Web-based label management is the future (Labels and Labeling)

 Cloud-based label management is critical in helping brands streamline their products' packaging lifecycles, explains Danielle Jerschefske

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The burden of managing label order processing and text content management (CMS) has traditionally been the sole responsibility of the brand. This situation is undergoing radical change thanks to recent advances in cloud-based technologies and applications.

To differentiate themselves from their competitors, packaging converters must today move beyond ‘merely’ providing quality printing and on-time delivery. Customers are beginning to demand help from vendors with more comprehensive treatment of their entire packaging supply chain. Failure of a package printer to expand their service responsibilities can result in losing accounts to competitors more willing to be creative in providing something closer to a ‘total service solution’.

Forward thinking converters have responded with approaches that include maintaining label inventory, just-in-time production schemes, and more direct interaction with the printer’s pre-press department. Some have begun providing a pre-press technician to perform rudimentary label management functions like graphic file archiving and text revision and proofing.

Text revisions are often made by the printer’s ‘artist’ in the heat of meeting the press schedule with expediency foremost in mind. This can result in a somewhat limited proofing approach, and, over time, a patched-together condition of the graphic file. Communication through special email accounts and FTP sites represent improvement but still operate in separate spheres and by their disjointed nature limit efficient and wider participation. In truth, the workflow is not fundamentally different from the old paper job ticket.

New cloud-based technologies give label managers access to powerful server-based platforms that can perform an amazing array of time-saving functions while opening up participation to a much larger circle of stakeholders. In this case, ‘workflow’ means a coordinated set of highly intuitive sequential interfaces operating within a cloud-based solution that can provide users with a system to efficiently treat all of the crucial tasks related to label management.

These functions include task assignment, order scheduling, direct and highlighted text revisions and proofing (CMS), and order placement. As a cloud-based option it offers a wide circle of users immediate and convenient access to the label management process.

What if an option like this were offered to customers by their label and packaging converter? How would the relationship between print option provider and customer progress?

Brand owners are less concerned in today’s on-demand environment with the actual production of their package printing. They still want quality images and materials that arrive on-time at their packaging contractor; so a web-based label management option like LabelArchive can be the tangible face of, and the first step in, a brand’s label procurement operation.

With such modern technology a converter has the opportunity to provide the LabelArchive system under its own branding whereby all processed orders can be effectively set to flow exclusively to their own pre-press department. In this way the converter has the ability to enjoy a strengthened position in the relationship with the client.

LabelArchive is a cloud-based software that provides brand owner packaging managers with an interactive forum where everyone on their team can clearly communicate together and with the packaging converter. The system links databases into a four-point workflow that works as a collaborative Content Management System (CMS) and Order Processing workflow.

This system gives the brand manager the ability to archive label and packaging images and relevant data, to schedule label orders for print and assign scheduled tasks to various system users and team members. Brand managers are able to visually highlight content changes within the system for all users to clearly see.

Bill March, president of LabelArchive, says, ‘When a brand customer uploads their graphic files and data to a printer’s cloud-based label management system and begins to enjoy the overwhelming benefits of using it, any thoughts of shopping around for another provider tends to evaporate.

‘Another significant benefit is that pre-press, print production, and packaging planners can be registered on the customer’s system to directly monitor planning and scheduling of web-to-print orders. The package printer can now reach forward in the supply chain and become a ‘fly on the wall’ of the brand’s label procurement operation.’

The day is coming that a web-based label management option will be considered standard equipment for any modern package print provider. It is relatively inexpensive to provide and will keep customers satisfied and engaged with a truly full service option.

Label management is the first link in the package print supply chain and it remains relatively underserved. The package printer that fills this gap will be in an excellent position to control the other links in the chain.

Development history

Bill March has been focusing on the topic of text content management and package print order processing for the last eight years. This segment of the package print supply chain is the most underserved link in the chain. As a salesman, March witnessed widespread chaos in the label management efforts of his clients. March recognized the benefit of standardizing management practices and workflows. Concurrently, web-to-print technologies became available that allowed March to implement his ideas in a set of cloud-based tools. The result of his efforts can be found at LabelArchive.com.

March lives with his family in Boise, Idaho and regularly enjoys Idaho’s wide variety of outdoor adventures.

This article was published in L&L issue 4, 2012

Danielle Jerschefske

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