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Better Business

Digital signages with ‘augmented reality’ feature could propel retail sales

Ecommerce is the next big thing, however, physical retail outlets in the UAE, with augmented reality enabled digital signages could pull in the customers to their stores. The retail sector in the Emirates needs to up their game by adopting the latest technology and strategies that will help them become competitive in this cut-throat industry.

According to Euromonitor the value of UAE's retail sector stood at $56.6 billion in 2016 and predicted retail sales turnover in the UAE will exceed $71 billion by 2021. In a study with the Dubai Chamber, the size of the Dubai retail market grew to Dh128.45 billion in 2017, accounting for around 67% share of the UAE's total retail market size and is projected to grow 5.6% during 2018 to 2021, with

Build sustainable growth with a tighter focus

The direct mail sector, like much of the printing industry, can’t claim to have had the easiest of times in recent years.

It remains, however, a profitable market for operators with the right approach, and it is one that David Wright is optimistic about. This January his employer, Taylor Bloxham, launched a new division dedicated to direct mail, Mailbox, and Wright’s job is to make a success of it. From outside print, that might look like a big ask. This is a digital age after all and marketing

Train to gain: earning from learning

Demographic shifts, such as lengthening lifespans leading to longer working lives and developments in work, including the rise of the robots, all reinforce the trend towards people having several different careers.

As a result there is a need for new professional skills at all stages of one’s career, and with few of us rich enough to take time out for academic education, they need to be learned while we continue to work.
No longer does an apprentice have to be someone at the beginning of their

New leadership sets out targets for growth

Signs Express rates itself the largest sign company in the UK and Ireland, with more centres than any other business in the industry.

So when Jonathan Bean contemplated taking it over through a management buyout (MBO), the potential risks were as numerous as the rewards – the bigger they are, the bigger they can fall.
For Bean it offered the perfect opportunity to go for more growth and truly connect with a franchise business he’d been involved with for well over a decade. MBOs, however, are

Hue and cry: don’t let your colour get lost in translation

Over the past 25 years a whole alphabet soup of colour working ‘standards’ has been brewed up for the printing industry in the wake of the device-independent digital pre-press revolution.

Some of them are internationally recognised and implemented (ISOs), some are de facto but proprietary (such as Pantone), some are interconnected, others are confined to broad territories. Some are different names for the same thing.
We get confused, we’re sure that newcomers to the industry get confused too

Build bridges to inspire the next generation

It started badly, and with Idi Amin. In early August 1972 the president of Uganda ordered the expulsion of his country’s Asian minority, giving them 90 days to leave, Jez Abbott

Tens of thousands of people were driven out, and one of them was the boy Shahid Sheikh with his prosperous father and siblings, all of whom were forced to quit the east African country. They lost everything.
And they settled in Britain; the start of a “rags-to-riches story” that helped define Sheikh’s character and

A personal approach wins new ground for digital tech

Conventional wisdom has it that digital printing is best suited to short-run applications with very limited opportunities in packaging, which is mainly a business of very long runs.
But we have seen from the rapid ugrowth in digital label presses uthat brands do value the added umarketing opportunities that udigital brings. Maik Laubin, sales director for KBA’s Digital Solutions division, says that this also applies to the wider packaging sector, which is becoming more interested in digital

Snatch success from the jaws of failure

His first response was stark: “Oh my god, what are we going to do?” Claremon managing director John Conroy had just been told his neighbouring print company, Wheelden Print, had gone out of business.

This could have spelled disaster. Both print companies were separate businesses, but late last year had agreed to share a 500m² premises to split costs such as rent and rates.
Conroy had even sold his one and only printing press, a Heidelberg Speedmaster, so both firms were sharing Wheelden Print’s

Connecting paths of cooperation

There is no doubt that technology is helping companies to collaborate in ways that were unthinkable 20 years ago. The internet is of course the main reason for this – but advances in video technology, cloud computing, processing power, and so forth have led to new types of collaboration.

As Jason Oliver, head of digital at Heidelberg, explains, there is a lot of technology that helps to drive partnerships. “We’re using digital video and photography, and we’re sharing digital data to communicate

Making the case for setting up apprenticeships

Many in the sector believe that print’s reputation for being characterised by oily rags and deafening machinery is turning off potential new talent, starving the industry of the fresh blood it needs. Apprenticeships, meanwhile have their own cliches to contend with that they offer nothing better than poor pay and minimal training.

Keenan Phillips had something to prove at his interview for an apprenticeship post. So did the man interviewing him for the job at Saxon Packaging.
Phillips was up

Speed specialists supply the want-it-now generation

You could blame Amazon; its relentless focus on shortening delivery times infected the rest of high-street retail and ultimately spread further afield, including to print.

So, the causation of those same-day delivery demands seeping into your sales channels may well be the entrepreneurial mind of Jeff Bezos, founder of the online retail giant.
Yet that would be to simplify things in a rather complex area. In truth, there are multiple reasons why print production facilities are now geared up to

Learning how to swim with the big fish

Mercian Labels is moving upwards and outwards. Two months ago, the business upped sticks at its Derby operation and shifted it 40 miles to its headquarters in Burntwood, Staffordshire. This was a bold statement of expansion; one of many in recent years.

And with all production now under one roof, even more expansion is on the agenda. Staying the pace with such fast evolution can be a tough call, however, without the capacity, tools or processes in place, trying to keep up with growth can line

Setting up pay strategies for long-term love affairs

Salespeople are the beating heart of a business; without the revenue they generate no other parts of a business will function for very long. The question is, how best to incentivise sales to work well, individually and as a team?

Fiirst principles
The Chartered Institute of Professional Development (CIPD) suggests that any pay structure “should be carefully designed to support the business strategy of the organisation and to provide a clear and non-discriminatory framework for pay progression and

Make printing easy for your customers

No clutter. No pop-ups. No up-sells. No cross-sells. No information overload. Back in December, web-to-print business Printed Easy went live with a new-look customer-focused website that said ‘no’ to all those things, and many more of those annoying web ticks.

It formed a major part of a larger company restructure and rebrand that cost half a million pounds. “Modernising or rebranding the image of any business begins with a website,” says Printed Easy’s online director Paul Duffy. You can see

Strategies to land the perfect catch

The question of how best to grow a business is asked again and again and again. Organic or acquisitive – either way the intended end-result is the same: the greater efficiencies and profitability that come through economies of scale and increased market clout.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with organic growth, it’s just that it takes time. It’s an option that Nick Dixon, director at Veriteva and a long-term buyer and seller of businesses in print, says firms should consider because “if

Make finishing touches the first priority of your company

It started with finishing. Commercial printer PCL Digital was looking to win customers by offering more services. Print was well balanced on supply and demand, so managing director Nick Westley-Smith took a post-press tilt.

But this was to be no minor tinkering on the fringes of finishing. Westley-Smith embarked on a comprehensive refresh involving tens of thousands of pounds covering several new pieces of kit.

The challenge

The company, established as an HP Indigo printer 12 years ago, is based

Skills schemes to attract bright young things

Whenever I thought of the print industry I pictured big warehouses printing stacks of newspapers: I guess I just thought of print as being quite old-fashioned,” recalls one of them.

Another admits unflatteringly “If I’m honest, with recent technology I was under the impression print was outdated”. Meanwhile a third rookie printer “knew the basics: requests come in, print goes out”.
All of them have now wised up to the reality of print in the here and now. And all of them did so by completing the

Business Inspection: A local solution to the problem

Finding the right premises close to home has enabled a labels expert to plan a big expansion in a major industrial area.

It is only half a mile away, but it has taken Print-Leeds more than two years to get there. Managing a move from one part of a major industrial city undergoing large-scale regeneration can throw up problems – especially for a company keen to expand. One of the biggest is finding the right space in a place that is on the up and where property of all types is hard to come by.
It

How to raise your profile or make an impression

Now that colour digital printing is ‘good enough’ for the sort of things most people want to do with it, attention is switching to the twiddly bits that catch the eye and add value to the print job.

Embellishment is the fashionable term. This means what used to be called special effects, such as spot gloss (or matt), texturing, embossing, metallic and other exotic finishes.
There has always been the option to add these with traditional analogue processes, but we’re now seeing more and more

Market options for short-run periodicals and books printing

Producing short runs is no longer cost-prohibitive. It is a breakthrough that has entirely changed the publishing industry’s credo about what to print, for whom, and when. Digital printing has become synonymous with “short-run".

For a long time, publishing books and magazines was mostly about manufacturing and distributing them in large quantities. The model still exists, and it continues to account for the majority of book and magazine production being done today.
But because the model is based

A focus on the past helps build for the future

There’s no future in history, unlike heritage. And for one large-format printer what lies ahead has never been more promising for a service both high in impact and highly acclaimed.

 

For more than 125 years Leach has specialised in large-format graphics from its base in the North West. Only in recent years, however, has it honed its service to a core niche that focuses on heritage displays for museums and galleries.
Breaking into a niche is hard, making a name for it can be harder, then

Grow a greener business from the ground up

After his vegetarian breakfast Gary Toomey mounts his bicycle and pedals the seven miles to his business. He’s new to this game. Not healthy, meat-free living, but launching a web-to-print firm.

Yet it’s the healthy, vegetarian lifestyle that will help define the ethos of his new company, which was registered this March and launched in July. Hatch delivers high-quality print-on-demand for creative agencies, trippy designers, fresh-faced entrepreneurs and principled start-ups just like his.
The

You can’t put a price on the value of good relations

Price has long been king for print buyers and brand owners, particularly in recent years with budgets being squeezed to the limit. And with some printers falling over each other to offer the lowest price they can to secure work, many buyers do not have to look far for a competitive quote.

 

Price is important because everybody’s got a budget and that magic figure in mind that they want to pay, says independent print consultant Mark Francis.
But price is far from the be-all and end-all for

Ways to expand your sphere of influence

Like it or not, networking is a hugely effective way to increase your profile, and it’s no secret that it pays to make friends and influence people.

Simon Biltcliffe, founder and chief executive of Webmart, is speaking into his phone, recording a voicenote. He is on a plane. And the plane is landing. But Biltcliffe speaks on until the last possible moment, telling the flight attendant that he is going to “shut the thing down in a moment”, because he believes in networking. And networking is not

Stand out from the crowd to up sales

Profit is sanity, turnover is vanity’. It may be an old cliché, but like many clichés there is a degree of truth attached to this statement – especially when you apply it to the printing industry.

 

For far too long far too many printers have chased turnover without giving enough consideration to what their margins are likely to be. Their main priority has been to keep their presses ticking over rather than allowing them to stand idle.
However, this approach has caused irreparable damage to

Time spent on SEO will be richly rewarded online

There are more than 6 billion word searches over the internet everyday. More than 4 billion of those are on Google. More than 94% of those searches lead to an ‘organic’ link click, with just over 5% opting for the advert.

Experts say that if you are a pure-play digital company, then at least 40% of your initial cost of setup should go towards your search engine optimisation (SEO).
But what is this mythical beast that everyone speaks of so reverentially?
SEO is how you make sure your website is