Just about anything a human being could want is available on line these days, and signs are certainly no exception. This fact seems almost too obvious to mention, but there are important benefits and concerns that go along with “signs on-line”, so let’s chew it over a bit.
How well your area is served by sign makers is kind of luck of the draw. More populated city type environments tend to have lots of different types of sign shops to choose from. Less populated or suburban areas tend to have fewer choices when it comes to sign shops. I will cover the different types of sign shops and what makes sign makers different in a subsiquent blog post, but for now, lets stay with on-line signs.
More rural or suburban areas tend to be less well served by sign makers, due to the simple fact that there are fewer people and less commerce. Most sign makers thrive on business commerce (imagine that). In either case, people who purchase signs tend to fall into two categories:
1. signs for business or civic organizations, and
2. signs for individuals.
Some businesses (like Real Estate Brokers) use signs like consumeables. They tend to purchase in bulk, and go through a lot of signs in the space of a year’s time. Other businesses have a “one and done” approach. They buy an identifying sign for their building, and never spend another dime on signs.
Churches and other civic organiations also tend to go through a number of signs. They might use several banners or bootleg signs in the course of a year to announce meetings or special events.
Individuals also order signs. I was recently reminded of this fact while doing a number of graduation banners. No matter what category you fall into, there are PROS & CONS to buying signs on line, and here they are:
1. CONVENIENCE Same reason we order so many other things on-line. Just place your order and wait for UPS or FedEx. It’s not necessary to travel to a sign shop and pick up your sign.
2. LOWER PRICE Many on-line sign manufacturers are located in the middle of nowhere, and pay much less in rent than a shop in a city center, where square footage goes for a premium. That savings tends to be passed on to you in the form of a lower price for the same sign.
3. EASE OF ORDER You may just like working with one human being rather than another. If the people at your LOCAL sign shop are hard to get along with, find someone else to work with. The people you find on line may be easier to work with, or they may have an automated system that makes human interaction unnecessary altogether!
1. SAME DAY ORDERS If you need a sign the same day, or next day, many on-line shops just can’t deliver (literally). That’s just a drawback of ordering from someone 900 miles away.
2. MISTAKES Hopefully any on-line shop you use has a thorough proofing process, but even with proper proofing, mistakes can happen. A sign shop 900 miles away might be less inclined to “make it right” if they let you down in some way. What recourse do you have if they ignore you?
3. TALENT Sometimes there’s just no substitue for working with a designer you can literally sit down with. Depending on what type of sign you are ordering, you may need a high degree of “hands on” attention that can only be achieved with a local designer.
Please keep in mind, all this depends on what TYPE of sign you are trying to purchase. Yard signs and banners are often purchased on line these days. Even t-shirts and other types of screen printing are available direct to customer through web based companies on line. Point being, on-line sign purchases tend to be limited by SIZE. It’s easy to ship smaller signs through UPS and FedEx. This doesn’t work out so well for larger signs that need to be installed by a professional with specific tools and skills.
HERE’S THE UPSHOT….
If it works for you, then have at it! One of the benefits of living in the age we live in is having all the CHOICES we have today. If you get the QUALITY you want, the PRICE you want, and the SERVICE you want, what else matters? Some sign makers worry about losing business to these on-line sign shops, but things change. Ways of doing business change. Sign makers have to roll with the punches, but as always, the customer is king.