What to look for in a print shop near you?
If there is a print shop at the bottom of your building or around the corner from your office, it is likely the most convenient solution for your print needs. It basically will come down to what your priorities are when choosing a printer. Think about the type of urgent work you require...does your local franchise printer have the machinery needed to produce it in the building? Do they have redundancy? That is, if one urgent job is already underway...how long until your job can get started? Local print shops can be fast (unless they have a big job in front of yours) but are typically not the most cost effective option. You are paying for that convenience...the franchisee is paying high rent to be near lots of businesses. Typically, if you have a couple of days up your sleeve, shopping around to an online printer will save you money. If your requirements are more complex or quality is a priority, a full service printer is likely the answer.
When should we use a print shop vs. an online printer vs. a full service print house?
Sometimes customers are confused about where they should purchase their print job. A print shop is typically a franchise owned small business in a retail shop environment. There is typically foot traffic or in retail areas along busy roads. The key reasons to go with a print shop near you is convenience and speed. If you need a small print job complete in a matter of hours, a print shop near you might be the best solution. These small printers can typically accept a walk in customer with a small, standard sized job and turn that job around in a few hours. For example, if you need 50 more copies of your presentation to give out at the lecture you are giving this afternoon, a nearby print shop is your only option.
Where a business should consider an online print solution is when the job is larger, price is a larger consideration and you have a couple of days up your sleeve. Online printers are typically larger operations with higher volume machinery and more diverse machinery. Rather than having 3-4 “copy machines” they typically have larger production digital presses that run larger sheets and higher throughputs. These operations get better economies of scale, plus their rent is significantly lower since they are not in retail areas. This lower fixed cost and better economy of scale allows online print houses to offer lower prices, though there is typically little if any one-on-one service. The client needs to know exactly what they are after and will need to be able to operate in a self-service mode. The job also typically needs to be a standard size and quantity.
A full service print house makes the most sense when the client requires one-on-one attention or has a complex job. These situations arise when quality is of the essence, or there are high end embellishments like embossing, foil stamping or high end book binding solutions. If your business does not have the capability or time to create print ready PDFs, you may also want to consider using a full service print house to help you finalise your artwork. Full service print houses like Carbon8 have experienced account managers that work one-on-one with each client to understand the client’s priorities and provide the best solution given those needs.