Digital Digest: xpedx 'Widens' Growth Opportunities for PrintersAugust 2013 By Mark Michelson
MINNEAPOLIS, MN—With digital printing applications representing $16 billion (and growing at a 7.9 percent CAGR) within the roughly $30 billion overall annual market value for wide-format printing shipments in North America, it's no wonder that commercial printers are looking to wide-format digital output as a potentially lucrative new business. Whether it's point-of-purchase and retail displays, fleet graphics, indoor and outdoor signage, backlit displays, fine art reproductions, posters, floor graphics and much more, commercial shops venturing into wide-format digital printing services are escaping the commodity trap and discovering higher profit margins.
To help educate printers on how to make a successful transition, xpedx—a full-service supplier of wide-format equipment, supplies and service—increased its Wide Format Solutions Summits to 28 shows at 14 new cities this year based on the success of the five summits it held in 2012. The events are designed to be more than just a cursory introduction to the wide-format market. "The Solutions Summits provide attendees with a vision of where their business can go and how they can get there," explains Dennis Killion, xpedx director of marketing, graphics.
The program at the traveling road shows remains consistent. Each summit features strategic industry knowledge to help printers uncover where the opportunities in wide-format lie, how to market and sell the service, as well as education on the technology offerings themselves.
The July 10-11 summit in Minneapolis, for example, lead off with a presentation by Jeff Hayes, president of print technology strategy and consulting firm InfoTrends. He noted that printers are averaging profit margins of 11.6 percent on wide-format jobs, and that emerging applications include rigid signage, exhibition layout work, short-run packaging and output for the interior décor marketplace.
Next, Dennis Killion discussed xpedx's total integration, workflow optimization and color management training capabilities in the wide-format space. Then, guests moved to a demo room to view actual equipment demonstrations and to inspect a wide range of flexible and rigid product samples produced on various media and substrates.
Output devices included a 64˝ Epson SureColor S70670 eco-solvent printer, a 65˝ EFI H652 hybrid UV printer and a 61˝ HP L26500 Latex printer. An Esko Kongsberg i-cut XN20 cutting table provided finishing. And xpedx substrate and media partner reps from 3M, Catalina Films, Gilman Brothers, Intelicoat, Inteplast, MACtac, MeadWestvaco, Ultraflex and Wynit were also on hand to showcase their offerings.
The xpedx Wide Format Solutions Summits provide a unique educational opportunity, and prove to be well worth the half-day time commitment for printers seeking to learn more about the growth market opportunities in that space. PI