Industry analysts share remarks about preparing for the upcoming year.
What actions are shops not taking that they should be to ensure a more prosperous bottom line?
Marco Boer, Consulting Partner, I.T. Strategies (www.it-strategies.com): Demand generation for their business capabilities. Like most in the print industry, printshops are putting out daily fires and leave little room for marketing.
Bill Dundas, Director, Technical and Regulatory Affairs, International Sign Association (www.signs.org): Many firms need to be more proactive and aggressive in reducing fixed overhead costs-especially items subject to abrupt price increases such as energy consumed in the shop and fuel costs for company vehicles.
Adam Florek, Research Analyst, Wide-Format Printing Advisory Service, Lyra (www.lyra.com): Too many shops fail to specialize and instead offer the same posters and signage as the competition. If shops specialize in a certain application such as wall graphics or photo enlargements, then they’re better positioned to withstand downturns in an economic cycle.
Tim Greene, Director, Visual Communications Technologies Consulting Service, Infotrends (www.infotrends.com): I think a lot of shops are using really good tools that help them identify some of their production costs-and that is great and a necessary step. The down side, if there is one, is that this model can sometimes lead shops toward a "cost-plus" pricing model. This isn’t necessarily bad if printing is the only thing they do-except that those cost models are not comprehensive enough to calculate all of the soft and hidden costs such as amortization of the space required for their hardware and the print media they keep in stock. I think there’s a lot of room to expand this analysis because the opportunity is there to better capitalize on some additional conversion and fulfillment services.
Dan Marx, Vice President, Markets and Technology, Specialty Graphic Imaging Association (www.sgia.org): I’d urge print providers to get the most out of the equipment they use, and do their best to exploit the possibilities of technology, markets, and finishing processes. As our industry matures, the need to compete for business using something other than price will be paramount. Also, shops should examine their processes as a way to seek maximum efficiency in workflow and staffing.
What applications and niche markets do you see looming large for the rest of ‘08 and into ‘09?
Florek: We expect decorative graphics to loom large in the next year. Print shops that use textiles, carpet, and even rigid substrates such as wooden boards and metal have found an ability to stand out in a competitive environment. We believe most shops will focus more on P-O-P as retailers require high-production orders with regularity. Print shops are also becoming more creative in meeting the needs of retailers by using floor and shelf graphics, textile banners, and island displays.
Greene: I still love vehicle graphics-that one is definitely going in the right direction. A recent study we did (see chart, page 57) indicates that shops are seeing growth in textiles, P-O-P, packaging samples, vehicle graphics and wraps, and window graphics.
Boer: Soft signage and fine art will continue to be the halos for high-value creation, but they will remain niches.
Marx: We’re paying particular interest in developments in inkjet technology for the manufacturing and industrial sectors. For the graphics industry, the digital revolution has definitely happened, and we’re now working our way through the inevitable maturation of digital graphics. In industrial and manufacturing areas, however, the revolution is just getting underway. I believe a great deal of innovation will take place in these sectors, and the benefits of these innovations positively affect the technologies we use in graphics production.