When the internet “began” to be commercialized in the mid 1990s, online purchasing, including the purchasing of banner printing online, gained unbelievable strength in the past couple of decades. So much strength that many firms have exploded or gone down in flames – or both – in without a doubt the most outstanding advance in consumer purchasing since the arrival of radio and television marketing.
Online Banner Printing Industry
In my industry, online banner printing actually became popular around 2005, and a few companies were responsible for the subsequent pricing declines that still exist in the online banner market now. But are consumers lives improved by having gotten much lower pricing? Perhaps. Perhaps not.
Here is an example. On July 19, 2011, Borders Bookstores made an announcement that they were closing almost all the Borders stores due to the fact that too many customers entered Borders, perused books, went home, and bought them online at cheaper at Amazon.com or downloaded books onto their personal devices, where they could read it whenever they determined to – at the push of a button.
Borders, however, was sluggish to adjust to the internet, and went down in flames as a result. My question remains, are we healthier as consumers for being able to acquire cheaper downloadable books? Perhaps. Perhaps not. We’ll know in time.
The First Printing Business I Managed
The banner and sign printing business I was the manager of launched our first website in 1998, among the first online banner and sign printing enterprises to do. I was completely awed with how effortlessly shoppers could find our sign company out west, even from Miami, Chicago, or New York City, on the worldwide web.
We were the very first sign and banner making company on a brand new search engine named Yahoo! in 1998, and among the first 500 companies to actually be listed on Yahoo! We didn’t really know what we had at that moment.
In 2000, I pushed on the company owner (I was the general manager) to focus a great deal of money, energy, and time to learn how to harness the power of the internet. It was the wave of the future, I told him. I got a cool response (note: the owner was also my Father, so Dads, listen up… your son may, occasionally, have some very good ideas – you might need to listen to them!).
Ultimately, in 2003, I left Dad’s company, and jumped into the wild and woolly online marketing world, selling signs, displays, decals, etc. While we’ve done very well online, we’ve also observed some negatives regarding online shopping, although those mostly have to do with particular unidentified companies, and not so much the web itself.
Online Marketing – Where it Falls Short, and Why You Don’t Need to Get Ripped Off if You’re a Smart Consumer
1. Unscrupulous Marketers.
While these companies are not necessarily doing anything bad, they often dominate the right side and top paid ad spots the front pages of Google, advertising online banner printing for $1.50 per square foot. But hey, it’s marketing, right?
You know if you go there you’re likely going to pay double or triple that amount to get a first-rate quality banner, but those Google ads suck you in, and a smooth salesman on the other end of the email or phone line quotes what you really wanted at $5 or $6 per square foot, which is an OK price, but not what you thought you’d pay, so you wander off to the next site that is advertising vinyl banners at $.99 per square foot and end in the same spot as you did on the first website!
But you lost a couple or three hours attempting to save money. Lesson learned – maybe – hopefully?
While it is most probably successful, I won’t say I’m 100% comfortable using (or abusing) that style of marketing – even if it works. It’s probably just resentment on my part ‘cuz I’m lousy at being a huckster, but why not simply say “Low quality, 50dpi inferior billboard quality banners printed on cheap Chinese banner fabric with not-so-good ink for banners that you don’t need to last more than a couple weeks – $1.50/sq.ft.”
Where are those FCC agents when you really want them!?
2. You can’t see the quality of the banner you would like to buy online.
This used to be a bigger issue with custom items like banners, but it’s not so much of a concern now. Vinyl banner materials are manufactured by just a few plants, and the scrim vinyl banner material comes from these few companies, and there’s just not much variation in what’s available. There are quite a few brands, but most are generally similar to other brands.
While a lot of vinyl banner fabrics are manufactured in China, there are variable grades of product manufactured in China, and the $1.50 per sq. ft. material for banner printing is the bottom of the barrel – definitely not tradeshow or retail class – generally OK for 50 dpi billboards, but not much else.
At the present time, if you need to see a material sample, you can simply ask for a printed banner sample; most online banner printers are happy to send you a sample or two in the mail, free of charge, unless you need it tomorrow. Then you’ll need to provide FedEx or UPS account number for that. This is standard with most any legitimate banner print shop.
Hang On! There’s also some Positive News for Online Banner Purchasers – and other Web Purchases!
There are definitely advantages and disadvantages with banner purchasing online, but the greatest advantage is convenience. If you have more time than cash, or your time isn’t worth much, and you like calling on your local banner shops, you can head out of your workplace and set out down to the banner and sign shop and when you’re done, you’ll have wasted, I mean spent, a couple un-retrievable hours procuring a banner or two. But just so long as you’re content, I’m glad.
As an avid online consumer, I’ve purchased clothing, shoes, clothing, toys, tires, materials for my online banner printing business, car engines, golf equipment, and tons more online. Why? It’s fast, effortless, and saves time and money. It’ll cost $.35 a mile or more to drive my car around town, and a 20 mile trip about the town takes 45 minutes and $7.00. I could have been writing one of these mesmerizing articles!
2. Branded Products cost a little less online
Another advantage to online shopping – it can be less expensive to buy brand name products – sometimes a lot less costly. Prices in the printing business have stayed level for around 20 years in many departments, and have even declined somewhat in other areas.
Why? Cheaper overhead cost factors. Retails store space costs big money in higher rent, higher heat, more lights, fancy fixtures and displays (than a manufacturing facility), and other costs as well.
Why I’ve Leaped into Online Banner Printing Service
Will retail stores disappear? Probably not any time soon, although the majority of thriving retailers have also developed into “e-tailers” too, making sure they’ve covered all their bases. Which is why we leaped into online banner printing as well as marketing other kinds of printing and signs online, way back in the ’90’s.