Retailers – Are You Harnessing the Power of Print?

Print is powerful when it comes to retail and today it also has the potential to be as personalized, targeted and diverse as any online campaign, and indeed to play a vital role in that campaign.

  1. chevron left iconRetailers – Are You Harnessing the Power of Print?
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Morag Cuddeford-JonesOctober 11, 2019
  • Digital Asset Management
  • Content Management
  • Content Marketing

Print is powerful when it comes to retail. In store, it is a sign, online it is information. In the customers’ hands, as a leaflet, catalogue or book, it is an enduring reminder, a sensory experience, and a vital part of the marketer’s arsenal in capturing, converting and retaining customers, long term. It is a medium that has long since moved on from the mass mailer or the lumpish catalogue. Today, print has the potential to be as personalized, targeted and diverse as any online campaign, and indeed to play a vital role in that campaign.

Some marketers, whether they are digital natives or part of the pre internet age, hold negative views on print. Compared to dynamic content and data driven sites, it sounds out dated. Not yet fashionably vintage, just old fashioned. Print sounds labor intensive and too generic for this hyper targeted age. Yet this could not be further from the truth.

Today’s technology allows print to be both efficient and effective, highly customizable but at low cost per acquisition and retention. That is not to say that quality print doesn’t require an investment in terms of both time and money - there can be more than 100 people involved in a print project, from designers and photographers to production managers and data scientists. The trick is in making that investment work hard for its place.

Streamlining the Upfront Process

The first task is to make sure that the investment is neither bigger nor more burdensome than it needs to be. Publishing, unless the company is in fact a publisher itself, will most likely rely on the support of third parties. It is making sure those third parties are used most effectively that can streamline the upfront print creation process.

Automation has a significant role to play here. Companies can produce print collateral that is endlessly customizable, yet relies essentially on a standardized series of templates, imagery and workflows. Industry standard software can help with integrated page planning while central repositories contain all product information and content, accessible by all parties involved and a single, inalienable source of truth that helps to avoid duplication and errors.

Having such templates, automated processes, and centralized information then makes interacting with third parties much easier and effective: agencies are left to focus purely on the skillsets for which they are actually employed, there are fewer hold ups when assets are needed or legal queries raised, and data remains safe - accessed only by those who need it, when they need it, and with the correct rights to use it.

Building a Responsive Print Operation

Streamlined print organizations within retail, and grocery in particular, come into their own when set against the demands of the sector. Whether you’re talking about fast fashion or fast food, print collateral needs to respond at the same speed as digital or human interaction.

This can be all the more important when we realize that many modern retailers are multi layered. There are convenience variants of out of town hypermarkets, specialist arms of general suppliers, youth branches of mainstream fashion brands. Yet these can all still function within their different segments if those processes which can be centralized and automated, actually are centralized and automated.

Take a Swiss supermarket chain. Originally founded as 10 cooperatives throughout the Cantons, today Migros has 600 outlets with supermarkets, specialized markets and product centers as well as a travel arm. It also operates across all four Swiss language regions. From a large number of systems used to produce its advertising materials, the censhare platform now lets it deliver articles and advertising images plus product information, all from a single, centralized resource. It’s not just faster and more accurate, it’s also cheaper. Hosting costs dropped 70% while agency spend was trimmed by 15%.

Success in using print as a vital part of the retail omnichannel communications universe depends on keeping processes as efficient and ‘light touch’ as possible. It’s worth taking the time to focus on the systems involved at the start, so they can play an active role in facilitating effective work.

In fact, many large retail brands employ print collateral as a seriously effective companion to national, regional and local campaigns, bringing a level of regional and local personalization to the customer experience. And this, usually through reduced agency and production costs!

We’ve taken a deep dive look into the best practices of print collateral production in How To Reach Ultimate Efficiency In Retail Print Collateral Production, a new censhare whitepaper. In it, you’ll find a convincing argument in the power of print collateral, a guide as to how to build efficiency into an existing or new print collateral operation, and a number of brand success stories for further inspiration.

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Morag Cuddeford-Jones
Morag has been a marketing journalist and editor for 20 years but is still trying to convince herself that she doesn’t look it. She came to journalism after a brief flirtation with the music and entertainment industry, which ended when she discovered that she nurtured a passionate dislike of any tunes not produced in 1985.

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