Achieving Innovation in Large-Format
Earlier this spring, Ferrari Color was acquired by Signs.com, a fast-growing online seller of wide-format graphics. The news attracted attention, in part because Ferrari Color was such a well-known pioneer in the business.
To learn the full story behind the Signs.com acquisition of Ferrari Color, the SGIA Journal interviewed both the CEO of Ferrari Color, and the CEO of Signs.com, Kirk Green.
The Signs.com business model is definitely working — Inc. Magazine has ranked it as a fastest-growing company. Also, more than 92,000 customers have rated it an average 4.8 out of 5 stars, according to shopperapproved.com, a website that collects online merchant reviews.
Why do you feel the timing was right?
Signs.com has been growing rapidly. In the early days, we could look at each separate order. Individual orders were reviewed to determine the products customers were buying. Now, there are just too many. We’re getting hundreds and hundreds of orders coming to Signs.com each day.
A couple of years ago, Inc. magazine named Signs.com one of the 100 fastest-growing
companies in America. Last year, we still ranked in the top 500, but it’s harder to maintain the same growth rates. In addition to experiencing growth, we have identified a set of competitive advantages we can leverage to continue to grow Signs.com.
Does that include owning the facilities in which the graphics are manufactured instead of distributing print jobs to plants throughout the U.S.?
That is one advantage. We have figured out how to create quick turnaround. Instead of operating multiple facilities throughout the U.S., we work closely with the shipping companies to get extremely quick deliveries throughout the country.
Another thing that speeds up the process is that we offer simple, free design online.
It has been a game-changer for us. If a client has an idea for a sign or banner, but is not really sure how to create it, they can choose one of our simple, basic templates, or our designer will help them work through the process to develop the right look. Then, it’s paid for and produced.
Does enabling buyers to get help from experienced wide-format designers speed up the prepress process?
Yes. Our objective is to reduce prepress to “Press Go.” We have designed some very fast software to take whatever the client has given us, and batch them with similar orders so that every job gets produced in a very efficient manner.
What advice would you give to SGIA members who are concerned about some of the changes occurring in the printing industry?
Disruption is a much larger issue than what’s happening in our own industry. It is happening in all industries. So, as Christiansen points out in his book (“The Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail,” by Clayton Christiansen), you are either going to be a disruptor, or be disrupted. You’re probably going to be both during your career.
You can no longer just sit and do exactly what you have done in previous years. Even making incremental improvements to your organization, something like the adoption of B2B ecommerce, or the rise of B2E (business-to-everyone) commerce, might disrupt the way people buy things.
Look at what’s happening in the retail business. How are you going to adjust to all the disruption in retailing? Are you always going to react to change? Or are you going to get out ahead of it and create disruption?
Successful companies can’t afford to be complacent; they must become change agents.