The Customer Communications Management (CCM) market is undergoing radical changes on an evolutionary scale. Late last year, Aspire CCS surveyed businesses across the globe, interviewed stakeholders in every facet of the market, and published an extensive report entitled, “The State of CCM-to-CXM Transformation.” This second of a four part seriesfocuses on customer communications service providers’ place in the emerging ecosystem by examining the five steps to CXM maturity and explaining how providers can upgrade their technology and strategy to move up the scale, ensuring their long-term viability.
Part two of Heidi Tolliver-Walker’s interview with Arnie Kahn, president of PrintLink, a job placement service for the printing industry, about opportunities in a post-COVID-19 environment. Kahn describes opportunities for the right candidates to make lateral moves into new areas, such as changing market verticals or applying skill sets to new printing sectors.
So many trends are being amplified or accelerated by COVID-19; the evolution of the sales process is one of them. Your customers are being asked again to do more with fewer people and less time. They need vendors/partners that can help alleviate the pressure.
Most sellers don’t want to think about their sales process, they just want to sell. But there are many benefits to having a clearly defined ands adhered to sales process. Lisa Magnuson outlines several steps to follow to increase sales.
As businesses start to reopen, they will have post-COVID print needs beyond safety and distancing signage. To follow up last week’s look at the current signage environment, Richard Romano identifies some of the unique print needs reopening restaurants are likely to have to complement their signage.
With more than 1.8 million design options in its library, and with the availability of easy-to-use mask kits, Spoonflower and its designer community have responded in force to the need for masks, making more than 150,000 non-medical-grade fabric masks. Senior Editor Cary Sherburne spoke with Michael Jones, Spoonflower’s new CEO, and Kerry King, Senior Vice President of R&D, to learn more about this outstanding response and to get an update on what’s new at Spoonflower.
At any stage in the printing process, a worker may use a cutting tool, which implies a level of risk. As a result, cutting safety is essential, whether in large-scale printing outfits like book printing, or smaller operations like retail screen printing. This feature, sponsored by Slice, offers tips for ensuring the safe use of cutting equipment.
A tribute to P.G. Wodehouse. A simpler, more surreal approach to specifying physical addresses. Replacing the cellphone touchscreen with a dial. How AI can foster workplace collaboration. A water gun designed specifically for the clergy. Metal magazine Kerrang! turns their covers into coloring pages. NYU’s ill-fated “virtual reality” graduation. What will post-pandemic academia look like? All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly slowly reopening miscellany.
The British Fashion Council and the CFDA both call for the industry to slow down, adopt sustainable practice and reject over consumption. It’s a big ask, and many in the industry want this change, the reality may be that “fast fashion” has created a consumer neurosis within retail and that will take some undoing. Read the full article
System vendors and paper mills are working diligently to create effective strategies for inkjet printing jobs that require glossy finishes and high coverage levels. These solutions can be separated into inkjet-treated papers and advanced inks and drying systems. This article, the first in a two-part series, will discuss the pros and cons of inkjet-treated papers. Next week’s piece will address advanced inks and drying systems.
Ryerson University’s Dr. Abhay Sharma provides a detailed look at color temperature, and why it is important for color management. He also uses his downtime to empirically determine that “daylight” is a very good match to the D50 standard.
COVID-19 economic symptoms include the weakening of the “we’ve always done it this way defense”—which will have some positive impacts on outdated printer workflows and some negative impacts when customers evaluate print spend under new market conditions.
What is the secret to keeping customers from switching to a competitor with lower prices, faster curbside pickup, or a coupon that drops at just the right time? Motista, a provider of predictive intelligence, thinks it has the answer. Customer affinity. A look at the conclusions and data from its two-year study.
There are currently many postprint corrugated solutions out there, yet most have not gained significant traction in the market. Xeikon, their credibility, and the market understanding of Flint, puts them in a great position to enter and even grow the market.
Colorkarma’s Shoshana Burgett asks a male Sephora employee to give her a guided tour of perfume displays whose packaging he especially likes. His choices were eye-opening, and gave Burgett a new perspective on how men may perceive their choices as they pick out gifts for their wives, girlfriends, or partners.
Sign shops were essential businesses when the crisis first hit and they will continue to be essential businesses as the country starts to reopen. Post-COVID signage will be important in both the short term and the long term, and there is no reason why it can’t be creatively designed, professionally printed, and seamlessly integrated into a business’s pre-existing signage and branding. Let’s have a look at what some local businesses have been doing signage-wise.
Since it appears that masks will be part of our wardrobe for the foreseeable future, we continue to look for unique yet functional mask solutions and the companies that are converting their manufacturing operations to help address this critical need. We wrote about Tailored Industry last year, and recently heard they were knitting masks, so we checked in to get more detail.
Two of the most anticipated industry events—Messe Dusseldorf’s drupa 2020 and ISA’s Sign Expo 2020—were postponed due to the COVID-19 crisis. We spoke with the organizers of these events about their rationale for the new dates, the expected impact on the events themselves, and the impact of the pandemic on the printing industry.
Behind the iconic NYT Memorial Day front page. Restaurants come up with unique (or silly) ways to enforce social distancing. The Zoom Last Supper. A prototype video chat device—from 1918. A Bangkok shopping mall replaces elevator buttons with foot pedals. Shoot sanitizer from your wrist. Two teens turn their quarantine house into a skatepark. J.K. Rowling serializes free children’s book online. Munch’s “The Scream” is fading. A “web typewriter” doesn’t allow deleting. In Ireland, a letter-writing renaissance. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly social distancing miscellany.
In 2010, there were 7,794 US newspaper publishing establishments; by 2017, that number had dropped to 7,222. The newspaper industry’s woes have been well-documented, but the trouble started well before the Internet era. Also: Q1 GDP revised down.
Sustainability and the promotion of eco-friendly practices have been a priority within the printing industry for years. This article explores the environment’s ever-increasing influence on the printing market and discusses how COVID-19 will likely heighten buyers’ demands for more sustainable business practices.
Debbie McKeegan has a conversation with Thimo Schwenzfeier, the Show Director of Neonyt and Director of Marketing Communications for Messe Frankfurt, about sustainability in the fashion industry, and how demand for sustainable fashion will only accelerate post-COVID.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that QR codes may be on their way back. In a recent post, I gave two examples of where QR codes should have been and weren’t, and now I’m going to give two examples of where QR codes weren’t, but now they are and why.
There will be a new, new normal after the height of COVID-19 passes. It will be even more reliant on software technologies to connect your employees, your customers, and your suppliers. The time to evolve to this new reality (often referred to as digital transformation) is now—crisis evolution cuts through a lot of the resistance.
WhatTheyThink European Section Editor Ralf Schlözer talks to Heidelberg CEO Rainer Hundsdörfer about the company’s decision to discontinue the Primefire inkjet folding carton press, as well as the company’s overall strategy.
Each year the Print and Graphics Scholarship Foundation (www.pgsf.org) conducts poster and T-shirt design contests, accepting submissions from students around the country that are pursuing a career in graphic communications or a related field at a U.S. technical school or college. In 2020, Abigail Carter, a high school junior at Mattoon High School in Mattoon, Ill., won in both categories.
Quick brown foxes and lazy dogs aren’t necessarily best for font proofing. Disney+ lets you change the typeface used for captioning. Devo is selling “Energy Dome” face shields. Bad design concepts for social distancing in restaurants. How will COVID-19 change fashion? Shakespeare’s Globe Theater is in financial trouble. The traditional Stonehenge solstice sunrise gathering will now be livestreamed. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly social distancing miscellany. Robbers wearing watermelons rob a convenience store.
The Acuity Ultra is a major step up in output, in both quality and productivity. Larger businesses and major luxury brands will be impressed by the machine’s extra width up to 5 meters, the option to print multiple rolls simultaneously, and its ability to print outstanding quality with no compromise on speed.
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the past two months have been crazy for us all. Vendors in the office technology space as well as firms with office equipment have adjusted their businesses to handle the rapid changes that our industry has experienced on a global scale. In addition, Keypoint Intelligence has seen many office technology players embracing innovations and philanthropy to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. This article discusses just some of those efforts.
Every type of plant can build a better workflow, one that is efficient and scalable, that helps to save production costs, and adds to operational efficiency. The place to start is with a tour around your plant. Pat McGrew continues her “virtual guided tour” of a plant's workflow, and some key questions to ask at each stop along the way.
Hear from a university student about why she chose a career path in interiors, what drove her university choice, and what some of her biggest challenges have been as she develops new designs and collections.
At the end of April, Global Graphics Software announced its Direct product range, a new class of software that drives data directly to the printhead electronics without any intermediate disk access. There are three products in the range: ScreenPro Direct™, Harlequin Direct™ and Streamline Direct™. The significance of Harlequin Direct for a PDF workflow is that there is no longer a need to RIP ahead.
A look at the conclusions from “Market Trends 2020,” a new report from Chief Outsiders, a network of top CMOs. The bottom line: We have become accustomed to marketing being driven by buzzwords like “customer engagement” and “focus on the customer,” but those things now must be tied to real, measurable company growth.
HP's PrintOS is a cloud-based platform with browser-based and mobile apps that connect to and extend the functionality of HP production printers. There are multiple tools that provide robust analytics, mobile monitoring, access to PrintOS anytime and anywhere, and security.
HP has spent the last four years developing ways to overcome the existing production barriers of their EP products and processes. They recently announced LEPx, a unique new imaging technology as an integral component of the V12, their future platform label press.
The thought of hopping on a sailboat and heading out to sea is an appealing one at the moment and thanks to a company called PhotoSails, sailing enthusiasts who buy their own boats can defray the cost of their investment.
Parts of the country are slowly stating to reopen, but rebounding from COVID-19 is not going to be an overnight achievement. WhatTheyThink contributor Joanne Gore walks though some short- and long-term marketing strategies for print businesses to help reach out to customers as they emerge from the crisis—which is still ongoing.
Every type of plant can build a better workflow, one that is efficient and scalable, that helps to save production costs, and adds to operational efficiency. The place to start is with a tour around your plant. Pat McGrew provides a “virtual guided tour” of a plant's workflow, and some key questions to ask at each stop along the way.
It’s been almost two years since we wrote about the work that Advanced Functional Fabrics of America (AFFOA) is doing to develop functional fiber computing solutions that will likely be the basis for moving us into Industry 5.0. Seems like we don’t even have Industry 4.0 under our belts, but technology does move fast these days! We spoke with the AFFOA team, including CEO Alexander (Sasha) Stolyarov, Chief Marketing Officer Eric Spackey, Senior Director of Business Development Natasha Spackey, and Chief Technology Officer Jason Cox, to get an update on what has transpired in the past two years.
Whether you’re looking to improve your press operations or your production capabilities, as converters, we need to constantly adapt to changing markets. And 2020 has been one of the biggest curveballs for every business. But one thing remains the same: we need to evolve to maintain relevance. So this year, make the most of what you have and consider what you can do to spend smart and build profits through efficiency. Here are the top 4 ways you can increase your business profitability in 2020.
The strength of HP’s print leadership is demonstrated in the HP PageWide Industrial Web Press portfolio; a proven press platform with over 10 years in worldwide production environments built on two billion dollars invested in inkjet technology research and development.
All 201 episodes of The Office have been recreated in Slack. “The Five Stages of Zoom.” The most detailed online photo of Rembrandt’s Night Watch. New videogame lets you power wash a house. Scrabble fans do not like the new Scrabble Go app. Generate random UK government COVID signage. Generate your own Penguin Classic book cover. A self-censoring typeface for sweary writers. The Plymouth “Paint Chip Barracuda.” The thriving doomsday bunker market. Happy birthday, Ottmar Mergenthaler. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly sheltering in place miscellany.
In 2010, there were 2,080 establishments offering prepress and/or postpress services; by 2017, that number had dropped to 1,375. It’s not difficult to understand why the number of these establishments has been dropping: prepress is being absorbed into the printing process itself (especially in digital printing), and more print businesses are acquiring their own finishing capabilities.
Digital printing technologies have enabled a wide range of entrepreneurs to get into the industry, something that was more difficult before. An example is Cotton Bee Fabrics in Poland, which has leveraged Mimaki printing technology to transform a side hustle into a viable business.
Most businesses believe they are calculating the returns on their investments pretty well. They have ideas about the products they offer and how to charge based on their own calculations that can help them stay competitive and profitable. In many cases, however, they aren’t thinking of everything when determining these values. This article looks at some of the smaller aspects of the equation that can have a big impact on ROI for transactional, marketing, and commercial PSPs.
Wayne Lynn takes a deep dive into getting a clear understanding of your company’s finances and cashflow, a vital consideration even more vital in these volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA) times.
If customer experience is king, then maybe we need to stop making fun of QR Codes and take them more seriously, especially with the growing reliance on cellphones for both in-home and out-of-home interaction and with so many situations in which AR and NFC just aren’t practical. Two lost opportunities for customer engagement tell the tale.
Crisis creates an environment for rapid innovation. The digital transformation of all business sectors was in progress before COVID-19, and the crisis will continue to separate the digital haves and have-nots.
What was once a specialty niche for wide-format print service providers now is a “must-have technology” for producing more mainstream applications. WhatTheyThink contributor Mark Vruno looks at the current state of, and best practices for, soft signage.
The top-level results from the 7th drupa Global Trends Report 2020 look at how print businesses fared globally in 201219, what their outlook for 2020 is (pre-COVID-19), and what market, technology, and socioeconomic trends are impacting them.
In light of event cancellations during the pandemic, many companies are turning to virtual events to get their news out. Mimaki held a virtual press event recently, packed with industry news and announcing a five-week Virtual Print Festival to keep the industry informed and ready to move forward. We tuned in to learn more.
Another of the Scenes from the Before Times: in March 2020, the overall printing employment was virtually unchanged from February (-0.7%) and on a year-over-year basis is down -3.1%. Obviously, this is the calm before the storm.
Murder hornets and aggressive chickens. Boy, 2020 has it all! An aquarium wants people to FaceTime lonely eels. A long Twitter thread about an 11-year-old’s love of writing letters. You are what you eat, which is also what you wear. All about chintz. Microsoft Word finally stops the insanity of double wordspacing after a period. Why have we lost all sense of time? Are llamas our pandemic heroes? Take virtual tours of some of the world’s most beautiful libraries. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly social distancing miscellany.
FASTSIGNS of Saratoga Springs won the Grand Prize at the Wide Format & Signage/FASTSIGNS Awards, held during the annual FASTSIGNS International Convention in Phoenix, Ariz., back in January. The six-year-old franchise won for interior and exterior signage for Maggie McFly’s ninth location at Albany’s Crossgates Mall.
The sales process has changed dramatically over the years. This article is the second in a two-part series. The first article explored the complexity of today’s selling environment and drivers of purchasing decisions. This piece outlines the strategies for a new sales paradigm as we navigate these uncertain times.
In a changed world, will we see more functional fabrics that include such things as antiviral and antibacterial capabilities? Fashion and textile expert Debbie McKeegan thinks so. She discusses the future of smart textiles in the context of PPE, wearables, and protective clothing for fashion, sportswear, interiors, and hospitality.
I recently interviewed an executive at a large print shop, and in that conversation, we discussed the role of direct mail during the COVID-19 pandemic. With direct mail becoming increasingly sophisticated and printers investing in both printing and finishing equipment that enables more creative pieces, we discussed how now is actually a great time to be sending mail.
Printing on ceramic objects is a great business opportunity for printers and sign shops of all sizes. Although there are multi-million-dollar ceramic printing systems on the market, the good news is that it can be easy and affordable to enter the market for short to mid-sized runs of decorated ceramic products. Senior editor Cary Sherburne explains how.
Lower barriers to entry and entry-level inkjet presses have created opportunities for new competitors for transaction printers. Inkjet Insight’s Elizabeth Gooding offers strategies for how transactional printers can competition-proof themselves.
Ryerson University’s Abhay Sharma rounds up and evaluates three revolutionary new color management and measurement products from X-Rite Pantone: a new plugin for Adobe Creative Cloud, the latest Color Bridge fan deck, now aligned with GRACoL, and a next-generation i1Pro 3 measuring instrument.
This is a great time to evaluate your go-to-market plan and see if it needs some augmentation or modification—or a complete overhaul. In the second of two articles, Pat McGrew offers some ideas for jump-starting your marketing plans.
Ensuring the security of printed documents and brand packaging is still a major concern for governments, businesses, and the individual consumer. Joann Whitcher rounds up some of the latest trends and technologies in security printing,
As the textiles and apparel industry works to improve supply chain management and reduce its environmental footprint, many view pigment inks as the Holy Grail—print on any fabric, no need for pre- or post-treatment in many cases. What’s not to like? The hand feel, that’s what. Here’s what Kornit is doing to address that issue.
According to the latest edition of County Business Patterns, in 2017 there were 500 establishments in NAICS 323117 (Book Printing Establishments). This represents an decline of -6.7% since the decade began. In other data news, the BEA released Q1 2020 GDP growth. Click on through, if you dare.
FedEx Office offers a new deferred payment printing service. The potential psychological effects of using Zoom. Pro tip for Zoom meetings: don’t throw cats. Pro tip for remote Good Morning America segments: wear pants. P&G is using paper-based packaging for its Old Spice and Secret brands. Reusing discarded plastic fishing nets. A Hazmat-like suit designed for virus-free nightlife. Unusual gift items from the Post Office. Put a tiger in your living room. A popular YouTube channel is nothing but drain-unclogging videos, for some reason. Roger Dean livestreams designing the new Yes album cover. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly self-quarantining miscellany.
The sales process has changed dramatically over the years. This article is the first in a two-part series, exploring the complexity of today’s selling environment and drivers of purchasing decisions. Next week’s piece will outline the strategies for a new sales paradigm as we navigate these uncertain times.
Our current “reality” may not be ideal, but as we come out of this pandemic and begin to redefine our “new normal,” we will find that print will play a big part in engaging that new reality. I am guessing it will also include AR, MR, and VR as well.
The COVID-19 pandemic offers an opportunity for the Fashion Industry to seize the moment and radically reset an aged, inappropriate business model. Textile expert and WhatTheyThink contributor Debbie McKeegan shares insight from the Fashinnovation worldwide talks, conducted virtually via Zoom on April 20 and 22, 2020.
Global Graphics has developed the first direct-to-printhead processing pipeline using desktop class CPUs creating a future-proof solution to keep up with the latest production inkjet presses. This is a very significant development and is truly a game changer.
Understanding what the primary objective or challenge that a print software claims to solve is an important factor for shopping for print software solutions. You have challenges, print software vendors have solutions (in the form of products). The better defined the challenge, the better the chance of alignment and return on investment.
Consumer attitudes toward packaging are changing. Even as packaging becomes more upscale, more marketing-oriented, and more engaging, consumers exhibit growing wariness about its environmental impacts. What is the industry doing about it?
The novel coronavirus, COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on the economy both on a national and global scale. As businesses prepare to reopen, they should be developing an “Open for Business” recovery marketing campaign. To assist marketers in making the best decisions for their business, DirectMail2.0 has aggregated and analyzed data from its direct mail marketing platform over the past 11 weeks to depict the current integrated marketing landscape.
Our annual review of the sign franchises finds that employee challenges and competition from commercial print businesses top the list of challenges, while expanding the range of applications tops the list of opportunities. In all, these four organizations generated $926 million in revenues in 2019.
PrintFactory offers a RIP-based workflow for wide format printers in a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model. The company has about 17,000 active installations, supports more than 2,000 physical devices, and has about 40 employees. Find out more.
Textile 4.0 magazine looks at the industry’s response to the COVID-19 crisis. Celebrities read verses from Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner. A giant E Ink display features the NYT’s front page. Noise generator simulates the sounds of an office. A project to assign names to all 24-bit colors. Samsung’s TV boxes are designed to be converted into cat houses. The best 500+-page novels of the recent past. Buy wallpaper and support a local restaurant. Running the Boston Marathon...along the Erie Canal. BÖC performs “Godzilla” online. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly self-quarantining miscellany.
Successful selling requires certain behavioral traits that, if they are present, dramatically increase the probabilities of success. When there is a strong balance between the “assertive” and “helpful” traits, a sales person is most likely to create a “win-win” relationship. Wayne Lynn explores how to develop a sales force that has these two traits well-balanced.
Online conferencing and webinars are new to many printing companies and vendors. Although some businesses might view this as an opportunity to extend into new areas and try something new, it is often painfully obvious that printing companies are not experienced with delivering quality online conferences and webinars. This article offers 10 tips for delivering better online content.
Textile mills continue to work toward delivering more eco-friendly fabrics to the market. A case in point is Premier Digital Textiles, which has expanded its environmentally certified textiles collection, a collection with the provenance that the consumer now demands.
Printers are considered essential businesses. Are they still hiring? How is the COVID-19 pandemic impacting placement for essential printing jobs? Arnie Kahn, president of PrintLink, provides some insight.
Cary Sherburne provides our annual review of the print franchises. As these organizations work to adjust to the changing industry and business environment, they are all aggressively working with their franchises to add infrastructure for more efficiency, encourage the addition of new products, provide training and help franchisees looking for an exit strategy look for new potential owners. Combined, these five organizations generated $1.34 billion in revenues.
We are going to come out of COVID-19 into a different economy and a different print industry. Many of the changes taking place now will persist, even after we’re all vaccinated or have developed widespread herd immunity. Your customers will return with fewer people resources—a competitive advantage will be for vendors who can save customers time.
Have you ever tried installing high-end graphics on the hull of a boat while floating on a raft? Meet LuxWrap, a British company that has carved out a decidedly unique niche: high-end yacht graphics. They recently gold-foil-wrapped a yacht for hair extension brand Bellami—a project that was beset with all kinds of challenges.
Access to honest news and investigative reporting is important in the best of times, but even more so in the worst of times, such as the battle against COVID-19 that is underway around the globe. While virtually all media organizations are under stress due largely to the evaporation of advertising revenue, none are seeing more stress than local news organizations, resulting in what is being called local news deserts. In this article, we look at some of the efforts underway to relieve some of this stress.
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.