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  • vinyl colour samples, do you pay for them?

    Posted by Leslie Anderson on February 2, 2023 at 9:21 am

    hi guys

    i have a customer popping in to see me next Wednesday and she would like to go over designs and colour samples.
    i called a couple of suppliers and although they were happy to help and chat about what i need. i felt they were a bit hesitant to send me colour booklets. I said i would call back today but i thought i should ask, do we have to buy “their colour samples?” if it is the norm then fair enough, i just wanted to check. 😇



    Karen White replied 1 year, 4 months ago 11 Members · 16 Replies
  • 16 Replies
  • Jamie Wood

    February 2, 2023 at 10:49 am

    I think the only ones we’ve ever had to pay for, are 3M ones. There’s a surprise.

  • Mark Johnston

    February 2, 2023 at 2:16 pm

    you may have to pay for wrapping colour swatch books but not the colour cards. at least we haven’t.

  • Colin Crabb

    February 2, 2023 at 2:44 pm

    Never paid for charts, books or folders and if supplier wanted me to use products, I’d never pay for them!

    We also get sample rolls of media (5m rolls) before ordering to make sure I’m happy with product

  • Hugh Potter

    February 2, 2023 at 5:35 pm

    I don’t think I’ve ever paid. Usually I get them from the rep or supplier I am buying from anyway, if I get a new supplier wanting me to buy their gear, I would expect a swatch for for. I can’t put their colours in front of a customer if I don’t have a swatch!

    • Graham Scanlan

      February 2, 2023 at 6:41 pm

      Suppliers usually pay for the swatches from the manufacturer. When margins where good, swatches where plentiful, as with any business, as margins get squeezed so do marketing budgets. If business is guaranteed from the Signmaker a free swatch shouldn’t be a problem, but just to get put into a bottom draw just in case it’s needed is a waste, colour cards are cheap as chips so they should be easy to get.

      • Hugh Potter

        February 3, 2023 at 7:51 am

        Oh, I agree with what you’re saying, we don’t do a huge amount of wrap work but do buy a reasonable amount of wrap films for various jobs (3M, Avery SWF, Hexis, APS, Oracal 970, metamrk etc..), without a swatch I can’t be selling it.

        The colour card may be cheap, but they just don’t give a good representation of what the colour will be like against the existing colour – in the instance of a part wrap. I tend not to ask or even accept swatches if I don’t think I’ll use them, just no point!

  • Simon Worrall

    February 2, 2023 at 8:41 pm

    They are VERY expensive to produce.
    I can understand their reticence in handing them out to everyone.

    But of course, often, no sample – no sale.

    So suppliers try to gauge who is serious and who is just collecting sample books for fun.

  • Gary Austin

    February 3, 2023 at 2:38 pm

    A little off topic, but hopefully useful all the same… Spandex have an app called Colourbox, that contains most of their colour swatches. Not all highly accurate but their IP5700 for example are very close, handy if you’re out and about, surprised most suppliers aren’t doing the same.

    • Graham Scanlan

      February 3, 2023 at 10:28 pm

      Avery do this also, but the colour on a screen isn’t the actual colour

  • RobertLambie

    February 4, 2023 at 9:43 pm

    Hi Leslie.

    If you want to start buying vinyl from a supplier then their vinyl “colour card” will be enough information to give you the actual colour, code, series etc.

    If I already have an account with a supplier and I request one, I wouldn’t expect to pay for the card. Without the card, you can’t order from them, so it is a bit of a catch-22.

    I have had suppliers cold call on me, asking me to open an account with them and leaving all sorts of cards, brochures and samples. This is great and for sure, if there is a way to entice me to start purchasing from them, then this is the way to do it. However, this can be costly for the supplier if they simply do this with everyone. More so these days with the cost of everything increasing.

    That said, when you move to the likes of colour swatches, book, booklets, fan, or whatever you want to call it, the price for the supplier will increase significantly but the guarantee of you buying from them is no greater.
    I think when it comes down to the likes of wrapping and architectural finishes, the importance of Swatch books increases significantly because you must be able to see the finish, the special effects or surface textures properly when we are speaking to our customers.
    I think that unless you are already spending on a regular basis with the supplier, then they are justified to charge for them to at least cover their costs. That said, I have paid for particular Swatch books from suppliers a few times over the past couple of years, and I do already buy from them. I think they cost me about £25-£30 each.
    I could complain, I could become a pain, but at the end of the day, we all must make money. If a supplier is giving good service with great products and fair prices, there is no point in ruining things by being difficult at every opportunity.

    I had an ISA-UK meeting at William Smiths in 2020 and whilst there they gave us a tour of their factory.
    We passed a table that had a stack of dookets holding each colour of swatch. These swatch books were being cut and assembled by someone by hand. It is not until you physically see it and have a realisation moment like this, that every company has its own staff, materials, machines, costs and more than must be paid for. If the figures do not add up at the end of the day, a company won’t exist.

  • Leslie Anderson

    February 6, 2023 at 7:14 am

    Jamie, Mark, Colin, Hugh, Graham, Gary, Simon and Robert. Thank you so much for the replies! ❤

    every day really is a school day in this trade. i really hadn’t given much thought on the cost to the suppliers. i just wasn’t sure if it was something everyone pays for. i think my use of description may be at fault. i do not remember if i have asked for a card or a swatch book or whatever, so this might be where their reluctance in sending me them free of charge. the card would be plenty for what i need it for. 🙂

    thanks again for your guidance guys. 👍

  • RobertLambie

    February 6, 2023 at 11:22 am


    33+ Years I have been in the industry and I still learn something new, on a daily basis! 🤓 😃

  • Colin Crabb

    February 6, 2023 at 11:30 am

    We have a very good relationship with suppliers, so get sent a lot of ‘stuff’, this very cool box of board media samples turned up from Antalis last month free of charge.

    Must do a ‘unboxing’ video!

  • David Hammond

    February 6, 2023 at 11:55 am

    I’m no eco warrior, but it does my head in, suppliers giving me boxes of samples.

    If it’s something we will use, I’m all for it. But generally they sit on the shelf, never get touched, before finally getting flung in the bin.

    We mostly use 1 manufactuerer for CAD vinyl, so we have the swatches for those, the colour cards are sufficient for the other brands, so we can ‘cross reference’ them, they also don’t take up loads of space.

  • Mark Johnston

    February 6, 2023 at 1:03 pm

    we are not a customer of Papergraphics but they also gave us a cool sample box like this free of charge but like David said it is pointless unless you have a need. i think it is more of a promotional type thing for some suppliers rather than just giving it to anyone at any time for nothing.

  • Karen White

    February 9, 2023 at 10:33 am

    I only ever use colour cards so i haven’t had any problems.

    i have asked if there was swatches for architectural materials in the past and i was told there would be a fee but to be honest. i was just wanting them out of curiosity for covering a desk in the office and some things in my kitchen. ☺🤣

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