Interview • 01.10.2012

Displays and Projectors or Signs and Posters?

iXtenso interview with Achim Bukmakowski, Epson Deutschland (Germany)

Swiss discount furniture superstore LIPO prints its own price tags, banners and...
Swiss discount furniture superstore LIPO prints its own price tags, banners and posters.
Source: Epson

Achim Bukmakowski has worked for Epson for the past twelve years and assumed leadership of its Professional Graphics & Photo division in 2010.  In this position, the 49-year-old is in charge of sales and distribution of large format printers starting at DIN A2 for Germany, Austria and Switzerland. We spoke with him about trends in visual communication for retail, about posters and video, costs and outsourcing.

What trends do you see in visual communication for retail?

Permanently installed displays and projectors are increasingly replacing traditional signs and posters. Projection technology in particular offers different benefits for the user – such as for instance your choice of picture size, the combination of different multimedia content and a quick change of content. The topic of color – for example for shelf labels, coupons or sales receipts – is also gaining more and more importance.

Are large-format, printed images an alternative to video screens?

Posters as well as screens and projectors all have their right place. When you select a specific solution, the exact application plays a decisive role. Projections in city lights for instance are difficult to implement. What’s more, the implementation of projectors or screens is noticeably more elaborate and more expensive than a simple but premium-quality print. However, if you are talking about the projection of multimedia content, there is no way around a projection or a TV screen. The flexibility of a projection is – also in terms of its size – hard to beat thanks to modern projection technology, which is why it is being used more and more in companies.

Can you also print paper strips in the store?

There are a number of applications where A2 prints are made to order in different lengths for instance. A great example for this is the Swiss furniture store LIPO, which uses our printers for its in-store signage. In another application, the D’SIGN signfactory Limacher Company produces signs and posters as a print service provider.

When is it advantageous to outsource when it comes to large format printing? When does having your own large printer make sense?

It is difficult to give a general answer to this. There certainly comes a tipping point in every company where a decision for or against outsourcing is made. What speaks in favor of an in-house production is that companies maintain complete control over production quality. In the case of a dispute, external service providers oftentimes are set for a time-consuming dispute process that can quickly put the service provider behind schedule with its own customers. Another advantage of self-production is the high flexibility. You print the required material on demand and therefore produce the exact amount of copies you need at the time. Stockpiling is not necessary. One benefit of external production is that you do not have to establish any know-how in a complex and difficult field like professional printing.

Why are ROI model calculations so difficult?

A model calculation like that can only be done as a rough guide and has to be viewed with extreme caution. It is not suited to calculate real costs, since expenditures for every print essentially depend on the visual content, the used paper, the preset color profiles and other parameters. Many of our customers use empirical values they collect over time for cost estimation.

How can you reduce the use of color for posters without negatively affecting the print image?

If you do not work with set color profiles, Epson printers offer the chance to reduce the color application. However, since our printer drivers are designed to achieve the best possible result with minimal use of material, a change in print image is unavoidable when you change the ink task.

How are prices developing in four-color process printing? Do you still need preprinted posters with the colored logo?

Posters, signs and other signage still have their place and still have to be produced by either the print service provider or the customer. On the other hand, you no longer need preprinted logos due to the high print quality of modern large format printers. Prices remain stable, but modern printing systems offer more freedom in producing printed material.

Where do retailers obtain the matching ambiance images?

It is very hard for us to comment on this, because there are numerous possibilities, whose use depends on a company’s philosophy. Some customers emphasize their individual style and hire their own photographer, some use stock photography agencies, while others take their own pictures.

Interview by René Schellbach, iXtenso.com

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