Three vital elements to specifying a print job that have nothing to do with printing

Can you imagine eating a restaurant three-course meal out of a newspaper?

Newspaper may be fine for fish and chips, but it’s not so great for gourmet dining. If you pay a good price for an excellent meal you expect more than just the food. You expect to eat the meal in a nice room. You expect the table to be set with good cutlery and to receive a linen napkin. You expect a good service from the waiting staff.

It’s the same with a print job. It’s not just about the ink on paper. A print job should be packaged appropriately. It should be delivered correctly. It should be fulfilled in the most efficient manner.

Print buyers need to look at all areas of a specification


Delivery is just one element that should be considered on a print specification

Buyers who challenge all areas of a specification will find that they achieve more with their budgets. They will also find that they can control their projects more easily.

Buyers who fail to manage all areas of a specification may struggle with this control. They are more likely to find things going wrong after a product leaves their supplier. They may also suddenly find that they have lots of extra costs.

Here are three things to challenge if you want to avoid these extra costs.


It is vital to specify the packing of a printed product correctly. Packing can have two major effects.

Firstly, many buyers over-specify packing. Unnecessary packing can raise print costs substantially. It can also cause extra costs at fulfilment houses. This is because fulfilment staff may have to spend extra time unpacking items and getting rid of the packaging.

However, I have also seen the opposite issue. I have seen badly wrapped pallets come to grief during their delivery journey.  The effects can be horrific and expensive.

Talking of delivery, this is another area that print buyers should look at carefully.


It is important to think about the level of delivery that you need. Is it really necessary to use a dedicated vehicle? Could delivery be made by the overnight courier service?

Naturally, there are times when overnight courier services are inappropriate. If you need guaranteed delivery to an exhibition, for example, you are far better off with a dedicated driver.

Some buyers ask for file copies delivered to their offices. Often these are made by a dedicated delivery. That can be a huge extra expense that may not be necessary.

Finally, buyers should think about whether they want one single delivery. It may be easier to manage a number of smaller deliveries. This can reduce warehousing costs or the need for extra fulfilment staff, even if the delivery cost is slightly more expensive.

Fulfilment is another area that buyers should look at closely.


Warehousing costs are often not examined by print buyers. However, the cost of warehousing can easily outweigh the savings on a long print run.

Buyers should also be aware of pick and pack requirements. Do these need to be on a daily basis? It may well be cheaper to pick and pack once or twice a week.

It is also easy to overlook the final mile costs. Choosing the right postal or courier service can make a big difference to your costs. It can also make a big difference to your customer satisfaction.

Here’s how I saved one company thousands of pounds in 30 minutes

I was looking at the overseas postal costs for a major magazine company. I had a 30 minute meeting with the budget holders and the postal provider.

At the end of the meeting we had agreed a new way to invoice the post. It requires a little more work in the accounts department. However, this was easily offset by the major cost savings.

At the same meeting I queried why all the deliveries were made by premium postal services. The budget holders had not reviewed their needs for a long time. It’s turned out that some of the post could be sent by a cheaper, slower service.

Some print buyers may be surprised that I am suggesting they look at these areas.

It’s not a print buyers job to worry about these costs

I would disagree with this statement. A good buyer will look at the costs and processes of all areas of a job. Shouldn’t just be about print. Your internal clients will be very grateful if you look at these other areas.

Here are three action points to get you started

  1. Meet with the downstream operations staff. Talk to the teams in warehouses and fulfilment centres and to those responsible for distributing who printed items you are purchasing.
  2. Find out what their challenges are.
  3. Review how your print specifications may be able to help them solve the challenges.

You’ll soon be on the way to creating a truly complete print specification.

You wouldn’t accept a badly decorated restaurant or poor waiting service

Why should your clients accept wrongly packed or poorly delivered print jobs?
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