6 Commonly Asked Questions About Integrated Labels and How to Answer Them
The integrated label market is a growing industry replete with possibilities. From health care applications to e-commerce opportunities, clients are always in need of the cost-saving benefits that these types of products can provide. But the integrated label market requires an in-depth and keen understanding of the variety of options, and, therefore, it can be overwhelming for distributors looking to jump in. To make the transition easier, we asked David Harnett, owner of New Jersey Business Forms, Englewood, N.J.; Rick Hites, integrated product specialist for Stylecraft Business Forms & Systems/Printing & Graphics, Canton, Mich.; and Tim Minarik, director of sales, marketing and customer service for I.D. Images, Brunswick, Ohio, to answer six common inquiries about the business.
1. What are integrated labels?
It might seem like a simple question, but the first step to selling integrated labels is to understand the manufacturing process, as well as the final product.
“[An integrated label] is a label that is incorporated (integrated) into a common sheet, which is usually a bond paper,” said Minarik. “The label can be created several ways, but most commonly through laminating adhesive and liner to the bond paper and then die-cutting to create the label required (the bond paper becomes the face of the label).”
Harnett pointed out that the manufacturing of integrated labels is very similar to that of integrated cards.
“... A back lamination is patched onto the back of the sheet that creates the ‘lift up’ of the card out of the paper,” he said. “Customers also have the option to apply a face laminate to provide more rigid construction. All face laminates are laser and inkjet compatible.”
2. When can integrated labels be used?
After you’ve learned the integrated label basics, you can understand its various applications. Hites provided a few key insights.
“Any time that you have a need to carry a label with other information, such as a shipping document, or a return label or a marketing piece where you want to put a customer’s name [is an opportunity to use an integrated label],” he said. “[Other] large users of the labels are going to be the health care industry, which is a huge [market] of integrated labels. We produce a lot of lab forms with secure bottle cap labels, test tube labels—that kind of thing.”
Minarik agreed that health care is a huge opportunity for the integrated label market. He pointed to prescriptions to prove his point, which include patient information, warnings, instructions and vial labels.
At the end of the day, integrated labels are a solution to the need to consolidate multiple pieces of information into one document, or as Harnett put it: building a “better mousetrap” and adding value and intelligence to one sheet of paper. To do this, New Jersey Business Forms adds perforations, die cuts and finished paper sizes and glue patterns to its integrated offerings.
3. What are the benefits of integrated labels?
Minarik broke down a few of the benefits distributors can provide their clients when pitching integrated labels. He mentioned efficiency—since manufacturers print the content and label at the same time—as well as the reduction or complete elimination of errors.
Hites pointed out that there is a tremendous potential for cost-savings when it comes to integrated labels. Printing two pieces at the same time cuts down on the need for extra resources.
“You have a synergy with the inks, since this is now being produced on the same sheet of paper,” he elaborated. “So, you don’t have to worry about matching ink colors because they were printed on the same sheet.”
4. What are some common mistakes distributors make when it comes to integrated labels?
To carry out a successful integrated label pitch, distributors should be careful to avoid some common pitfalls.
“The biggest mistake that I’ve seen is not fully understanding the differences of the products,” Hites observed. “If you’re really serious about selling these products, understand the product. Any one of us that produces these are more than happy to explain what the equipment can do, and then you can take it from there.”
For Harnett, the biggest mistake is distributors selling integrated labels without collaborating with the client, and not keeping the client’s needs first and foremost.
“Don’t sell a ‘me too’ product,” he advised. “Be invested in your customers’ long-term success and test different papers, liners and glues. [In addition], work with a manufacturer that specializes in integrated products (there are only a handful in North America).
“Be cautious about trying new manufacturers,” he continued. “It takes many years of experience from the manufacturing floor operators to consistently produce at high volumes.”
5. How can distributors facilitate successful label campaigns?
Besides avoiding common mistakes, there are several steps distributors can take to ensure their clients’ labels are successes. Harnett emphasized the need for distributors to provide samples to their clients. Hites agreed the integrated label business relies on the tactile—making samples a crucial component. Thankfully, manufacturers are there to help distributors make the sale.
“If you reach out to any manufacturer, they offer sales tools, whether it’s something online, sales kits, samples—because we know that the end-user really needs to get up close and personal with these,” he said. “People like peeling labels out of paper. So, distributors can take these samples to prospective clients and say, ‘Look, we can do these for you. Peel this out, see how you like it, envision yourself on this piece of paper, and we can come up with all kinds of ideas.’”
“We have soft-touch laminates now, which we never had before,” he mentioned. “More exotic laminates are becoming more reasonable, and holographic laminates have become a little more common and less expensive.”
Harnett stressed the importance of keeping open and honest communication with your manufacturing partners. “The value of the distributor is to provide solutions and new ideas, whether it is a design or size change,” he said. “There are many shared experiences between distributors and integrated manufacturers, so the key is to maintain a high level of communication with the manufacturers’ regional sales managers.”
6. What’s new in the integrated label market?
Our sources reported that they are seeing steady growth within the integrated label market, and growth means an expansion of offerings and options. Minarik has noticed the use of other materials besides bond paper, including film and thermal.
Hites emphasized a major shift he’s noticed in the industry: personalization. “We’re doing a lot more personalization on the manufacturing level,” he said. “We still see a lot of the smaller nonprofits and credit unions that do a lot of their own personalization, but a lot of the larger organizations that do a mailing every six months or year are having us do the personalization.”
In terms of what exactly is customized, Hites mentioned custom barcodes and QR codes.
In addition to new personalization offerings, he has seen an uptick in new laminates.