COVID-19 fueled a surge in ecommerce, leading to increased demand for digitally printed garments. This article offers a brief discussion about the changing dynamics of consumer buying habits, explores why the pandemic accelerated digital print on-demand, and considers how supply chain and GTM strategies will be forever changed as a result.
The Ghent Workgroup (GWG) is an international organization made up of graphic arts experts, users, hardware and software vendors as well as educational members building best practices for print and packaging workflows. David Zwang highlights the accomplishments the organization has achieved over the past 20 years, expanding beyond its initial goals.
The latest trend in the analog-to-digital transformation underway in textiles is creating home and other decor on demand. In this article, WhatTheyThink contributor and textiles expert Debbie McKeegan shares how Epson's developments in pigment inks are transforming home decorating.
Training is not learning. Training is something you hire other people to do to you. Learning is something that you do. Start building a learning culture now in your print business; it is the only defense to the acceleration of change in our industry.
In WhatTheyThink/Printing News’ Annual Sign Franchise Review, we take a look at how the major sign franchises fared in the past year, how they managed the COVID-19 pandemic, and how they plan to make up lost ground in 2021.
Following up on last week’s article on the current state of high school and trade school graphic arts programs, what can be done to keep the pipeline of new talent flowing into the printing industry? Has anyone asked the teachers of high school graphic arts programs on the front lines? Here is a selection of responses to a query about what can be done from their perspective...and they had a lot to say.
Estimating in any print business can be a challenge, but inkjet users face a level of variability that users of other print technology don’t. In this article, Inkjet Insight’s Elizabeth Gooding and Alexandra Pekar look at the challenges of inkjet estimating and offer some solutions for overcoming those challenges.
In competitive industries like print there are so many options for a print buyer that you can find yourself undercut, even if you believe you have a good customer relationship. To differentiate your company and offerings, think about your people, your processes, and your technologies. What makes you different? What can you offer that would be hard for your competitors to mimic?
In this new series we look at Industry 4.0—not as a marketing term, but in an actionable way so that you can begin or continue to prepare your company and participate in the many benefits. In this second article in the series, we take a look at internal hardware systems.
Drupa 2020 never happened, and drupa 2021 fell victim to the pandemic as well—but was transformed into a virtual drupa for 2021. European section editor Ralf Schlözer attended and provides an overview, some highlights, and overall impressions from virtual.drupa 2021.
The best way to figure out how to deploy technology to accelerate adoption of emerging trends is to use it yourself in a real-life operation. That’s exactly what software and services company Ziel is doing. Learn how the company is leveraging its own on-demand apparel manufacturing platform to develop industry-changing solutions for those wishing to implement a sustainable, on-demand manufacturing model for their businesses.
Having an accurate estimate is crucial for business success. Making mistakes—such as costing that is too high or too low—can have significant implications on the top and bottom lines. This article, sponsored by HP and written by HP Indigo's “Workflow Chef” Gershon Alon, explains the advantages of automatically collecting production data and using it to generate accurate estimates.
We flew a helicopter on Mars! Has the pandemic changed book publishing, part the infinity. Now being shown: a 3D-printed house. Could lab-grown wood be the future of furniture? “Could the solution to fashion pollution be…tiny nuclear reactors?” Turning plastic back into oil. An artist who “draws” portraits by smashing glass with a hammer. Digitally adding product placement to classic films. Alton Brown on the history of the gin and tonic. “The crime-ridden global market for eel.” The new number two on our wish list: action figures for the 1967 TV show The Prisoner. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s miscellany.
Office printing vendors are primarily focused on helping their customers save money and streamline processes—which certainly makes sense from the customer’s point of view—but some of their efforts inherently reduce the opportunities for printing. This article cites a recent New York Times article that explores the benefits of print-based learning.
By far, the best indicator of job success is the presence (or absence) of behavioral traits that match up with the traits of people who have exhibited strong success in the job in the past. In this article, Wayne Lynn takes a look at an approach to making people decisions that has a high probability of success. That’s the goal in making people decisions: make the decision with the highest possible probability of success, both for the person and the company. Wayne shares some of his own experiences and gives examples of why this approach works.
There has been increased focus on reshoring manufacturing from Asia to Europe and the Americas, perhaps accelerated by the recent Suez Canal debacle. But as many experts have pointed out, including those cited in this article, written by Guy Alroy of Early.Vision, the new jobs that result from reshoring efforts cannot be using the same processes. They must be a more technology based on-demand model that is more sustainable as well.
In WhatTheyThink/Printing News’ Annual Print Shop Franchise Review, Cary Sherburne takes a look at how the major print franchises fared in the past year, how they managed the COVID-19 pandemic, and how they plan to make up lost ground in 2021.
The integrity of your print business data is a foundational building block of your business. It impacts how fast you can move. Lack of data integrity is like an anchor your business has to drag around—it slows almost every aspect of your business down.
Jeff White, director of development for the Print and Graphics Scholarship Foundation, solicited insight on the dwindling pipeline of skilled labor from the teachers of graphic arts programs at the high school level. The results reveal why printers can’t wait for someone else to fix the problem.
According to data from our recently published Printing Outlook 2021 special report, recovering business lost to COVID and national economic conditions dominated printers’ top challenges—but traditional challenges will gain prominence post-COVID.
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 Spain.
In this new series, we look at Industry 4.0. Not as a marketing term, but in an actionable way so that you can begin or continue to prepare your company and participate in the many benefits. In this first article of the series, we start at the beginning and look at the state of readiness.
Cary Sherburne talks to Robert Stabler about the latest digital packaging product introductions from Koenig & Bauer Durst, as well as some of the changes the pandemic has brought to the press placement process.
Color correction is a repetitive, time-consuming, and complex process. This article, sponsored by HP and written by HP Indigo's "Workflow Chef" Gershon Alon, explains how to optimize color correction, focusing on two aspects: automation and simplification.
According to County Business Patterns, in 2010, there were 907,152 employees in NAICS 511 (Publishing Industries—except Internet). By 2018, employees had increased to 1,015,946. In macro news, retail sales were up 9.8% in March.
Google’s Gutenberg Doodle perpetuates a sartorial anachronism. 5G may let you ditch wired broadband. A deluxe, expensive collection of Philip K. Dick stories. Remembering the Columbia Record Club. The contentious free-speech history of license plates. Mind-blowing paper cutting and folding. The mathematics of Pringles chips. Alexa can now share songs. This summer, instead of A/C, try the Sensu Punkah. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s virtual miscellany.
Is Rialto’s growth a sign of the times? The UK-based digital textile printer thinks so. The company prints millions of meters of dye-sublimation prints onto polyester bases but is also investing in the future with technologies that can print digitally onto a wider array of fabric types.
When asked what they would change about their job if they could, most salespeople cite speed—“I need to get quotes faster. I need to get answers faster. I need to get my jobs through the system faster.” WhatTheyThink contributor Dave Fellman explains why managing customer expectations is important to avoid putting unnecessary pressure on all aspects of the business.
In this age of virtual everything, print means more—it is tangible and can be personalized to replicate that human connection we’ve been craving since the pandemic hit. This article explores how print service providers can better sell the value of variable data printing to businesses and brands.
Do you have a client who seems to be doing everything right in its direct marketing campaigns, yet its metrics are not what they should be? Before the client pins the blame on you, they might want to check two potential culprits that lie between the campaigns and the sale: the website and the call center.
Replacing your Print MIS might be one of the most important projects you take on in the history of your business. Shopping is not the first step. Assessing your data and your processes is ideally done before you start interacting with software sales representatives.
Printing is a valuable and versatile platform that provides methods of communication, identification, even interaction. However, what happens when you need your printing secure or validated? David Zwang looks at today’s options.
With 1.3 million employees in printing and papermaking in Europe, print and related industries are no small industry. This article looks at employment trends, revenue per employee, and offers an outlook on employment numbers.
Contrary to advertisements, no press is going to magically make you more money, but, wisely chosen, a new machine can be a useful tool on your carefully planned roadmap to increased profitability. Steve Johnson explains why you should stop looking at what equipment your competition has bought.
WhatTheyThink European section editor Ralf Schlözer talks with Kilian Renschler, the new CEO and president of Koenig & Bauer US/CA. Previously, Renschler was executive vice president of sales of Koenig & Bauer US/CA.
The gap between early adopters and laggards continues to widen. Weighed down by the technical debt and disconnectedness of legacy systems, many print companies are investing precious capital and time in course-correcting their technology strategy. B2B customer expectations of user experience are increasingly blurred with the B2C ease of online shopping. Thus, the print service providers who can tightly align with emerging customer expectations will own the future. The answer to this growing problem is to establish a new agility within your operation.
Last week, ISA staged its Sign Expo 2021 Virtual, which succeded in replicating, perhaps as best as possible, the feel of being at a live event and networking with colleagues. Here is a quick rundown of the first day.
It seems like everyone is talking about “OEE” these days. This article, sponsored by HP and written by HP Indigo's "Workflow Chef" Gershon Alon, explains how OEE is a standard way to measure the “overall equipment effectiveness” of a manufacturing process—in this case, the printing process.
We’ve long been calling it “a tale of two cities”—large printers and small/mid-size printers and the profitability gap between them. The pandemic interrupted this ongoing narrative temporarily, but back in Q3 2020, we started to return to normal, at least in terms of industry profits trends, which continued into Q4.
Graphene-enhanced shoes and concrete—it’s a bad time to be a mob informant. Ralph Lauren aims to make cotton less water-intensive. A chart of every color cardigan worn by Mister Rogers. Soap products whose packaging is itself soap. A wall-mounted E Ink display for newspapers. A video history of Mad Magazine. A Fermilab particle experiment may completely upend our understanding of the universe. Install old-time train station flipboard signage in your home. The electric vehicle charging situation is a nightmare. A Brooklyn steakhouse partners with Madame Tussaud’s to help enforce social distancing. Can you cook a chicken by slapping it? The latest national crisis: a ketchup shortage. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s cinnamon shrimp tail-flavored miscellany.
To select the finishing method that best communicates the value of the content, you must first understand how the final product will be used and its audience. Print salespeople have the opportunity to expand the finishing conversation beyond product, technique, and price. Document finishing is a bit like the real estate market—"curb appeal,” first impressions, and attention to detail can communicate insurmountable value.
COVID-19 has accelerated the sustainability agenda, and implementing these various initiatives across highly complex supply chains will take a great deal of dexterity and commitment—but there can be no going back. Read what textiles expert and WhatTheyThink contributor Debbie McKeegan has to say about the emergence of more sustainable fibers for textiles.
Laggards are people in your company who have stopped learning and actually insist on doing their job in the same way they have been doing it, and for one reason: it’s the way they’ve been doing it. Investing in your laggards to drive software utilization is a good investment.
Who’s Mailing What! recently released its report “18 Direct Mail Trends for 2021,” with predictions from leading industry experts about what they are seeing on the horizon for this year. First on WMW!’s list is “more sophisticated personalization.” But what, exactly, does “more sophisticated” mean?
Variable content can add value, streamline supply chains, and create engaging customer experiences, but it takes some work. There is more complexity to the creative process, more steps to proof and approval, and more challenges in delivery. Contributor Pat McGrew looks at the current state of variable-data technology with an eye on where it’s going.
2020 was a challenging year, but for the Signarama franchise, tough times allowed its franchisees to become stronger, smarter, and more prepared, allowing them to adapt. Signarama president A.J. Titus explains how.
The challenges of the last year may have slowed some progress in the expansion of dynamic digital signage (DDS), but it has, at the same time, opened up some new opportunities for DDS technologies—especially as they become less expensive and higher quality.
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 France.
Sustainability is a hot topic in the textiles and apparel industry, as well it should be. Discussions have heated up even more as a result of the pandemic and the associated supply chain difficulties it has presented for the industry. Expect to see increased use of the terms recycling, upcycling, and even return of rentals as the industry works to adjust to a wide range of new realities. Lenzing Tencel is a good example of the type of environmental stewardship that is needed to make the industry more sustainable. Other examples are included in this article as well—and there are many more in the works or already in the market.
According to County Business Patterns, in 2010, there were 32,906 employees in NAICS 32312 (Support Activities for Printing). By 2018, employees had declined to 22,855. In macro news, Q4 2020 GDP was revised up.
How outsourcing newspaper printing is helping kill local journalism. Smart clothing is evolving. John Cleese twits the NFT fad. A new study suggests that turning off your camera on a Zoom call may be more environmentally friendly. The UK’s new £50 note will honor Alan Turing. A 3D mural “opens up” a Florence art museum. They Might Be Giants launch hardcover book/CD combo. Realistic handblown glass spiders. Light-up constellation embroidery. Pasta technology evolves. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s cinnamon shrimp tail-flavored miscellany.
Brought to you by The Association for PRINT Technologies (APTech), Mike Porter, President, Print/Mail Consultants, and author of this VDP 101 article, will be moderating a panel of industry suppliers and practitioners in a session titled, “Variable Print & Mail: The Software Required to Do the Job,” at the APTech Variable Data Print & Mail Summit to be held Wednesday, April 14 from 10am–3pm. Here, he offers tips on improving data for variable-data printing.
Digital technologies deliver sustainable production at any scale. As we move forward into the next decade, we move into a new era of digital textile production and the technologies that enable change. Textiles expert and WhatTheyThink contributor Debbie McKeegan outlines a few of the latest developments in roll-to-roll digital textile printing.
Lead generation has taken many forms over the years. Capturing the interest of today’s self-directed buyers involves leveraging resources that go above and beyond feet on the street. The second in a two-part series, this article considers the top tools that PSPs can use to generate interest from prospective customers. The first explored what lead generation means in today’s world.
We all know that content is king. Connect with your audiences using the right content and you’ve got engagement, attention, and sales. But that’s if you are sending the right content, and one survey shows that in the B2B market, there is a disconnect between what buyers need and what marketers are sending—and a big one.
Pharmaceutical packaging compliance, including safety and supply chain visibility, is an area that demands secure packaging and label identification. Many new compliance regulations are designed to verify the authenticity and origin of raw materials and ingredients, and to effectively, quickly, and accurately track and trace the products as they move across a global supply chain. David Zwang looks at these regulations, some of the new technologies in place to comply with them, and how print service providers can ensure they are in compliance.
You getting paid is as much a part of your customer’s experience as placing the order. Make every effort to streamline how much customer time you consume. A vendor that is easy to do business with creates loyal customers.
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 Italy.
There are lots of reasons to encourage your customers to beef up their in-store signage and displays. Great marketing. Safety and regulatory compliance during COVID-19. But did you know that really good signage can also make your customers less price-sensitive?
Business processes and production workflows cannot be stagnant and need to evolve as the markets and technologies evolve. Understanding the need and creating an infrastructure that supports that is key. The good news is that the options are improving.
ISA Sign Expo 2021–Virtual is coming up on April 7–9. This article, sponsored by the International Sign Association, previews four essential features to attend, and offers tips for navigating the virtual event.
Fast fashion became a thing around the turn of this century. It’s the process of churning out low-quality, you could even say disposable, clothing to take advantage of every passing fad and trend. But in this writer’s humble opinion, this has to stop! We are choking our oceans and landfills with junk clothes. Can we put more focus on quality and durability? Just sayin’.
Charmin’s (oy) toilet-paper themed NFTPs. The environmental impact of jeans. Will graphene save us from the pandemic? The DC Circuit Court cancels the typeface Garamond. Social and mobile media-themed classic artworks. A new web widget that gives you excuses to exit a Zoom meeting. Light-emitting OLED tattoos. Yo-Yo Ma performs at his vaccination site. Doctors get in trouble for “Guess the weight of this organ” Instagram posts. Precision cutting boards for obsessive chefs. The Planters NUTmobile is looking for drivers. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s unfortunately not canceled miscellany.
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.
Lead generation has taken many forms over the years. Capturing the interest of today’s self-directed buyers involves leveraging resources that go above and beyond feet on the street. The first in a two-part series, this article explores what lead generation means in today’s world. Part two will consider the top four tools that PSPs use to generate interest from prospective customers
Working with top-end designers to create exclusive short runs means the fabrics printed at Forest Digital are not contributing to the “cheap-throw-away fashion” landfill that is so damaging to our world. In fact, we should be eliminating the term “fast fashion” from our vocabulary and our practices! Learn more about what this leading producer is doing to bring more sustainability to the industry.
Like many other industries, pharmaceuticals is going through a transition, and as we have seen before, industries in transition offer opportunities for those who are willing to learn and engage. David Zwang provides an overview of the latest trends in pharma packaging, and how to identify and take advantage of the opportunities.
You can’t start printing until you have approved artwork, but you don’t have complete control over this step in the process. You can optimize your press and finishing processes down to the second, yet you might wait three full days for artwork approval. The best you can do is make it as easy as possible for the customer to respond in a timely manner. Don’t confuse them, don’t make them work, and don’t underestimate convenience.
A recent ISA webinar looked at how the sign and display markets fared in Q4 2020, and offered up some forecasts for 2021, which IHS Markit analysts see as a “transitional year” from COVID to post-COVID while 2022 will see the rebirth of the economy, employment, and the industry.
Consistently, surveys show that giving back to the community increases a brand’s favorability among buyers. Never has this been more true than during the pandemic. That’s why stories like “Mactac Gives Back” resonate so deeply.
Over the years, Kodak has developed many groundbreaking products and, along the way, very strong bonds with their customers. Considering their long history supporting print service providers with consumables and digital process solutions, they have been able to enhance their clients’ business growth and create a great platform for Kodak’s business growth as well, it makes perfect sense.
Picture more contracts this year. Imagine fewer “stalls” or “stops” during your sales process. Visualize the impact of improved close ratios on your commissions. To make these dreams a reality, Lisa Magnuson talks about the “Qualify Stage.”
One of the oldest pastimes gained in popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic: reading books. This is good news for the printing industry as book printing contributes a considerable share to the total print production. Revenues in Europe stood at €7.1 billion in 2019. WhatTheyThink European section editor Ralf Schlözer looks at historical developments and at the trends shaping book printing now.
Cary Sherburne talks with Christoph Gamper, CEO of Durst, and Christian Harder, Vice President of Sales, about the current state of their business, which segments were performing better than others, and how the company was helping customers to innovate, even during this pandemic, including holding virtual demonstrations, introducing new products, and more.
A JPG file sells for $69 million, for some reason. Cotton and polyester have their environmental downsides—but neither is going away any time soon. A new company converts discarded sneakers into corsets. A new laptop prototype has seven screens. How to fool AI using “typographic attack.” A non-existent town on a map briefly becomes real. A high school band practices in individual tents. A self-disinfecting door handle. A Zoom assault trial reveals that the defendant is actually in the same house as the alleged victim. Grampa Munster once did a real weathercast. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s non-fungible miscellany.
According to County Business Patterns, in 2010, there were 28,935 employees in NAICS 323117 (Book Printing Establishments). By 2018, employees had declined to 21,976. In macro news, inflation was soft in February.
One of the key components of the digital textile printing ecosphere is inks—and increasingly, sustainable inks. In this article, textiles expert and WhatTheyThink contributor Debbie McKeegan reviews the latest developments in ink technology for digital textile printing.
Savvy print providers are discovering that targeted—or better yet, personalized—print campaigns can enable market differentiation and provide a greater return on investment. This article explores how getting back to the basics with traditional direct mail can help businesses stand apart from their competitors.
Signage has almost always been one of the most essential means of communicating important messages, which was why wide-format and sign shops early on in the pandemic were considered “essential services.” Health and safety messaging was the killer app for display graphics in 2020, and that is going to remain the case for the foreseeable future. Here’s what to look for.
How are orders managed before they hit the press? In this third part of a five-part series, Jennifer Matt defines the complete order process from initial inquiry to invoice payment. This means a great deal of the process happens in the carpeted area of your print business.
Studies have shown that as many as 90% of well-formulated strategies fail due to poor execution. These are epic failure rates that, but for a plan to bridge strategy to tactical execution, could instead be sustainable successes. Why then do leadership teams continue to endure poor execution? Admitting that there is a problem is a good first step, followed by a decision to do something about it.
Customer product reviews are a powerful tool in e-commerce, and positive reviews often make the difference between someone making a purchase or not. Those reviews are in the public domain, so why not use them in print marketing, too? This company did.
Pat McGrew responds to feedback she received from a recent article on selling software, shares some ill-fated buyer stories, and draws up “three rules for software buyers” and “three rules for software sellers.”
There is no question that the pandemic had a deleterious—and immediate—impact on the printing industry and the economy as a whole. While both now look to be on the road to recovery, although slower than we ever could have anticipated, it’s interesting to look at how and when that might actually occur based on research largely conducted in the final quarter of 2020.
The print industry has been going through a major evolution since the introduction of digital technologies. Trying to identify and quantify this shift has been almost impossible since many of the definitions of print and printing technologies haven’t been properly updated in decades. An important new initiative is tasked with drafting an “open” standard taxonomy for the global printing industry to address the issues.
We kicked off 2021 inauspiciously with January printing shipments coming in at $6.61 billion, down from 2020’s $7.17 billion. It's the worst January in at least the last five years, but already things are boding well for the rest of 2021.
An octopus’ selfie—but, unfairly, not the octopus—won a photography award. Using X-ray microtomography to read secret letters. Videoconferencing is changing American Sign Language. A plastic surgeon joins a Zoom call—while in the middle of an operation. Fisher Price’s My First Home Office for preschoolers is perhaps a sign of the apocalypse. Holographic keypads for touchless devices. A face mask specifically designed to prevent fogging. A $400K television that folds down into the floor. Classic works of art rendered in fur. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s miscellany.
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.