Environmental considerations are becoming more and more important factors in buying decisions of consumers and businesses, and this is supported by environmental legislation. This article by European section editor Ralf Schlözer looks at the latest developments in environmental legislation for print in Europe.
A push toward a more sustainable textiles and apparel industry is underway, largely driven by consumer demand, and, to some extent, by brands who are working to restructure their supply chains post-pandemic. Key considerations include not only the adoption of more digital technologies, about which we have written extensively, but also the further development of fabrics created from bio-based materials, and a significant change in consumer behavior with respect to their wardrobes. Learn more about the pros and cons of bio-based materials, some of the emerging developments, and behavior changes that can reduce your personal textiles-based environmental impact.
If you want to make more money—and minimize the risk of making less—you should do more prospecting. Contributor Dave Fellman looks at the prospecting process and how to arrive at the ultimate goal of prospecting: a first meeting with a potential new customer.
A new monolith appears—briefly—in Congo. A guy replaces his bicycle wheels with giant sawmill blades. The latest in “mask tech”: the egg mask. First, they came for the silkworms—and now…the sheep? Sheep Inc. says one key to carbon sequestration is…wait for it…sheep. Some other potential solutions for dealing with carbon and carbon dioxide. Textile and apparel imports are on the decline. A website lets you simulate the ambiance of your favorite bar. RIP Rupert Neve: the inventor of the mixing console. A housecat joins “Godzilla vs. Kong” and the related carnage. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s carbon-heavy miscellany.
The writers and publishers who chronicle the world of business have been a buzzword factory for the last four decades. There’s no need to list them here, but probably the most frequently mentioned topic in the last few years has been how to change an organization into something that has a better chance of surviving and thriving. In this article, Wayne Lynn discusses the importance of becoming self-aware. Knowing what your strengths, weaknesses, and blind spots are provides the best starting point for successful change. Read on…
Over the centuries, fine art and textile design have always been close companions. Today's textile designers can take advantage of a number of outstanding archives of vintage designs that can act as inspiration, or be licensed for use. Textiles expert and WhatTheyThink contributor Debbie McKeegan highlights a few.
The increase in digitally driven on-demand printing, combined with the flexibility of online ordering, has greatly increased the number of print orders—often at lower print volumes—that a print service provider must manage and produce. This article explores how PSPs that increase their levels of automation now may be able to reap disproportionate rewards in the future.
If you have taken the first steps to automating your workflow, you will have seen significant benefits from software you had likely already invested in. In this article, sponsored by EFI and the second in a series, explores how to take your workflow automation to the next level by examining your prepress operation to uncover bottlenecks that require extra labor and slow the production process.
WhatTheyThink’s Fall 2020 Business Outlook Survey asked print business executives and owners about their 2020 business conditions, business challenges, biggest perceived opportunities, and investment plans, as well as opinions of virtual events and their 2020 hiring plans. The results of this survey are included in WhatTheyThink’s Printing Outlook 2021 special report. Here are some of the top-level findings from that report.
If you run a print manufacturing business, chances are you should invest in a print-specific MIS/ERP solution. However, proceed carefully if you insist on adopting a generic MIS/ERP software solution. Don’t get caught up in paying for customizations that are expected features for a print business.
In this bimonthly series, WhatTheyThink is presenting the state of the printing industry in different European countries based on the latest monthly production numbers. This week, we take a look at the printing industry in Germany.
The successful curation of the data springing from your business operating systems has the potential to unearth rich clues for improved growth and performance. However, it can be a daunting task to know where to start and where to stop. Preston Herrin offers a balanced approach to metrics and analytics and understanding how to apply them in your business to advance a data-driven culture and galvanize a new agility.
From life-saving medical devices and rapid COVID-19 tests, to dashboards and musical instruments, printed electronics are a high-value opportunity. To exploit the opportunity requires high-touch engineering and customer support. Contributor Pete Basiliere details the challenges.
A Texas attorney tries to prove he is not a cat. A brand-new shade of blue is now available for painting. A new business makes sustainable laundry detergent. A handy visual aid to help you determine which appliance is best for which use. A water treatment plant gets hacked—with almost disastrous results. 3D-printed steaks. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s kitten filter miscellany.
In 2010, there were 380,107 employees working in US establishments in NAICS 323111 (Commercial Printing–Except Screen and Books). By 2018, that number had declined -13.5% to 328,845. In macro news, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) increased 0.3% in January, or 1.4% over the last 12 months.
Some of the digital processes that were implemented out of necessity when the pandemic hit will likely persist even once the pandemic has subsided. This article discusses the implications of business process digitization and cites recent research from Keypoint Intelligence to explore considerations for the future.
Even if printers are not in the market for a new marketing automation system, tracking the new and updated features of available platforms provides insight into where marketing is going and what they (and their customers) need to watch, both now and in the future. One such change is the increased use of AI to speed and simplify the identification and understanding of customer journeys. As COVID-19 ramps up and consumers tighten their belts (again), the timing couldn’t be better.
Every motion you make in your business sets the tone for the ultimate performance of the supply chain. Whether you are a manufacturer/service provider shepherding the genesis of the supply chain or a reseller/distributor working bi-directionally within the supply chain, success hinges on advanced collaboration in order to deliver on customer expectations. Preston Herrin takes our annual look at trade brokering and distributing.
Technical skills are important in every functional area of your print business and sales is no exception. Every salesperson needs to be able to calmly and strategically uncover business challenges and communicate these challenges to your technical resources without limiting potential solutions or setting unreasonable expectations with the customer.
Why would a printing business want to be an early adopter and take a risk on unproven technology? Inkjet Insight’s Elizabeth Gooding spoke with five technology leaders using inkjet in quality-sensitive operations about their experiences as pre-release adopters of production inkjet presses.
2020 was a remarkable year for labels and packaging, particularly digitally printed pressure-sensitive labels, sleeves, flexible packaging, and other high-demand applications for the health, pharma, household, and food industries. The demand for digitally printed labels and packaging has grown significantly during the pandemic and customers are investing more in workflow and automation to manage the load. In this article, sponsored by HP, we spoke with HP Indigo’s Maya Poleg, Head of Products and Solutions, and Esko’s Chuck Ravetto, VP & General Manager, Supplier Solutions, to hear their perspectives on their long-standing relationship, and where they believe the industry is heading.
This is the sixth part of a series of articles on the size of and trends in the printing industry in key countries in Europe. The Nordic countries in Europe include Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden. Together, they account for €4.7 billion in revenues in the graphic arts industry and more than 25,000 employees. Combined, the Nordic region would constitute the sixth largest printing industry in Europe, closely followed by Spain. There are additional print segments, as well, adding to a total print market of close to €7.5 billion
Spinach can now send emails. A novel only uses the words spoken by Ophelia in Hamlet. More graphene news! Recycling potato chip bags into sleeping bags for the homeless. Colgate introduces new aluminum toothbrush with replaceable heads. The origin of gargoyles. 100 years of the “sawing a woman in half” trick. “A Lego white noise” playlist. A “smart toilet seat” for measuring vital signs. A teen, in a coma since March 1, 2020, is about to wake up to a strange new world. Attaching buggy wheels to a Dodge Challenger, for some reason. Texas issues an Amber Alert for Chucky from “Child’s Play.” All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s emailing vegetable miscellany.
Print’s days of channel dominance are most certainly over, but it remains a powerful means of communication. Digital is here to stay, so it is more important than ever for printed communications to be fresh and innovative. This article explores how data can be leveraged to create personalized print campaigns that encourage engagement and increase revenues.
Textiles expert and WhatTheyThink contributor Debbie McKeegan recently attended a very interesting session on the possibilities digital print offers for home décor. Presenters included a variety of industry experts with excellent insight. The piece also includes links to replays in case the reader wants to hear directly from the experts.
HP updates its Latex roll-to-roll portfolio with four new units that bring white ink printing, new inks and printheads, and a renewed commitment to sustainability. Additionally, HP has launched a new Latex Print and Cut line and refreshed its PageWide XL units for the technical printing markets.
Print businesses large and small need to start automating processes to save time and money and increase throughput. But for many smaller print businesses, automating their printing workflow can seem like a daunting—and expensive—challenge. This article, sponsored by EFI, show how that’s a misconception that is holding businesses back from greater profitability, and that getting started with workflow automation is much easier than you might think.
Direct mail retargeting is starting to go mainstream. In this post, we look at some key supporting data for growth in the direct mail retargeting market and the approaches used by three printers offering these services.
If you’re a commercial mailer of flats and periodicals, brace yourself. Customers are facing an unexpected and steep increase in USPS mailing rates sometime this summer — even while service standards remain miserably low.
Since the emergence of the original European Data Protection Act and the follow-on General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), building a privacy protocol has been a topic in companies around the world. The codification of the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), however, changed the trajectory of the conversation. It is far-reaching and touches all of us. Pat McGrew interviews University of Colorado Professor Linda Fried to provide background and guidance.
Color Management is the critical part of any reproduction process, especially as it relates to brand identity. We have good tools today, but as print applications expand beyond conventional media—for example, to packaging and industrial applications—we are starting to outgrow them.
In this bimonthly series, WhatTheyThink is presenting the state of the printing industry in different European countries based on the latest monthly production numbers. This week, we take a look at the printing industry in Lithuania and the Baltic states.
2020 and a good part of 2021 will be seen as the time of virtual events. It was either that or put everything on hold, which clearly was not an option. There was great hope that we would be back to in-person events by spring of 2021, but one by one, scheduled events such as drupa and Interpack, FESPA, TechTextil/TexProcess, and more were either cancelled, converted to virtual events, or postponed until late summer or fall. We spoke to a number of folks—organizers, sponsors and attendees—to get their views about the value of these events. We also included some virtual event questions in a broader survey.
In search of the original “Apple Beige.” The USPS launches Star Wars stamps to promote STEM learning. How COVID made QR codes cool. A Chinese railroad was derailed when Adobe killed Flash. A man quantifies his wardrobe. Beautiful tea bag art. First Night Effect: why it’s hard to sleep in a strange place. “Chinese Knife Massage.” Gender-neural playing cards. “Everything bagel-flavored ice cream.” Perfect for Valentine’s day: pink, candy-flavored mac and cheese. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s stock shorting miscellany.
In 2010, there were 499,622 employees working in US establishments in NAICS 323. By 2018, that number had declined -12.2% to 438,516. In macro news, real GDP increased at an annual rate of 4.0% in Q4 2020.
Sustainability is moving to the top of the to-do list in textiles and apparel as we as we enter a new decade and beyond. Sometimes it seems like not much has changed, but in this informative article, textiles expert and WhatTheyThink contributor Debbie McKeegan lists many of the sustainability achievements we saw in 2020.
Even with vaccines being distributed, it will likely be quite some time before the coronavirus becomes part of our history rather than our daily reality. Much like the virus, though, PSPs are proving themselves to be quite resilient. This article explores the actions that various printing companies are exploring so they can maintain—or even accelerate—growth as we emerge from the pandemic.
Understanding your customer segmentation and even more importantly the “jobs” the printed products do for your customers can help you better target your sales efforts. Diversity is a hedge against catastrophic market segment collapse (another lesson of COVID-19).
Gone are the days of evaluating campaigns largely in terms of response rate, conversion rate, and dollars per sale. When we read case studies, listen to webinars, and browse industry coverage, we see a wider range of marketing metrics being used than ever before. It’s no wonder that 90% marketers now see measurable results from their personalization efforts.
Digital printing has transformed the print world. For a long time, it was restricted to printed documents and photocopying, then inkjet went after the label market first, followed by the narrow-width packaging market or "small" format. At the same time, in the world of large and very large format, inkjet pushed the screen printing and even the offset process out of the most common jobs. This article looks at the potential for diversifying into a wide variety of print applications.
Smithers latest analysis shows that 2020, and the global coronavirus pandemic, have profoundly disrupted the global printing industry. Total value fell from $814.7 billion in 2019, to reach a projected $743.4 billion in 2020. This article explores the major industry trends to emerge in the wake of the pandemic.
In December 2020, all printing employment was up +0.7% from November, production employment up +0.1%, and non-production printing employment up +1.9%. So, basically, a holding pattern—although it’s nice that there are no negative numbers…for almost everyone.
Ben Franklin introduced tofu to the US. A new font designed to facilitate proofreading. Comic Sans…Monospaced! Inside the blackest room. Inventors develop a quieter Velcro. Journey inside an amazingly high-res scan of a classic painting. Fisher Price’s “new” retro gadget toys. A van-based office pod for the work-from-anywhere crowd. Holographic chocolate. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s winter miscellany.
As Industry 4.0 takes greater hold on the textiles and apparel industry, it is estimated that more than 25% of all work activities will be displaced by automation by 2030. But what does this mean for textile designers? Surely a robot can’t replace a designer! Designers have already moved from paintbrush to pixel, and while they won’t be replaced by robots, their roles will surely change. Read what textiles expert and WhatTheyThink Contributor Debbie McKeegan has to say on the topic!
Finishing is an important step for nearly every printed document. Ongoing advancements in digital printing capabilities have the potential to elevate finishing to a value-added service. This article explores how print service providers can maximize the effectiveness and profitability of print with today’s finishing capabilities.
The way B2B buyers make purchases is changing, and PSPs and their customers must change along with them. But it provides opportunity, as well. Results from the latest DemandGen “B2B Buyer Behavior Study.”
Feature requests are popular. The default response to new software to ask for it to be changed to fit the way you specifically think it should fit into your specific environment. “Change your processes to optimize your use of the software” is the one statement that would save the print industry millions of dollars.
Founded more than 30 years ago as a business forms printer, Vancouver’s Still Creek Press has adapted and evolved over the years, adding wide-format printing capabilities and other products and services. A recent project saw the company come to the rescue when the University of British Columbia Opera decided to stage a virtual production.
Poshmark (ticker: POSH) shares entered the public market last week, with shares soaring nearly 142%, opening at $97.50 and hitting a high of $104.98, with a Thursday close at $101.50, making it up 141.7%. This kind of feels like the 90s dot-com boom. Will it lead to a bust? The Poshmark CEO thinks not.
In this bimonthly series, WhatTheyThink is presenting the state of the printing industry in different European countries based on the latest monthly production numbers. This year kicks off with a look at the printing industry in Hungary.
In 2010, there were 6,026 establishments in NAICS 561439 (Business Service Centers [Including Copy Shops]). By 2018, that number had declined to 5,305. In macro news, weekly initial unemployment claims were at 965,000, an increase of 181,000 from the previous week.
2020 was the “year of the mushroom,” apparently—and lobsters, too. A 16th-century doctor’s plague prevention manual is relevant to COVID. The company out to replace plastic packaging with metal. A collection of the weird swag pharmaceutical reps used to give to doctors. Researchers recently unearthed the oldest painting of an animal. Balloon-based pizza delivery. The history of nachos. Praying mantises watch TV. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s New Year’s miscellany.
A great many industries leverage before and after results because highlighting a contrast can be powerful, inspiring, and attention-grabbing. Savvy print sales organizations understand how to use sales metrics to capture a clear before and after picture. This article discusses the importance of sales metrics and explores how they can be used to make more informed business decisions.
If you are a designer working in a larger organization, you probably have access to formal color standards. But there are a growing number of freelancers starting their own businesses, and creating color standards that ensure what gets printed carries out your design intent is not a trivial process. Textiles expert and WhatTheyThink contributor Debbie Mckeegan rides to the rescue with a free color chart to get you on your way.
B2B buyers are using more pieces of content in their research than in prior years. This means more things you can print and distribute digitally for your customers. But exactly what types of content do they see as valuable enough to register for and for which they are willing to provide information about themselves and their companies?
The printing industry is becoming more dynamic—not just as it relates to COVID-19 but in general. Everything is moving and increasing in velocity. Our ability to thrive in this environment requires a dynamic business approach, one that is characterized by constant change. A business must adjust according to its current conditions. This is a path to systemizing a dynamic business, one that is characterized by constant change—but a constant change that doesn’t leave your people behind.
It is often said that the level of thinking (and leadership) that got us to where we are today will not take us to the next level. In this article, Wayne Lynn talks about learning to manage paradox. It requires individual and organizational growth. It is sorely needed in a world beset with pandemics, civil unrest, and political polarization.
On January 7, the Flint Group kicked off the year with an organizational announcement that makes a great deal of sense for its business; in fact, many of us have wondered why it took so long. The company formed a new division, XSYS, which combines Flint Group Flexographic and Xeikon Prepress into a single Flint Group division, led by Dagmar Schmidt as President. Read more for all the details.
With €3.1 billion in revenues and more than 17,000 employees, the graphic arts industry in the Netherlands is among the largest in Europe. But there are additional print segments as well, adding to a total print market of close to €6 billion. This is the fifth part of a series of articles on the size of and trends in the printing industry in key countries in Europe.
An honest preview of the year to come. The Great Gatsby is now in the public domain—and there is already clamoring for a Muppets version. A new H.G. commemorative coin has a couple of errors. Google’s Verse By Verse uses AI to help us write a poem. DALL·E uses AI to generate images from text prompts. An oral history of Bed Bath and Beyond’s big blue coupon. The origin of the Pez dispenser. The AR version of the New York Times crossword. An often hysterical mashup of North By Northwest and Star Wars. Denmark’s…bizarre idea for a children’s cartoon. McDonald’s China launched a Spam and Oreo burger, for reasons passing understanding. KFC has a combination game console/chicken warmer. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s New Year’s miscellany.
The customer communication process is becoming increasingly complex. Thanks to ongoing innovations in customer segmentation and data mining, businesses now know more about their customers than ever before. This article explores the latest strategies for delivering data-driven communications.
A recent report from McKinsey stated that 58% of fashion executives expected that assortment planning was a key area for 2021. The direct result means “less is more,” holding less stock and replenishing at speed in-tune with data and sales analytics. But how do they get that done? It means overcoming decades of doing things a certain way, and we all know that change is difficult. Further driving the need to make these changes are increased focus on sustainability and the need to restructure supply chains. These can be accomplished by, among other things, simplifying fabric printing, and as textiles expert and WhatTheyThink contributor Debbie McKeegan points out in this article, that requires increased use of digital technologies across the board.
Many print companies have reinvented their business models and service offerings to overcome the challenges presented by the pandemic, but not every printer can develop a new proofing solution or create 100% automated, touchless production. But that doesn't mean that you can’t make changes that improve your ability to weather the pandemic and set yourself up for success. Heidi Tolliver-Walker offers some tips from an organization outside the printing industry.
Integrate with your customers’ systems so that your technologies have relationships just like your people have relationships. The more ties that bind you and your customers together, the less likely you will divorce!
Pat McGrew offers her list of three recommendations for print businesses to start doing that will help them grow and thrive. The print business may continue on a roller coaster as we move through the first half of the year, but that makes it a great time to tune your workflows and ensure you are getting the most from each of your systems.
If you are interested in textiles and how they are woven through human history (pun intended), The Fabric of Civilization: How Textiles Made the World is a well-written and very informative history of how fabrics have been part of human history from the beginning. In this article, we take a look at silk—not it’s history so much, but at where it might go from here.
As we enter 2021, we have reasons to be optimistic, maybe even over-optimistic. So let’s put the old year behind us (to the extent that we can), jump feet-first into the new one, and resolve never to use terms like “the new normal” or “pivot” ever again. Instead, let’s look at some of the substantial new opportunities for wide-format graphics and signage. What can we be over-optimistic about?
Amazon launches made-to-measure T-shirts. 3D printing with graphene. 3D printing pollen grains. Checking in with the inventor of the QR code. Are robot pets a solution for COVID-induced loneliness? A “find the fake written language” visual test.” A European map of different forms of quotation marks. The dispute over Cap’n Crunch’s rank. Sax kittens. ELECTRONICOS FANTASTiCOS! Poems based on A Christmas Carol. Replace the Yule Log with this Dumpster fire video. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s blizzard of miscellaneous items.
“Retail” embodies vastly different kinds of businesses, all of which have fared differently during the pandemic. As a result, rather than V-shaped, perhaps we should think of it as a K-shaped recovery. But what does that mean for retail graphics?
Although the ongoing pandemic is certainly not the first hurdle that the printing industry has encountered, printers have proven themselves to be very resilient during challenging times. Past recessions have certainly impacted the print industry, but they didn’t happen seemingly overnight the way COVID did. This article explores how PSPs are leveraging their core competencies to uncover new opportunities that will carry them to the future.
2020 was not the year we expected it to be. WhatTheyThink European section editor Ralf Schlözer reviews some of the key developments that shaped the printing and communication industry in 2020 in Europe—and most likely in the years to come.
How do you switch an entire industry to sustainable technologies and increased profitability? It’s been done in the past, of course, but never on the scale of the multi-trillion-dollar textiles and apparel industry. While it may seem impossible to turn this large ship in a new direction, the past year has caused some significant shifts to happen. Here’s what textiles expert and WhatTheyThink contributor Debbie McKeegan has to say about this shift and what it may mean for the future.
2020 has forced us to rethink every aspect of business, including where and how it’s conducted. Thankfully, we have the technology, skillset and expertise to create a better customer experience, share and engage with buyers, partners, and customers, and showcase our essential role as print professionals. Contributor Joanne Gore looks at the changes the year has wrought on the way we communicate.
Is the COVID-19 pandemic fueling a rise in the use of QR codes? Yes, and for a simple reason—they provide a safe, touchless way to communicate between businesses and their customers. We see this anecdotally, but data from a recent poll by MobileIron support this observation, as well.
Cary Sherburne talks to Diana Wyman, Executive Vice President at the American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists (AATCC), about the state of the association, the occasion of its 100-year anniversary, and its upcoming plans.
Selling during the pandemic is like selling during a widespread economic downturn. You have to figure out the market segments who are least impacted or, in COVID-19’s case. find the companies who are positively impacted. Directing your sales efforts is critical to closing new business.
Marc Olin co-founded ProGraph in 1989 right out of college and has stayed with the same company through its many iterations since, through formation of PrintCafe and acquisition by EFI. Effective December 1, 2020, Olin has left EFI to explore his next chapter. Senior Editor Cary Sherburne spoke with Olin to revisit history and get a look toward the future for this industry veteran who has contributed much to the industry over the years.
The COVID crisis laid bare the weaknesses and fragility of the textiles supply chain, and brought to the fore a renewed interest in and need for digital textile production and more environmentally sustainable practices. Cary Sherburne takes a look back at the year in textiles.
In this bimonthly series, WhatTheyThink is presenting the state of the printing industry in different European countries based on the latest monthly production numbers. This last installment for 2020 features a look at the printing industry in Turkey.
Trish Witkowski looks back at the major trends in binding and finishing—including a growing interest in embellishments, book-of-one, and robots/cobots/automation. She also looks at a large handful of new products and solutions that hit the market in 2020.
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.