Label printers are one of the fastest growing segments in the office imaging industry. Companies like Muratec, Konica Minolta, and Epson offer capable systems that make in-house label printing affordable for many businesses that had previously relied on outsourced services. Toshiba’s line of thermal label printers have found a following for applications such as mailing and barcode labels. Dealers who have added label printers to their product offerings report strong demand, and the fact that label printers use familiar technology lessens the learning curve for their service departments.
Dealers who have had success selling label printer report that it’s due in large part to their sales teams spotting opportunity at their existing customers. (See the ENX November feature, “Beyond Traditional Print: Three Product Lines to Consider.”) Knowing the size of that opportunity is important to any dealer considering selling label printers. To help assess that opportunity, we’re provided a more thorough list of use cases for in-house label printers.
First, let’s recap some of the characteristics of a business ready to consider label printers. Trends toward smaller production runs and product customization are the primary demand drivers for label printers. Most commercial printing houses can’t handle small runs (a few hundred to 20,000). Companies that need short runs are frustrated by high cost per label, which often forces them to use simpler labels than they would like to save money.
Bottled or canned goods. We mentioned two industries in our November feature–breweries and wineries–that have proven to be eager early adopters of in-house label systems. You can add industries such as cosmetics, food and beverage, and pharmaceuticals. These three industries are typically required to provide information on labels regarding ingredients or safety that are subject to change. Having label capability in-house makes changing that information less disruptive.
Individualized services or goods tied to events. Think wedding halls, event management companies, promotional products vendors, or large marketing services firms. Some label printers are capable of printing individualized content on one or any number of a run. That means a company exhibiting at several events during the year can create labels specific to each event for giveaways or product samples.
Manufacturers of regulated products. All manufacturers will have some demand for label printing. Those that have to label their products with safety warnings or other mandated information have a much greater need. This can be a big headache for smaller manufacturers, especially when the information they need to display changes.
Industrial chemicals. Like some manufacturers, chemical makers are required to label chemical containers with hazard and content information. Short runs are common, particularly with specialty chemical firms.
Public sector. Every town and school requires labels of some kind with parking permits being one of the most common applications. Schools might also print bumper stickers or labels to promote their sports teams or clubs.
Sports teams and venues. There are many mid-market sports organizations throughout the country that sell or give away labels to promote teams or events. Having an in-house label printer allows them to print short runs for a single game or series, or make changes on the fly more easily.