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Deconsolidation of the Consolidators—October 2020 M&A Activity

LSC Jettisons Creel Las Vegas Before Final Sale to Atlas, Brook & Whittle Acquires, Traxium Files Bankruptcy, and more…

Folding Paperboard Box Manufacturing Establishments—2010–2018

In 2010, there were 491 establishments in NAICS 322212 (Folding Paperboard Box Manufacturing). By 2018, that number had declined to 440, despite a spurt of post-recession growth. In macro news, the BEA’s advance estimate of 3Q GDP saw it increasing +33.1%—a climbing out of Q2’s -31.4% hole.

Around the Web: Postal Performance. Fictional Fragrance. Ballpoint Bio. News Negation. Java Jacket. Canvas Cosplay. Cetacean Savior.

A street-corner performance artist writes and mails “pick-me-up” letters. Powell’s Books is selling the smell of its bookstore. A history of the ballpoint pen, the “smartphone of its era.” The controversy over “unpublishing.” AI-enabled camera mistakes a ref’s head for a soccer ball. New Kickstarter for a coat made from “coffee yarn.” A malfunctioning 3D printer inspires a new form of textile. At “The Bob Ross Experience,” fans can dress up as and paint along with the PBS art instructor. A 3D art “performance” at the Brussels airport. A whale sculpture prevents a train from plummeting to its doom. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s post-electoral miscellany.

Leveraging LinkedIn to Stay Connected

When it comes to developing a sales strategy, LinkedIn is a superior platform because it has done a great job of remaining professional, clean, credible, and reliable. Although other platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are also great tools for business development, they tend to intersect more with users’ personal lives. This article explores how LinkedIn can best be used to establish and maintain those all-important connections during the pandemic.

Why Late Fall Is the Best Time to Order Canvas Prints

Canvas prints aren’t exactly seasonal products—thanks to the online printing industry you can order excellent canvas prints all year round. But placing an order in late fall can have particular benefits, especially if you’re ordering from BestCanvas.ca. Want to know why? In this article, sponsored by BestCanvas, you’ll find out!

Paper or Plastic: Depending on the Application, Printing Digitally on Synthetic Substrates May Be Worth Premium Pricing

Digitally printing on synthetic paper and plastics is more expensive than running traditional, wood-fiber papers on press, but certain products may be worth the expense, especially in the COVID era. Contributor Mark Vruno looks at the latest in synthetic papers.

Direct-to-Garment Printing Industry Boosted by Massive Growth in Online Sales

One thing the pandemic has boosted is online shopping. And one application that is experiencing terrific growth is direct-to-garment printing, allowing consumers to personalize their T-shirts and other items. Guest contributor Peter Wright, Managing Director of Amaya Ltd., shares more information.

A Tale of Two Informed Delivery Interactive Promotions

The U.S. Post Office’s Informed Delivery service offers a free interactive campaign feature. But just because it’s free doesn’t mean you shouldn’t think it through. It’s a great opportunity. Don’t waste it!

Cracking the Code: Is Your Packaging Secure?

While product counterfeiting has been an issue for many years, brands are now determined to address the issue head on. Security is becoming a crucial part of the packaging process, especially in the age of COVID.

KODAK NEXFINITY Digital Press: Versatility that Helps Printers say “Yes”

Print service providers who can say “yes” to virtually any job are at an advantage today. This article, sponsored by Kodak, explains how the KODAK NEXFINITY is a compelling solution for printers seeking a robust, flexible, effective sheetfed digital color press, delivering running costs competitive with medium-run offset andprints up to 400% more pages per month than competing sheetfed digital presses.

User Adoption and a Useful Crisis (COVID-19)

A crisis is also an opportunity, and COVID-19 is no exception. The rate of adaptation taking place is one of the most powerful forces at play in 2020. Entire populations are expanding their comfort zones with online tools, remote learning, and working from home.

European Print Industry Snapshot: Spain

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 features a look at the printing industry in Spain.

New Directory Connects Manufacturers and Suppliers to Meet PPE Needs

Colorkarma and Gerber Technology have teamed up to help local manufacturers quickly adjust and ramp up production lines to meet need for personal protective equipment (PPE). Together, they have launched a new PPE Task Force Directory.

Lane Changers and Game Changers: Competitive Diversification with Inkjet

Inkjet is not only entering new markets, it’s changing the way we think about and operate in those markets. As more printing companies adopt inkjet, we are seeing more “lane changers”: printing companies, like transaction printers and direct mailers, stepping outside their traditional segments and taking on new applications. Inkjet Insight’s Elizabeth Gooding takes a close look at how lane changing is becoming game changing.

Fan Club: Ricoh Helps Brings Virtual Spectators to UT Game Day

In the face of prohibitions on live fan attendance at sporting events, both college and pro sports teams are filling empty stadiums with printed spectators. Read how Ricoh helped two sports programs take advantage of wide-format printing to connect with fans while also helping raise money for health initiatives.

Lilly Pulitzer Gains Valuable Capabilities with Digital Fabric Printing

The story of how Lilly Pulitzer got started as a fashion designer is fascinating, and so is the story of how the company has leveraged digital printing technologies to streamline its workflow and unleash increased design creativity. Senior Editor Cary Sherburne spoke with Margaret Getty, Lilly Pulitzer Senior Associate for Woven Fabric and Trim, to learn more.

Johnson’s World—Cheese, Sausage, Mushrooms, Shipping: Expand Your Reach and Find Your Niche

Looking for new markets? Tired of the same ol’ conversations about quality and price? Think: is there a simple action or additional service that will take out the competition?

Sizing the European Printing Industry: UK

With £14 billion in revenue and about 112,000 employees, the graphic arts industry in the UK is fifth largest worldwide and the second largest in Europe. Revenues have been surprisingly stable in recent years, but COVID made a big dent in 2020 production volumes. This is the second part of a series of articles on the size of and trends in the printing industry in key countries in Europe.

North Coast Litho Continues Digital Journey with iJetColorPro Envelope Press from Printware: Investment Decision Fueled by Need for Quality, Productivity

North Coast Litho devoted a great deal of time and effort in assessing digital printing options, waiting until it could find solutions that met its extremely high quality requirements and that of its customers. It found that quality level in digital presses, acquired in 2011 and 2016, but only recently was able to find the same level of quality in an envelope press, acquiring the iJetColorPro from Printware in 2020. General Manager Bob Strohmeyer explains in this article, sponsored by Printware.

Around the Web: Frightening Figurines. Kooky Costumes. Mouse Mastication. Table Talk. Tracing Textiles. Poll Posters. Lunging Leopards.

Precious Moments figurines repainted for Halloween. A photo gallery of some of weirdest and/or ill-advised Halloween costumes ever. New eco-conscious automotive wiring is eaten by rats. A new app and connected tablecloth tells you what’s on your table, for some reason. A new book traces the history of textiles. RIT opens a digital exhibition of suffrage posters. Classic jazz album cover designs. Some questions about Burger King’s reusable packaging. Never pay for a “full contact experience” with a leopard. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s spooktacular miscellany.

Q2 Profits Unchanged from Q1—But Still Bad

Given the lag time in the release of quarterly profits, we have to time travel back to Q2, much as it pains us to do so, where we see that annualized profits for Q2 2020 stayed steady at -$4 billion.

Rising Stars: Bolton School of Arts Graduates Scoop Industry Awards for Surface Design

UK-based Bolton School of Arts, School of Textiles and Surface Design, has worked closely with its graduates to help them find new ways to overcome the pandemic hurdles. In this article by textiles expert and WhatTheyThink contributor Debbie McKeegan, several of its award-winning graduates are featured.

Is Your Management Software Ready for Industry Convergence?

As print service providers (PSPs) onboard more applications supporting a diversified set of customers and industries, it becomes more of a challenge to manage the unique requirements of those industry segments with a single business management tool. PSPs looking to expand into new markets and applications must ensure that their business management system is up to par. This article explores how these systems must adapt to support the requirements of the future.

COVID-19 Spurs Proofing Innovation at Continental Web Press—and Wins New Business

When clients are used to traveling for press checks of color-sensitive documents, then a global pandemic severely hampers business travel, how do you continue to meet the needs of those clients? You create a brand-new proofing solution. At least, that’s what you do if you’re Continental Web Press.

The Death of Paper-Based Processes

Your business processes need to move off of paper and into software. This was important before COVID-19, and like everything else, COVID-19 has simply accelerated this trend. Paper is no longer a viable business process medium.

A Wrinkle in the Plan: Is Cut-and-Sew a Barrier to Reshoring in the Textiles Industry?

Fashion and apparel brands are trying to reshore textile production, but the finishing part of the process is proving challenging: cut-and-sew. Automation has its limitations, and skilled sewists are hard to come by domestically. Cary Sherburne looks into some of the solutions to these challenges.

Digital Packaging Migration: “Déjà Vu All Over Again”?

Can the digital packaging transition learn from commercial print transition experiences, and increase the rate of migration, or are they destined to relive the same growth pains?

“Do You Want Fries with That?”—Consider Incremental Selling

Take a look at the product mix you offer. What products can you pair up or also offer to increase your offerings to customers? Pat McGrew explains how incremental sales can be a winning strategy for print businesses.

The Show Must Go On(line): The PRINTING United Digital Experience Kicks Off with Wide Format

Yesterday, the PRINTING United Digital Experience kicked off with a day’s worth of sessions and product demos surrounding the world of Graphics and Wide Format: Hardware & Consumables. Richard Romano “attended” Day 1 and reports on the four sessions.

How the Pandemic is Affecting the Textiles Supply Chain...Or Is It?

Even before the pandemic, there was lots of discussion about how the textiles and apparel industry needed to re-examine its supply chain both for increased efficiencies and to reduce the industry’s environmental footprint. Has the pandemic accelerated this? Learn more.

Epson Launches New SureColor R-Series Printers for Signage; Resin-Based Inks Take on Latex

Epson is expanding its footprint in the signage market with the new SureColor R-Series—two 64-inch roll-to-roll printers that utilize a resin-based ink technology that is intended as an alternative to latex.

Around the Web: Candy Cruise. Academic Apparel. Novel Notions. Susceptible Satellites. Listing Letters. Sustainable Sandwiches.

Candy chutes for social-distanced trick or treating. The International Library for Fashion Research set to open in Oslo. Clever but strange inventions from the early 20th century. What would we do without GPS? A new book traces the history of alphabetical order. (No, really.) Burger King tries out reusable packaging. RIP Ed Benguiat. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly track-and-tracing miscellany.

Paperboard Container Manufacturing Establishments—2010–2018

In 2010, there were 2,205 establishments in NAICS 32221 (Paperboard Container Manufacturing). By 2018, that number had declined -11% to 1,961. In macro news, the American Institute of Architects’ Architecture Billings Index (ABI) score was up in September. This is a leading indicator for the economy in general, but also for the signage market in particular.

A Passion for Fashion: Meet Class of 2020 Graduate Amelia Hughes

It’s always exciting and rewarding to view the launch of new careers in fashion design. In this week’s article, we share the story of recent graduate Amelia Hughes and her hopes for the future in an interview conducted by textiles expert and WhatTheyThink contributor Debbie McKeegan.

Reducing Costs through Cybersecurity

A sudden shift to digital workflows has created opportunity for cybercriminals to exploit unprepared businesses. This article puts forward three low-investment tips to help print companies prevent data breaches in 2020 and beyond.

The Question Print Sales People Must Be Prepared to Answer

A seasoned print buyer offers insight into what newly minted print salespeople often do wrong and what they need to do right instead.

Talking Textiles: The Supply Chain, Sustainability, and the Impact of Digital Technologies

The COVID-19 crisis has upended the fashion industry, but it has also given the industry an unprecedented opportunity to reinvent itself for the better. Texintel CEO Debbie McKeegan discusses the supply chain, sustainability, and the impact of digital technologies on textile production.

Selling Print is Never Going Back to Normal

Sales is never going back to normal. The pandemic didn’t create anything new—it simply accelerated what was already happening. Evolve your sales team now; donuts and face to face meetings aren’t coming back.

European Print Industry Snapshot: Belgium

According to the Eurostat production index, the printing industry in Belgium did fairly well in 2019 and even during the COVID-19 crisis in 2020, despite the country being hit hard by the virus. Although production volumes in 2019 were down compared to 2015, Belgium did better than the European Union average in the production index for printing and recorded media.

Smart Photo Books: An Interview with Michal Czaicki, CEO of Printbox

Smart photo books are the next major trend in the photo products market. In this article, sponsored by Enterprise Photo Product Software provider Printbox, CEO Michal Czaicki talks about this new product area, and Printbox’s new Smart Creation photo book designer.

Corrugated Growth and Challenges Part 2: Design Opportunities and Cost Challenges

Growth projections from the pre-COVID forecast for digital print for packaging are just slightly below the initial 2019 forecast in the short term, while a longer-term forecast looks much more encouraging. However, moving from analog to digital production brings some challenges.

Ricoh Expands its Direct-to-Garment Offerings with New Ri 2000 Printer

Back in early 2016, Ricoh acquired AnaJet, a leader at the time in direct-to-garment (DTG) printing. Since that time, the company has continued to develop its DTG portfolio, recently adding a new, more productive printer to its line. We spoke with Deputy General Manager for Ricoh’s Industry Print Business, Christian Compera, to learn more.

Heidelberg Swaps drupa for Innovation Week

A small group of trade journalists was invited to get a first-hand look at products and services which were originally scheduled to launch at drupa 2020. For many journalists, this was the first on site event since the COVID-19 outbreak. The general audience will be able to experience the drupa 2020 news as part of the Heidelberg Innovation Week. WhatTheyThink European section editor Ralf Schlözer was there.

Packaging Is Changing: Is It to Our Benefit or Our Fault?

Packaging trends have been shifting since before the COVID-19 pandemic and will continue after it becomes a footnote in history, although perhaps at an accelerated pace. The real drivers for change are the rise of urban living and mega-cities and increased environmental awareness. This all means that packaging-based supply chains will continue to adapt to the growing population centers and drive packaging growth and shifts.

Around the Web: Tracking Typefaces. Maximum Multiverse. Paying Paintings. Computerized Comics. Trolley Trade. Tormented Tourist. Cyber Saint. Softer Sparrows.

A new type specimen project. A typeface for people with poor vision. Tommy Hilfiger helps make fashion more sustainable. The Large Hadron Collider may be about to locate a parallel universe. Large paintings of medical bills are sold to pay those same medical bills. Can robots be funny? Qantas sells off fully stocked drinks carts. A tourist steals “cursed” relics from Pompeii. The “patron saint of the Internet” is a millennial who is on the verge of canonization. San Francisco’s birds got quieter during lockdown. Thirteen centuries of English in two minutes. Two words: fruit ninja. Remembering Dave Chandler. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly autumnal miscellany.

August Printing Shipments—The Rebound Continues

In August 2020, printing shipments rose to $6.90 billion—the third straight month of increasing shipments—and while it’s still well below August 2019’s $7.52 billion, given where we came from, that ain’t bad.

The Paradoxes of Stress

We all, at one level or another, understand that we live in difficult times. Never before have we expected, even demanded, so much from our leaders. Meeting those expectations is the most fundamental challenge for today’s leaders. Since leadership implies followership, if we don’t meet those expectations the best we’re likely to get is disinterested and disengaged followers. We must strive to be better.

Digital Textile Printing and Sustainability: Reducing the Ecological Footprint of Printing

In order to reduce the ecological footprint of textile printing, a lifecycle assessment of the entire printing process is essential. In this SPGPrints guest article first published on Texintel.com, Jos Notermans talks about how digital technologies can improve the sustainability position of the textiles industry and reduce the environmental footprint of textile printing.

Getting the Goods Online

Although sales reps might not be able to visit offices in person for quite some time, this doesn’t mean that sales channels have been hung out to dry. There are still plenty of ways to reach customers and prospects so they can see your offerings online. This article shares some tactics for standing out from the pack and ensuring that your digital content does what you need.

Web-to-Print Product Spotlight: Propago

Most web-to-print software solutions are built inside software companies. Propago was built inside a large commercial printer. This is a unique origin story for a software platform and it tells us a lot about how and why features made it into the Propago product. Print Software Section Editor Jennifer Matt takes a close look at Propago’s web-to-print solution.

How Buyer Behavior Changes in a “Shelter in Place” World

How is shopper behavior changing as a result of the coronavirus pandemic? How does that shape the channels you use and the positioning of your messaging? One survey provides some insight.

Johnson’s World: Don’t Keep Secrets—You Are the Best Promoter for Print

It’s up to us, the people who “make stuff,” to make sure our friends and neighbors know that print is alive in their communities, and that it needs their support. A century ago no one needed to point out the importance of print as an industry; it was assumed. No longer. We need to be more vocal about the important role we play. In the latest installment of Johnson’s World, Steve Johnson explains what you can do to get the word out.

Executive Q&A: Canon Solutions America’s Francis McMahon

We caught up with Francis A. McMahon, Executive Vice President at Canon Solutions America, in the wake of the virtual thINK Ahead 2020 Conference to talk about how Canon’s customers are faring in the crisis, how Canon itself has responded, and how the crisis has demonstrated the wisdom of the Grateful Dead lyric, “Once in a while you get shown the light/In the strangest of places If you look at it right.”

Carpe Signum: Signs Come Home

The COVID pandemic has wrought many changes in the printing industry in general and the sign industry in particular, but one interesting development has been an increase in residential signage. The market for this kind of signage may not disappear once the pandemic does (if the pandemic ever does)—and it can prove to be a lucrative opportunity worth seizing.

Corrugated Growth and Challenges Part 1: If It Was Easy, Everyone Would Be Doing It

The potential opportunities in corrugated packaging are significant, but like any other process, if it was easy, everyone would be doing it. In this article, we will look at some of the technical challenges.

Take Action Now to Survive the Future

The COVID-19 pandemic is forcing the world to change quickly, and printers don’t have the luxury of waiting to see what’s going to happen. They must start getting business as quickly as possible and make up for the weeks of sale losses. To survive, it will take fast action on the part of print owners to adjust to the new post-virus economy. Luckily, most practices are already available to deal  with the new dynamics. John Giles explains how many printers are reviewing their business practices as they deal with what they have learned from the lockdown.

Sizing the European Printing Industry: Germany

With €19.9 bn in revenue and more than 120,000 employees, the graphic arts industry in Germany is large—and the largest in Europe. But there are additional print segments as well, adding to a total print market of €35bn. This is the first of a series of articles on the size of and trends in the printing industry in key countries in Europe.

Why RPI’s Rick Bellamy Thinks We Are in the Golden Age of Print…and Much More

Seattle-based RPI recently made several acquisitions, actions that caught our eye in light of the uncertain times we find ourselves in. We reached out to CEO Rick Bellamy to get an update on RPI, the strategy behind the acquisitions, and Bellamy’s general feelings about the industry at large.

Converted Paper Product Manufacturing Establishments—2010–2018

In 2010, there were 4,128 establishments in NAICS 3222 (Converted Paper Product Manufacturing). By 2018, that number had declined -12% to 3,547. In macro news, the unemployment rate drops, but not entirely for the right reasons.

Around the Web: Apt Art. Fish Fashion. Sailing Sweets. Bones’n’Brands. Terrifying Telegram. Faux Font. Rocketing Roof. Biting Bot. Google ’Glyphics. COVID Christmas. Brutal Bugs.

RIT’s exhibit of early 20th-century political cartoons. Leather made from fish skin.  A zipline candy delivery system for COVID-era trick or treating. Home Depot’s giant skeleton barges its way into other brands’ social media. Send a “Screaming Telegram” to that special someone? New Tarot card decks for the 21st century...and beyond. Don’t use Arial for, you know, real design. Tesla invents the “inadvertent convertible.” A dental training robot goes rogue. Google’s machine learning-based hieroglyph translator. Santa will be social distancing this year. Who is surprised that the murder hornets have a “slaughter phase”? RIP Eddie Van Halen. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly autumnal miscellany.

How Are Newly At-Home Workers Using Paper?

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has many of us working from home much more frequently than we did in the past. How are people who continue to work from home—at least for the time being—using paper? This article cites research from a recent Keypoint Intelligence study to explore how newly at-home workers are fulfilling paper-based business processes.

How Creative Design Is Helping CBD Packaging Stand Out

The market for CBD, a cannabis derivative has climbed from $108 million in 2014 to $845 million in 2019. Current projections have the industry growing close to the $2 billion mark by 2022. CBD and cannabis products need not only protection from the elements—they need unique custom containers and packaging that help them stand out. This article, sponsored by Renegade, looks at companies that have incorporated beautiful and innovative design elements with superb materials to stand out on store shelves.

Speed x Sustainability = The Digital Imperative

In order to achieve the change required in the textiles and apparel industry, brands and manufacturers must be able to deliver product diversity at any scale – a new generation of agile manufacturing. While this clearly requires the adoption of digital technologies, like other industries moving along the analog-to-digital continuum, it doesn’t mean that analog technologies are going away. Read this insightful piece by textiles expert and WhatTheyThink contributor Debbie McKeegan.

CJK Goes Global as Cenveo Unwinds—September 2020 M&A Activity

Cenveo sells off content services, Meyers expands label business, and more…

Pivot Points: Change Management Is an Important Factor in Today’s HR Practice

In normal times, businesses use change management techniques to help employees adjust to changes driven by things like process automation. But these “abnormal” times are driving unprecedented change throughout our lives and our businesses, and it is more important now than ever before to help our employees come to terms with the changes that are required of them in order to smoothly move our businesses forward. PrintLink’s Arnold Kahn and Dino Scalia explain how.

The State of Multichannel Marketing Year over Year

DemandMetric and PFL have released their 2020 “State of Multichannel Marketing” report, a survey of 600 marketers on their use of multichannel marketing and coordinated marketing efforts. This is the second year that the companies have paired up to conduct the research, so we look at some highlights of the year-over-year results.

Decision Fatigue in Software Implementations

Making decisions wears us out, even easy decisions like what to wear, what to eat for breakfast. Decision fatigue is something we need to manage especially when it comes to projects that require lots and lots of decisions (like Print MIS implementations). 

Building a Realistic Sales and Marketing Strategy

How many meetings have you been a part of where the head of sales points fingers at the marketing team and exclaims that no leads are being delivered, therefore marketing is failing? How many meetings have you been a part of where marketing details their program and engagement plan with no feedback from the sales teams? Pat McGrew explains how to get everyone on the same page and not working at cross-purposes.

Build a More Connected Community During a Pandemic

Sign companies have had to quickly adapt to provide more relevant signs for the ever-changing situation. Signs continue to assist us in our everyday lives as we try our best to slowly get back to business.

KODAK PROSPER ULTRA 520 Press: Closing the Gap

Printers know the benchmark for quality, paper choice, and operating cost has historically been the offset printing process. That’s where Kodak’s ULTRASTREAM Inkjet Technology comes in, which is redefining what’s possible with inkjet in terms of productivity, output quality, flexibility, and customization. This article, sponsored by Kodak, takes a close look at the Kodak PROSPER ULTRA 520 press.

What Streetwear Brands’ Response to COVID-19 Says About Apparel’s Future

Thanks to James Andres from S&S Activewear for contributing this week’s textiles article. Streetwear is a style of casual clothing which became global in the 1990s. The COVID-19 pandemic and increased work from home models have also increased demand for more casual clothing. Andres talks about how streetwear has contributed to art, creativity and philanthropy and profiles the response of four streetwear brands.

A Changing Environment: Environmental Graphics Evolve with the Pandemic

Once describing the intersection of signage and décor, the application area of environmental graphics now, in the age COVID, has come to embody new kinds of signage and display graphics—and are even moving into the home.

Q2 Publishing and Advertising Revenues

From Q1 to Q2, book, periodical, and newspaper publishers, as well as advertising and related markets, saw quarterly revenues drop, some quite abruptly. For some of these markets, the pandemic only accelerated trends that had been long-ongoing.

Around the Web: Waist-Up Wardrobe. Glorious Graphene. Frank Financials. Lovely Letterpress. Missing Manual. Tenacious Trash. Terrifying Tattoos. Yay for Yurts! Periodic Pantone.

Fashion brands are designing for the Zoom generation. New face mask technology from Georgia Tech. Why Costco’s hot dog and soda combo only costs $1.50. The “United States of Letterpress”—a collection of letterpress samples from across the country. The user manual for the world’s oldest preserved digital computer has finally been found. A national park in Thailand mails trash back to litterers. The most tattooed man in France frightens small children. What may help New York City restaurants get through the winter? Yurts. Geeking out on the number 42. David Mitchell defends a broadband-killing television. Strippers try to get out the vote. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly autumnal miscellany.

Amazon Accelerates the Ecommerce Race: Luxury Fashion, Sustainability and Print on Demand

Amazon has revolutionized retail sales and personalized/customized service. Now it looks like the company is taking it to the next level with the addition of a massive digital textile printing investment as part of its luxury stores where Amazon Prime customers can buy a wide range of top luxury fashion labels. This is part of Amazon’s Climate Friendly Pledge, helping customers make sustainable and eco-friendly purchasing decisions. Read more.

Winners of BLI 2021 Outstanding Innovation Awards Will Soon Be Unveiled

During a live virtual webinar, Keypoint Intelligence – BLI will honor the products and technologies that will help shape production printing for years to come. Winners in the production print space will be announced on Monday, October 5, at 10 a.m. (ET).

Newly Agile: Crisis Demands New Agility, Not a New Normal

We often hear that we are entering a “new normal”—but this assumes that there was ever an “old normal.” Nothing has been “normal” in the complexity of business change for at least several decades. Contributor Preston Herrin identifies five steps for “training” your organization to respond to change and crisis with speed and agility.

How a New Generation of Print Buyers Impacts You

If you are engaging with print buyers, you know that the process looks very different from the way it used to. Just ask Maeghan Nicholson, marketing manager of Suttle-Straus, a large commercial printer just outside Madison, Wis. After a wide-ranging conversation about changes in the process, here are three takeaways.

Selling Web-to-Print Portals

Web-to-print portals are the enabling technology behind a “print program” which can elevate your relationship with your customers from transactional to relational. That relationship becomes “stickier” when technology is embedded into the customer’s organization.

BoSacks Speaks Out: Disruption and Leadership During a Pandemic

With all the multiple disruptions happening in today’s marketplace, there is absolutely no room for complacency and nostalgic dogma. You and your company have to rethink the unthinkable, challenge all your assumptions, and see through the obstacles. BoSacks cites two companies who are rethinking what it means to be a publisher.

Hybrid and Bespoke Packaging Solutions: Using Component Technology Expands Print Options

Bespoke or “custom-built” solutions are moving print from a stand-alone process to become a part of the product manufacturing process. David Zwang takes a look at the current bespoke and hybrid packaging solutions, and the advantages they can have over pure digital or analog solutions.

What’s Your Strategy Strategy?

In any business, there can be multiple strategies, developed in individual departments with the best intentions, but resulting in a series of disconnected plans that have little chance of moving the company forward. In this article, Pat McGrew defines what constitutes a good strategy, and how you can (and should) combine your company’s assorted strategies into a single cohesive and actionable strategy.

ISA Quarterly Economic Report Forecasts Long Road to Recovery

According to the Q2 2020 ISA Quarterly Economic Report, the COVID crisis accelerated some trends both for print and digital signage that had started to emerge pre-crisis. The sign industry isn’t expected to recover to 2018 or 2019 levels until 2022.  

The Online Print Market in Europe Varies by Country, but Growth Is Universal

Online print in Europe offers a fairly mixed picture with some countries achieving considerable volumes generated via online ordering, while others are lagging behind. Still, volumes were on the rise everywhere—at least until the coronavirus crisis hit the industry. In this article, WhatTheyThink European section editor Ralf Schlözer looks at some revenue numbers, leading countries, major players, and growth rates.

AATCC Webinar Series Sheds Light on Textile-Related Testing for PPE

The American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists (AATCC) has a robust program of educational webinars. Most recently, the organization has sponsored a series of three important sessions related to testing and standards for PPE, especially important during this COVID-19 pandemic which shows no signs of ending. Of particular interest to our readers is a Duke University research project that developed a low-cost method for testing the efficacy of facemasks.

Around the Web: Budding Basil. Canadian Crime Wave. Silk Sensors. Postponed Postcards. Fotomat Finishing. Television Trouble. Type Trek. Marvelous Mountain. Squirrel Saloon.  

Canadian thieves target hot tubs and beef, for some reason. Silk-based ink can be used to create wearable sensors. A Michigan woman receives a postcard mailed in 1920. The rise and fall of the iconic Fotomat. An old TV causes trouble for a Welsh village. The typography of Star Trek. What is the best time zone? The Evel Knievel Stunt Cycle is back! All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly autumnal miscellany.

Direct Mail Advertising—2010–2018

In 2010, there were 3,088 establishments in NAICS 54186 (Direct Mail Advertising). By 2018, the number of these establishments had dropped to 2,341. In macro news: initial unemployment claims rise again.

Printing and Cyber Risk: Deal with IT or Die from IT

Whether it be a ransomware attack or a breach that lets cyberthieves make off with customer data, cyber risk is an ever-present danger for any print business—made worse in the age of COVID with more employees working from home on their own devices. Kevin Keane lays out some essential steps print businesses can take to boost their cybersecurity.

New York Textile Designer Elizabeth Halpern Shares Her Creative Journey and Passion for Print

Meet New York Textile Designer Elizabeth Halpern. She started out studying architecture but switched gears to work in the New York fashion district. In this Texintel interview, Halpern shares the story of her journey from architecture to fashion to life as an independent designer. What has inspired her and what is her biggest takeaway from her work in the fashion industry. Find out more!

Smart Selling During COVID-19: Part 2

The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted businesses of all types to think differently about their bottom lines, profit projections, revenues, and sales strategies. This article, the second in a two-part series, discusses sales pitfalls to avoid and offers strategies for addressing current and future challenges. Last week’s article offered additional insight on smart selling by highlighting some sales best practices during pandemic times.

When Marketing, Don’t Forget the Influencers

When you are helping your clients select the target audiences for upcoming campaigns, are influencers on the list? We hear more and more about “influencer marketing,” but how does it work? Should you be helping your clients do it?  

One Login Per Customer!

Don’t make your customers think. Don’t make your customers administer multiple logins in order to do business with you. Don’t make your online engagement a burden on your customers.

Spoonflower CEO Michael Jones Shares Insights on Future of On-Demand Textiles

Spoonflower was a pioneer in the field of on-demand textile printing and production. As the rest of the industry races to catch up, new CEO Michael Jones is aiming to take Spoonflower to the next level. Cary Sherburne talks with Jones and senior vice president of research and development Kerry King about their vision for the future.

Marketing for Today and Tomorrow: Signarama Helps Customers Navigate Their Changing Needs

Signarama’s Kristin Gallucci looks at the evolution of signage over the course of the pandemic, and how Signarama franchise owners have had to re-imagine their production, re-envision their offerings, and re-invent their marketing to create new and unique products to answer the needs of communities.

Creating A Sales Strategy?—Part 2: Where Are You Going?

In part 2 of a two-part series looking at sales strategies, Pat McGrew focuses on updating or building your strategy, formulating a vision statement, and getting everyone in the company on board.

More From Less: Lessons Shared From the Past

One of the keys to business success is being able to do more with less, and the key to success in doing more with less is to increase the return on your investment of time. Contributor Dave Fellman identifies ways you can be more efficient.

Are Living Clothes in Your Future? Designer Royal Aghighi Thinks They Should Be!

The textiles industry is a huge polluter. Although there are many sustainability initiatives at play, there is still more that can be done. Just ask multidisciplinary researcher Roya Aghighi. She’d like you to reimagine your wardrobe as living things. Find out what that means!

Around the Web: Score Statistics. Great Graphene. Wearable Wary. Creative Carpet. Python PPE. Viva Venus? Ludwig Listening. LEGO Listens. Covered Cakes. Perishing Peeps. Depressing Decoration.

The NFL season begins—and so does Scorigami. New graphene-based apparel. Amazon enters the fitness wearables market. The Simpsons as classic works of art. Public Service Announcement: a live snake is not an acceptable face covering. Is there life on Venus? How Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony changed the way people listen to classical music. The New York Times and Facebook collaborate on AR reporting. Children’s letters inspire LEGO to rethink its packaging. 2020 news would bewilder a time traveler from...2019. A “cake shield” for blowing out birthday candles. A Santa-wearing-a-mask Christmas ornament to enhance seasonal depression. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly pre-apocalyptic miscellany.

Printing Shipments: Summer’s Almost Gone

Printing shipments continued to rebound in July, coming in at $6.75 billion, up from June’s $6.63 billion. We remain hopeful, but as we have been seeing lately, we are far from out of the woods virus-wise and we may see shipments start to decline again come the fall.

Innovating the Proofing Cycle

Printers need to consider innovations that negate the need for proofs (hard or soft) except under exceptional circumstances. Hint: train the customer to submit print-ready PDFs that are truly ready to go. You will still need to do preflight, etc., but the emphasis should be on taking the time lag created by the proofing cycle out of the process.