Retail stores are always changing their offers, and changing the way their store looks. Adapting to the marketplace, stock levels, and requests from suppliers. Still the best way to do this is with digital printing of shelf top and rack top displays. The size varies but the medium is very popular. Even with digital signage making big changes in larger signage, these smaller signs are still entrenched with paper prints. And with good reason. The holders are cheap to source and easy to replace, durable when dropped, essentially worthless to a shop lifter, and can be put basically anywhere.
Digital printing means that short runs of specific offers can be produced economically, which is great news in a cluttered marketing environment that demands a focused message to break through to consumers.
Fast turn around digital printing is the core service of Posterboy Printing. Producing marketing tickets/shelf top signs and distributing them around the country is something we do day in day out. We understand that marketing teams need to be responsive and need fast turn around to stay ahead of their competitors with any offers they are making.
This page goes through the steps of our production and packaging processes that allow us to get artwork printed, packed, and out the door, to the right stores, is a timely manner.
1. Pre Press
Artwork needs to be supplied with 3mm bleed, crops marks, at the correct size, font converted to curves or outlines, and only one up.
With correct artwork in hand the file goes into the prepress software, which is called a rip. The rip tiles up the artwork on the printed sheet size. Digital printers usually print onto an SRA3 sheet, 320x450mm, which is larger than the standard A size sheets. Printing onto an oversize sheet allows the printer to cut down to the crops marks and give the finished product colour right up to the edge of the sheet.
2. Print Production
Commercial digital printing machines look a lot like common multi function printers seen in many large offices. There are many difference mostly related to the speed of the print, the weight of the paper, the quality of the print, and the overall durability of the machine. Production level machines are very robust machines. Once the file is tiled up it is ready to go. Digital printing is fast to setup, and requires no physical setup to produce each variation of the artwork. This is what makes it such a good choice for short run printing, and variable data printing/mail merging.
Once printed the oversized sheets are cut down to standard A sizes. A3, A4, A5 and so on. Paper Guillotines are machines that are built to last. The one in my shop is 45 years old!
Packing digital printing is the hardest part. It is a mechanically simple repetitive task, which is what makes it so difficult. It is very easy for the mind to wander, and for mistakes to be made. Putting 3 prints into an envelope instead of 2. Putting only 2 artworks in instead of 3. Mindless little mistakes that result in the store getting the wrong product. To avoid this we use a number of double and cross checks at multiple stages of the process, so when mistakes are made, it doesn’t take long to find the envelope that has an extra print, or a missing print.
The quality of the print, and the condition of the print reflect directly on how our client’s store is percieved by their customer, so it is very important to us that the print arrives in perfect condition. Even the best couriers can be rough, so we take great care to pack our digital printing to survice the worse. We use fantastic rigid envelopes for anything under a3, and manufacture our own a1 envelopes when we send large posters. It is possible to sent prints in cardboard tubes, but when rolled prints arrive in store, they still remember the roll and hang or sit curved, which looks terrible.
Just when you thought it was all over, you have to label the envelopes. We have developed our own application that automatically fills out the labels and enters them into the courier software which saves us a lot of time, and elimiates a lot of mistakes. Again this is a stage that seems easy, because it is easy, but it is also easy to get wrong. A package meant for Sydney that gets labeled for Melbourne helps no one! Systems and cross checks make sure that these mistakes don’t happen.
Freight is the last leg, and often the worst. In an industry, not just digital printing, you can work all night to get a project finished and out the door, only to have the courier get lost on the way. We have used a lot of different freight companies, and finally found one that we trust. Toll Ipec is competitively priced and very reliable. Mistakes happen, this is the real world, but I would say about 99.5% of the time Toll gets it right. One of the benefits of working with Toll for us is that their depot is quite close by, which means that late orders to us can still go out same day, we can drive the goods to the depot ourselves long after the booking and pickup deadlines.