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How Larger Businesses Can Save Big on Plastic Cards

We’re well into the first quarter of 2013, and in my recent blog posts, I’ve been talking about the advantages of plastic card printing – including gift cards, membership cards, etc. – at this time of year, when printers are historically slow. Chances are you’ve got your 2013 business plan set; hopefully it includes printing sooner rather than later.

Last week, I focused on all the benefits of ordering cards in Q1 and Q2 for small businesses. However, if you’re a purchaser or buyer for a medium or large business, many of those benefits can apply to you, as well.

I have one large client I’ve worked with for more than 30 years, and the purchaser orders 20 million membership cards annually. Together we’ve developed a custom program that includes printing at the most cost-efficient time and inventorying the product so it is released when needed. This teamwork approach – where the printer becomes a business partner – is ideal for saving both time and money.

Questions Purchasers Should Ask

As I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts, the gift card arena, in particular, has peaks and valleys. So, if you’re a purchaser who buys millions of plastic cards each year, there are some important questions to consider.

  • 1. If you’ve bought 70% of your cards in the last quarter of the year historically, is it advantageous and possible to absorb some of those costs in the other quarters?
  • 2. Have you mapped out the ebbs and flows of your gift card marketing?
  • 3. What is the best equation for keeping your company supplied with plastic cards while managing the expense side?
  • 4. Have you worked with your printer to develop a plan that will maximize dollars and inventory and decrease the likelihood of fourth-quarter problems and delays?

Clearly, in a perfect world, spreading that cost out over the course of year would be ideal. I know it isn’t always feasible. But working together with your printer can really make a world of difference.

Cash Flow and Breakage Considerations

I know you may be constrained by cash flow. If you’ve never spread out orders in the past, this may be the reason why. But I want to point out that breakage in the gift card market currently stands at 8-11%. When the average gift card amount is $28, that equates to about $2.8 million in profits. You’ve more than paid for an entire year of gift card printing!

That’s another great argument for printing cards at intervals throughout the year or at low-volume times. Perhaps 2013 is the right time for making a change with your plastic card production.

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