In this episode, we have our guests Sarah Scudder from Real Sourcing Network and Roger Buck from Corporate Development Associates. They discuss some exciting trends in the print industry to create a compelling customer experience. They also discuss how print innovation could help manufacturers increase their sales. Finally, we discussed some interesting use cases of print and how they have helped manufacturers increase profits.
- [0:36] Intro
- [3:43] Personal journey and current focus
- [12:29] Perspective on growth
- [14:56] How manufacturers can increase their sales using print innovation
- [26:52] How print innovation and packaging strategies can help increase profit
- [29:19] Customer experience use cases through print innovation
- [31:01] Closing thoughts
- [32:37] Outro
- The packaging is essential to brand building and brand awareness. And so it’s really important for manufacturers to spend time and resources designing packaging that is not only functional but it’s going to protect the product, so the customer doesn’t get something damaged.
- Gone are the days now where companies are spending significant amounts of money just sending out bulk generic direct mail, maybe still if you’re a pizza company and sending out large amounts of coupons. But in general, especially for higher ticket items, customization, which has been able to be really accelerated because digital printing is really important in helping manufacturers close more deals and obtain new customers.
- The post office has a really cool little process called EDDM, which stands for Every Door Direct Mail and allows companies who have a very small geo area to do very inexpensive mailings to a pocket of people just in their immediate zip code areas. And that can save the company a lot of money at the end of the day because you’re mailing to people who are never going to drive to that location.
- Every business is different. Every channel is different. Every customer is different. You have to understand your customer base. You have to understand what version of content, text images is going to impact that recipient. But if you do your homework on that and get with the right print vendor or print supplier, it works.
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About Roger and Sarah
Roger Buck is a 50-year veteran of the print industry and Managing Director at Corporate Development Associates, a merger and acquisition advisory firm specializing in the print space. He is a past recipient of the PSDA Manufacturer of the Year, PSDA Member of the Year award, and serves as the chairman for the Print Education and Research Foundation (PERF), a non-profit foundation supporting education in print industry. His background includes print production processes, sales management, marketing, and new product development. Roger resides in St. Louis, Missouri with his wife Deborah who is a 35-year veteran in the print industry.
Sarah Scudder is President of RSN. Sarah is honored to win awards, but she is not defined by them. She loves helping procurement professionals transform the way they buy print and marketing services. She speaks at industry events, serves on panels, hosts webinars, and writes articles for Sourcing Industry Group (SIG) and Procurement Foundry. Sarah created ProcuRising, a magazine that uncovers the unique stories of doers in our sourcing community. Sarah created ProcuremenTalks, a monthly series that features procurement leaders.
Sarah Scudder 0:00
There’s this misconception that print is dead. Nobody prints anymore. It’s not worth spending any time or resources on print. That is not the case. And when you look at the data and the hard facts, the print was actually a growing industry in 2018. The spend was about $820.4 billion in the global printing market in 2019. So just a year later, it increased to $826.5 billion.
Growing a business requires a holistic approach that extends beyond sales and marketing. This approach needs alignment among people, processes, and technologies. So if you’re a business owner, operations, or finance leader looking to learn growth strategies from your peers and competitors, you’re tuned into the right podcast. Welcome to the WBS podcast, where scalable growth using business systems is our number one priority. Now, here is your host, Sam Gupta.
Sam Gupta 1:12
Hey everyone, welcome back to another episode of The WBS podcast. I’m Sam Gupta, your host, and principal consultant at a digital transformation consulting firm, ElevatIQ.
When you think of print marketing, what comes to your mind, perhaps flyers or coupons with print marketing, but it is much more than that. There have been some exciting trends lately with print marketing, where the printed packaging includes QR codes that can take you to a web page to improve customer experience. The print industry is way cooler than you would think.
In today’s episode, we have our guests, Sarah Scudder from real sourcing network, and Roger Buck from Corporate Development Associates. They discuss some exciting trends in the print industry to create a compelling customer experience. They also discuss how print innovation could help manufacturers increase their sales. Finally, we discuss some interesting use cases of print and how they have helped manufacturers increase profits. Let me introduce Roger and Sarah to you.
Sam Gupta 2:13
Roger Buck is a 50 year veteran of the print industry and managing director at Corporate Development Associates, a merger and acquisition advisory firm specializing in the bridge space. He is a past recipient of the PSDA manufacturer of the year, PSDA member of the Year award, and serves as the chairman for the print Education and Research Foundation, a nonprofit foundation supporting education in the print industry. His background includes pre-production processes, sales, management, marketing, and new product development. Roger resides in St. Louis, Missouri, with his wife Deborah, who is a 35 year veteran in the print industry.
Sarah Scudder is the president of RSN. Sarah is honored to win awards, but she’s not defined by them. She loves helping procurement professionals transform the way they buy print and marketing services. She speaks at industry events, serves on panels, hosts webinars, and writes articles for sourcing industry growth and procurement foundry. Sarah created ProcuRising, a magazine that uncovers the unique stories of doers in our sourcing community. Sarah created procurement talks, a monthly series that features procurement leaders. With that, let’s get to the conversation. Hey, welcome to the show, Sarah and Roger.
Sarah Scudder 3:38
Hi, Sam. Hi, Roger. It’s a pleasure to be here.
Sam Gupta 3:43
So this is the first time I am adding two people to my show. And on audio, it’s going to be slightly different. So what we are going to do is we are going to take one turn each time. So I’m actually gonna start with you, Sarah. And can you start with your personal story and your current focus these days?
Sarah Scudder 4:03
Absolutely. So I was planning to pursue a career in fashion. I love clothing. And I used to do runway modeling. So I went to school and Sonoma County, so Bay Area, and I was planning to go work at an agency that produces fashion shows, and I wanted to actually eventually have my own company producing fashion shows.
And my senior year, I had finished my presidency at my sorority, and I decided that I was going to do my last hurrah, my big effort, and my sorority and I co-chaired our major fundraising event called LipJam, where we raised a significant amount of money for diabetes research. And I had a full course load was super involved in just about everything you could be on campus. And in order to produce the event, we needed to procure lots of printed materials.
Sarah Scudder 4:58
So all of the paperwork printed, all of the promo, all of the apparel, and I had no idea how to source or buy things yet. So I was introduced through a friend on campus to a local company that was a managed print company, meaning they would go out and source print items.
So I contacted them, really hit it off, and hired them to source and procure and manage all the printed products that we needed for our event. Well, after the event was over, they offered me a job. And I’m thinking in my head, why in the world would I want to go into print?
I don’t even know what the print is. Let alone I have absolutely no idea what procurement or what sourcing is. And I had, I said that sounds so uncool, I want to go into fashion. But I also know that it’s important to take every opportunity as a learning experience.
Sarah Scudder 5:56
So I went in, and I met with the team. And I actually realized that it would be an incredible opportunity for me to come into a very, very male-dominated industry, an industry that I felt was really behind the times and technology. And that didn’t really have any young people. So I decided, you know what, I’m going to go for it. And so I took the job. So three days after I graduated, I started at this local company, and I was on the marketing team.
So I helped kind of position the company and built the brand. And we were acquired a few years later by a much larger organization. And through the transition, I actually shifted and shifted into doing marketing procurement, which is where I would help global companies set up and execute very strategic print sourcing programs. So in both of my roles, like sales and marketing, and then doing marketing, procurement, I thought this is really, really manual.
There is a lot of email and spreadsheets and back and forth. And there’s got to be a better way to manage this. So two and a half years ago, I decided to take the entrepreneur leap and run a tech startup in the print space. And we have a very, very niche and innovative software that helps companies better by all things print.
Sam Gupta 7:26
Okay, so now we are going to start with Roger, and I want you to touch obviously on your personal story and current focus. But moreover, I want you to touch on whether you feel print is cool or not because there are definitely things that print a score.
And the other thing that I wanted to touch on is about the male dominating aspect. Do you agree with her? Do you not agree with her? So can you start with your personal story and current focus? And on those two questions?
Roger Buck 7:54
Certainly can start, thank you. And I can agree with everything she said. But my personal story, which was really easy that back in the late 60s I got into printing, my dad worked in a print shop. So I started working in the print shop, but I really wanted to be a rock guitarist. So the print shop was a way to make money to buy all my hardware and guitars and amplifiers.
After a few years, I found out I was a lousy rock guitarist, but I became a pretty good printer. And that kind of started my career. In fact, I’ve got a picture of myself when I was five years old standing in front of the crate that held a Heidelberg windmill letterpress, and ten years later, I was running the press that came in that box, so that that’s how my career got started.
Roger Buck 8:42
I’ve been in manufacturing. I’ve been in sales and marketing management for printing companies for over 50 years now. So when she references there are no young people in the industry. She’s talking about me. Yeah. So I gotta tell you, but no, she’s absolutely right. It’s always been male-dominated, mainly because it was heavily manufacturing-oriented.
But it is changing. There are more females and young ladies getting into it. There are more people coming up through the marketing area. And the procurement area like Serra’s operation is in print is cool. It’s never lost that I joke with printers all the time because the only time I ever hear the word print is dead is coming from a printer trying to debate the subject.
I’m not sure whoever made a comment, to begin with. It’s not dead. It’s very cool. It’s got a lot of growth potential and a lot of different areas. And I’m 67 years old. I’m not quitting. I’m still having a lot of fun with it.
Sam Gupta 9:36
Okay, so I want to touch on one of the things that you mentioned, which is going to be you being young, right? But what do you feel when you see other young people coming to your industry? Do you feel excited? Do you not feel excited? Do you feel that you and Sarah are of the same age right now? What’s your perspective? I mean, young people, when they are coming to your industry, you are probably going to have some feelings, Roger, so tell me, What do you feel about that?
Roger Buck 10:01
Oh no, I’m excited whenever we see young people come in. As a matter of fact, I sit on the advisory board of a graphic and technology department at a college back in Kansas. I get excited when I see young new talent coming into this part of the industry. They’re excited. They’ve got new ideas. They challenge old, old guys like us. It’s fun. I just don’t want to compete with them. They wear me out.
Sam Gupta 10:23
Okay, so Sarah Rodgers is changing his story. Initially, he said that he was super young. But now he’s saying he’s old. So what do you feel? Is he young? Or is he old?
Sarah Scudder 10:32
Oh, Roger is one of my favorite people in the printing industry. I met him very early on in my career. And he’s just been a tremendous resource and mentor to me. So I’m a millennial. I’m old enough to be his daughter. And
I think it’s actually a really cool meshing of age difference and experience differences because I’m really focused on the technology procurement sourcing side, and Roger and people of his generation have so much industry knowledge about manufacturing and production and how things work. So I think there’s an incredible blend to take the new millennial tech-focused up and comers in the industry and pair them with people who have decades of experience.
###Sam Gupta 11:22
Okay, amazing. So let’s talk about growth. Right? This is the question that we ask every single guest, and we are going to be talking about this question in turn. So I’m actually gonna start with you, Roger. So what is your perspective on growth?
Roger Buck 11:37
Okay, business growth is tons of opportunity. It depends, of course, on the manufacturer or the company and how they approach their business growth because you can do it through marketing. And you can say certainly there’s, there are tons of opportunities for using print innovation and marketing for print and kernel to just improve operational flow and improve the profitability of the company.
So there are lots of opportunities to infuse print innovation into operations to improve your company and prove that growth. The challenge is getting the right marketing processes and the right internal processes, the right communication processes because that’s what you’re talking about is print as a communication tool.
It’s a matter of getting those processes in place and alive. So there they’re ongoing, and they’re self-surviving year after year. Too many companies fail in that area because it’s a one-shot wonder it fails, and they never do it again.
Sam Gupta 12:29
Okay, so Sarah, now, I’m going to turn back to you. Do you agree with Roger, his definition of growth? What is your perspective on growth? And how do you define business growth?
Sarah Scudder 12:39
Yeah, so I’m gonna take a little different perspective and talk about growth in general in the print industry, and then I’m going to relate it specifically back to the manufacturing space. So as Roger mentioned earlier, there’s this misconception that print is dead. Nobody prints anymore. It’s not worth spending any time or resources on print.
And that is actually not the case. And when you look at the data and the hard facts, print is actually a growing industry. In 2018, the global printing market spend was about $820.4 billion in 2019. So just a year later, it increased to $826.5 billion. In the US, the print market is growing as well. In 2018, it was about 199 point 4 billion in 2019. It was about 199 point 6 billion.
So organizations are spending more and more on print, within that the biggest print industry growth categories this year are packaging, labels, and direct mail. And the reason for that is companies consumers have shifted a lot of their purchasing habits to buy things online.
Sarah Scudder 14:00
So I know for me, I love fashion, I don’t now go to brick and mortars. I’ve been on lockdown in California for a few months when I need something and then order it online, whether that’s food, whether that’s ordering from a clothing manufacturer, so with the rise of online ordering, companies need to get their products to the end customer or to the distributor or to the end-user that is causing a significant increase in packaging and labels.
And the third that I mentioned is direct mail. And the reason for that is so many people are now working from home. They’re not going into offices at all, or they’re going into offices a lot less than I think we’re going to continue to see a hybrid mix of people working from home and not so in order for a manufacturer to get in front of an end customer. They’re now sending things to their homes where they didn’t use to do that as much.
Sam Gupta 14:56
Okay, so I have learned about the print industry so much, Sarah, since I came in contact with you,. And the print industry is fascinating, obviously. And one of the things that I learned because of your introduction with Mark, and he does packaging, right, so one of the fascinating conversations that I had with Mark is just because of the changing in packaging.
You can launch a new product, a completely new brand new product. I’m sure manufacturers can do this as well, especially the manufacturers in the CPG community. So let’s say if they were trying to increase their sales primarily using print, oh, can they do it? Can you tell me about it?
Sarah Scudder 15:41
Yeah, so I’ll touch on the packaging first. And then there are some other really cool things that kind of tie into packaging as well. So the packaging is essential to brand building and brand awareness. And so it’s really important for manufacturers to spend time and resources designing packaging that is not only functional but’s going to protect the product, so the customer doesn’t get something damaged.
And then the manufacturer has to re-send out a product, which of course is eating away all their profit but also having that experience. So when the customer receives it, they’re going to remember that company based on that packaging and the experience of opening the product. So I’ll use an example that’s, that’s close to me. So there’s a shoe manufacturer called Freebird. And they make really stylish but comfortable shoes. And those two things don’t always go hand in hand. Yeah, and this is a higher price point. Their shoes range from two to $500, on average.
Sarah Scudder 16:48
And when you order a product from them, you’re going to get a really amazing experience when you open their package because they do such a good job with packaging with branding their packaging. So when you get the box, every part of the box is branded, it has its logo, it has the website, it has a cool message, then when you take the shoes out of the box, the shoe box is also branded.
So it’s all part of that experience of this luxury higher-end item. Then when you open the box, there are additional print items as well. So I think it’s really important for companies. Ted Baker is another example. I recently got something from Ted Baker, and the packaging is bright orange, and it looks like an envelope. But it’s a box. So it’s really unique and stands out.
So I think manufacturers can really increase sales by focusing on the design and coolness factor and messaging that they use to communicate on the packaging. The second thing, and I’ll let Roger chime in about QR codes. So another really important innovation that manufacturers can use is something called a QR code. And it looks like a square with a bunch of boxes.
Sarah Scudder 18:00
And when you put your phone over it, you put your camera on top of it. What it does is take the customer to a website or to another site. And I recently ordered something from a company called a manufacturer called the YZR., And they are making these spacesuits for COVID protection, they go from the waist up, and they allow you to wear the suit outside and traveling and protect yourself from COVID.
So when I got my product from them, there were several QR codes. Some of them were on the packaging, but some of them were also on the tags. And when you screen the QR code on your phone, it takes you to a video that shows me, as the customer, how to actually put the product on and how to use the item.
So QR codes are another great way that manufacturers can use print innovation as a part of the packaging and other printed items to provide additional information and provide value to the customers.
Sam Gupta 19:22
Okay, so Roger, we are going to start with you now. Number one thing that we need to assess here is whether you agree or disagree with anything that Sarah said. And number two, obviously, you have been around the block for a very long time. So what is your perspective on the strategies that manufacturers can use in increasing their sales using print innovation?
Roger Buck 19:42
She’s spot on when you’re talking about engagement. Whether you’re using packaging or direct mail starts with visual someone receives a printed something, so you got visual that generally leads them to a digital experience either go online, look up something, check their order, and then you get a personal experience beyond that they’re either touching the product or getting it, or they’re calling in to order something, and they’re visiting with a salesperson of some sort.
So there are different levels of engagement that print drives. But a good example of like the packaging she was talking about, I always like to go back to the iPhone, if you get a new iPhone, when you pull the box open, Apple spent a lot of money developing that box because they wanted a certain amount of pull. And when you open that box, you get this little wind sound like little, and it adds to that experience. And they spent a lot of money designing because that’s what they wanted.
Roger Buck 20:36
And that creates that cusp of that first customer experience even before they started using the phone. And that’s what we’re talking about with print and how you can increase sales, is; you have to think what that engagement what that first customer experience is going to be like, and how you can manage that.
Now she mentioned QR codes. I tell everybody it was a toe in the water. Because what QR codes taught people is they could take their phone, and they could scan something. And now you’re seeing augmented reality come around, which is QR codes on steroids. Instead of using a Data Matrix code, a barcode that you can, and you get driven to a website.
Now you put your phone over an augmented reality image, and there’s a marker in that image, and you get a video engagement while you’re looking at the page on your phone. So it’s that engagement can be lifted, but you’re going from a printed engagement now to a virtual digital engagement. And that starts when you start reaching those levels. That’s when you start grabbing customers, you get their attention, and they start buying more.
Sarah Scudder 21:39
And Roger, to piggyback on that, you mentioned augmented reality, or some people know it as AR. And I think there are two industries in the manufacturing space that have really started using this one is wine and beverage.
And the second is clothing and apparel. So there are when you go to a grocery store, and you look at wine bottles, some of them now allow you to scan the label. So you’re going to put your phone on the label, and it’s going through to a QR code, it’s going to take you to a video, and that video can have a message that really helps close the customer or talk about the brand.
So for instance, if I was running a food manufacturing company, and it was a family business, it’s been around for 100 years, I might want a message from our CEO, communicating and talking about our company story, and some of the unique things about our food products. If I’m a wine company, and I’ve got a cool wine collection, I might have different characters on the wine bottles, and I’ll have the characters speaking in their voice and in and communicating a story or message.
So I think augmented reality is really, really key and combining print with digital to increase sales. And Roger, one of the other things that I know that you and I have talked about before is lenticular printing. And that is where you combined several images into a single print. So when you look at a product, it has an image, but when you change your angle or move the product, the image changes with it. And that’s a really cool way to engage customers and really stand out amongst all your competitors.
Sam Gupta 23:28
Do you wanna piggyback anything? Roger?
Roger Buck 23:31
Yeah, yeah. ticular is cool. It’s been around, actually, since the 40s. But they’ve improved the technology so much now that it’s gotten much more cost-effective and usable. In fact, you used to see it on cereal boxes. And the reason it was so effective is when people would walk down the aisle past a cereal box. When they went from the left side of the box to the right side of the box, the image on the box changed.
So you see something subliminally out of the corner of your eye, or your peripheral vision picks up, hey, something moved. And when you walk backward, it goes back to the other way. Because it’s a flip effect, it goes from one image to another. If you’re old enough and neither a wonder, you probably are.
But when you used to get prizes and a crackerjack box, that lots of times that were a lenticular image it was a little helicopter or something that the image would flip back and forth. So yeah, that’s it’s another very cool technology, and it drives engagement, and it drives people to you want to.
Roger Buck 24:29
I want to pick that up, and I want to take that home. I want to buy that. You can also, besides good manufacturing you let’s talk to your auto manufacturers or get your manufacturer to make hard equipment. They can use QR codes or AR tags on equipment. A user you know someone at a plant with this piece of equipment can scan that and show how to repair something, you rather than having to go search out a repair manual and figure out what part you’re looking at.
They can move their iPhone over a part that part can actually be the AR-tag, and it can run a video to show them how to repair that part. They’re doing that with vehicles right now. Yeah.
Sarah Scudder 25:06
And let Roger. To piggyback on that, I think let’s talk a little bit about targeted direct mail because I think that is so important for manufacturers. So I’m looking at actually some direct mail that my boyfriend received this week. And it’s important because of two things. It’s customized specifically for him. So it’s from Toyota, they know that he has a Toyota Camry.
So the entire piece is targeted at Paul because they have insights and information about him and what he likes. And they know what he’s purchased in the past. So instead of sending a generic postcard in the mail, they’re sending him something very targeted and specific with his name with a photo of a vehicle that he may want to purchase based on his purchase history.
The other thing is, this direct mail piece actually has a QR code, so I can actually hold my iPhone, then it takes me to a website to offer me a promotion, and also gives a unique coupon code promotion, which is printed on the piece, and it specifically has his first and last name. So I think Gone are the days now where companies are spending significant amounts of money just sending out bulk generic direct mail, maybe still if you’re a pizza company and sending out large amounts of coupons. But in general, especially for higher ticket items, customization, which has been able to be really accelerated because digital printing is really important in helping manufacturers close more deals and obtain new customers.
Sam Gupta 26:52
Okay, so my audience here is going to be CFOs. And CEOs get very excited to hear about the sales aspect, but what they really care for is the bottom line. So the next segment that we are going to have is going to be related to profit. So, Sarah, I’m going to start with you. So obviously, I am very excited to hear what print innovation can do to increase sales. But what can it do to increase the profit?
Sarah Scudder 27:16
Yeah, and Sam, I think it’s. A lot of times, companies think print is just kind of a wasted expense. And it’s only something that’s used for marketing, but especially in the manufacturing space, print is an incredible resource and can actually be used to significantly increase profits.
So a couple of examples that I have to share about this. The first one is about inventory control and reducing inventory obsolescence. So if you are producing large amounts of product and storing it in a warehouse or fulfillment center, one of the challenges that you have is having to destroy and pay for a product that you actually never used.
And that can be a high cost to organizations through the use of bar-coded labels and labels incorporating something called RFID tags. You can actually bet much better manage your inventory and reduce obsolescence. The other thing that you can do is barcodes can be used in production to manage and improve workflow. Improved workflow can have a very, very positive impact on the bottom line.
Sarah Scudder 28:32
And then in regards to manufacturers that are producing products that may be expired, or that can go bad. I know, for instance, I like hummus. Well, the hummus in my fridge has a shelf life. And at some point, that product is going to expire. But it also needs to be kept at a certain temperature before I buy the product to make sure that when it gets to my fridge, that it’s not going to be bad, it’s not going to be moldy. So you can actually use printed labels to help track the temperature on products or other factors as well other than temperature to realize what the product may have been exposed to.
Sam Gupta 29:19
Okay, so, Roger, we are going to start with the same question with you as well. Obviously, you are going to have very different perspectives just because you have been around the block for a very long time.
So tell us Do you agree with Sarah, do you not agree with Sarah? And what are other use cases that you have seen in increasing the profit for manufacturers using print innovation?
Roger Buck 29:37
I really like the way you keep reminding me I’ve been around a very long time. No, I’m in total agreement, but there’s a couple of other areas, and you mentioned that you know some of the listeners are going to be chief financial officers, and you really want to look to save your money.
And I’m going to go back real quick to an analogy that Sarah referenced for pizza companies when you’re a pizza company. You probably are marketing to people within specific geospace. Because once you get five miles from your pizza location, there’s going to be another pizza location.
So your target area is very secluded. It’s very geo-based within an area. And a lot of companies spend a lot of money doing big mass mailers and everything, and they mail to people who are never going to come because your mailing too far away.
Roger Buck 30:24
And the post office has a really cool little process called EDDM, which stands for Every Door Direct Mail and allows companies who have a very small geo area to do very inexpensive mailings to a pocket of people just in their immediate zip code areas. And that can save the company a lot of money at the end of the day because you’re mailing to people who are never going to drive to that location.
On the flip side of that, if you’re a company and you’re selling Maserati, there are very few people that are probably going to go buy a Maserati, it’s not going to be geo-based, but you’re going to have to get the attention of someone who can afford a Maserati. And you can send video postcards or video brochures where when the recipient gets it.
They open it up, there’s a screen there the size of an iPad, it’s a high D screen, it automatically plays a video talking about the aspects of a Maserati or a Lamborghini, or whatever the vehicle might be, well, that’s highly, highly engaging, but you’re targeting that very, might only send out 50 or 100 of these on a regular basis, because you’re targeting very, very specific people who will appreciate the vehicle and more importantly, can afford the vehicle.
Roger Buck 31:31
And that saves you money because you’re not mailing to a whole ton of people that will never be able to go forward one. And we see that all the time in the direct mail world, people are mailing product offerings to the completely wrong recipient, so that’s one way to do it, and another aspect that we probably ought to touch on is if you’re a manufacturer of almost any sort of product, you’re probably being impacted by counterfeiting.
Product counterfeiting in the United States is absolutely huge. I think it costs $300 billion now, and a lot of people don’t realize how that can impact it. But I’ll give you a quick story example of this. I worked on a project a number of years ago with a security company and the client who was a manufacturer of recliner chairs, and they were getting fake recliners back into the repair department because they were being sold on the open market as one of their chairs.
And the hinge system in the chair would break. And that chair would come back into their repair department, and they had a hard time telling if it was one of their chairs or not because the counterfeit was so good. And they had no way to authenticate it. So they actually ended up using a series of security tags and labels inside this. So when it comes back into the repair department, they can scan it and really authenticate it and find out whether it was not one of their hinge devices or not. So loss from counterfeiting is another thing manufacturers need to take a hard look at.
Sarah Scudder 32:54
Yeah. And a couple of other things. Roger, what are your thoughts on one of the other things that I’ve seen manufacturers starting to do is use printed GPS tabs. Can you talk a little bit about what you’ve seen in regards to manufacturers using those types of tags?
Roger Buck 33:12
It’s getting more and more frequent, both GPS and NFC tags. And NFC is near field communication tags. Your NFC tags require a shorter distance between the tag and the scanner GPS can be read at longer distances. I’ve seen more GPS tags now on the skids. And I’m seeing it on rail cars. As a matter of fact, if you walk through a local Costco or Sam’s wholesale, and if you look at the skids on the bottom of all the underneath all the shelving, everything looks on the side of the skid, the skids probably going to be a plastic material.
And on the side of that, you’ll see one of these GPS pegs. And what they’re doing now is giving them better inventory control because they can track the skids as they’re literally in transport, whether they’re in transport on a truck going down the highway or train or sitting in the Costco warehouse. So yeah, that’s tracking in real-time delivery. What they call last-mile deliveries is this is going to be driving an awful lot of that.
Sarah Scudder 34:09
Yeah. One of the other things Sam that I have seen manufacturers starting to do to improve profit is focused on safety. Okay, so we have some clients that are in the manufacturing space that do major production and have pretty large facilities. And there have been some pretty major safety issues, people coming into work and getting really injured. And that’s a big problem. And that can be a huge, huge impact on a company’s profit, not only from dealing with people out on disability, having to bring in temp labor, but also potential lawsuits and things that can come from it.
So one of the things that companies can do is huge, wide-format printing to provide Wayfinding directions inside their facilities. So What it does is it makes sure that there’s signage on the walls, signage on the floors, making sure that all of the employees that are working in the production facility or the warehouse and fulfillment center are really focused on safety, and making sure they’re warned of any dangers that may take place. Amazing. Roger, do
Sam Gupta 35:21
Do you want to piggyback anything? Are they, by any chance? Do you have any other comments?
Roger Buck 35:25
I will. Because when you when you’re talking about profit, there are two ways to view profit, you can either increase profit, or you can reduce costs. And there are various types of costs. And there is some subliminal cost. They’re a little bit difficult to track that has to do with your employees and your staff and how well they like their work environment and how they work within that work environment. Do they enjoy it? Or are they stuck into a little cubicle, and they have a hard time focusing because it’s not fun, if you will.
A good example is I’ve got a friend of mine that owns a company, and he’s got a wide-open front office space. And it’s really nice, big open, it’s typical cubicles and everything, but it was flat, boring. And his work staff is relatively fairly young. So he wanted to give them that industrial look that she also many millennials like to work in.
Roger Buck 36:13
So what they did was they painted their walls with a special material that would accept magnets. And then they went to a wide format printer, and they had wall graphics printed to look like brick, and it looks like old brick. And then they came in, and they just literally slapped these up. The magnetic material of the substrate adheres to the walls. And within a couple of hours, this entire office was converted, converted to what looks like an old brick warehouse. And all the people in there, they enjoy it, they like coming in it gives a better I just more creative ideas because the environment change.
And if they ever want to change the environment, again, all they have to do is go back print some more magnetic wide-format graphics slab up on the wall again. So you know there’s you can get some lips some liberal dollars, and increase your profit by making your workers just in a better space like that.
This is kind of a cool little tactic that has more to do with improving employee morale and trying to reduce some of that cost that might be due to lost efficiencies, as opposed to just trying to raise your percentage points on your margin a little bit.
Sarah Scudder 37:18
Yeah, Roger, great example. And I have a similar example. So my sister just started at a new company two weeks ago, she lives here in the Bay Area, as well. And one of the things because of COVID, most of the tech companies are completely shut down. And so you’re having challenges with team members being remote. And this is even in the manufacturing space, where you may now have remote sales teams, remote channel partners, people who are not necessarily coming into the office every day.
And so what they did is they used print innovation to create this really cool welcome kit for my sister. So at her house, it was delivered. And I haven’t seen it yet, but it was a really cool box with a QR code. And then there were all these really cool, unique branded items in the box, things that she could actually use for her day-to-day work.
So I just thought that was a really unique idea. I mean, it was, it was so cool that she actually texted us about it and said, I got this really cool thing delivered to my office, and they want to make me feel welcomed. And they’re using print innovation as a way to do that. So I think employee engagement, you can do a lot using print to really make people feel engaged and stay connected.
Sam Gupta 38:42
I agree. And that is so exciting. But we are about time here, guys. So, Roger, I’m gonna start with you. Do you have any last-minute closing thoughts, by any chance?
Roger Buck 38:51
you preserved for the people that are listening to this, they may need to take a hard look at their different uses, both internally and externally save money internally there can certainly generate sales externally. Every business is different. Every channel is different. Every customer is different. You have to understand your customer base. You have to understand what version of content, text images is going to impact that recipient. But if you do your homework on that and get with the right print vendor or print supplier, it works.
It’s been proven for years and years. And the one thing I always remind people is there’s no delete button on your mailbox right now. Do right now digitally. You know, emails and text messaging had just gotten overboard, and people are just not responding to it. And that’s why direct mail and print marketing are becoming more and more viable every day is. It just has to be seen when it gets in your mailbox or in your hands. You have to physically dispense of it. You don’t just hit a button on the keyboard.
Sam Gupta 39:50
Okay, Sarah. So I’m actually going to start with you now. Do you have any last-minute building thoughts, by any chance?
Sarah Scudder 39:55
Yeah. So being that I’m on the procurement side in the print industry, I would encourage manufacturers to think about using print-specific technology to source and procure all the print that you use to significantly reduce costs and increase efficiencies.
So the old way of sending an email or sending spreadsheets, there are many more innovative solutions in the market that can help you better source and procure buying the printed materials that you need.
Sam Gupta 40:30
Okay, my personal takeaway from this conversation is going to be print is really cool. On that note, thank you so much for your time.
Roger Buck 40:38
Really appreciate Roger and Sarah enjoyed it as well. Appreciate it, Sam. Thanks, Sarah.
Sam Gupta 40:42
And I cannot thank our guests enough for coming on the show for sharing their knowledge and journey. I always pick up learnings from our guests, and hopefully, you learn something new today. If you want to learn more about Roger, head over to printmergers.com. If you want to learn more about Sarah, head over to rsnetwork.com. Links and more information will also be available in the show notes.
If anything in this podcast resonated with you and your business, you might want to check out the related episodes, including the interview with Aman Ailani from the Sah.ol cold brew, who discusses the unique challenges and important metrics for a consumer brand and a food and beverage company. Also, the interview with Kevin Lawton from the New Warehouse podcast, who discusses why standardization plays a key role in inventory planning.
Also, don’t forget to subscribe and spread the word among folks with similar backgrounds. If you have any questions or comments about the show, please review and rate us on your favorite podcasting platform or DM me on any social channels. I’ll try my best to respond personally and make sure you get help. Thank you, and I hope to get you on the next episode of The WBS podcast.
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