If you are in the market for a machine that will customize printed ribbon, you are making a wise investment. In this world where Sharon is now Sharyn and Jane could be Jayne, Jaine, or who knows what, personalization is at its peak in popularity. Businesses large and small use ribbon printers for branding, attracting corporate customers, and most importantly, for offering something their competition doesn't.
Having said that, which one is for you? I'm now going to share with you a secret about these machines. Get ready, this is a stunner ...
Most of the printers are exactly the same machine! You can google and purchase one yourself at a much lower price than what they sell for when they are called ribbon printers. These are really bar code machines that have been converted to be low-cost options for printing ribbon, labels and other creative materials. Yes ... it's true! Every company has a branded fancy number for their machine. There is the TRPC1000, RP-800, EPR709 and others. If all printers are in essense the same, you need to look at other factors to make a buying decision. The difference in the offerings is perhaps the specs of the machine but most importantly the software, intro package components and the company's relationship with its customers.
Here are some things to consider when making your purchase:
COST - This is always first on everyone's list so we might as well get it out of the way now. Some folks offer payment packages and total prices are all over the board. I'm not even going to quote price ranges here because some companies will drop prices just to keep buyers away from the competition. That should be a warning to you. Other companies stay true to pricing structures to remain credible to their customer base. But the point is, if you want to get a lower priced machine, you can.
SOFTWARE - This is the guts of the matter. What good is a piece of equipment if you are limited by what you can create? Unless you are interested in building your own software (a very expensive proposition) consider if you are willing to settle for just the basics. That may be your choice. However, if you want to get the most out of your printer, it is wise to understand what each program can do in terms of designing and choose the company who's program fits your current and future needs.
WARRANTY - These machines are work horses! Most companies offer the same warranty so I wouldn't worry about this in your analysis. Don't go for any extended warranty programs. You don't need them. Honestly, the machine runs and runs with little to no maintenance for years.
CONSUMABLE ORDERING - Once you have your machine, you'll need to replenish your ribbons and foils (the thermal transfer that goes on the ribbon). Investigate from your potential vendor of choice if you can order online, what their turnaround is, return policy and any handling/shipping charges.
KNOWLEDGE/USAGE OF THE RIBBON PRINTER - Does the company just sell the machine or have they/do they use it to print ribbon themselves? Experience with the equipment leads to knowledge of how to handle customer questions.
CUSTOMER SERVICE - This is hard to determine but worth getting. Every company can say they have good customer service. Every company can put up testimonials on their website. Call the company. Email the company. Do they respond? How long does it take? Are they informative? Do their testimonials include details of why a customer is happy ... or just general statements? Does the company have established interaction spaces for customers such as Member Forums, LinkedIn Groups, Facebook Pages? How involved are they with ongoing relationships? This may or may not be important to you so you have to weigh this based on your needs. But you certainly want someone to respond to you if you have a problem/question about your equipment. There are other things you can consider if you want to take this further. Is the company innovative? Do they continually find new ways to use the ribbon printer? Does it feel right to you when you interact with them? Do you feel valued as a customer? I'm not listing these as separate categories because they are subjective and really get to how good you feel about doing business with a company. You may or may not care about that. But one thing is for sure. Purchasing a ribbon printer is a smart move and can strategically enhance your company's profitability. Good luck with your purchase. Let us know how it goes.
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