Manufacturers Identify Label Trends
With labels, the only thing that isn't changing is their widespread use.
When asked about anything new or different within the past year regarding their label operations, manufacturers had a lot to say. John Shanley, president of Labels West, Woodinville, Wash., talked about greatly decreased order sizes, yet greatly increased order activity, and how the demands for consistently high-quality labels and extremely rapid turnarounds are necessitating digital technology.
"High-quality label products used to be considered specialties. Now, that quality is expected on every label order, and companies are having to invest in that quality," commented Shanley.
At Tipp City, Ohio-based Repacorp Label Products, owner Rick Heinl talked about the shift from stock labels to custom-designed labels in his plant and the impact it's having on his production environment. He is also cautiously planning how to gear up physically and financially to add radio frequency identification (RFID) capabilities, a move he sees as essential for anyone wishing to remain a serious competitor in the label market.
And, both gentleman pointed out that end-users are more knowledgeable and more demanding than ever before, expecting a lot from distributors who, in turn, look to suppliers. "Distributors want to sell a label once. They don't want to have to worry about problems that they'll have to go back and take care of," observed Heinl. "When it comes to choosing a vendor, successful distributors know that it's not all about price."
Buyers Are Downsizing
According to Shanley, customers no longer want to order 100,000 labels at a time to see them through a three-month period. Instead, they prefer ordering 1,000 labels every week. He explained that by carrying less inventory, companies increase their cash flow. "The money can be used for something more constructive than sitting on a shelf," noted Shanley. "Also, the bulk of our label business is for retail packaging, and smaller quantities allow end-users to be more flexible in changing labeling information as needed, instead of waiting until they've used up months worth of inventory."