The Benefit of Trade Printing
Trade printing is an industry that operates largely behind the scenes. We’re surrounded by written material in our daily lives, from business cards to dictionaries, but when most people think about where those things are made, their minds jump to publishing companies and print resellers.
It’s mostly the people already working in printing who understand the printing pipeline from beginning to end, but it wouldn’t hurt everyone else to know a bit about it, too. If you’re an end-user of printed material, then knowing where the product comes from might help you make more educated choices in what you buy or order, and from whom. If you’re a reseller, then hopefully we can give you some tips on picking a good trade printer to work with.
What is Trade Printing?
A trade printer is a business which prints and sells material to a reseller, who then sells that printed material to their client at a higher price. The reseller will often help clients design their projects, and depending on the nature of the project, can help market it or work on the text itself.
While resellers are sometimes specialized for a specific kind of work, like printing books or postcards, a trade printer will be able to produce a wide variety of printed material in large runs. Some trade printers will work with end-users directly when they are approached, but they should never steal clients from the resellers that they work with.
Trade printing services are used by commercial printers when they don’t have the equipment to fulfill a certain order, like an order for a book cut into a specific shape, or when they don’t have the equipment to contend with a particularly large order.
Graphic designers, ad agencies, and others who need printing frequently and are familiar with the process often work with trade printers directly. Print brokers, who help to coordinate printing projects for other companies and individuals, work with trade printers by definition.
Should I use a Trade Printer or a Reseller?
While it’s true that working with a good print broker will ensure a high quality result and keep you from doing most of the heavy lifting, going to a trade printer directly can be much cheaper.
When you work with a reseller, they need to pay their employees for their time, rent their building, and pay for any number of the other expenses associated with running a business. Those costs become a mark up on the price of the printing you order. Whether or not the added expense is worth it depends on the situation.
If you’re unfamiliar with the printing industry and have a complicated project in mind, then working with a print broker will save you a lot of hassle. Part of a broker’s job is to act as an information bridge between the trade printer and the end-user. They understand how printing is done, and have practice explaining the process to the uninitiated.
The same is true if you need design or formatting work done as well as printing. A print broker can connect to designers as well as trade printers, and some resellers will even do design work themselves. If you go directly to a trade printer without knowing exactly how you want your printing to be formatted, you’ll be putting yourself through a lot of unnecessary stress.
On the other hand, if you already have all of the formatting and design work done, whether you contracted a designer or did it yourself, then you could save money by working with a trade printer directly. Even without the help of the broker, most trade printers will be able to work with you to figure out any specifications for the work that you didn’t already have in mind.
How to Choose the Right Trade Printer
There are a handful of considerations when selecting a wholesale printer to work with, both for resellers and end-users. Most established print brokers will be well acquainted with the trade printers in the area, and have existing relationships with those they work with most often, but sometimes it’s still necessary to work with somebody new. Here are the things you should look for.
The first thing you want to be sure of is that the trade printer you plan to work with produces high quality results, and that they do so reliably. You can get in contact with them and as to see examples of their work, but you should also try to find other businesses that have worked with them and see if the work received was well done.
Good communication is always important, but is especially so for print brokers, who are acting as the middle link in a chain between the trade printer and their client. If a client asks them for a quote, they can’t provide it until the trade printer gives it to them, which means that a lack of communication on the part of their partners will reflect poorly on the broker.
This may seem like a vague point, but if you occupy the kind of niche that trade printers do, it becomes very important. Dishonest wholesale printers are in a position to undercut the broker or reseller that they’re working with by approaching the end user directly.
This damages business relationships and ruins trust, so it’s a terrible decision in the long run, but some trade printers are still foolish enough to do it. You can look through reviews and testimonials to see if a printer has done this kind of thing in the past.
Some printers are better suited to some kinds of work than others. If you need a book printed, find a wholesale book printer or bindery. Not every facility will have the right equipment. Experience plays a part as well. If you have an ambitious project, try to find a printer that has already dealt with something similar.