Four Things to Consider When Choosing a Print Vendor


As a graphic designer I constantly find myself in a position where I either have to recommend a print vendor or I have to use one for myself. There some specific things I look for in a relationship with a print vendor whether it’s for myself or for my clients.

Local Versus Online.

To be honest I typically choose online vendors rather than local vendors due to pricing on larger orders. The online vendors tend to be more competitive on overall pricing and budget is a consideration when you’re a small business. However there are instances where you need something done relatively quickly and there’s no choice but to go to a local vendor. That’s why it’s always good to be aware of what each of your local vendors has the offer and how reliable they can be on short notice. Regardless of whether you choose local or digital you need to know what the fastest turnaround time on your typical print project will be.

Can They Handle My Files?

As a designer I tend to work with Adobe programs usually Adobe Illustrator and Adobe InDesign, it’s important that whatever print vendor I work with be able to handle native EPS files and print ready PDF documents. If a printer only works with JPEG’s or request them specifically as a preference typically I won’t work with them. I want my print files to be in the highest quality and I know what formats are necessary to accomplish this.

As a designer I also typically work on projects that require bleed. If the printer cannot handle files with bleed, then I also won’t work with them if I can help it unless for whatever reason it is the rare exception where the file does not have bleed and I need something done at the last minute.

Customer Service.

Today something many companies neglect is customer service. Speed, price and convenience are all factors and they are great but if the customer service experience is lacking these things won’t be enough to earn someone’s business. Overall customer service is going to be the deciding factor on whether I continue to use a print vendor or whether I recommend them to a client or to a colleague.

The Quality of Work.

Quality work still trumps everything. It’s important to be in a position to judge the quality that a print vendor is going to provide you with. For this reason many print vendors whether they’re digital or local to you offer free samples to show the quality of work they are capable of. It’s important to collect as many of these as possible and compare the overall quality while considering the price and the options available to you. Not all print vendors will be able to offer the same type of services for print products. So having as many options and being able to make an informed decision about as many vendors as possible is in your best interest.

Brand loyalty is great but at the end of the day you still have a business to think of and you need to explore these options and you might need to use one vendor for very specific print materials and you might need to use a second vendor to cover other things that they can do better or with more affordability.

Whether you’re designer or you’re a small business or even a large company it’s important to consider the type of relationship you want to have with your vendors and the standard you want to set for the quality of your print materials. Hopefully this gives you some food for thought and will put you in a position to make informed decisions about your print needs.

Roberto_Blake_PrintMediaCentrRoberto Blake is a Graphic Designer who runs his own one man Design Studio, focusing on Brand Development and Advertising. Roberto has experience in design for print, web and multimedia and has worked on out of home campaigns including billboards featured in Times Square. He is a monthly contributor to Print Media Centr’s News From The Printerverse, and a frequent participant at #PrintChat on Twitter. He is also a contributor for publications such as Print Magazine and How Design and has had work featured in Advanced Photoshop Magazine. Roberto is extremely active in social media, producing multiple YouTube videos each week to assist designers and other creative professionals through advice and tutorials.

Connect with Roberto: / @robertoblake /


7 Responses

  1. Thanks for the tip that online print vendors tend to have lower prices on larger print orders. You also said that a local vendor is a good choice when you need something printed quickly. I think it’s a good idea to choose print vendor that can do both small and very large print jobs for you if needed.

  2. I agree, the quality of work should always be one of the biggest things you look for when choosing a printing service. This is especially true if you’re trying to print high-end products like graphic designs, blueprints, or even posters. You want to make sure that your work will be represented clearly and beautifully once it is actually printed out on a piece of paper.

  3. It’s good to know that you can determine the quality of a printing service based on the samples that they provide. My sister is planning on opening a fashion store and would like to print out some magazines that people can use to put together their outfits while they shop, but she needs to make the magazine out of high-quality and durable materials to make a good impression. Maybe she should find a printing service that can give her an example of the materials that they use.

  4. It is great that you mentioned that the quality of work is one of the biggest aspects when it comes to choosing as print vendor. My wife and I have been talking about finding a printing vendor to help us make some signs to help us advertise the race that we are going to host, and it will be important for us to know that we could find one who we could trust will do a good job. When we look for one, I will be sure to consider their quality of work.

  5. I agree with what you said that it’s important to choose a printing company that could handle the intricacies of your file and are familiar with the formats. Thanks!

  6. I think it’s great that you mentioned how you can gauge the quality of a printing service’s work by looking at some of the samples they provide you with. My brother would like to make his office look more inviting and is hoping to find a professional that can handle digital wallpaper printing in order to make the room appear more colorful. He should look for an experienced professional soon.

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