If in-store merchandising and graphics seem better than ever, that’s because they are. That’s the theory of David Quinn, regional sales manager for Ireland and Britain at Oki Europe.
It could have been this way long ago, as the technology has been in place for a long time. What has changed is that, in a competitive market, retailers are looking to deploy top-quality imagery ever more rapidly.
“With Oki printers the functionality has always been there, and even the print quality and the media: you could always print them. But from Oki’s point of view as a manufacturer the interesting thing is that people have started to take an interest in high-quality print,” he said.
As the office print market has matured, Oki has sought to use its high-quality colour output to develop new markets.
“I wouldn’t say [office print] is in decline, but it has stagnated,” said Quinn.
Office print settling follows similar changes in consumer print.
“Think about when you’re at the airport and see people using their mobile phones for boarding passes: the same thing is happening in the office. For example, invoicing has gone digital, predominantly.”
Despite this, or perhaps even because of it, print has an even more vital role in business.
“Marketing often went to email in the past, but it has come full circle because people don’t open them. If something is posted to you, something relevant and addressed [directly] to you, you’re going to open it, you’re likely to read it. Not only that, but it’s likely to linger around your desk.
“Oki has said, ‘okay, we have these features that our competitors don’t’.”
In retail environments specifically, Oki’s print solutions deliver high production values on-site, and this offers flexibility.
“There is a cultural thing, particularly for the retailers who have multiple sites. In these cases, head office would have controlled material and they would have a relationship with a print bureau. What that means is that they can’t be agile.
“That’s one thing if it’s not perishable items, but what if, locally, you’re looking to sell off the remainder of fruit or flowers? The quickest way is to do the merchandising in-store,” said Quinn.
Oki targets retailers because of their specific need to print in high quality and need for flexibility.
Their products also fit into the often tight back-office spaces available in retail units.
“Even our smallest A4 printers can print banners up to 1.2 metres, and the latest A3 printers that Oki has launched are the smallest laser A3s on the market,” he said.
Oki’s laser printers are LED-based and produce waterproof colour output, while specialist waterproof media is also supported.
“The market in general knows that inkjet is more expensive to run and it’s predominately for home use. There’s a recognition that if you’re printing thousands of pages, the costs are crazy. Plus, the reliability factor also kicks in,” he said.
Garden centres in particular have proved receptive to Oki’s offering.
“One of the media types that we can print on is waterproof. We use Floramedia and just last week we put a machine in a large garden centre in Dublin that is printing A4 signage and 1.2 metre banners to help promote the latest flowers that are in season.”
This has resulted in a significant step change in promotional material.
“Until now they were printing onto standard paper and then having to laminate it. As you can imagine, the changeable Irish weather – a few days of sun-rain-sun-rain –hits it and it’s faded,” said Quinn.
“So much so, in fact, that they stopped adding images of flowers, as imagery was the first to fade. That has all changed now.”