Is It Time to Broaden Your Horizons with Wide-Format?
How often has a customer asked if you could help them with signage or other wide-format applications, and you’ve had to point them elsewhere — or pay to outsource it yourself? Or, worse yet, how often have you found out your customer knows not to even ask you about wide-format, and takes their business elsewhere? As convergence of wide-format and more traditional sheetfed shops continues apace, the risk of that other “specialty” shop expanding its capabilities and eating into your business can’t be ignored — and besides, wouldn’t it be nice to bring those large wide-format margins in house? This also appeals to modern print buyers’ desire for the simplicity of the one-stop print shop for streamlined customer experiences and more reliable consistency across different communication channels.
Now is a particularly good time to enter the wide-format space. While the barriers to entry for wide-format have lowered, the ceiling for its capabilities have risen. Today, textile, backlit, and industrial printing are available on more affordable, easier to operate, and easier to maintain print systems. There are more printers, finishing systems, and substrate options than ever before, with even advanced capabilities becoming more intuitive. As a result, printers’ creative toolboxes are more exciting than ever, even without extensive specialized wide-format training.
At the same time, nontraditional substrates have increasingly become part of the conversation. With the strides made recently in curing and ink technologies, the substrates you can print on are more or less limited only by your imagination. UV curing, for instance, allows for lightning-fast turnarounds for high-quality applications even on some of the most difficult substrates. This sense of nearly boundless possibility has been allowing printers to expand into application types that previously may not have existed or were extremely difficult to produce, with new niches being carved, and versatile shops growing even more impressive.
One aspect that’s especially exciting for print providers considering adding wide-format is that the ubiquity of the form has not cut into its margins. Every brand is eager to stand out, and the answer is often specialty print. Your ability to leverage and market it creatively can help take customer campaigns to the next level. That kind of edge in engaging audiences is bound to come at a premium; the question is, will your shop be the one to benefit?
If you find your regular customers looking elsewhere for wide-format, consider using it as a springboard to learn more about how they approach these applications. You just might find an opportunity to capture even more of their business — and their trust.
As the technology has become more accessible, and profitability from wide-format produced products remains some of the highest in all of print, many who look at the practical addition of wide-format equipment to their business will see an opportunity to truly accelerate their revenues and drive significant contribution to their bottom line. The impact can often result in an ROI in months, not years.