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Focus On

Trade Printing

It’s a tale as old as time – you have a print job, but you don’t have the right equipment, enough time, or the knowledge. What do you do? Summer Brooks finds out how using a trade printer could help

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Could using a trade printer be beneficial to your business?

Trust the trade

The reality for a lot of printers is that whilst not every job can be carried out in-house, printers cannot afford to turn work away. Whether a printer doesn’t have the right equipment or the appropriate expertise to carry out a job, outsourcing to a trade printer could be the answer. Trade printers often have the capability to produce jobs in the most cost efficient way which helps printers increase their profit margins.

Those in the know

Route 1 Print’s clientele ranges from small, high street copy shops to large commercial printers “and everyone in between,” says Mark Young, who heads the company. “We also print for a lot of graphic design and marketing agencies. Our services are only ever on offer to trade customers and resellers so we can make sure that we offer the lowest price and the best service. We are our customer’s secret print partner; an extension to their business and their factory.”

Mark Young, head of Route 1 Print

Midlands-based Flexo Trade Print’s flexo repro division supplies corrugated box manufacturers, label and envelope manufacturers and security print, serving some areas outside of the print industry. The firm recently made a move into the digital, wide-format print market with Digital Print Products in 2012. Andy Wilcox, general manager at the firm, comments: “We’ve seen changes mostly in the corrugated industry requirements as these people get more ambitious in their print capabilities. There have also been increases in areas outside of the print trade for moulding stereos.”

Quinnstheprinters.com, the online trade printer, says its main customer base consists of other trade printers who supply to the end user, graphic designers, print management companies and traditional printers who used to produce in-house but now outsource their work.

O Factoid: Aside from print brokers, trade printers also serve print management companies, graphic designers, marketing firms and advertising agencies  O

Richard McCarthy, marketing manager at the firm, says that pricing is one of the main reasons companies use trade printers. “Companies would use trade printers largely because of pricing we believe,” he comments. “Trade printers can print in bulk, which is a more cost effective way to print. Pricing isn’t everything to customers though. It is also mainly because of the quality of print provided, the turnaround times offered and the white label packaging on delivery.

Trade printers offer wholesale prices for bulk printing jobs

“Trade printers can still provide work on a same-day and one-day turnaround, just like digital printers or smaller printers can, but for a much cheaper price. The majority of people who outsource print do not have the machinery, trade printers throughout Europe tend to have the newest, most modern equipment, therefore they have the ability to print fast and produce top quality printing.”

[The benefit is] speaking to people who know the print language, allowing a small business operator to spend more time customer-facing

Trade printers offer a wide range of products, normally through an online service with the addition of account managers which help to maintain relationships with clients. Aside from the way they operate, trade printers are valued for their expertise, as McCarthy explains: “[The benefit is] speaking to people who know the print language, allowing a small business operator to spend more time customer-facing. We found customers who stopped printing in-house found their sales increase when they spend more time [being] customer focused.”

Why use a trade printer?

“There are a couple of reasons that companies look towards trade printers to produce their print products,” says Young. “They either don’t have the capacity to produce the product or they don’t have the necessary equipment. Here at Route 1 Print, we have the most up-to-date equipment and our customers get to benefit from that. The message we have here is that ‘Our factory is your factory,’ giving even the smallest resellers access to the highest quality print.”

With the repro side of the business, Wilcox says it’s the firm’s extensive pre-press knowledge that print-service-providers rely on. “On our digital print side, I think in our case it’s quality, speed of turn around and willingness to take on even the shortest of print runs. On the repro side, it’s more to do with expertise and costs involved setting up their own departments.”

There are many benefits to using a trade printer and a number of businesses are starting to move away from producing their own print and instead focusing on customer relationships. “We have noticed that the increase in workload has come from other printers who may have gotten rid of their machinery and want to become a more customer-facing print business,” comments McCarthy. “With the economy the way it is, many companies have sold their machinery and used trade printers to outsource their work.”

Print companies may be concerned about confidentiality when it comes to using trade printers, as they often want to keep their outsourcing private from the client. Most trade printers offer a white label packaging which allows a trade printer to remain anonymous in the transaction.

Work from trade printers is sent discreetly to maintain confidentiality

Young of Route 1 Print says that outsourcing to a trade printer allows a print reseller or print management company to rely on the experts. He comments: “The main benefits of using a trade printer, and at Route 1 Print in particular, is that we have top quality machinery which allows us to produce quality jobs on quick turnaround times. We’re also experts in this field and our staff are always on hand to offer advice to our customers. Lastly, we understand the importance of our customer’s margin, so we ensure that we keep our prices competitive.”

Whilst many print-service-providers offer trade printing services, this may not be the only service they provide, meaning its worthwhile checking out a trade printer’s reputation before selecting them. “I’d recommend checking that the printer you’re looking at is a trade printer,” Young comments. “We solely print for resellers and other print companies. Also, don’t just look at prices. Take a look into what other benefits are on offer such as free delivery and excellent customer service.”

Aside from competitive pricing, trade printers have the equipment to fulfil most print jobs

The trade printing arena tends to operate online via a platform that allows jobs to be requested in an instant and often with a fast turnaround. Technology, Young concludes, is helping printers and print resellers increase their margins. “Technology is bringing businesses closer together, allowing them to expand their product range and giving them more insight and data on how to produce their work,” he says. “It’s easier than ever to identify the most cost effective way of producing a job. Often this can mean outsourcing some jobs to companies that have a different set up, allowing printers to focus on the jobs that make them the most money.”

Those offering trade printing services often have expertise that spans many different kinds of print jobs

Whilst being able to say ‘yes’ is important for a print firm in today’s landscape, it can sometimes be to the detriment of the printer if the job is going to cost more than what you’re charging. Say ‘no’, and you risk losing a valuable job. Whether you do not have the means to complete a print job in-house or the job requires expertise that falls outside of your realm, using a trade printer could well be the answer to being able to say ‘yes’, every time. 

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