Although most paint and hardware retail chains view paint can labels as a commodity item, for large operations that consume millions of thermal labels each month, it is a prime operating expense with sourcing decisions made at the corporate level. With so much at stake, such retailers are searching out reliable label providers that are capable of delivering a quality product, consistently, at a lower price. For many, this means partnering directly with specialty label converters that can pass on savings due to bulk purchasing power of thermal media direct from its source without voiding OEM warranties.
Retailer paint can labels are used not only for inventory management with SKU, barcode, product name, order number and a variety of variable data, but also to convey the paint’s exact color formulation. This paint formula is critical so it can be precisely recreated and color matched for repainting or touch ups, provided the label is durable enough to be read or better yet, scanned, years later.
While durable paint can labels can be an afterthought to paint manufacturers, as well as paint and hardware retailers, they play a larger role in the sales cycle than many realize. From a sales retention point of view, a paint can label that is easily scannable or
readable years later can be a critical opportunity to get return business from homeowners or paint contractors who otherwise may opt for the nearest or cheapest option.
Often homeowners or paint contractors keep an extra can or two of paint in the garage for later use, but the labels must remain legible. Failing that, it can be a time-consuming process to try to color match the paint in retail stores sometimes years later. At that point, the paint contents may have dried up, the pigments settled, or the formulation otherwise broken down due to hot weather, humidity and temperature changes. The challenge is that many paint can labels use a thinner, less durable grade of paper that simply is not built to remain legible after years of such tough environmental conditions.
“We often leave extra paint for homeowners to do later touch ups or color matching,” says Emmanuel Alegbeleye, Vice President of Customer Success at EasyPaint, a national paint contractor. “But if the paint can labels aren’t durable enough to be read or scanned, we are hesitant to use the paint for color matching. We don’t want customers to blame us if they can’t get the same color as last time because the paint can labels were unreadable.”
One factor that makes the paint contractor more efficient and competitive is working with a vendor that provides more durable, higher-grade paint can labels at a competitive price. One of EasyPaint’s main vendors, a national paint manufacturer and retailer, relies on a label that is durable enough to be read or scanned years later.
There is an instance, in fact, where a homeowner in Houston, Texas, one of the hottest areas of the country, was able to match the exact color by scanning the label on a can of paint that sat in his garage for over five years. In this example, OMNI Systems, the largest, privately owned label convertor in the United States, which specializes in pre-printed or blank direct thermal or thermal transfer labels, supplied the paint can labels.
“The ability to quickly color match can save a retailer hours of trying to match colors in store,” says Alegbeleye. “It can save a contractor like us a full day, allowing us to buy exactly the paint we need, instead of driving back and forth between customer and store to get the color right.”
According to Alegbeleye, rapidly color matching a paint with an easily readable or scannable label can be a competitive advantage to paint manufacturers, retailers and the painting contractors they supply.
“We’ll recommend paint manufacturers and retailers that provide such labels. Because they help to expedite paint color matching and job completion, we can take on more jobs,” says Alegbeleye.
Along with quality and reliability, price is obviously a key factor in selecting paint can labels. A national paint manufacturer and retailer that buys millions of thermal paint can labels a year from the label converter can save up to 40% off the cost of typical labels.
As the largest consumer of thermal media in the world, OMNI Systems has the purchasing power to procure quality raw materials at extremely low rates. In addition, the company operates in a lean, modern, 24/7 operating environment. The savings that result are passed on to the customer. Such large converters can also source accessories like printheads directly from the same manufacturers that sell to OEMs, without the additional mark-ups typically involved. In addition to this, they can also include all tooling and plates at no additional cost.
Large paint manufacturers and retailers, who buy millions of thermal labels per month, often can save millions on their labels annually by purchasing from a label convertor. Price, though, is only one piece of the equation. When dealing with potentially millions of thermal labels in rolls of varying diameters, another major concern for retail chains is inventory management. Leaving the task to in-house staff can result in human error that can leave the processor high and dry.
For this reason, large thermal label converters offer vendor-managed inventory options to ensure that label stock is maintained to inventory minimums and replenished quickly from regional distribution centers. This type of program requires the label converter to maintain its own sizable inventory at specific minimums agreed upon with the customer.
There are many advantages to this type of arrangement, including guaranteed product availability, less cash invested in inventory sitting on a shelf, and a significant cost saving by eliminating the need for overnight or expedite fees.