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The Retail Graphics Roundtable: Changing Market Conditions

(April 2014) posted on Mon Apr 21, 2014

Myriad factors are creating a volatile environment transforming the types of signage and graphics found in retail stores.

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Bales: We believe that digital signage is clearly an opportunity. It’s going to continue to invade our space. If we consider it a threat and don’t deal with it, we are going to lose ground, so we’ve embraced it as an opportunity. It’s not simple or straightforward. There is a lot to it, and figuring out your place in that workflow is really the critical area. We feel as a company we have to take it to our customers, because if we don’t, then our competitors will. If it’s not our competition, then someone else will present a turnkey solution to take not only the digital work but the print and all that comes with it.

Blee: Well, you guys can have at it: We have no interest in going down that road. I have a mantra at the shop that if it’s got a plug, we don’t do it. I don’t think people understand how expensive it is to get truly good content on a video screen. And I don’t want the liability. It you look at a paper poster or banner you sent out and it’s damaged on delivery, you can ship one out pretty quick. If you are sending out $2000 video screens with a 10% failure rate, I don’t think that’s a problem I want to be running around trying to solve.

SP: What would you say your biggest challenge is right now—the one issue that keeps you up at night?

Blee: I think for me the biggest concern is the spike in volatility of our industry. You can go nuts for 4-5 days and then be on your death bed the next two. It’s a roller coaster ride that plays on your emotions, and doesn’t allow for a strong plan to forecast your business.

Bales: One of the most important challenges for us as a company is to look at the changing landscape out there and make strategic decisions about what we are going to be involved with and what we aren’t. It’s changing so rapidly. How do we navigate the changes and decide what to go into and make sure we understand the long-term needs of the customer and not just chase fads of the day?

Pratt: Remaining relevant. Making sure as business owners we understand our niche and dominate it. One thing I’ve learned: If you get to a certain size and think you can keep growing, perhaps you can, but you’ll have more competition with deeper resources, more things to keep you up at night. Be the very best at what you can be and your survival rate and ability to make money will be OK.




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