What are the advantages and disadvantages of sourcing most of my print jobs to one printer?

Answered by Suzanne Morgan, Founder, Print Buyers Online.com

I am a print production manager at an advertising agency and am currently exploring having one printer as a single-source supplier for one of our large collateral accounts. What are the advantages and disadvantages of contracting with one printer to do a variety of projects throughout the year?


There are many advantages to contracting or single sourcing with one printer. I’m a huge fan of longer-term agreements for the following reasons:

  1. Quality increases as the printer becomes more knowledgeable about specific projects and the overall needs of your client and your organization.

  2. Pricing goes down. Printers are willing to give price discounts based on a buying organization’s commitment to giving them a larger volume of work.

  3. There are greater efficiencies for the print buyer because less time is spent sourcing and managing a variety of suppliers.

  4. Service improves as your organization becomes more valuable to the printer and they come to understand your business better.

I believe that bidding each print job is very inefficient and that it's best to create single-sourcing opportunities if it's the right fit for your organization and the work is appropriate for the printer. However, some buyers feel that the disadvantage to single sourcing is that the printer’s pricing could go up and they wouldn’t know it if they aren’t bidding the print jobs to several printers. Often there is more fear here than necessary. But if you are concerned about this, you could ask for a price grid upfront (which only works if you can predict what you will be producing during that contract). Or you could bid out spot jobs every once in a while to see if your printer is competitive. (However, this isn’t a perfect test because your printer may not be competitive on a specific print job, but very competitive overall.) I would suggest having an honest discussion with your printer about this issue and ask them to make suggestions on how to handle this.

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