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When does it make sense to produce printed material abroad?

The Swiss Franc has been heavily overvalued since early 2015. As a consequence, a growing number of customers have asked us when it makes more sense to produce something abroad. In this article, we are happy to share our experiences and reflections on this subject with you.

Most probably, you also assume that printed matters are being produced abroad mainly for cost reasons. In some cases, however, it could be for technological reasons that the required solutions may not be offered in Switzerland. Something that will eventually affect the price as well.

Experience has shown that the procurement of printed matter abroad is somewhat more complicated than from a supplier in Switzerland. This is mostly due to the fact that various starting points are not the same as in Switzerland. Language, or at least certain technical terms, can make the communication difficult. Often, one encounters different qualitative standards. Certain services, which in most cases are included in Switzerland, will only be received on request. In addition, the printed matter has to be imported to Switzerland, resulting in additional costs like customs duties. In general, suppliers must be paid in local currency which represents a certain exchange rate risk.

As a result, in order to ensure a successful procurement abroad we have to conscientiously implement the following points:

Cost truthfulness 

The technical descriptions in the quotations in Switzerland often deviate from those abroad. Thus you cannot just compare prices on a basis of 1:1. One must check first if the services offered are identical, e.g. the requested paper quality. Are the delivery costs to a shipping address in Switzerland covered? Is customs duty included or will there be any additional charges? How could the exchange rate vary until the date of payment?

Please also bear in mind that to work with a foreign partner usually requires much more supervision than with an already known national printer.

Partner selection

The search for a new partner in a foreign country is usually more difficult for us as we know much less about potential suppliers. There are ample market opportunities and, accordingly, efforts must be made to separate the wheat from the chaff. References from colleagues are very helpful, both positive as well as negative ones.

After the evaluation period, we recommend to our customers to first make a trial test with the possible printer with a small order which is not time critical. On purpose, we would deliver the data with some delay. This way, we can assess if the printer really takes notice of this and how flexible he reacts upon such delays.


In today’s hectic world, we always want to be able to respond faster. This also results of course in shorter delivery times. If the delivery time is extremely tight, a procurement from abroad is usually out of question. Furthermore, the risk of any further possible delays caused by the customer should also be taken into account. Notwithstanding his fault, if the final deadline must be adhered to, a production abroad often becomes impossible.

Purchasing policy  

Finally, we would like to comment briefly on the purchasing policy. Each management should issue guidelines on how to evaluate and select suppliers. This must include the decision if regional or national suppliers are to be preferred and to which extent. Furthermore, ecological criteria are more and more being defined and taken into consideration, e.g. means of transportation or certifications (FSC, climate-neutral).

PS: Do you have any questions on this subject? We will gladly assist you in finding the optimal solution for you. Just call our Managing Director Leo Arnold: 044 855 22 22. 

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