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Entrepreneurs Can Explore Opportunities In Growing Digital Textile And Interior Décor Markets

Those wanting to explore opportunities in digital textile printing can speak to experts at the Sign Africa and FESPA Africa Expo, taking place from 12-14 September at Gallagher Convention Centre.

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According to Mark Sollman, application manager at Mimaki, ‘Digital printing technologies are revolutionising the interior décor business. Not only can these items be produced more rapidly and with less waste than with traditional manufacturing processes, digital printing offers the ability to customise – or even personalise – interior décor.’

The global printed textile market is huge, estimated at over 32 billion square metres of output annually. Print is widely used to decorate the surface appearance of furniture and surfaces. Digital textile printing is ideal for customisation – allowing consumers to print unique products for their homes or businesses.

There are also emerging niche opportunities. For example, with the wide use of online travel review sites, hotels are increasingly keen to deliver a fresh experience. A ‘TripAdvisor effect’ has been identified, with the claim it reduces the hotel renovation cycle from every seven years to every five years, consequently boosting the market for printed décor.

There are many T-shirt printers offering a web-to-shirt service, where the buyer uploads their own unique image to be printed on to a garment on demand. The printing takes a large part of the value and will be done close to the buyer. For a fashion collection, stock-outs may be avoided by printing and making popular sizes and styles locally in small quantities.

Related: Explore Business Opportunities In Print At The Sign Africa And FESPA Africa Expo

This makes higher manufacturing cost less of a problem, and internet retailers can extend this with only commissioning the product after a sale has been completed online. Increasingly, supply chains are being pressured to provide greater flexibility, which inkjet textile printing is able to provide.

Applications with interior décor include; customised wall coverings and photo wall murals; window coverings and wall decals; curtains and blinds, cushions, lampshades and bags.

Those wanting to explore opportunities in digital textile printing can speak to experts at the Sign Africa and FESPA Africa Expo, taking place from 12-14 September at Gallagher Convention Centre. There are also a range of educational features, including: 

Textile Experience

Visit this hands-on workshop where printers can learn different techniques all taught by Charlie Taublieb, who has been in the screen printing industry since 1976, and heads up Taublieb Consulting in Greenwood Village, Colorado, a company specialising in technical screen printing consulting for textile printers. This takes place from 12-14 September, in hall 1 on the Rexx Screen & Digital Supplies stand.

T-Shirt and Bag Printing Workshop

Free demonstrations by local experts on T-shirts and bags with speciality printing techniques, direct to transfer and screen printing. For more info visit http://bit.ly/EntrepreneurSignAfrica5

Related: Considerations For Signage And Printing Industry Start-Ups

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The Sign Africa Expo is Africa's largest dedicated print and signage exhibition. Covering 13,000sqm and with the objective of attracting 6,000+ visitors, Sign Africa provides an ideal platform for visitors to investigate available business ventures, innovative products, technology, applications and education programmes for the signage and display industries in the sub-Saharan region. Entrance is free and the event is co-located with FESPA Africa, Africa Print and Africa LED and will take place from 13-15 September 2017 at the Gallagher Convention Centre, Johannesburg.

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Building Customer Relationships

Are you working in a retail environment? Explore the Wits Plus online short course in Customer Relationship Building through the DigitalCampus.

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Most retail businesses agree that providing excellent customer experience is imperative for a retail store to be successful.

But what is customer experience?  According to Forrester, an independent market research company, customer experience is “How customers perceive their interactions with your company”.

They explain that good customer experiences have three relevant characteristics for the customer:

  1. They are useful, thus deliver value and meet customer needs.
  2. They are usable, so the value is easy to find and engage with.
  3. They are enjoyable, and emotionally engaging so people want to use them.

The customer ‘interactions’ are the two-way exchanges that customers have with the company. A customer will make a judgement as to whether the company meets their needs, is easy to use and enjoyable to do business with. These judgements happen every single time the customer interacts with the company: when they navigate the company website, call the contact centre, enter the retail store, buy company products, talk to an employee, respond to an advert and so forth.

Providing excellent customer experience is challenging. The systems and processes required for excellent customer experience include understanding your customers, building a positive emotional connection with them, capturing and acting on feedback, developing and training everyone in the company and measuring the return on investment. All this is difficult enough to manage in a national company but what does it mean in this age of international and multinational companies?

Related: Customer Control For Entrepreneurs

Providing a superb customer experience is first underpinned by understanding the cultures, history, experiences and sensibilities of customers and then respecting them. Again, this is more manageable if your company is national and its cultural values are aligned with the national values and history. However, achieving this in a multi-national organisation where the historical experience and cultural values of the organisation may not be aligned with the country they are operating in, can be a real challenge.  A diverse workforce is also imperative to providing an outstanding customer experience and the importance of diversity is magnified in a multinational organisation.

This is demonstrated by the infamous ‘H&M hoodie incident’ that happened early this year. In Sweden the only jungle is urban, there are no wild monkeys and the black population is relatively small. As one would expect in a Scandinavian organisation, the H&M group board has good male-female diversity, but there are few black Swedes in senior decision-making positions. Few Swedes have experienced how skin colour can provide an all-pervasive feeling of difference, of ‘us and them’, and they have little, if any, understanding of these issues on a personal level.

However, H&M is a global organisation and therefore needs to have an intimate understanding of the different cultures and sensibilities of their customers in the different countries where they have a footprint; and respect them. The simple expedient of introducing a process whereby a local executive ensures that a new product is culturally sensitive could have demonstrated some organisational understanding of this issue.

The H&M hoodie debacle is an excellent example of how not understanding the customer can negatively impact on customer experience; how it can break the emotional engagement with customers and lose their trust. This incident has made it difficult for South African customers to engage positively with H&M. The importance of diversity in the senior teams throughout a multinational can directly impact the customer experience and the bottom line. In short, one picture and a hoodie nearly undermined the reputation of the organisation in South Africa!

Are you working in a retail environment? Explore the Wits Plus online short course in Customer Relationship Building through the DigitalCampus.

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Explore Business Opportunities In Print At The Sign Africa And FESPA Africa Expo

Business opportunities will be showcased on various exhibitor stands at the upcoming Sign Africa and FESPA Africa Expo, taking place from 12-14 September at Gallagher Convention Centre.

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Opportunities for start-ups or those looking to grow their businesses will be showcased in daily 30 minute sessions on the hour. These sessions are free of charge. A range of topics relating to T-shirt printing, signage, branding, working with acrylic, doming and wide format printing will be covered.
TIME WED 12 SEP TIME THURS 13 SEP TIME FRI 14 SEP
09H30 Gawk hall 3: Take your textile printing to new levels with Triga Max and the all NEW Triga Go fabric tension display systems. 09H30 Gawk hall 3: Take your textile printing to new levels with Triga Max and the all NEW Triga Go fabric tension display systems 09H30 Gawk hall 3: Take your textile printing to new levels with Triga Max and the all NEW Triga Go fabric tension display systems
10H30 Midcomp hall 3: Work smarter with the HP R2000 10H30 Midcomp hall 3: Business opportunities in branding bottles and more. 10H30 Midcomp hall 3: T-shirt printing on the DCS 1800 mini Flatbed printer.

 

11h30 Maizey Plastics hall 3: T-shirt graphics using Poli-flex Turboflex Heat Transfers. 11H30 Maizey Plastics hall 3: Working with Plexiglas – A variety of tools will be onsite to demonstrate correct working techniques. 11H30 Maizey Plastics hall 3: Doming using UltraDome
12H30 JG Electronics hall 1: Start or expand your own corporate gift branding  business 12H30 JG Electronics hall 1: Investigate adding white toner T-shirt printing vs traditional printing. 12H30 JG Electronics hall 1: Investigate adding white toner T-shirt printing vs traditional printing.
13H30 Uprint hall 1:  Start up or value add to your business for a TOTAL print solution system on all Promo goods. Demo’s will be shown. 13H30 Uprint hall 1:  Start up or value add to your business for a TOTAL print solution system on all Promo goods. Demo’s will be shown. 13H30 Uprint hall 1:  Start up or value add to your business for a TOTAL print solution system on all Promo goods. Demo’s will be shown.
14H30 Rexx Hall 1: Visit this hands-on demo where printers can learn screen printing techniques all taught by Charlie Taublieb 14H30 Rexx Hall 1: Visit this hands-on demo where printers can learn screen printing techniques all taught by Charlie Taublieb 14H30 Rexx Hall 1: Visit this hands-on demo where printers can learn screen printing techniques all taught by Charlie Taublieb

For more information, and to pre-register online, please visit http://bit.ly/EntrepreneurSignAfrica4.

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Related: Business Opportunities In Printing And Signage

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Considerations For Signage And Printing Industry Start-Ups

The signage and printing industry features some profitable areas for start-up businesses. There are some considerations for entrepreneurs who are trying to break into these.

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Promotional Gifts and Mug Business

Profitable options in this area include: Themed and personalised gifts, shopping bags, decor and invites, promotional, corporate and safety wear, wood, vinyl, paper, plastics, metals, flat substrates like clipboards, binders, notebooks, mouse pads, coasters, business cards, stickers and corrugated signs or posters, smart phones and tablet cases.

Jaco Pretorius from JG Electronics has the following tips for those wanting to get into this industry:

  • Be sure that you have what it takes to sell. If the thought of cold calling leaves you sick to your stomach, don’t get into any business where you have to be on the front lines selling yourself and your product.
  • Graphic design skills are essential. Designing in Microsoft Word or Microsoft Paint isn’t going to cut it. You need to be proficient at a programme like CorelDRAW or Photoshop. A course to learn this kind of design software is essential (though if you pick things up easily, you can also search through Youtube to find free tutorials).
  • Discipline is essential in any new start-up. Have the discipline to keep up with the admin and statutory requirements, be disciplined in paying yourself as well as your suppliers and have the discipline not to grab the takings you see in your account and spend them impulsively. You also need to stick to your budget.

T-Shirt Printing

For screen printing, ensure you have space to accommodate a printing table or carousel. You will also need a heat curing solution such as a heat press, a flash dryer or small tunnel oven and exposure unit (optional). Ink options include water-based or Plastisol Textile printing inks, which are suitable for printing different types of fabrics or applications.

Besides T-shirts, one could offer printing of estate agents’ Correx boards, safety signage such as exit and fire hydrant locators, and vinyl stickers for a number of applications. Machinery is easily adapted to print boxes, wooden crates, bags, metals, glass, ceramic and much more.

Photo Printing

Both amateur and professional photographers can invest in compact photo printers that allow them to print their products at home or ‘on-the-fly’ – while at schools or sports matches. Certain printer brands print high quality photos that come out dry, so they can be printed and immediately given to clients.

Related: Move Your Brand Forward With Eye-Catching Vehicle Wraps

Laser Engraving

Laser applications can range from signage, plastics, metal, wood and promotional products, 3D signs, model building, stencils, personalised gifts, laser cut stationery to custom made event decor, wedding invitations, personalised diaries, corporate gifts, jewellery, and more.

With printers and laser engraving equipment, you will need a supplier that will assist you in getting set up and offers ongoing training and support.

Other considerations:

  • Does the supplier offer extended service contracts once the initial warranty period is over?
  • Will the supplier carry recommended spares locally and how soon can they react to a call out?
  • Does the supplier offer financing options?

You can speak to industry experts about business opportunities in these fields and do some market research at the Sign Africa and FESPA Africa Expo, taking place from 12-14 September at Gallagher Convention Centre. 

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