Today’s P-O-P printers are facing an uphill battle with retailers demanding shorter turnaround times and out-of-the-box thinking in an age where 87 percent of smartphone and tablet owners use their devices for online shopping. An article in Big Picture (P-O-P Culture: Success in the Changing Retail Landscape, 9/1/16) highlights how one California Print Service Provider (PSP) is achieving unprecedented growth by taking risks to always find a way to say “yes” to their retail clients.

“At Direct Edge Media (directedgemedia.com), President Ryan Clark and CEO Ryan Brueckner are the first to acknowledge that retail has seen better days. But they don’t seem bothered by it. With 80,000 square feet of production space across three locations…their business is anything but shrinking.” — Kiersten Wones, Big Picture

Among the risk-taking activities implemented by Direct Edge is a willingness to make major investments in:

  • Proprietary software – Now on its ninth edition, Direct Edge is able to handle most of its enterprise accounts online today, allowing their company to plan for and handle a higher volume of work. In addition, with two in-house programmers, each customer can now define and dictate the individual workflow they want resulting in sizable gains in job efficiencies.
  • P-O-P Kitting Proficiency – For one fast-food retailer, Direct Edge processes 19-piece kits for 2,000 locations across the country with nearly every item in each kit requiring variable data. “By automating the workflow, we reduce the risk of kitting errors and increase the speed we can deliver orders to our nationwide customers,” says CEO Brueckner.
  • Variable Data Capability – A job for one national sports retailer brought in 986 PDF and Adobe Illustrator files with the artwork needing to be printed on nine different kinds of material and shipped to 38 locations. All with a turnaround of three or four days. “We don’t print 500 of one thing anymore; it’s 500 versions with one of each,” says Brueckner.
  • The Right Equipment – Company president Clark adds, “You have to do what’s fastest…you have to have the equipment on the floor.” Direct Edge is quick to beta-test and purchase equipment that helps gain efficiencies and enhanced productivity for their clients. Fujifilm production UV press workhorses at Direct Edge include the Onset Q40,  Uvistar Pro8, Uvistar Hybrid 320 and the J Press 720S.
  • The Right People – Direct Edge embraces the concept that their business success truly relies in the strength of their people. The shop stresses cross-training: The sheetfed cutter operators know how to run the Zund, the Zund operators are familiar with the large-format presses, and so on. The company prides itself on its contemporary, go-for-it mindset with all employees dedicated say “yes” while others say “no.”

Added together, the California-based Direct Edge Media is unfazed as millennials change shopping norms and retailers continue to drive down turnaround times. “I don’t know how turnaround time is going to get smaller, but it will,” says Clark. “If you can shave one day from getting artwork to [having the job] in a box, you really do hold all the keys.”