In-Store Printing: The Perfect Storm is Gathering

A perfect storm is brewing in retail. It's challenging the way retailers and consumer product companies are conducting their daily business. But help is on the way. Highly competitive grocery and department store chains -- where profitability can be won or lost from one sale to the next -- are charting their course through this perfect storm with a well-known tool called in-store printing.

Forces Contributing to the Perfect Storm

1. Greater Emphasis on the Store As a Major Marketing Communications Medium
For large retailers and consumer packaged goods manufacturers, today's marketing spend is more fragmented than ever before. Consequently, these power marketers are looking to the store itself as a powerful medium to reach real shoppers with highly targeted messaging at the shelf. "Our customers realize the importance of getting the right message to the right customer at the right time," says Lockie Antonopoulos, VP of North America Client Services at Episys, a software provider that integrates ordering, pricing and communications for major retailers around the world. In-Store printing offers the opportunity to target specific consumers in specific locations.

2. Decentralized Pricing Strategies

To move inventory and optimize profitability, stores are directing local managers to adjust pricing in each store- in many cases upwards of twice a week. This decentralized approach to "real time" pricing reshapes the signage table stakes for both retailers and their suppliers. Even "everyday low price" retailers, who have tended to make fewer price adjustments per week, are changing their pricing and signage requirements, as they add more perishable grocery items. In-store printing is enabling the deployment of flexible pricing strategies.

3. Cost and Environmental Pressures
The traditional model for delivering signage is to have a centralized source dispatch the same master package to every store in the chain. Then stores select what to use and what to discard. "What results, of course, is massive waste," says Antonopoulos. "Our customers, who are continuously looking for ways to take cost out of their supply chain, see in-store printing as a very attractive option that will allow stores to print only what they want and need."

Charting Your Course with In-Store Printing

Stores and suppliers are working diligently to outfit their stores with advanced and economical printing solutions. Although in-store printing began with monochrome printers, the real excitement is color. Greg Gates, VP of Image Merchandising Solutions at Gladson Interactive, a supplier of product image databases to stores and suppliers, identifies the benefits: "strong branding, improved ease of shopping and, for Gladson's customers, reduced shelf stocking time because the stocker simply matches the product to the picture on the shelf edge."

The printers need to operate within very specific parameters. They must be fast, capable of high print volumes and versatile -- able to accommodate a variety of stock weights and finishes. Their output needs to be "office quality." (Agency quality is actually overkill in these applications and tends to reduce the speed). And their cost really has to be under $1,000 to fit within most retailers' budgets.

"In-store printing" is now part of a larger "in-store marketing" trend created by shifting customer shopping behaviors. Use of it allows retailers to adapt to these shifting trends by:

  • Creation of consistent standard signage across product categories and promotions
  • Real-time creation of unadvertised specials messaging to turn sluggish inventory
  • Rapid shelf labeling
  • Easy creation of replacement tags

    Savvy retailers, with the help of printing software providers, are now finding themselves better prepared to ride out the perfect storm.


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