Retail demands more print, in greater variety, more often

By Vaughan Patterson, product marketing operations manager for Production Print at Ricoh SA
The shift to digital, particularly in retail, is helping printers do more than just print variable data on different packaging substrates like corrugated board – it helps retailers, brands, and product owners engage consumers in novel and authentic ways. That’s the difference between a printer selling price-sensitive print or supplying a business solution.
Digital printing is helping brands and retailers catch consumers’ attention in increasingly busy shops. It’s a boon for printers as the majority of the retail industry’s demand for printed signs is indoor signage (72%), much of which has a short shelf life.
Consumers are currently more price-sensitive and less brand loyal typically searching for bargains or promotional offers for many kinds of products. Retail outlets are therefore the obvious winners when it comes to using graphics and signs to brand and sell direct to consumers. Unsurprisingly grocery retail uses the most printed signs.
Also unsurprisingly, particularly in South Africa where previously volatile inflation rates and other macroeconomic factors led to rapidly and regularly changing retail prices, particularly in groceries, point-of-sale (PoS) and signage have among the shortest lifespans in printing. That’s obviously good news for printers who work in this segment and can most benefit from rapid and reduced press setup procedures, colour matching, change over times, and make-ready for digital presses.
Retailers use a variety of signage for a variety of purposes that lead to a variety of print opportunities. For one, retailers are challenged to maintain national or global brands while creating and preserving local authenticity.
They also need to bridge the digital and analogue chasm, linking online marketing to in-store products and promotions. One of the best ways is to use smartphone cameras to snap barcodes, QR codes, or augmented reality codes like Clickable Paper from printed materials in stores. Those can be printed on PoS, promotional materials, or direct to even corrugated product packaging itself.
Even printed electronic circuitry printed in conductive inks can be used in-store to link consumers’ immediacy to interact with the product, the retailer, or brands.

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Ricoh is a global technology company specialising in office imaging equipment, production print solutions, document management systems and IT services. Headquartered in Tokyo, Ricoh Group operates in about 200 countries and regions. In the financial year ending March 2014, Ricoh Group had worldwide sales of 2,236 billion yen (approximately 21.7 billion USD).

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