Gaining Market Share with Quantity and Quality at Carolina Premium Beverage

Large format inkjet printers for point of saleYou would be hard-pressed to find someone who loves their job more than Sandy Woods, who runs the sign shop – make that “art department” – at Carolina Premium Beverage in Concord, N.C., which is near Charlotte.

“I prefer to call it the art department because I have a degree in art  and we really focus on design as opposed to just mass producing signs,” explains Woods. “I love what I do. I have been here at Carolina Premium Beverage for five years, and have been in design my entire career. I know in my heart that I will retire here. This is home to me; I love this company.”

Using typography for point of sale designThat attitude alone is worth its weight in ink, a.k.a. liquid gold, and the art department has been instrumental in making Carolina Premium Beverage’s brands, chief among them MillerCoors, tops in the distributor’s market, which includes Charlotte and about six surrounding counties.

As you can see by the samples pictured here, design takes precedence over everything else. It is that foundation which secures valuable, premium space for Carolina’s Premium Beverage’s point-of-sale graphics.

The second piece that builds on that foundation, and which ensures the quality and timeliness of the finished prints, is the right equipment and the personal support to go along with it. “I would never want to do my job without LexJet and Kelly [Price, Woods’ customer specialist],” says Woods. “Kelly is a life saver. Most of the time, I order materials a week out, but they’re usually here the next day. When there are occasions when I need to order something right away, she’s right on top of it; she’s awesome to work with. I have two Canon iPF8000S printers that I got from LexJet as well and I love them. They’re super fast and you can’t beat the quality. Those are my babies; I can’t live without them.”

Cooler wraps at the point of saleThe “Siamese Twins,” as Woods calls them, help ensure fast turnaround times for Carolina Premium Beverage’s accounts, which is another way in which the distributor beats its competitors to the punch at the point of sale. Woods, who runs the art department by herself, also has an OKI laser printer for cooler tags, table tents and other small format point of sale.

“Our goal was to surpass the main competitor in our market, and we’ve largely succeeded. Part of that success is the fact that we can get our point of sale out the door much quicker,” says Woods. Ultimately, it is possible, and necessary, to provide quantity and quality point of sale graphics in order to build market share.

She estimates that the art department produces about 3,600 banners and posters a year, not counting special events and venues, like the Carolina Panthers’ football stadium and the Bobcats’ basketball arena.

Point of sale design and printingWoods says her “go-to” print material is LexJet TOUGHcoat Water-Resistant Polypropylene, which she uses for both indoor and outdoor point-of-sale projects. She also uses LexJet 11 Mil Valeron Banner for outdoor projects that need extra durability, and Photo Tex adhesive fabric for cooler wraps and special events, such as a recent Sugarland concert at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Charlotte.

Special event and promotional bannersCarolina Premium Beverage was created in 2010 through the merger of three companies: Rudisill Enterprises of Gastonia, N.C., Cunningham Wholesale Company of Charlotte, and the Charlotte-based division of Caffey Distributing.

Each company has a long history in the beer distribution business. The owners of each company believed that by merging their businesses into one they could bring the best portfolio of beers to consumers in the Charlotte market area, says Woods. “It is our goal to be the leading beer supplier to retail customers serving consumers in the Charlotte area,” she adds.

How to Win Space at the Point of Sale and Keep It

Printing cooler wraps for the point of sale

A crucial ingredient in the beer wars is securing as much advertising and promotional space as possible at the point of sale, whether it’s a c-store, liquor store, bar or restaurant. And the key ingredient in making that happen is a combination of design and printing horsepower, a combination The Nackard Companies P.O.P. shop manager, Steve Lalio, has in spades.

Cooler wraps with adhesive backed materialThe Nackard Companies, based in Flagstaff, Ariz., serves the entire state, excepting the Phoenix and Tucson metro areas. The company’s wide reach demands a special emphasis on dominating as many spaces as possible for their brands in the market. A recent project completed in early December at Premier Beverage, a liquor store in Sierra Vista, Ariz., illustrates the power of point of sale printing to do just that.

In this case, the daughter of Premier Beverage’s owner happened upon a cooler wrap Lalio had created for a c-store in Flagstaff. Word got back to Premier Beverage and the request was made for the Lalio/Nackard treatment for the liquor store’s cooler.

Down came the competitive cooler wrap and in its place went Lalio’s handiwork. The concept was simple yet striking: A blue icy background interspersed with craft beer logos and bottles distributed by The Nackard Companies.

“Craft beers are taking off and we’re doing our best to come up with unique ideas to promote those products,” says Lalio. “In order to really understand it, you have to see it in person. That blue background really pops out and makes the store brighter and more alive. The question I ask before I design is, ‘What attracts you to something? It’s eye candy, and to me it’s the background. And, you don’t want to clutter it too much; you want to advertise what you really want to sell to the public.”

Advertising at the point of saleLalio printed the giant project – which is one main cooler graphic 27 feet long and 56 inches high, a corner cooler that’s 20 feet long and 56 inches high, plus the approximately 20” x 80” cooler corners – on LexJet TOUGHcoat Water-Resistant Self Adhesive Polypropylene with a Canon iPF8000S inkjet printer.

The prints were then laminated with 3 Mil Luster UV Standard Low Melt laminate and applied to Coroplast. In the end there were more than 20 panels created for the area salesperson to attach on-site.

“A gloss laminate looks real sharp with outdoor banners, but indoors we typically use luster because of the lighting. If it will be up there for a long time, like this one will be, we laminate in case they need to wipe it down for whatever reason,” says Lalio.

The real challenge was getting everything lined up just right so that the entire piece appears as seamless as possible. Lalio says it’s just paying attention to the minute details, taking extra time to scale everything and accounting for intrusions like air vents that ensure a big project like this comes together from print to installation smoothly.

How to Perform a Head Cleaning on a Canon Inkjet Printer

A couple of days ago we posted a video that shows how to do a nozzle check on a Canon large format inkjet printer, which is the same process for the Canon iPF5100, iPF6100, iPF8000S, iPF9000S and iPF9100 printers.

As mentioned in the previous post, we promised a follow-up video showing how to perform a head cleaning on the Canon printers, which is the next step if you identify a problem with the nozzle check. It’s important to note that you should only perform a head cleaning if you find an issue through the nozzle check; a head cleaning should always be preceded by a nozzle check.

After you perform a head cleaning, always follow up with a nozzle check to make sure it worked. If it didn’t, repeat the process. If you go through the nozzle check/head cleaning process about five or six times there’s likely something else wrong. However, this is very unusual and the printer will almost always let you know if the printheads need to be replaced (click here to see the video on how to replace printheads).

Most of the processes detailed in the videos, including the nozzle check and head cleaning, are not quite the same for the latest generation of Canon printers – the iPF6300, iPF6350 and the iPF8300. They use the same menu options, but the path to get there is slightly different. We’re working on these and will let you know when they’re available.

If you have any questions or need help troubleshooting anything, give us a call.