Labels & Packaging
Packaging is by nature a commodity product, but the advent of wide format digital printing technologies is enabling packaging converters to create products and develop services that differentiate their customers’ packaging, and enable them to react quickly to market opportunities while adding value to the packaging and services they provide. We asked Mark Rowland, regional business manager, Greater Western Europe, UK & Ireland for HP Scitex (Wide Format Industrial Printing Business) to tell us more.
The new generation of industrial digital presses are opening a host of opportunities for new business for packaging printers, and the technical abilities are complementing market trends that indicate a growing importance of POS/POP displays in product sales.
Recent research by Point-of-Purchase Advertising International (POPAI) shows that in-store decision-making has reached an all-time record of 76 per cent and that POP/POS displays and their placement play a crucial role in that decision-making.
With conventional printing, packaging converters are pretty much tied to commodity printing. The ability to print 100 POP displays, on-demand, conventionally, is something that converters will do to keep big customers, but they are not able to it profitably or often. Requests for short-run versions or special editions means they have to contract the work out.
However, the versatility of flatbed digital presses, such as the HP Scitex FB7600 Industrial Press, means they can be used for rigid and flexible applications, offering packaging printers a variety of ways to grow their businesses. They can also develop a number of business strategies to grow their profits, offer new products and services and differentiate themselves from the competition.
Customer demands for short-run, fast-turnaround production are the two most common reasons that packaging companies are investing in digital presses for packaging applications, but users of HP Scitex flatbed printers have found a variety of business development reasons for their investments that go beyond these primary ones.
Migrating work from conventional processes such as screen printing is a reason often cited by converters for investing in digital flatbed capabilities. With prepress make-ready virtually eliminated, time and start-up waste are saved. The ability to print only what is needed saves expensive substrates and companies are able to respond faster, accommodate requests for late changes and leverage other aspects of digital printing, like cost-effective versioning for specific locations, language versions and special events and promotions.
Packaging converters that have a digital capability benefit from not having to send digital work out. This not only helps increase margins, but can improve turnaround times and quality, since it is wholly under their control.
Apart from being able to handle existing work with greater efficiency and cost-effectiveness, a flatbed digital press enables packaging printers to offer new products to existing and new customers. Since campaigns now typically go beyond point of sale to other promotional signage and displays, boundless opportunities exist for developing new applications including banners, pop-up displays, and soft signage for indoor and outdoor use.
Customers who may be currently sourcing these products from other suppliers would almost certainly welcome a one-stop-shop approach if their packaging/display suppliers could offer it.
Customers will also understand the benefits of increasing use of digitally printed materials. In many cases, storage costs can be eliminated, closer relationships forged between customers and converters, and a general move from just being a supplier of print to being able to play a more consultative role advising on the optimal substrates to use for a given application, or ensuring maximum impact.
Other companies with flatbed presses have included flexo trade houses that have introduced trial POP display production as well as undertaking short runs for their converting customers. The added link in the relationship with their customers also increases the probability of winning the repro work for the conventional runs.
The diversity of approaches that packaging printers can use to promote a digital printing capability means that they can find a model that suits their ethos and customer base. The big step is not to just think out of the box, but to think beyond the box.
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