One of the major trends involves the ability to add a variety of security features to a label. With counterfeiting on the rise and bulletproof tracking of authenticity becoming hotter issues, reassuring consumers and regulatory authorities alike will occupy center stage. For example, new label track-and-trace technology enables consumers to verify product authenticity on a specific container. They download an app that reads a unique ID and tells the buyer whether or not the product is genuine. Besides thwarting counterfeiting, this offers peace of mind to consumers already jittery about trusting what’s in their products—and tells buyers that somebody’s “minding the store.”
Other enhancements will enable brand owners to serve customers with more and more readable information. Extended content labels – enabling manufacturers to offer comprehensive information that can actually be read without using a magnifier device or app – is one such option.
Another is improved custom label printing technology and special effects to establish maximum clarity and contrast – in turn making even smaller label content easily discernible. These are just two examples of how product customers will be served in one of the most important ways possible – making label content, disclosures and graphics easier to see and, therefore, easier to decipher. And this is occurring none too soon, as an aging, visually-challenged population increasingly struggles to interpret labels printed in two-point type. Of course, this is an affliction affecting all generations, as ultra-small type is a challenge even for perfect eyes.
With the advent of smartphone magnifier apps, this can be mitigated somewhat. But, already frustrated consumers often don’t want to take “yet another step,” preferring instead to buy products that they can readily figure out. This is especially important in emerging industries like CBD, where considerable confusion and concern exist about potency, safety and authenticity.
Communication and conservation
Besides product buyers and consumers, product manufacturers themselves are benefiting from a variety of customer-service enhancements in such areas as ordering, re-ordering, proofing and turnaround time. Digital technologies are making it easier than ever to get printing jobs in the works and keep them moving along.
All of this, of course, impacts ultimate turnaround time. Today’s benchmark is 48-72 hours for digital orders from the time of proof approval.
Technology also has aided connection between printer and product manufacturing customer. Many label companies now offer a wide variety of communication options, ranging from high-tech for those wanting total digital interaction to high-touch for those wanting a live human voice.
Dedication to conservation and sustainability are finding label printing allies with more efficient processes that minimize material and ink waste while maximizing use of recyclable stocks and eco-friendly inks. Substrates like CleanFlake (for PET plastic containers), Biostone (made from stone), Kraft Recycled (100% post-consumer waste) and Vellum Recycled (also 100% recycled) offer good looks while being good to the earth.
All of these technological advancements and customer service commitments have come at a price – typically a lower one than in the past. Free ground shipping for online orders, free setup and no added fees for unlimited color and free press proofs are becoming more common. More cost-effective processes and protocols now make it easier than ever to order in quantities as low as 50 – versus the “old days” when manufacturers paid a premium for small print jobs, in part because of standard prepress costs.
Competition sows seeds of stellar service
Competitive pressures are also “inspiring” custom label printers to make stellar customer service at all levels a key part of their offerings. As widely available technologies level the playing field a bit, label printers are constantly seeking new ways to wow customers.
This is evidenced by ever-more effervescent review repositories. Product manufacturers can now analyze online reviews from a variety of sources, most notably Google, to get insights about customer service commitments. Top ratings, once relatively rare given the complex nature of label printing, are now showing up more frequently – spotlighting the best of the best in custom label printing. And those star-studded ratings now sometimes number in the hundreds.
With the dawn of a new decade, top-notch customer service in the custom label printing world will be a standard part of doing business. Evidence of that commitment quickly will separate top performers from companies heading toward extinction.
Mark Lusky is a marketing communications professional who has worked with Lightning Labels, an all-digital custom label printer in Denver, CO, USA, since 2008. Find Lightning Labels on Facebook for special offers and label printing news.