The Keys to Product Placement at the Point of Sale

Printing cooler wraps for liquor stores

As everyone in the beverage distribution market knows, point of sale sign placement is a crucial component of sales. Though it can’t always be quantified there’s no doubt that a restaurant, bar or c-store account that’s happy with their signage is more than happy to place more orders and try different brands offered by the distributor.

Printing cooler wraps for a convenience store
Cooler wrap printed on LexJet TOUGHcoat Water-Resistant Self Adhesive Polypropylene by Brent Lee and David Raszka, Atlas Distributing, for Renaissance Wine & Spirits, Worcester, Mass.

An excellent case in point of this maxim in operation is Atlas Distributing Inc., and its print shop headed by graphic design manager Brent Lee. Lee says the two most important keys to ensuring high-visibility point of sale placement for Atlas Distributing’s brands – primarily MillerCoors, Samuel Adams, Corona and Heineken – is quick turnaround and colorful, photo-quality graphics.

“Turnaround time is easily the number one factor for us. One of our competitors here promises a turnaround time of two weeks for all their signs. We have a turnaround time of two to three days, so that’s our number one selling point,” explains Lee. “As far as winning signage space at the point of sale, we always use the most current graphics supplied by the brand. Our competitor’s graphics are very simple – logo and price; they won’t use any background graphics, so we have a leg up there as well. Also, we provide the account with a digital proof if is it’s a larger sign before we print and install it.”

In order to fulfill their two- to three-day turnaround promise, Lee says they rely on LexJet’s shipping and logistics infrastructure to get materials into the shop exactly when they’re needed.

“I’ve been using LexJet since I’ve been here, which is almost four years now. LexJet is the leader in this industry. I’ve used a lot of different suppliers and LexJet is the best and shipping is number one; it’s absolutely killer how quickly my orders get placed. If I send Chris [Piersoll, Atlas Distributing’s customer specialist] an email in the morning it’s out before I know it.”

Moreover, the recent addition of a Canon iPF8000S to supplement the shop’s older HP 5500 has also helped speed up the pace. “The Canon printer is incredibly fast. It saves us a lot of time and allows a very quick turnaround, and our clients love that. Plus, when we first got the Canon our sales guys and accounts noticed the quality immediately,” says Lee.

Since the HP 5500 is 60″ wide and the Canon is 42″ wide, larger work is printed on the HP, which allows flexibility and greater efficiency in the print shop workflow. The print shop uses LexJet UV Ink Replacement Cartridges for HP 5000/5500 and Lee says the switch was seamless.

“The LexJet Ink is awesome. We’ve had no problems with it, there’s no difference in color, it’s just as good as the original ink, it was easy to switch, and when you see the savings it’s a no-brainer,” says Lee.

Lee uses Adobe Photoshop CS4 for design and the FlexiSIGN RIP to queue up and send designs to the printers, which also include two OKI laser printers for table tents, case cards, menus and other smaller signage. The print shop’s product purchases and workflow enhancements are driven by those two keys to successful product placement in the field – speed and quality – and it’s working.

Printing point of sale signage for a bar“A few months ago I made a sign for an account and put the wrong brand on it, and instead of returning the sign they actually took the product because they liked the sign,” relates Lee. “We have another account that wanted to make their entire store a Samuel Adams brewery so we made 10 to 12 signs that were just brewery images. That was a very custom job and the account was very happy with it.”

Nor is Lee afraid to experiment with different materials to get that edge in the market. He’s tried any number of banner materials, setting on LexJet Poly Select Heavy fabric reinforced with LexJet Heavy Duty Banner Tape on the edges as his favorite, as well as LexJet Aqueous Perforated Vinyl (70/30) for one-way window graphics.

“We use the Heavy Duty Banner tape to help with fraying on outdoor banners, and that’s been working well. The Poly Select Heavy fabric with the banner tape on the ends is very strong and durable. In New England we’ve had some strong winds, but the banners stay up and the quality is still awesome,” says Lee.

How Post Up Stand Stands out in a Crowded Field

Graphics for trade shows and exhibitsIn 2004, Alon Weiner and Ram Tamir made a major shift in their offset printing business. Seeing opportunity and seizing it, the ownership pair embarked on building a large-format printing business basically from scratch.

Since that time, their company – Post Up Stand – has burgeoned into a shop that employs 41 and runs 14 different printers, ranging from two Canon iPF8000S printers from LexJet to a number of solvent printers and the two latest additions, a direct-to-fabric dye-sublimation printer and a two-step dye-sublimation system.

Inkjet printing graphics and signsCo-owner Alon Weiner says the company’s growth can be attributed to three things: Aggressive online and national in-flight magazine marketing and advertising, constant investing in printer technology and an emphasis on customer service.

Of course, everyone says they practice top-notch customer service, but Post Up Stand has a department dedicated to it, led by someone they hired recently to manage that team, Tina Schulte, who has more than 15 years of experience managing customer service teams. The added emphasis on having a direct customer service team has helped develop that all important referral marketing component.

“Hiring a customer service manager made for a tremendous change in our view of the whole customer service process; it helps us further train our customer service staff and help customers immediately,” explains Weiner. “There’s always a person answering the phone; never a machine. And, we always survey customers after they receive a product from us to make sure they’re happy, and if they aren’t, we make sure to fix it right away.”

Printing fabric bannersMoreover, Weiner explains that the foundation of the company’s customer service philosophy is built around the fact that a good many of their clients call when they need something right away. As everyone in the wide format inkjet business knows, graphics are often last-minute items, and even the word “rush” doesn’t quite hit the mark to describe the turnaround time on those projects.

“Because many of our customers don’t think about it until the last minute, they’re under a lot of pressure, so we’ve built our customer service department with that understanding in order to make the process as easy and quick as possible,” says Weiner. “Also, many of our customers are ordering our product for the first time, or only every few years. They don’t know exactly what they need for their project, so our customer service people are trained to help them find the right product.”

Printing retractable banner stand graphicsWeiner says that Post Up Stand’s customer service department is similar to what he finds at LexJet. He says that “reliable” and “consistent” are the two words that come to mind to describe LexJet’s products and customer service. “We learn a lot from LexJet because when we have questions we always get answers about the best products for our printers. We get very good direction and help from LexJet,” says Weiner.

In 2012 Weiner says the company will continue its growth curve by adding more equipment and finding more avenues for its expertise. Post Up Stand is well known for its indoor graphics expertise, from exhibit displays to retail graphics, but seeks to grow in the outdoor arena. With a battery of solvent printers, a bevy of outdoor solvent material choices from LexJet and its printing track record, this area of Post Up Stand should grow substantially.

Post Up Stand was recently featured at the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s website as a local example of a company with national reach (95 percent of Post Up Stand’s work is shipped all over the country) thriving during tough economic times.

Click here to read the article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, and go to www.postupstand.com for more information about the company.

A Window into Brand Building

One-way window graphics for business

Billy Owen, graphic designer for Grellner Sales & Service, Sedalia, Mo., is a master at getting Grellner’s brand messaging out to an adult beverage-consuming audience in and around the beverage distributor’s HQ in Sedalia.

It’s not an easy task as the venues that host point of sale messaging – from bars and restaurants to c-stores and liquor stores – are often plastered with advertising messages, mostly focused on price. Owen, as detailed in an earlier blog post about his creative work at a fair, finds ways to get past the clutter and down to business.

Owen’s most recent project for a 1920s-themed bar in Rolla, Mo., was designed to dominate. The bar gave Owen some general direction, namely to maintain the ‘20s theme and use black-and-white imagery, and Owen ran with the concept.

Window graphics for a restaurantThe creation, as you can see in the photo, perfectly evokes the time period and gets the distributor’s brands a very nice play. The key here, beyond Owen’s appropriate design work, was placement and print material.

Given an opportunity to use window space, and after consulting with his LexJet customer specialist Kelly Price, Owen chose LexJet Aqueous Perforated Vinyl (70/30). He says he was a little nervous about using the product at first, but soon found the film performed far beyond his expectations after he printed it on his Canon iPF8000S.

“I was a little concerned that you wouldn’t really see the image that well since 70/30 means that 70 percent of the printing actually appears on it. I had no idea that it would turn out so well. I put a lot of texture and detail in it and everything showed up as I had designed it,” says Owen. “It takes a little longer to dry, but I always set the prints out for at least a day before I send them out, so it wasn’t a problem. Since then I’ve had three or four different requests for the window perf, so I expect I’ll be printing more of these projects.”

Printing more means more window space and more visibility for Grellner’s brands, which ultimately helps sales and builds market share. With LexJet’s help, Owen continues to find and use unique materials to complement his stellar design work.

Ice Cold Canvas for Inkjet Printing

Every year, Chicago’s Navy Pier turns to ice. While the weather may be frightful around Christmastime in Chicago, less frightful and much more fun is the temporary ice rink at Navy Pier. The rink is installed to coincide with lighting of the annual Christmas tree and thousands skate and soak in the winter atmosphere.

Speaking of soaking in, the logos pictured here were printed on 3P FlagTex from LexJet. The mesh material allows the water that turns to ice to soak in and provide a smooth skating surface over the logo.

Rob Mueller, owner of Mueller’s in Mt. Clemens, Mich., is an old hand at decorating ice rinks with logos and other graphics. He’s been hand-painting them for about 30 years now, and recently added inkjet printing to his ice-rink graphics repertoire.

“Logos are typically painted with a special ice paint, but the latest trend is to print and freeze the printed graphics in with a mesh-like material,” explains Mueller. “It’s a lot like applying wallpaper. You lay it out, completely saturate it with water and it freezes into the ice. That’s why you want to use mesh. If it’s a solid material like vinyl the ice will just push it to the top.”

The main logo for the sponsoring Chicago Blackhawks is approximately 8 ft. x 10 ft., printed in two panels. Mueller hand-painted the bulk of the 10th Anniversary logo, but used FlagTex for the ornament so he could print the fade and the gold top piece instead of trying to print it.

The FlagTex was printed on Mueller’s Canon iPF8000S, originally recommended to him by his LexJet account specialist, Bryce Montisano. “The Canon printer has been working great since I bought it from Bryce about a year ago. Bryce also recommended the FlagTex and it was perfect because it’s real easy to cut thanks to the paper backing. With other materials I tried I had to use a hot knife, but in this case I just lay it out and trim it with scissors.”

More New Year’s Cheer with Canon Rebates

Through the end of February take advantage of instant rebates on Canon inkjet printers of up to $1,200, plus a $1,000 mail-in rebate on the Canon iPF8300.

Canon’s iPF6300, iPF6350, iPF8000S, iPF8300 and iPF9000S are all included in the instant rebate program.

For details, bundled offers and help finding the right printer for your business, contact a LexJet account specialist.