The UK printing industry is an interesting one. There are three key players- the customers, the producers and the middlemen. The last group may on first sight seem like wasted space but this article is here to show you that middlemen in this industry (print brokerage firms) are of massive use to both, helping buyers and suppliers get the absolute most out of their time and resources. In essence, they are absolutely central to the UK printing market. Read more to find out why…
Print Market Background:
Fundamentally, the UK Print market is absolutely vast. One source claims that it generates annual revenue of over £9bn (2011). 80,518 people are employed within 10,310 listed businesses. It may interest you to know that large proportion of that number of companies do not actually own any means of production, i.e. they don’t actually have a printer. These companies are known as print brokerage firms.
The Print Broker/Print Manager:
In essence the print brokerage firm occupies a middleman position between the print buyers (you) and print suppliers. They take prices from the print suppliers and push them out to buyers in the market place. The first question you’re probably asking is “how is this a viable position for any company to hold?” And you’d be quite right to ask that. Surely actual printers should be able to sell their print work themselves?
Well, to a certain extent they do. There are many large companies out there that require great printed media for a whole host of reasons; marketing is perhaps highest on this list. It is no secret that well-delivered printing can be incredibly useful in helping selling one’s product or service to customers. This has been going on for over a century and it shows no signs of stopping. Many of the large firms and organizations that rely on printed products to get their message across will be large enough to actually have an “in-house” print manager. This individual or department will manage the large print requirements for an entire company. It is because of the large print requirements that print managers exist. “In-house” print managers enjoy a large purchasing power so are able to go round printers in the market and get the best possible prices for their work. This is fundamentally why they get paid: it pays to pay them.
But what happens if you are not (and we’re assuming that you’re not) a multi-million pound company? What happens when you don’t have a million pound plus print budget to tout round the market? What happens if you don’t want to pay punitive prices because, frankly, you are a tiny fish in a massive pond? Quite simply, you go to a print broker.
Print brokerage and print management companies such as StuPrint.com exist purely because of economies of scale. What does this mean? Well, assuming you don’t have an A-Level in Economics, let us break it down for you…
Economies of Scale in the UK Print Industry:
The rule of economies of scale essentially explains that, up to a point, as a business or organization expands/grows, their unit costs decrease. In other words, as you grow, the amount you actually pay for individual products and services actually decreases. Let s take an example: if you wander up to a greengrocers and ask to buy 1 banana he/she will likely just charge you a standard price for it. However, if you wander up wanting to buy 1000 bananas, you will more than likely get a much better price. Although obviously you will be spending more money in absolute terms, the amount you will be paying for each individual banana will almost certainly drop. The reasons for this are complex but it essentially boils down to the fact that you have more purchasing power when buying the larger amount. The greengrocer, if sound of mind, will still be making a profit on each unit he sells. However, when buying a thousand the amount of profit he stands to make is much larger than with just the single banana. For this reason, he/she is less likely to want to see you wander down the road and buy them from someone else. This is the essence of purchasing power.
Bananas are all well and good but what does this mean for the UK print market and brokerage firms? Well, as mentioned earlier, there are plenty of individuals out there that don’t have million pound print budgets. They are simply looking for a handful of flyers, posters, business cards etc. This gives them very little purchasing power so if they were to go to a printer by themselves and ask for a quote, it will almost certainly be substantially higher than the price received by a print manager. This is where the print broker comes in.
Print brokers bundle up all the smallish jobs in a marketplace and tout them round actual printing firms. Because these packages might represent millions of flyers, a high level of purchasing power is reached and the prices that can be achieved actually ended up being as low and efficient as the ones received by the print manager of a large business. It is a very quick and simple way for achieving great unit prices for hundreds or thousands of small jobs.
Print brokers represent you on a larger scale in order to get the best prices for smaller jobs. It really is that simple.
Its worthwhile going into slightly more depth here as there are even more reasons why print brokerage firms exist.
Efficiency in the Print Market:
At an absolute base level, print brokerage firms are here to facilitate the buying of print at the smaller level of the print market, putting print buyers in touch with print suppliers. Their/Our existence is beneficial to both parties.
The Advantages for the Print Supplier:
What are the real advantages for the actual printer owner? Well, as mentioned before, there are large firms out there that get in touch with print suppliers directly to sort out their many, many orders. These two parties will, in most instances, have developed a longstanding and fruitful relationship. However, as we now know, smaller players occupy a very large proportion of the £9 billion print market. Their print work and their money is as good as the large firms, however, everything is not a simple as that.
Print producers also work on economies of scale. It is fundamentally inefficient for printers to deal with one order for, say, 500 flyers. For each piece of design work, a member of staff must deal with the client and get a perfect idea of what they want. They must then check each piece of artwork individually to make sure it is good to go to print. An individual plate is then engraved for each design in order to be used during the printing process. This plate would then be run through the press and the subsequent printed-paper trimmed down to size. Because time equals money, it is much more cost-effective for commercial printers to take larger jobs as it lowers the price they pay for paper, ink and the proportional cost of staff, premises, telecoms and everything else.
As well as the above, printers are printers. As stupid as that sounds there is actually something to it. They are not marketing firms; they are not web specialists; they are not graphic designers; they are not a call centers. They are however, professional, commercial printers with millions of pounds worth of print presses. This is what they do and they are often against the idea of doing anything else. This works fine when they are dealing with large print managers that know exactly what needs to be done with regards to specification, payment, artwork etc. But it does not help when it comes to, in harsh reality, an inexperienced customer looking to get a few business cards printed for a new business.
Print brokerages help with all of the above. StuPrint.com packages up small orders so that print presses can stay running at all times. We make it possible for commercial printers to run all of our jobs at the same time so they can increase their purchasing power and get cheaper rates on paper, ink and utilities. Furthermore, we love to deal with you, the customer. StuPrint.com, as a print broker, has made it our mission statement to offer incredibly helpful and incredibly professional advice to all of our customers, no matter the order size. The help we give in making artwork print ready makes the whole process possible. We essentially make sure that the printers print to the best of their ability, and nothing else. We do this whilst keep the customer informed and happy.
Finally, commercial printers are at an advantage when dealing with print brokers because, quite simply, they get more business. We are e-commerce experts so we are well geared up to marketing and selling great printed products. Quite simply, we are just better at getting people to buy their products. StuPrint.com (the website), for example, is geared up to help customers at every step of the way. Our instant quote system allows customers a huge amount of transparency when looking round for prices. As well, secure online payment systems and dedicated artwork upload services make printing with us an absolute doddle.
The Advantages for the Print Buyer:
Well it would be silly start this section by not mentioning price. Quite simply, print brokers get print buyers cheaper prices. And that cant be a bad thing can it? In more detail, we go round the print market to find the best suppliers for every type of printed product. We know who to go to for posters and we know who to go to for flyers. It is certainly worth noting that this decision, i.e. who we trust to print our customers’ work, is not just based on price (although this is very important!) but who we know, through experience, is going to reliably deliver the best products time and time again. This is incredibly important to us because we know it is incredibly important to you. It is clear from any quick Google search that is a whole host of print suppliers out there and it can be very difficult to find the right one for you. The great thing about StuPrint.com is that we have already done the legwork for you. We know though experience that some printers are better at posters and some are better at booklets, for example. Why should you have to spend your free-time traipsing round trying to find this out for yourself? Again, we’ve found the best suppliers out there for a wider-range of products, we’ve haggled them down on their prices, and we’ve put them on a simple platform for you to use. Wasn’t that nice of us!
The in house experience at StuPrint.com certainly shouldn’t be underestimated. As well as a wide range of high-quality, low-cost printed products, we have decades of experience under one roof and it is all at your service. The printing industry is full of jargon and inane little details that can really make a difference to the finished product. We are here to do that for you. Similarly, we know that getting artwork looking great can be trick if you don’t have a Masters in graphic design. Fortunately, we’re here to make sure everything looks great before and after going to print.
StuPrint.com believes that small print buyers deserve the exact same quality as large print buyers. What is more, we believe you shouldn’t have to pay through the teeth for it. StuPrint.com helps this become a reality by finding the best printers for all kinds of products, getting the best prices possible, and passing the savings on to you. StuPrint.com has taken the print brokerage model and combined it with unparalleled customer service and print market experience. So, if you want to get the job done, and done well, get in touch with StuPrint.com!
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