SAi (SA International), US Graphic Software giant offers everything a Sign & Graphics maker needs for a total workflow including a complete line of tools and products for design, editing and production. Whether you’re looking for printing, cutting, design or RIP software, SAi has the package to fit your shop’s needs. This was the message that prompted us at Sign & POP World to explore what the software major has in its kitty for India.
In the process, we came across Gavin Anthony, the person who is responsible for Middle East and South East Asian markets. In a detailed conversation, Gavin shared as how the market for its software package picked up in last five years and what challenges he faced in the way. The edited excerpt of the conversation is here to follow.
What solution SAi has for digital printers?
SAi offers optimum tools to streamline the process irrespective of it being just printing or print and cut production. No matter what types of jobs are needed to be produced, you’ll dramatically reduce design time to minutes and simplify the workflow because of Flexi’s complete suite of bitmap, vector, text & effect tools.
With nearly 3 out of 4 shops using Flexi, it is the industry-standard for sign-specific design tools, RIP software, print-and-cut software, and direct vinyl cutting. Designed with amazing tools, and it’s designed to be as easy as possible to understand. The software is great for both beginners and more experienced users and compatible with the best printers on the market. It empowers the workflow with efficient tools and features designed for all production environments.
How important is the RIP software for the world of signage in India?
RIP is very important for signage, because more clients have become very particular about colour accuracy and India basically runs with brands. We are actually talking about companies like Reliance, Vodafone, Samsung, etc. and quite a few printers are sold because certain colours are matched wherein these brands have certain set of colours that they are identified with.
The printers are therefore supposed to match the colours and print them, which of course they can’t do on their own. There enters RIP software to help them get the right colours, right radiance, right balance, etc. It also enables the printers to magnify small images to glow up with enhanced quality. In short, the work of RIP software is like an amplifier as it enhances the image size & quality.
Who all are in the clientele?
The clientele comprises Digital graphic Manufacturers, Resellers, direct graphic production houses, advertising agencies, repro houses, pre-press / packaging companies, and all those which use digital graphic equipment/software.
How has been its receptivity in India?
The concept of RIP software is more than two decades old in India, but was majorly present with branded printers. It’s only now that printers which are sourced from China, Taiwan & Korea, are starting to bundle a lot of RIP Software. We, at SAi, are offering this service of providing customised RIP from around three decades. My job profile involves creating new channel partners in Middle East and South East Asian markets, and also to create more OEM partners, to whom we offer customised RIP matching their requirements.
What drives innovation at SAi?
We have very close ties with HP (Hewlett Packard). HP is selling Latex printers from 2007, which they bundled with competitive RIP Software. But now with the latest 3rd generation Latex Printers i.e. 300 series, SAi software is pre-bundled. A year back, we introduced the Print & Cut software for HP. The HP Print & Cut System can print & cut simultaneously and our Flexi software acts as the interface between the two functions. It makes very easy to prepare the file and then send it to the printer as well as to the cutter with only few steps.
Similarly, we have ties with Mutoh, Roland and a few more such brands that keep us asking for more. We have close ties with Mutoh Japan, America & Europe. We have developed a customized solution called the “Avery Traffic Jet Solution” for Avery Dennison, which is driven by Mutoh Printers.
We are the only RIP manufacturer who can offer innovative tools such as Sign Tracker, Sign Design Elements and more. We’re also getting into Augmented Reality and working on apps to help work flows.
Again, we are the only RIP manufacturer, to introduce Subscriptions via SAi Cloud server. This is a very clever tool to help our clients use the latest version of our full-fledged software at very affordable monthly charges, without having to actually invest heavily and be bound to a particular version of a software. This gives the freedom & flexibility to our clients.
Any specific software that SAi has developed recently!
3M Worldwide teamed up with SAi for FlexiPRINT Authorized 3M™ Traffic Edition design-to-output traffic signage software. The software is powered by SAi’s acclaimed Flexi software. This is compatible with HP Latex 360 / 365 series printers. With six built-in ASTM spot colours, FlexiPRINT Authorised 3M™ Traffic Edition offers capability to seamlessly enter new markets. With a minimal investment required as compared to competing software, FlexiPRINT Authorized 3M™ Traffic Edition makes traffic signage accessible to all print business regardless of size.
What supports do you offer to your customers in this part of the world?
We offer both – technical as well as sales & marketing support. In this Digital World, most of the work is done remotely through the internet and social media apps.
We have a dedicated YouTube Channel for SAi South East Asia and Middle East, where we have uploaded loads of training videos.
But the real business is generated from personalized visits to various OEM and Channel partners. This is where, we stand apart from our competitors, as SAi is the only International Graphic RIP company to appoint a LOCAL representative to penetrate the market and be accessible to the Indian Chanel Partners, OEMs and even direct customers. Most of the visits involve doing some on-site training and we train the partners on how easy, it is to create ICC Colour Profiles & Custom / Spot Colors.
I am very fortunate to have very supporting colleagues from my head office and regional office, who are ever eager to visit India on short notice for Trade Shows and joint visits to various OEM and Channel Partners for Technical / Marketing briefs.
Fortunately, for us that we own approximately 70 to 73% market share in the graphics market with our combination of – Flexi brand, which pioneered in the US and is now moving on to rule over the world, and PhotoPRINT, which is a popular bundled RIP Software with most of the Chinese printers across Asia.
In addition, we also offer EnRoute CNC Routing Software – Which is a quite popular with the premium CNC Router brands across the US and Europe. This software is very easy to use and can create 2D – 2.5D -3D CAD / CAM designs that drive major of the CNC Router / Engraver brands.
SAi Display Genie (powered by Flexi) is a unique POP / POS Display & Packaging Software, which is very affordable and good for small run production units in the Sample- making, Pre-press and Packaging Industry.
What is the training module?
Since SAi is a popular name from 3 decades now, we have loads of Videos uploaded on our YouTube Channel & generic YouTube channels. The initial part of the training is done through these videos & webinars. Advanced training (Classroom & DEMO-room) is done with personal visits.
Which all printer brands are you partnering with in India?
HP is a major brand that we have multiple solutions with and work closely with all their 9 active Channel partners. Apart from HP, we work with other major brands like Epson, Roland & Mutoh and major OEM partners like ColorJet India Ltd, Monotech System Ltd, Britomatics Ltd. In the new emerging brands, we have partners like, Trieka Innovations, Jet Cartridge, Silicon Infotech, Siare Technologies, Sunriser Technologies, etc.
How has been the transition in this trade especially in the last couple of years?
In the past few years, we have noted a new trend of emerging companies which earlier used to be dealers, but now are making their own patent and assembling and building printers in India. As of now, we have developed more than 1000 printer & cutting plotter drivers. When it comes to Middle East and South East Asian markets, we have around 30 OEMs for 30 different Printers Manufacturers, for whom we have developed customized software.
How these RIP Software help in colour profiling?
India is a colour conscious market. Most importantly, during boom time and during festive season, people want their printers running, to keep the job going. Earlier, clients out-sourced their Colour profiling requirements through free-lancers, who charged heavily for creating customized ICC profiles. With SAi Flexi, our clients can easily create their own ICC profiles. Initially, we train them in creating a few ICC Color profiles and then they follow the steps to create n-number of Colour profiles.
What challenges did you come across while dealing with OEMs for Chinese printers?
Chinese printers which are imported in India are bundled with cheap competitive RIP software. But these RIPs are not so efficient especially when it comes to benefit in terms of colours, tools for the Indian market. Hence, our strategy was to meet these partners, understand their needs and offer them the best deal for tools on better color management and features, that will grow their business. This was achieved by frequent visits by team (comprising of myself and few important Technical as well as Marketing Personnel from SAi US and Europe). Currently we are reaping the benefits of the hard work, that we put in a few years back.
What difference did you notice between India and other South East Asian countries?
India is a very price-conscious market and unfortunately 70% of the printers come from China. They look at cheap pricing anything between Rs. 2 lakh and Rs. 10 lakh for a wide format printer. By quoting this, I mean, it is actually much easier to sell in other countries than India because there, we do not have a price war.
What is the future prospect?
FESPA & Drupa are two major shows in the industry that clients from India visit religiously and look for new technology, which they can bring in India & that’s how the market grows. Our target is to give some value addition in terms of more features of the software, giving accurate colours to the Indian customers, and of course, making it easy for them to use.
Every year the turnover is getting better because the company is now having a local arm to support the customers here in India. For now, we have 30% business from Textile Printing. As far as business in India is concerned, we are able to sell roughly 800-1000 licenses each year to OEMs, which we expect to touch 1400-1500 licenses in the next couple of years.
Who’s Gavin Anthony
He has been associated with the Digital Graphic industry from 22 years, working in various geographies across the world including India, South East Asia, South Korea, Middle East, and North Africa and his forte being sales, marketing, support techno sales, and product management. During his two decade stint, he has worked with graphic equipment majors like Zund Systemtechnik AG, Mecanumeric CNC Routers, Hewlett-Packard, Encad Printers, FlexiCAM CNC Routers, Mimaki Engineering Co., Vidar Systems Inc., GTCO Calcomp, Summa BE, Microsoft, Epson, Canon, Forsstrom, Eurolaser, Flexa, Neolt, Eastech Taiwan. He has been imparted training by most of the above companies at the head offices across the world. His past experiences include RIP / Graphic / Display Packaging Softwares from Scanvec Amiable (SAi), Onyx Graphics, Wasatch, Colorgate, Caldera Graphics, Engview Systems, Arden Soft, KaseMake, and SignLAB. In co-ordination, he also worked on Colour Calibration equipments from Xrite & Barbieri to create ICC Linearization & Characterizations.
He has been in-directly associated with SAi since 1996, selling and supporting previous SAi softwares through his job profiles at various graphic distribution companies and directly with SAi since 5.5 years.