Reaping the benefits of trade printing

Trade printers have always been in the game, but long gone are the days where you would have to repeatedly call to follow up on jobs, with modern trade printing companies operating as highly efficient, automated operations.
Not only can trade printers offer a highly-efficient print service and online portal, some offer white label website services where you can simply add your brand, logo, or skin on top of a supplied website, and your customers can order directly from the trade printer, while they are under the impression that they are buying off you.
It is not as simple as pressing play and watching the money roll in however, otherwise everyone would do it. Additional work is needed, along with a commitment to the model, and marketing which ensures your customers understand the system.
Alex Coulson, manager, Hero Print, says, “Basically, we find that printers come to us for savings in time, in money, and overheads. A lot of people we find are consolidating their own business, machines cost a lot of money to run, in offset you have to make plates, have an operator, pay for maintenance.
“We can do that for anyone that does need an offset job. So it is a huge time and cost saving.
“We gang up print jobs, so we have that advantage. We can put a few jobs into a run together, and capitalise on economies of scale. It is hard to run a standalone job for 1000 flyers without a lot of time and effort. 
“We can do a  few jobs at once, and save the cost of plates, setups, and makereadys, and pass on those savings to our clients.”
“We do not have a white label service. We looked at it a while ago, but decided it is not the angle for us. Everything for us is about ease, we want to make things as easy as possible, and made the website as easy to use as possible. We have streamlined it, quick uploads, payment process, payment gateway, so there is not a lot of mucking around on our site. We are not trying to advertise, it is get in and get out quickly, allowing clients to carry on with their core business and getting work.
“We also have extensive tracking systems, and we also send out quite a few updates so that people do not need to chase their trade printer.
“Ten years ago you had to call the trade printer all the time, and the only way you had piece of mind was by picking up your phone and chasing them.
“Now we chase ourselves, and constantly report back to them on their jobs, so it is a passive receiving of information from our clients rather than an active process.”
For Andrew Cester, CEO, Whirlwind Print, trade printing offers quality advantages. He says, “Printers do not have to make the capital outlay. They can buy high-quality products that low capital equipment cannot produce, and then they put a margin on it. They do not take a financial risk in buying a press, and they do not take an obsolescence risk, we take all that.”
Whirlwind does offer a white label website. For many printers own-branded white label websites can offer serious benefits, they allow their customers to browse and purchase a wide range of products without the printer having to set up its own website. And for retail customers with prepayment web-to-print can do wonders for cashflow.
Cester says, “We offer white label websites, a product called W3P, a site you can rebrand, with millions of templates online which can be edited. We have sites which can be branded for corporates, and online print management where corporates can have their own branded sites with their own stationary.
“That is a market which is growing for us, as the technology gets easier to use and implement. So it is growing for the companies that are IT savvy, and investing time, effort, and money in them. People think it is a thing that you turn on and it works, but it takes time, effort, and marketing.
“The companies that are prepared to make that investment are increasing their volumes, but it does require persistence. It is another business model, not another add-on.”
Ewan Donaldson, managing director of wide format trade printer Vivad, says printers can take advantage of trade printers with specialities, he says, “If you sell to end-users, you can’t do everything. Even within the trade, certain companies have different types of technology, and it is always best to use the right technology for the job. 
“Printers deal with other printers so that they can offer products suitable for use with the product needed.
“It comes down to capacity as well, they might have the right tech but when there is a surge in production they will use us to knock off the peaks in demand.
The power of online ordering systems makes the process simpler for printers, as Vivad’s new web-to-print portal generates all the costs, freight considerations, and time. 
Donaldson says, “Vivad has a comprehensive web-to-print portal which allows the user to select and customise their print product. They can put in the size and quantity, and upload the artwork, which is preflighted in the shopping cart. 
“That will tell the user any problems, including with proportions, and give a detailed map highlighting issues with potential resolution problems. In one sitting they can have the print job in the print queue and see the cost of freight based on the calculated packing dimensions and weights.”
For some printers using trade printers with white label website works, for others the conventional customer relation is the way to go. Print businesses though are the real winners as trade printers work hard to meet the demands of the market.

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