Are China and other international print suppliers a threat to US printers?
Last November, I was invited to China by PrintBestBuy, a print management company that represents large Chinese printing companies. I toured about eight printing companies and met with many more printers during conferences held in three cities. I learned a lot. China is on the super-fast track in capitalism. The printing plants I toured were extremely impressive in plant size, tremendous amounts of affordable labor, cutting-edge technology and excellent print quality. Most of these companies have specialized in err, well, specialty printing – hand work, holograms, complex foil stamping, etc. They’ve got it goin’ on in many ways.
Perhaps the fact that I’m even mentioning that I went to China may make some of you determine that I’m the enemy. But hold on – I’d consider myself Switzerland on the topic of whether U.S. print buyers should ever consider buying from printers outside the U.S. It may be appropriate for some companies, such as a large pharmaceutical company that is producing and selling their goods in Asia, to work with international suppliers. It may be totally inappropriate for another buying company.
The research that I’ve conducted on Print Buyers Online.com shows that most print buyers aren’t interested in buying from printers outside the U.S. One obvious deterrent is turnaround time. And overall, the Chinese have not yet developed customer service to the level that will appeal to American buyers.
What I’m curious about is whether U.S. printers feel that China or other international print suppliers are a threat. Some printers feel that there is a great opportunity to partner with foreign suppliers. Some printers feel that it’s just one more way that China is taking jobs away from us.
Print suppliers and representatives: What are your thoughts? Print buyers feel free to weigh in on the issue too!