By Steve Katz, Editor | October 9, 2012

As I go over my piles of notes, press kits and photos from Labelexpo, there is something that stands out. In talking with exhibitors and attending press conferences, I noticed a particular emphasis on the customer – getting to know who you are and your specific needs.

This is not to say that industry suppliers haven’t paid attention in the past, but I think in today’s market there is some special focus being paid. When the media gathered to meet with Mark Andy, it’s new CEO, PJ Desai, made a point to address a paradigm shift within the company’s philosophy. While he said the press maker has always been product-driven, he stressed a new emphasis is being placed on the customer.

Of course, the goal of those in manufacturing is to please its customers, and going out of your way to do so is not a groundbreaking sales strategy. But I think the shift in focus says that label industry suppliers are listening perhaps more intently, and making changes to address a converter’s evolving needs. This is happening in the same way that you are changing and adding to your processes in order to adjust to the needs of your brand owner customers.

With every conversation I have with a label printer about his or her business, this seems to always come up: label buyers are ordering less quantities per order and they want these orders filled in a just-in-time manner.

Short run talk is ruling the day, and the answer is coming up digital. Just take a look at the pages that follow: In this issue’s Front Row column, Jack Kenny discusses the intricacies of SKU proliferation. In our Industry News section, the aforementioned Mark Andy has launched its own digital printer and has also formed a partnership with OKI Data Americas. There’s a prevailing theme in our annual Companies to Watch feature – investments in digital print technology.
Digital printing is tied to short run printing which is tied to customer service. No one wants to turn away business for lack of capability. Nor does anyone want to turn off customers with significantly higher prices for smaller quantity orders.

Customer service is key, and with that, I introduce to you our newest department, which occupies our magazine’s last page. Aptly named “Customer Service,” this new column, penned by Tammie MacLachlan and Mark Lusky of Lightning Labels, will provide insight on this most important of topics, along with a healthy dose of marketing. Being that the Denver-based converter is a digital label printing pioneer, it’s fitting.

Steve Katz, Editor
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