Look around. What do you see? Chances are good that you see signage used to promote, inform, or direct. The ubiquity of signs makes it an attractive product for print service providers looking to capture a piece of a growing market. Due to advancements and growth in digital printing equipment, print shops can get started quickly at many different price points.
Buying the equipment is only one part of operating a successful print shop producing wide format applications. How will customers know what you offer, get pricing, and confirm their order? How will they upload artwork files? Once the order is confirmed, how will accurate job details flow through each department of the shop? What happens when there is an issue and how will that be communicated internally and externally to the client? As you can see, managing a wide format print operation has a lot of moving parts beyond just printing.
Most wide format shops, however, manage their client and their orders as if it were 1985 – often with a pen and paper. Sure, the old school method has mostly worked because this segment of the industry is still in the initial stages of technology disruption. Digital print technology has a longer history in document-based printing where the technology led to:
To meet these challenges, print shops must build efficient and, where possible, automated processes to minimize production costs. That’s hard to do with pen and paper.
Enter the age of print management information systems (MIS) for wide format shops. These solutions act as a single system of record where all customer and order information are captured, shared, and stored for everyone involved in the process. A wide format-specific solution supports the unique difference found in wide format printing, such as ink sets, materials, finishing, and shipping and logistics. Adoption of print management solutions by wide format shops has been stuck at under 20%. We expect this to increase over the coming years as the need for production efficiency increases while the number of available software solutions also grows.
Founded in 2007, without legacy limitations, Corebridge is a cloud-based solution to manage sign and print shops. Corebridge allows shops to quickly implement online ordering for their customers. For customers not using the web shop, pricing and quotes can be created by the print shop in three steps that answer the who, what, when details of the order. The system has the functionality expected of a print MIS but stands apart in two areas: the user experience and the level of built-in communication.
Corebridge’s Web Shop
The user experience carries the simplicity and cleanliness required of web-based software but keeps the needed functionality. The attention to detail in the user interface is also evident. As with many other print MIS solutions, users see only what is applicable for their role because administrators set user roles and permissions. Corebridge has also paid thoughtful attention to where items are placed so that the order and accessibility are available when needed by the user.
Keeping customer and staff up-to-date is possible due to the multiple layers of built-in communication. First, customer communications are tracked and stored in Corebridge’s e-mail client/server capabilities (most solutions ignore or require a copy/paste of details originating in customer e-mails). Second, outbound communications to clients can be automatically sent based on the status in the system. When the order is received, completed, or shipped, the client can be automatically informed. Last, the system supports internal and external messaging. Clients can post questions or concerns online where staff can immediately be notified and respond. Messages can also be sent to other internal groups or staff members containing customer or job critical information. Rules can be setup for users to receive e-mails and text messages when a message is posted (image below).
Corebridge’s Messaging and Alerts
The future for wide format shops will be defined by more speed of execution, accuracy of information, and quality of services and delivered products – a future where manual processes lead to failure. Wide format shops must implement systems to manage their business that cut waste and provide timely and actionable information to proactively manage the business. The signs point to print MIS as today’s opportunity to avoid tomorrow’s pitfalls.