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POP Shops

A Point-of-Purchase Perspective

by Thomas Franklin

Part 3 of a 4-part exclusive online series

Given its sheer pervasiveness at almost half of the entire market for indoor prints, it’s a good bet that a vast majority of print shops have made some point-of-purchase signage in the life of their business.

For Providence, RI-based Renaissance Creative Imaging it was the downturn in the professional photo finishing market beginning with the introduction of digital photography that thrust the store into commercial and POP printing, says Judy Wilson, president.

"When I bought the business 15 years ago, we slowly pushed into POP both because photo finishing had dropped off and because POP got much more attractive," Wilson states.

In addition to its HP DesignJet 5000 and Epson Stylus Pro 1000, the firm recently added a VUTEk six-color PressVu UV 200/600 flatbed by EFI to its business, making it among the first firms in New England to own one. The purchase has led Wilson’s business to be more aggressive in the POP market, especially for the more demanding, high image quality displays for Reebok, Tweeter, and Bose. "We knew we couldn’t get by with a four-color machine, getting the flesh tones right is very important for us," Wilson notes.

"We save a lot by not having to mount and laminate, particularly on personnel," Wilson adds. "We’re a small business to begin with and we save a lot on the overtime."

At Rock-Tenn Company’s Alliance Group division, the push for more targeted retail ad campaigns has led the firm to carefully evaluate its equipment. "You ask yourself, how do you fulfill orders with the traditional processes," says Tom Cooper, manager of digital printing technologies. The answer, he says, is digital. "The traditional processes will remain, but the pie-share will shift."

The firm, which produces and assembles POP and display packaging for a number of Fortune 100 companies including the country’s single largest advertiser, Procter & Gamble, is helping to educate their customers to help them "understand what digital brings to the table," Cooper states. Specifically, the ability to customize POP for different regions of the country—such as changing languages or even dialects by region of the country—and produce it on-demand.

"This isn’t one-to-one marketing; it’s still a mass marketing tool, but it’s getting more specific," Cooper observes.

The firm recently purchased an Agfa :Dotrix digital press with an eye toward capitalizing on more customized, high quality POP business after an intensive five year search.

Digital printing in the POP market is still relatively new terrain and the "front end still needs work," Cooper adds. "How do we automate the front end, the pre-press?," Cooper asks. Tracking the business, monitoring spoilage, color management, and copy checking—particularly as ad content becomes more variable—are all issues still awaiting refinement, he observes. Still, Cooper is confident that digital—specifically the combination of single pass printers with gray scale capability and UV inks—will rule the day in the POP market.

"I don’t know where you draw the line," between phasing out the old in favor of the new, Cooper adds. It’s a subtle question, he admits. In the dawning digital era, finding the answer is likely the key to future success.

Look for a full feature article on POP Signage in the January 2007 issue of Digital Output.

Click here to read Part 1 of this exclusive online series, Make it POP
Click here to read Part 2 of this exclusive online series, Still POPular

Dec2006, Digital Output

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