By Olivia Cahoon
Part 2 of 2
Floor graphics are found in a number of environments, including grocery stores, museums, retail, and trade shows. Used as decorative elements or wayfinding signage, floor graphics are beneficial for both commercial and residential spaces. The application also offers possibilities for print service providers (PSPs) working with various customers and repeat clients.
Located in Chanhassen, MN, Smartpress is an online division of The Bernard Group, an employee-owned company and leading digital printer with origins in the retail industry. Established in the early 2000’s, The Bernard Group employs over 600 individuals, maintains two print production facilities, and totals over 480,000 square feet across four locations.
Smartpress opened its website to the public in 2009. Since then, the site grew to over 17,000 customers purchasing online annually. It now offers a variety of printed materials, including banners, booklets, business cards, calendars, direct mail, floor art, marketing materials, signs, stationery, and wall and window graphics.
Printing Floor Graphics
Smartpress produces a variety of digitally printed floor graphics for all types of purposes, including both indoor and outdoor applications from concrete to carpeted flooring. Its project sizes range from one to 40 square feet with widths up to 1,800 inches.
“We can print one or two graphics at competitive prices or quantities in the hundreds, depending on customer needs,” comments Matt Chapman, division manager, Smartpress.
Since the inception of The Bernard Group in the early 2000’s, the PSP offered floor graphics with a focus on retail customers. In particular, floor graphics help direct and interact with customers while also advertising new products, upcoming events, and in-store specials.
After launching the Smartpress website in 2009, the division found that more customers wanted to go online to print and order products beyond business cards, brochures, and booklets. “Adding floor graphics to our Smartpress product catalog was a natural progression of what our customers were looking to purchase online,” shares Chapman.
The PSP’s floor graphics now range from small graphic designer projects to seasonal rollouts for high-end retail brands. “We want to wow each and every customer with the quality of our products, it’s one of our core company values,” he adds.
Its most popular floor graphic offering is temporary white vinyl, often used in applications for trade shows, outdoor events, in-store signage, office lobbies, shopping malls, museums, churches, and schools.
Equipment & Software
To produce floor graphics, Smartpress utilizes a fleet of digital presses including UV and latex continuous printers as well as flatbed UV inkjet equipment. It most recently added to its line of presses in October 2018 with five HP Inc. HP Indigo 12000 HD digital devices. With a 29-inch maximum width capability, the HP Indigo 12000 HD helps Smartpress reach finer print for increased detail in high-end commercial and photography applications.
“Floor graphics benefit from digital printing as the equipment can accommodate variable data printing for additional personalization,” comments Chapman.
For media and ink, the shop uses a variety of vendors to ensure high quality and accommodate a range of customer needs. Its finishing equipment also varies with industry-leading flatbed cutters and large format laminators depending on the specific job details.
Smartpress engineered and owns the software that both runs its website ordering and many of its production processes, including shipment tracking. The PSP developed its software after experiencing challenges with configuring automated processes from the initial order through prepress, printing, finishing, and shipping, to meeting customer needs and project size specifics. According to Chapman, the proprietary software offers customizable methods while maintaining internal quality expectations.
Another challenge is building trust and a reputation in a world that is increasingly moving online. “Your company brand is more transparent than ever today,” admits Chapman. “With online reviews and comments on platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, you can no longer rely on sales and advertising to cover up poor quality or customer service.”
Smartpress solves the online generation dilemma by placing the customer at the center of every process and decision, attempting to create an effortless customer experience. “Our successful online reputation is a credit to our employees and their dedication to customer service, the customer experience, and delivering the highest quality print products on each and every project,” he adds.
Some of Smartpress’ most popular clientele includes floor graphics customers in need of new, innovative printed materials for exhibitions, trade shows, and sales.
“We are seeing more creative applications with our customers using floor graphics in a variety of settings and for a range of purposes,” comments Chapman.
A repeat customer since 2015, Hastings Museum of Hastings, NE, recently approached Smartpress for new floor graphics. The customer wanted to utilize printed materials to create more interaction for the museums guests while also utilizing the exhibition areas more effectively.
Utilizing its digital presses, the print shop printed on a 36×6-inch white vinyl substrate with an anti-slip velvet laminate to reduce glare while maintaining durability.
From job submittal to installation, Smartpress completed the floor graphics in four days. The finished project was completed on time and Hastings Museum was satisfied. “This graphic is a good example of highlighting the uniqueness of each project,” shares Chapman. “And using an online platform like Smartpress provides the client with an efficient and satisfying print buying process.”
Repeat Business Increases
Floor graphics are a small part of Smartpress’ overall service offering, however, the company makes a conscious effort to select the best materials for the application. The result is high-quality graphics that translate to repeat business.
May2019, Digital Output