AI and personalised print software solutions: to the next level
The opportunities to offer personalised products have never been greater with the right software, says Wacław Mostowoski at Antigro Designer.
Antigro Designer is a complex software solution, driven by artificial intelligence (AI), which allows end-clients to easily personalise printed products with no need to call on a designer. “In my opinion, we are the most advanced print customiser in the world because we are able to support almost any printed product,” says Wacław Mostowski, Chief Revenue Officer at Antigro, based in Krakow, Poland. “And we adjust our tool to the client’s needs so the end result is print-ready.”
These print-ready files range from simple business cards, t-shirts and all-over printed products to high-volume packaging, allowing customers to process hundreds or thousands of orders every month. A 3D preview allows the end user to tweak the design intuitively and without fuss. For example, on a complicated all-over print design such as a hoodie, when broken down into its component pieces of fabric, colours, designs and artwork can all be added, subtracted, resized, and so on.
Wacław is, he says, “a jack of all trades”. He is responsible for developing Antigro, seeking out new clients and new niches, and collaborating with sales, marketing and implementation teams. He sees the company’s growth as directly tapping into the customer trend for personalised gifts and emotional connection characterised by the growth in personalised products.
“I was trying to work out what to buy as a gift for my friend the other day, and I couldn't think of anything to buy,” says Wacław. “I think that we live in a time where people tend to have everything they need. Buying general ‘stuff’ as gifts is not as popular anymore. Personalised items bring up great memories and connections and, from this perspective, I think that personalisation will only become more and more important for end-consumers in the gifting industry.
We want to democratise the printing market to give those smaller players the option to have high-quality software that can streamline the whole process
“Personalisation is also increasingly popular in B2B products, where we have, for example, welcome boxes for new people at their first day on the job. Personalised products are also a great way for printing companies to build additional revenue streams. Many companies were reluctant to sell personalised products because of the need to perfect designs that can take multiple attempts. Now, with the right technology, clients can design everything on their own, on their computer or on their mobile, and the printing company just receives the print-ready file. A couple of years ago, it was super-difficult to enter this part of the market. Now I would say it's super-easy.”
Making the most of AI
Antigro leverages AI to make its customer experience seamless and as user-friendly as possible. Perhaps at the top of the list of useful functionalities is the software’s ability to detect graphic features and remove backgrounds. The AI automatically detects a face in a photo even if it's of poor quality or has a crowded background. These faces can then, for example, be automatically dropped on to the body of a superhero, resized, recoloured, made into a pattern – anywhere the client’s imagination can take them.
The next big tasks AI will take on will be realised over the next few weeks, says Wacław. “Clients tend to supply their photos using WhatsApp, Messenger and so on. These photos are often really poor quality but if you scale them, they can become pixelated. This is a big problem for every company selling photo products because they receive a lot of complaints.
“AI solutions will upscale these substandard photos to the quality needed for a poster or canvas, for example, even from a low resolution (within reason). The AI works that out by predicting what the next pixel should be and extending that bit by bit.
“We’ve also found that pet products are super popular and there is huge demand for shape-cut stickers. So, we are finalising a shape-cut sticker enhancement in the software. Clients will be able to upload a photo of a dog or a colleague, which will be automatically outlined with this shape and be able to generate the sticker cutter path.”
So, what further AI applications would Wacław like to see? “We want our clients to be able to convert their currently existing image to some kind of style: Van Gogh, anime, or as far as their imagination allows, but without using text prompts – where they can see the style they want to use,” he says. “Not everyone is super creative. And if we make the process too long, they won’t complete their order.
“We want to democratise the printing market to give those smaller players the option to have high-quality software that can streamline the whole process.”
Preparing for print-readiness
Wacław explains that, when starting work with a print company, Antigro asks it to share existing print-ready files. The Antigro implementation team simply reflect these files in their own system. This also includes imposition layouts, cutting lines, mirror bleeds [wrapped around a frame when printing photo canvases] and barcodes, if that is what the customer requires.
“We want to adjust our tool to the client's needs: the whole process will be streamlined and they don’t need to worry about using graphic designers to make amendments or constantly messaging the client", says Wacław. “We can also integrate our tool into the client’s workflow. For some clients, we upload files into an SFTP [Secure File Transfer Protocol] folder, which automatically triggers the printing process.”
Next steps in personalisation
During the Personalisation Experience at the 2023 FESPA Global Print Expo, FESPA’s aim was to showcase new business opportunities using personalisation. Wacław, who was an attendee, agrees businesses need to try harder to think about the potential of personalisation.
Some companies think that personalisation is just putting the name of someone on the product. But with the current technology, we can go much further
He offered an example: “In the US, graduation banners are very popular. At Antigro, we have a library of designs created by graphic designers, where clients can select the design they want. In each of these designs, clients can upload photos. We focus on offering suggestions to the end client, instead of asking them to fill a blank space and just create whatever they want. It makes the end-customer happier, saves time and really increases the conversion rate.”
“Some companies think that personalisation is just putting the name of someone on the product,” he says. “But with the current technology, we can go much further. It’s already much easier for the end clients to order personalised products, because they don’t need to exchange endless emails. If clients use the right software it will take their personalisation to the next level.”
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