Designers in textiles and apparel typically use Adobe products to create their designs. But until now, there have not been textile-specific tools to make the task easier. To address this, Adobe has announced Project Paras, a set of tools that allow designers to stay within Photoshop CC and reduce the number of steps required to complete and preview a design. We spoke with Adobe to learn more.
Overall printing employment dropped from August to September 2018, and on a year-over-year basis is down -1.5%. Non-production printing employment was up slightly, indicating that production staff are the hardest employees to find. PR employment is again the industry bright spot, employment-wise.
Get a customized reading list from the Brooklyn Public Library. A new process recycles textile waste into dyestuffs. Poor color management made The Hulk green. Shatner Claus? Thwarting the “retail apocalypse.” 200 years of Frankenstein. All that and more in WhatTheyThink's weekly miscellany.
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.
Labelexpo 2018 in Rosemont, Ill., and PRINT 18 in Chicago are over, and it they were pretty exciting shows. The crowds were enthusiastic and buying from early indications. In this second of two parts I will look at how embellishment is moving from a standalone mechanical process to digital mainstream production.
This survey by NAPCO Research and commissioned by the Specialty Graphic Imaging Association (SGIA) included something rarely seen in digital printing surveys: a look at the use of digital printing across the entire buyer’s journey. It’s good news. Retailers are embracing digital printing for more than just direct mail.
Since launching its high-end Avalanche HD6 direct-to-garment printer and HD upgrade to most Avalanche systems with RAPID ink technology in the first quarter of this year, Kornit Digital has installed or upgraded a whopping 150 HD systems. Now the company has brought HD direct-to-garment technology to within reach of smaller businesses with the launch of the Storm HD6.
From 2010 to 2016, the number of U.S. commercial screen printing establishments increased from 4,454 to 5,150. Growth in screen printing establishments has been consistent from year to year. Chalk this up to the rise of specialty printing.
A new book is nothing but bound slices of cheese. A New Zealand vending machine has a grim message. The Rijksmuseum to livestream a Rembrandt painting restoration. The Museum of London offers a fascinating online archive of package design.
The SGIA Expo 2018 opened yesterday to large crowds and a completely full exhibition hall. Our recap of Day 1 looks at where SGIA President and CEO Ford Bowers sees the organization and the industry going, and highlights a handful of new product announcements.
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.
As marketers scramble to increase the depth of their knowledge about every aspect of their customers’ habits, preferences, and patterns, there may be a simple data point that is getting overlooked—the weather. Weather has a direct effect on the sales of 30% of all products and services and is the second biggest influence on consumer behavior. Are your customers taking advantage?
A print business that learns is one that has a foundation for tracking its business processes and improving on them. From a cultural standpoint, a learning organization has to be able to talk openly about mistakes made from all levels of the organization.
WhatTheyThink is the global printing industry's leading independent media organization with both print and digital offerings, including WhatTheyThink.com, PrintingNews.com and WhatTheyThink magazine versioned with a Printing News and Wide-Format & Signage edition. Our mission is to provide cogent news and analysis about trends, technologies, operations, and events in all the markets that comprise today’s printing and sign industries including commercial, in-plant, mailing, finishing, sign, display, textile, industrial, finishing, labels, packaging, marketing technology, software and workflow.