With the advent of the internet in the early 1990’s and the commercialization that followed, online purchasing, including online banner printing, has exploded. So much so that companies have been built or failed in the aftermath of the biggest development in consumer purchasing ever witnessed.
The production of banners exploded in the mid-2000’s, and several companies were responsible for the subsequent pricing collapse that still exists in this category today. But are consumers better off for the cheaper pricing? Maybe. Maybe not.
How Online Banner Printing of Vinyl Banners Changed in the Past 2 Decades
For instance, on July 19, 2011, Borders Bookstores announced the closing of most, if not all, their stores because people came in, looked at books, then left and ordered them cheaper online at Amazon.com or downloaded books onto their Kindle©, I-Pad©, I-Pod©, or I-Phone© where they could read it at any time at the push of a button. Borders had been slow to adapt to the new technology and suffered for it. However, are we better off for having the availability of cheaper or downloadable books? Maybe. Maybe not. Time will tell.
Shortcomings with Sign Companies
We first entered the internet with a website in 1998, one of the earlier sign companies to do so (under a different company name which will remain unnamed to protect the innocent). We were impressed with how people could find us from New York City in our small city of Spokane, WA, on the internet.
By 2000, I pressed the owner of the company (I was the manager) to focus our time and energy and money on the internet. I got a tepid response (note: the owner was my Dad, so Dads, take note…your son sometimes has good ideas – you should listen to them!), so, in 2003, I left to start selling signs, banners, decals, and displays online. We did very well at it, but we have noted that there are some shortcomings that have to do with companies, and not so much the internet.
Problem #1 – Hucksters, Rip-Offs, and Fly-by-Nights.
All those mean pretty much the same thing, and they are all over the front page of Google advertising banner displays for $1.50 per square foot. Hey, it’s marketing, right? You know if you go there you’re likely going to pay double or triple to get a good quality banner, but the ad sucks you in, and a good salesman on the other end gets you to buy at $5 or $6 per square foot, which is a decent price.Personally, I don’t like that type of advertising even if it does work. Maybe it’s sour grapes ‘cuz I’m not good at being a huckster, but why not just say “Low, billboard quality banners on cheap Chinese material with 2nd rate Ink for those that you don’t need to last more than a week – $1.50/sq.ft.” Where’s the FCC when you really need them!?
Problem #2 – You can’t see, touch, taste the material.
This isn’t really much of a problem any more. Vinyl material is manufactured in about 4 plants worldwide, and the materials come mostly from the same companies and so there’s not much variation in products. There are many brands, but most are iterations of other brands. Much of the material is made in China, though there are variable grades of product from there, and the $1.50 per square foot material is the bottom of the barrel – certainly not retail or tradeshow quality – probably OK for 50 dpi billboards, but not much else.
Furthermore, if you really need to see a material sample, you can simply request a printed sample. Most companies online will be happy to send it to you in the mail, free of charge.
Pros and Cons to Online Buying
As the title implies, there are also pros to online banner printing purchases, the greatest of which is convenience. If you have more time than money, or your time isn’t worth much money and you like visiting a local shop, you can leave your office and go down to the sign shop and by the time all’s said and done, you’ve spent a couple irretrievable hours purchasing one or two. As long as you’re happy, I’m happy.
However, as an avid online shopper, I buy tires, engines, shoes, clothing, toys, materials for my business, equipment, and more online. Why? It’s easy, quick, and saves me money and time. It costs me $.35 per mile to take the car out, and a 20 mile road trip takes 45 minutes and $7.00 when I could be writing this blog post!
Another pro…shopping in the internet is cheaper. Prices in this industry have stayed level for nearly 10 years in many categories, and have even dropped a bit in others. Why? Less overhead. Retails storefronts cost money in rent, heat, lights, and other expenses. Will the retail store go away? Not anytime soon, but most of the successful retailers have also become e-tailers as well, making sure they’ve covered all their bases.
So, whether you shop on web or offline stores, consider the above points. It’s always relevant to find a trusted and genuine online banner printing shop. Click here to see one.