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Wed, Jun

As media suppliers focus more on getting their materials in front of end specifiers, are you finding your customers come to you with better knowledge of what they want and of what substrates are required to achieve their desired effects?

Ok, how many of you use alternative inks to those supplied/recommended by your printer manufacturer/supplier? Do you feel strongly one way or another about their use and their impact upon your own operations. Please drop me a line or give me a ring if you’re happy to talk. Cheers.

Do you ask environmental questions of your kit suppliers? When I last asked manufacturers what questions they got asked by PSPs about the ‘green’ credentials of their machines I was largely told that nobody really cares about that sort of thing – that it’s just about capability and end price. Is that still so or is the greening of the whole supply chain, and concern from your own customers, prompting you to ask more questions – not just in terms of machine efficiency etc., but on stuff like where parts are sourced, manufacturing energy consumption, delivery distance…? We should be, shouldn’t we?

Where do you meet ‘creatives’? I mean those you wouldn’t ordinarily come across in your day-to-day activities but who might well bring you work over the long-term if they only knew what whacky and wonderful things large-format digital print could deliver. And when you do meet them, how do you describe what your business does? Nice to see that Oasis Graphics and SMP Group are listed under ‘experiential’ at the upcoming Retail Design Expo for instance – not just POS/POP. I’m happy to help push the envelope and make the right noises in the right places, so help me help you by telling me where you think the best networking is to be had!

We all know that inkjet techniques open up whole new worlds of possibility, but how many of you are entering the more novel new markets? I ask because a new report from Smithers Pira - ‘The Future of Inkjet Printing to 2023’ - flags up the potential growth path for inkjet print. But as we know from over a decade of Widthwise research with UK/Ireland-based large-format PSPs, it’s not just about the technological capability when it comes to entering new markets, it’s about you feeling it’s worth your while making the strategic adjustments to your business (https://www.imagereportsmag.co.uk/widthwise2018). Is the fact that where you are yet to enter, others now are doing so affecting your thinking as the more ‘traditional’ inkjet markets mature? A question for Widthwise 2019 perhaps!

I often go on about what we can learn from the SGIA - well, perhaps it has learned something from Fespa with the instigation of its first wrap challenge as part of this year’s SGIA Expo. If you wanted to export key large-format knowledge and know-how, what would it be?

You want to expand or diversify - so get crowdfunding. That’s what Your Print Partner (YPP) is doing to get its latest venture - CustomGifts.co.uk - up and running. Its young gun chief, Stuart Maclaren - who’s still not 30! - isn’t one to sit around while markets move on, and he’s confident this funding route will let him get in on the action sooner rather than later. What are your thoughts on crowdfunding as a business development tool?

How do you feel the findings from the latest BPIF Printing Outlook survey reflect what’s happening within your business – or the wide-format inkjet print sector as a whole? The Widthwise Survey undertaken among digital large-format PSPs at the start of this year was somewhat more upbeat (https://www.imagereportsmag.co.uk/widthwise2018) – have things changed much in the last six months? Is your outlook more, or less, positive for the future?

So, according to the SDEA’s latest survey, those providing display systems to the UK retail sector are doing OK thank you. Do you concur when it comes to print for the retail sector?

What attention do you pay to sustainable practice within the circular economy? On 6 November, at the Power of Print talk at Stationers’ Hall in London, Kevin Vyse, senior packaging technologist and circular economy lead at Marks and Spencer, will explain how sustainable packaging is a fundamental part of its Plan A strategy, and how this is an opportunity for paper and cardboard packaging. You know how it is - often where the likes of Marks and Sparks lead others follow, so maybe worth hearing what he has to say. Go to www.powerofprint.info

I see that Paragon Customer Communications has been awarded a gold rating for sustainability by Ecovadis, placing it in the top 2% of global print service suppliers for corporate responsibility. Any of you large-format printers out there putting CSR high on your agenda?

It’s somewhat ironic that few printers are likely to attend the Connected World Summit, being held this year at the Printworks in London (25-26 September). Now in its fourth year, this conference-come-exhibition is all about emerging technologies for smart cities, looking at topics such as smart buildings and transport, but also at the internet of things, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, blockchain - things that could - and at some point in the future most likely will - impact your business. Might be worth checking outif you're taking a long-term view….

Do you have a flatbed printer, and if so, have you used its capability to take you into short-run/bespoke packaging? Just wondering, as it’s an application much discussed as a potential diversification for large-format PSPs.

Well done again to GIS in winning its second Queen’s Award for Enterprise. Of course not all companies can win an accolade like that - what gives it such kudos of course - but any award is worth winning in the PR and marketing stakes, right? So how many awards schemes do you enter each year, roughly? Have you won any this year? Let me know which have been most valuable to you.

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