PaladinID was asked to help Mr. Dog meet the labeling requirements for this retailer and we thought the project was relevant to other emerging brands, so we took a little time to speak with partner John Mason, from Mason & Morris, the parent company for Mr. Dog about the process of producing your own product labels.
Mr. Dog (https://www.mrdognewyork.com/) has until recently sold their products online and in popup venues. A national high-end retailer was attracted to their marble water bowls and has issued a purchase order to the boutique brand for six SKUs.
(President/Owner of PaladinID):
John, you must be so excited to have broken into national retail. Congratulations on this recent opportunity! I have to say, these marble water bowls are so elegant, and I love how the bowls keep the water cool on stone and tile kitchen floors…this is a great product for people who care about their dogs!
(Partner at Mason and Morris, Parent Company of Mr. Dog):
Well, Dana, while we are definitely pumped about bringing Mr. Dog into brick & mortar retail. We are also concerned about meeting all the operational requirements for a national chain that could potentially order more of our products. We understand that you only get one chance to make a first impression, and what is motivating us is the future opportunity to have our other products picked up, IF WE GET THIS RIGHT!
I know that you work with labels every day, but we’ve always built our product information labels into the specs for outsourced manufacturing and if we are going to add another label specifically for this retailer, we want to satisfy the retailer’s requirements and anticipate the possibility of labels that would be needed for the sister products of our marble water bowls before we include it in our production specs.
Thinking about the process of producing your own product labels can be daunting. PaladinID is here to help you make those decisions, so let’s go through the process together.
- Q: What is the retailer asking for?
A: They want a small label that easily identifies the difference between the six SKUs. The bowls come in two color marbles, white and black and three sizes: small, medium and large. We chose this heavy material because they won’t easily tip over by a thirsty playful dog’s nose or paws.When we first started talking with PaladinID, you asked us to obtain as much information about the retailer specs as possible. This was a big help, because we also learned what the retailer would expect for the sister products that we’re hoping to sell into their stores. If we are going to invest in label printers and software, we want to make decisions that will accommodate future business with this retailer and other brick-and-mortar stores.
- Q: That makes sense, but the bowls must be heavy. In what kind of box are they packaged?
A: The marble water bowls come in a custom wood box. The retailer is asking us to affix a small (1-¼” x ¾”) white label with a barcode and simple product description in a specific location on the wooden box, which should not be easily removable. The retailer will later affix their branded label over our label when the products are being placed on the shelf, so the size and location are really important.
- Q: OK, so now we know the size, the label content and the surface upon which the label will be affixed and we understand that you’re prepared to print the labels in-house, for now. Is there anything else you think is important to share?
A: Well, I’m sure all your customers say this…but we’re a small brand and we try to keep expenses down while making smart decisions…the process of producing your own product labels seems complicated — how much is this going to cost to set up and will we be able to use this for other label sizes and types?
OK, it’s time for a little Label 101…here’s what we know:
- You need black and white labels that will last 6-8 months or more – not those temporary types where the print fades, like the labels printed out from a deli counter.
- Since the labels have to stick to wood and not cardboard or paper stock, we’re going to select an adhesive that will adhere to the wood and not be easily removed or relocated. We’ll test the adhesives and send you samples for your approval.
- In looking at the retailer specs, we see some of the other size labels they could require for some of your other products, so we’re going to pick a label printer that will be able to print multiple label widths. It looks like a 4” wider printer would work well for this small label and some of the larger labels we saw in the retailer’s specs.
- I know that Mr. Dog prides itself on using sustainable and environmentally friendly materials, so we’ll identify a responsible FSC-certified label stock to maintain legible, high quality labels consistent with Mr. Dogs fine reputation for natural pet-friendly materials.
- As the process of producing your own product labels is an on-demand type of fulfillment, we’re going to set you up with a printer that outputs labels on a continuous roll. This will enable you to print exactly the number of labels you need, switch SKUs easily and not have to print sheets at a time, wasting label stock.
- We’re going to recommend a thermal transfer printer – the exact model will be determined by the required label width and resolution. There’s an inexpensive 4” wide model would accomodate your current label spec and give you room to grow for between $1,000 – $1,500 Based on your volume (under 10,000 labels per month) this will be a wireless desktop (tabletop) printer with a small footprint, so that it won’t require a lot of space.
- If you felt that your volume would exceed let’s say 10K/mo then we’d look at a more industrial strength printer (which could cost) that would range from $1,500-$2,500.
- As for how to actually drive the printer – we’ll look at either a standalone bar code labeling package (about $500) OR you could generate the labels from one of your system computers using a Windows driver. We can either cable the printer or drive the printer wirelessly, which would be slightly more expensive, but might give you more flexibility in terms of location.
- As for the actual labels, once you’ve approved the label stock and adhesive samples, you can order labels by the roll – sold per 1000 and can by ordered in any quantity.
- The printer ribbons for this label are a basic wax ribbon sold in lots of six ($6-$10/roll based upon width and formulation). We’re going to set you up with a better quality ribbon that won’t smudge or fade.
This setup will handle your current needs and give you room to grow as you sell more products into this retailer, and hopefully other retailers as well!
Dana, this is great! One more question. I noticed in the retailer specs that they mention labels with RFID tags for certain product types that we hope to introduce to this retailer. Will this printer setup be able to accommodate RFID labels or will we need a different setup for that?
I’m glad you mentioned that possibility, John. We’ll make sure that the printer can encode RFID and print a label with an embedded RFID sensor. You’re smart to anticipate that, RFID is becoming a standard in large retail, supermarket and drug chains. Best of luck with this project, we hope that those bowls fly off the shelves and that we see lots of label orders from Mr. Dog!
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PaladinID develops and supports high-performance barcode labeling applications. We work with our clients to “Make Your Mark” by providing the expertise and tools necessary to create an entire product label printing solution. Located in central New Hampshire, PaladinID has been serving Massachusetts, Vermont, Maine, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New England, and beyond for over 30 years, and in 2017, became an RFID-certified company. We look forward to working with you.
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