Labels & Packaging
Kevin Wallace is the managing director of All Print Supplies (APS), one of the UK’s independent suppliers of sign vinyl and materials to the sign, exhibition and display markets. Kevin is no stranger to these pages, and as such shares his views on how we could all benefit from taking a little of our own advice.
To succeed in print, businesses must re-connect with customers/diversify/add-value/specialise – you can delete as appropriate to your business, but this is a common theme threaded through the pages of the trade press. And the industry commentators, vendors and suppliers do have a point, but I’m beginning to feel that many of us could do with taking some of our own advice.
The market place has changed rapidly for printers, with most print increasingly playing the supporting rather than leading role in today’s integrated communications campaigns. Therefore, print businesses are well advised to make a concerted effort to reconnect with their customer. Talking with clients at the strategic level about not just what they want, but why they want it, is the best way to ensure they get a return on investment and you get a returning customer.
Resellers and distributors, like us here at APS, also benefit hugely from this approach, particularly when uncertain trading conditions make long term planning more of a challenge than usual. Ours and our clients’ success is mutual so we need to understand their plans for growth in order to provide proper support. And here I think printers should also make suppliers - all of them - work harder to add value.
In APS’s line of work, supplying consumables and inks to the burgeoning wide-format print sector, it is so important that we understand what our customers need, when they need it and exactly how much of it they need. We try our very best to treat customers on a truly individual basis, and welcome any customers that demand to be treated as such. It’s healthy for competition and suppliers should always be made to feel under pressure to respond to the nuances of their customers – when are your busy periods and how do your demands/needs change?
APS has implemented some straight forward but highly valuable ways to support customers exploring new markets and experimenting with new applications, for example. This includes the ‘cash-flow friendly’ ability to purchase as little as one square metre of vinyls and other media, as well as eliminating onerous minimum orders on all of its products. Simple, but it has really enhanced our customer relationships and has helped many customers to achieve their growth targets.
Suppliers are, or should be, experts in their field, so printers should get used to taking advantage of this resource, at the very least getting them in for regular presentations of latest products and what they mean for the industry.
With environmental products for example, there is the common misconception that they are naturally more expensive, which makes some hesitant to adopt them. But, as my sales reps will tell you, this isn’t necessarily true. Some eco-products require less raw-material to be used either at the manufacturing or printing stage, which makes them more affordable.
I think many printers would be surprised at how responsive suppliers can be, and in most cases want to be. Communication remains the key. It’s important to keep your own customers up to date with the applications and services you offer, and so is keeping a key supplier informed on where you are taking the business and how you think they can help.
If you’d like to invite us round for a cup of tea (or something stronger) then we would be more than be happy to hear what the future holds for you and your company – I’m sure we have more common goals than you realise.
All Print Supplies
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