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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
In 2016, there were 5,650 Sign Manufacturing establishments (NAICS 33995). The decline and rise of sign manufacturing over the course of the 2010s reflects the impact of the Great Recession, as well as the recovery and the growth of digital printing into traditional signmaking.
10% of Americans do not use the Internet. The Comma Queen” tours Greece. The rise of the Post Office—and the decline of dueling. A new app measures the loudness of restaurants. The Presidential candidates’ typography. A requiem for the old Penn Station. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.
Old and new sign production technologies were on display this week in Las Vegas at the 75th Annual ISA Sign Expo and, as an additional indication of how the disparate pars of the printing industry are concverging, ISA announced that as of next year the Sign Expo will colocate with Impressions Expo, formerly the Imprinted Sportswear Show.
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.
Back in early 2018, we spoke with Mike Horsten, then Business Manager for Large Format Professional EMEA at HP, about HP’s potential plans for entering the digital textile printing market. Now, more than a year later, HP has made its first announcements, launching the HP Stitch series of textile printers. The company held a media briefing to discuss its strategy.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The first Heavy Metal Knitting World Championships. Running shoes that can be recycled. A 3D-printed human heart. Danger! Facebook is launching a voice assistant! Run! Cursive handwriting is coming back. Netflix is producing a magazine. “Balloon-related incidents.” All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.
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 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.
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.
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?
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.
A press release from EFI Monday morning caught the industry by surprise. The company announced a definitive agreement to be acquired by an affiliate of Siris Capital Group LLC. Senior Editor Cary Sherburne spoke with CEO Bill Muir and CFO Marc Olin to get some background on the announcement.
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.
In 2016, there were 2,556 establishments classified as Outdoor Advertising (NAICS 54185). In 2010, NAICS 54185 comprised 2,378 establishments—but note that the Census Bureau changed the name of this category in 2012.
The current state of the US textile industry. Ironic commemorative stamps. Making a giant paper dragon. Photographing a black hole. A font of typography news. An encyclopedia of unknowns. Robot-penned books. A screenwriter toys with a Facebook Messenger scammer. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
In Winter 2018/2019, we conducted our annual Print Business Outlook Survey and found that business in 2018 was perceived by survey respondents as overall pretty good: 42% said that revenues had increased by six percent or more compared to 2017.
April Fool’s Day: some cautionary tales. Pantone’s color matching for 3D printing. Be careful when you share your screen. Repossessing eBooks. Gin and tonic toothpaste. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.
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.”
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.
ISA Sign Expo 2019 heads to Las Vegas later this month, with four days of educational sessions and its continuously expanding exhibition floor. We spoke with Brandon Hensley, ISA’s Chief Operating Officer, and Iain Mackenzie, ISA’s VP of Meetings & Events, about what’s new this year.
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.
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.
The Fashion Institute of Technology and OnPoint Manufacturing yesterday announced a new development in fashion design that will enable more entrepreneurism to occur in this market. Unique.Fashion is a unique web portal for designers and buyers that is set to transform how fashion is marketed and produced. Senior Editor Cary Sherburne spoke with OnPoint Chairman Kirby Best to learn more.
“The craft, precision, and unexpected beauty of the newspaper printing process.” Rebirth of a paper mill. Keyless in New York. The 14th-Century Mappa Mundi. “Alien”: The Play. Garfield phones storm the beaches. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We recently wrote about graphene as a miracle product. At TechTextil 2019, Senior Editor Cary Sherburne was able to see graphene in action, courtesy of Kyorene. In this story, she speaks with Matt Reid, the company’s director of sales, about current and future strategies of the business, and how he expects to see graphene impact the textiles market.
Overall, annualized printing industry profits for Q4 2018 were $3.66 billion—not a massive gain from Q3 but a gain nonetheless (we’ll take it). It also appears that the “tale of two cities” trend is—at least temporarily—on hold.
Which book was the most popular in your state in 2018? Did early humans' dietary changes affect speech? What new words did the OED add to the English lexicon? How are Gen Zers’ sustainable buying preferences driving new apparel products? Is Munch’s “Scream” guy actually screaming? People still use MySpace? Have you heard Vienna’s Vegetable Orchestra? All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.
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.
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.
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?
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?
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.
Print books remain more popular than digital formats. Save the date: WTIN’s digital textile webinar. The first laptop typewriter. Why did people stop wearing hats? An exhibition of really tiny books. Unlucky in love? Try writing to a tree. (No, not D. Eadward Tree.) All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
Forensic garment analysts. Fast fashion and the environment. A toast matching system. John Steinbeck sends Marilyn Monroe a fan letter...sort of. Death of a robot. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.
InPrint USA heads to Louisville, Ky., to showcase the latest opportunities for commercial printers in the fast-growing area(s) of industrial printing. Richard Romano offers a preview, and talks with InPrint co-founder Frazer Chesterman about the show and industrial printing.
Last month, Pantone entered into an agreement with FiberForce Italy to bring Pantone colors into the world of 3D printing. Although color has been available in 3D printing filaments and powders for some time, there has been no standard way to ensure users achieve the color they are truly looking for. All of that changes with this partnership. Senior Editor Cary Sherburne spoke with both Pantone and FiberForce to learn more.
During odd-numbered years, the Hunkeler-sponsored Innovationdays event in Luzern, Switzerland, features finishing solutions for the transactional, commercial graphic arts, and book industries. This article provides a brief overview of the announcements that brought the theme of automation to the forefront at this year’s event.
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.
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.
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.
Window graphics are a growing subset of wide-format printing, and are popping up in more and more locations, both public and private, and new films and materials are making window graphics more versatile and eye-catching than ever. Printing is the easy part; it’s installation that can cause problems, and eat into your profitability. Here are some dos and don’t for working with window graphics.
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.
In 2010, there were 38,335 establishments classified as Advertising, Public Relations, and Related Services. By 2016, there had been a net loss of -1.2%. This is a very broad industry classification, comprising a disparate bunch of business types, each of which has its own unique dynamics.
Getting a text from sender to receiver. The Internet of shoes. Nuclear testing and Kodak film. An oral history of “Office Space.” In praise of standards. Retrieving DNA from old books. Digitize yourself for the perfect fit. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.
HP Indigo hosted its annual Global VIP event in Tel Aviv, Israel, from February 11–14, 2019. This year’s event drew over 650 visitors to HP Indigo’s headquarters, production, and Research & Development sites to learn about the company’s latest offerings. The event highlighted the latest devices in HP’s digital press lineup and also discussed business opportunities for growing applications.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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?
Since 1997, the value of printing shipments went from around 0.75% of GDP all the way down to about 0.35%. So we should not be surprised that parts of the printing industry are falling off the government’s radar.
Fabric that responds to its wearer. I got my soul shoes on my feet. (Maybe.) The world’s first photographed human. An E Ink typewriter that only does one thing...like a typewriter. The earliest book covers. The calming sound of a dot matrix printer. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
An announcement from WeaveUp, a technology company offering digital print room solutions and customization tools for fabric, about its partnership with JOANN Fabrics, the leading fabric and craft retailer in the U.S., caught our eye. Senior Editor Cary Sherburne connected with Flint Davis, the company’s President, to learn more.
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.