Is Printing Offshore a Good Idea, or Just Plain Lame?
We’ve noticed over the past several years that some of our clients have tried the offshore printing gig (like in China, for example.) As far as we can tell, they have all come back to buying locally with someone they can trust, have a face to face conversation with, and avoid experiencing any of the challenging cultural differences.
This experience has been both rewarding and frustrating for us. Frustrating because we usually don’t find out until a client has already printed overseas, been burned or let down, and then come back. Rewarding because they do come back, with similar stories and a realization that the trust, professionalism, quality and reliability we provide as a “given”, which they had previously taken for granted, has real value to their companies.
The most common issues we've heard are: longer than promised delivery times, unanticipated shipping expense, and customs tariffs and delays. Add poor quality, short count delivery, inferior packaging causing freight damage and spoilage, and the impossibility of making up those shortages in a timely fashion, and you’ve pretty well summed up the top challenges. Communication is also usually sketchy but, somehow in the buyer’s mind, worth the allure of savings and the adventure of international intrigue! (P.S. The last thing we are told is that the savings never really materialized, which made the rest of the above even more painful for them to endure!)
Having lived overseas for over 15 years I understand that international trade is a good thing. Unfortunately, the printing industry is already highly commoditized in the U.S., despite including all the value benefits mentioned above. So the question becomes: Why would you want to go overseas, where you typically give up all the benefits your local printer offers and add all the risks? Not to mention, your work will probably be produced on equipment that the rest of the world has previously discarded.