Branch Out with Digital

Steve Richardson, Managing Director of Pigment Inc explains why embracing specialty digital printing processes are an important stepping stone to increase profits and boost your business.
 
For the vast majority of printing businesses, making the same income from your services and products that you once did five, ten or more years ago is a daily struggle. Printing isn’t without its ups and downs – and with margins continually reducing and competition on the rise, getting that same level of custom just doesn’t seem on the cards.
 

So, what’s the answer to success in printing in an increasingly competitive and expensive field? Thinking outside the box might be the way to keep your business above the water, giving you new avenues to success. While an investment up-front is a requirement for diversifying, you can quickly earn back the money you spend if you invest in the right technology.

It may be tempting to stick to what you know and ramp up your technology for existing printing works and jobs. While this is a viable option if you’re highly in demand, it isn’t such a good idea if business is on the downswing. Newer or additional equipment may improve efficiencies, make processes easier or simply allow you to do more of the same, but they don’t reach the heart of the problem. A one-dimensional business doesn’t have the support needed to succeed in the long term, and you need to put down additional roots to expand upon your current success.

If you really want to reach new audiences, gain new business, and achieve more for your business, investing in different technology is key. In fact, your competitors may already be wise to the thinking outside the box concept – and that’s not an area where you want to be left behind. The more diverse the offering, the more they can deliver to your customers. If you can’t offer the same, you might soon find loyal customers are looking elsewhere for something that suits their current needs better.

Say you have a key competitor who invests their earnings into a UV-LED printer to supplement their existing product line and services. Suddenly, your customers that are after diversity in services might just be hopping over to that other business. Why go to two places for your t-shirts and promotional pens when one place can do it all?

It can be easy to forget customer loyalty is based on service. But if you aren’t providing the standard of service your customers need today, you’re likely to be missing out. That doesn’t mean your service is inferior – it just means you aren’t offering everything that your customer needs. But remedying that issue is easier than you might think.

Going beyond your current services

If a lot of what we’ve said so far has resonated with you, and with the current state of your business, never fear – we aren’t just trying to get you down. Going above and beyond is an excellent way for any business to succeed and going beyond that comfort zone is a must to get there. It’s easy to pigeonhole your business as one specific service and do what you do well.

But what really matters is the concept beyond your business. Your job is to take ideas from your customers and create them in full colour on anything they want. When you consider your business in those terms, it’s easy to see how branching out doesn’t have to mean losing your business identity.

More products equate to more customers

 

It seems an obvious equation, but the more products and services you offer, the more customers you’ll bring in. Printing is an incredibly cross-service industry, which means expanding your services doesn’t necessarily mean your existing offerings will suffer. Instead, bringing in new equipment offers the opportunity to provide more to your customers, as well as gain new customers that are looking for a specific service.

Think about products that would work for your existing customer base and work out from there. Maybe a loyal customer has referenced a product they’d love to buy from you, or maybe you’ve had multiple enquiries about a specific service. You already know that there is demand, so why not offer the supply?

Should I go digital?

If you’re planning on investing in new equipment and expanding your services, our recommendation in today’s market is to embrace digital thoroughly. While the analogue process still has plenty of merit for screen or pad printing, they’re also highly skilled and specialised. By contrast, digital has a shortened learning curve, which means you get to the money-making part of your new venture that much faster. In some cases, if you’re investing in tech from a similar line-up to existing products, learning new technology can be fairly intuitive – making it even quicker and easier to learn.

Is DTG for me?

DTG – also known as Direct to Garment is a common expansion choice for many businesses. For printing directly onto apparel and fabrics of various shapes and sizes, both direct to garment and toner-type transfer systems are excellent choices in equipment. Both of these printing systems need less space, require standard energy supply and generate less waste – especially in comparison to cumbersome screen printing systems.

The DTG M2 is our flagship at Pigment Inc and produces excellent full colour print results on items including hoodies, towels, socks, t-shirts and just about anything else you can think of. The DTG M2  doesn’t incur large set-up fees and has no specific minimums. If your customers love the work and want to re-order, the process is as simple as loading the garment, pulling up their logo or design and setting to print as many times as needed. You don’t get much simpler than that.

Branching out with UV-LED

Not so enamoured with DTG? For businesses that truly want to compete out of the garment printing/standard printing comfort zone, UV-LED is an excellent solution. We often think of these machines as large, costly beasts but there are plenty of smaller format options on the market, with a more affordable entry price point. For example, the Compress iUV-600s and 1200s printers have a relatively small-footprint and can print onto a wide range of both rigid and flexible substrates.

Think of any promotional or giveaway product, from pens and phone cases to key fobs and USB drives. The Compress iUV Printers are ideal for printing onto these items. UV printing systems expands the opportunities for printing businesses to a far larger world of promotional materials, as well as memorabilia and personalised items too. 

UV-LED offers full-colour possibility with no expensive setup costs like screen printing where there’s a limit on the number of colours and the complexity of the graphics needing to be kept to a minimum due to the limitations of the process itself. That means your customers can order the same design on posters, pens, banners and bookmarks if they wanted to. UV-LED is appealing to many corporate customers for this reason alone, making it an excellent addition if you’re considering looking for more commercial business.

Reducing costs and winning customers

One of the key complaints that printers have about branching out is initial costs. While up-front investment is a must for any business looking to expand its offering, both DTG and UV-LED are more than worth the up-front cost with the amount you save overall – and that’s without considering the additional customers you’ll gain access to.

Say you have a corporate customer who is considering having their five-colour logo printed on tee-shirts, hoodies, posters, banners, pens, and golf balls—the full works. As a print shop without UV-LED or DTG, your options are limited. Either potentially lose the customers by only offering half the work they want or lose money by outsourcing or using long-winded, expensive analogue processes such as screen and pad printing.

This is especially the case when it comes to producing samples for clients. With a UV-LED printer, you simply set up the design, place in one golf ball and go. No wasted product and no longwinded process. A similar process with pad printing on a five-colour design could take days and would be incredibly costly for the output of a single golf ball.

If you’re considering where to take your business next, and how to bring those flagging sales back up to turn a proper profit, UV-LED or DTG is the way to go. Think outside the box, branch out, and you might just be reaping those rewards this time next year.

Steve Richardson (CEO, PigmentInc)

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