Color Shift

The journey from monochrome to on demand color labels

The Growing Role and Impact of Color Labeling

Huge wasteful pre-print inventory

Huge wasteful pre-print inventory

More often than not, we are approached by companies ranging from pharmaceuticals to retailers facing the same challenges:  diverse product portfolios that require smaller production runs, shorter turnaround times and real-time inventory management.  In these situations, manufacturers typically have large inventories of pre-printed labels for a high number of product SKUs. In the face of last minute product updates or rebrands, the use of pre-printed labels can be inflexible and inefficient. What can serve as a potential boost to supply chain operations and marketing–color labels–leads to expensive inventory management, wasted time, shipping errors and product loss.

Our on demand color labeling technologies offer one solution for manufacturers. By having the ability to print labels as they are needed, manufacturers only require blank label stock. Because of this, the switch from one production run to another is seamless. For manufacturers, color labeling can also highlight critical information which may improve workplace and consumer safety. For example, the high-quality graphics on color labels can help retailers categorize inventory, identify product information, improve picking accuracy and enhance brand image.

Improve picking accuracy with picture identification

Improve picking accuracy with picture identification

Whereas pharmaceutical manufacturers can use color selectively to make medications more easily identifiable, prevent incorrect patient administration and dosage errors, and consolidate the application of auxiliary labels. In those instances, color labels provide end-to-end visibility, flexibility and the ability to group increasingly complex product inventories by product type or delivery source.

Color labeling technologies should not be viewed as a solution, but rather as a standard for supply chains across the board. From a production standpoint, manufacturers need to remember that new regulatory changes will continue to be implemented, first impacting the pharmaceutical industry and then slowly reaching all other industries, meaning that the need for real time, operational flexibility will be essential.

Eliminate pre-print & produce label in one step

Eliminate pre-print & produce label in one step

For instance, on demand color printers enable chemical manufacturers currently challenged with implementing regulations under OSHA’s revised Hazard Communications Standard to quickly and efficiently produce GHS-compliant labels. While regulatory changes are not currently impacting many retailers, the pressure for exceptional customer service is top priority for businesses. Retailers are expected to keep up with consumer demands in order to survive. Demands include online purchases, in-store pick-ups, next day deliveries, as well as product variability and personalization. Because of this, warehouses serve as dual fulfillment centers for both online and store retail interactions. This is done to ensure that the right products and quantities are delivered to businesses or individual consumers on time, but as a result warehouse and distribution networks are more complex than ever. Epson’s real time color label printing allows for production facilities to improve logistics, cut costs and potentially generate additional revenue stemming from faster turnaround times and deliveries. On demand color label printing is an excellent tool that manufacturers in a range of industries can use to eliminate lead time, high inventory and large scrap volume associated with pre-printing labels, while improving inventory management and distribution. Supply chain and packaging operations will only continue to grow in complexity and manufacturers must look to integrate fast, accurate and flexible solutions like Epson’s Just In Time Color™ technologies.


  1. Susan Tait says:

    Gorgeous example of how information can be repackaged in a way that approaches the elegance of infographics, reinforces brand identity, but retains the organizational symmetry a label needs.

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