Affordable printing services

How to find affordable printing services in Vancouver and across Canada

Save hundreds of dollars by following a few simple tips

Affordable vs “cheap” vs competitively priced

If you are looking to save money on printing services in Vancouver, you no doubt still want a quality product.  Low quality printing is easily achieved by printing poor quality graphics on budget papers on a home printer. Surprisingly, if you do the math, however, you will find that this kind of printing is actually quite time consuming and expensive. For the purposes of this discussion, I am focusing on how to find high quality, low cost print services; in other words, real value for your money.  I am  also looking for competitive pricing.  That means the examples we use here come from printers in Vancouver or across Canada who are not afraid to show their pricing online and who, additionally, understand that customers have the right to compare pricing.

“Quality, Time, Price – Pick 2”

In project management, many believe that it is not possible to offer high quality products, quickly, for an affordable price.  This kind of thinking creates an important framework in a search for affordable printing in Vancouver.  If you are shopping for great prices online, here is what you should be looking for:


If you are looking for the best deals online, it is crucial that you are comparing products that are the same.  Here are some important points to compare:

  1. print method: digital vs offset.  Digital printing is ideal for smaller quantity print jobs that need to be produced very quickly.  The initial setup for offset printing makes it expensive for small jobs and more affordable for large jobs.  The set up also means more time is required to get the job done.
  2. paper or material being printed on, size, duplex, and finishing options.   When comparing prices, it is important that the products match.  Check what paper is being used and make sure the size, number of sides printed (duplex), and any other options, like lamination or folding, also match.  In the case of large format prints, you may want to ask about the inks used.  There is a trend in Vancouver and area for printers to save money by using cheap knock off inks.  These inks tend to have a shorter life span.  In other words, they will fade in half the time of quality inks.


Once you are comparing similar products, look at the production time.  In many cases, if you want your job done quickly or to take priority on the print queue, you will need to pay more.  “Rush” charges can be add as much as 50% to the cost of printing.  This is an entirely reasonable charge for the printer to add.  Priority service adds to their costs.  As a consumer who is shopping for affordable printing, though, it is not fair to ask a printer offering next day service to match the price of the same product with a 3 to 5 day completion.


The variation on print prices in Vancouver is staggering.  Comparing two exact products, for example 1000 letter sized flyers, digitally printed, single sided, on 100lb gloss text, with a 2 to 3 day  turn around prices can be found to range from $216 to $850!  It is absolutely worthwhile to shop around!

Basic price comparison – uncovering value

Let’s look at an example.  Imagine that you are shopping for flyers in Vancouver.  For our example, we will compare 500 letter sized flyers (8.5″ x 11″), digitally printed and single sided. You may easily find the websites of these 3 reputable printers:

Printer A – one paper choice (100lb gloss text), listed at $137.50

Printer B – one paper choice (70lb uncoated text), listed at $129.30

Printer C – 3 paper choices, 100lb gloss text listed at $135.09

Which deal is best?

At first glance, Printer B seems to have the best deal.  However, with a closer inspection, this soon dissolves.  First, printer B is using less expensive paper.  You can find this out quickly by Googling the paper descriptions.  In addition, Printer B offers this price on 3 to 4 business day service.   While Printers A and C offer 24 hour service fro their price, Printer B raises the price to $168.10 for 2 business days.  With more expensive paper and faster service, Printers A and C clearly offer better value.  In addition, the paper offered by Printer B, 70 lb text, is equivalent to the 28lb matte text offered by Printer C’s same day standard service for only $97.35 – a difference of $70.75 and faster service to boot!

Pricing Model – Extra Savings Under your Nose

Now that we have worked out basic pricing, let’s look for the hidden savings. Typically, printers use either tiered or volume pricing.

What is Tiered Pricing?

Tiered pricing is a strategy that defines a price per unit within a range. Online, you will find that the quantity box does not force you to order a specific number of flyers, for example. The printer will offer 100lb gloss flyers, letter sized, at 50 for 70 cents each, 100 for 50 cents each, 250 at 38 cents each, 500 at 27.5 cents each and so on. Once all of the flyers at the first tier are sold, the price drops for the next. In some cases, the tiers are few and far between, forcing the customer to buy significantly more to get the better price per unit. As the volume increases, the gap between prices decreases, to a final point at which the price per unit cannot go lower.

How tiered pricing works

When you order on a tiered system, you enter the number of items you want to order, and the price is calculated by multiplying your quantity by the price for the tier range your quantity falls in. So, as in the numbers discussed above, if you order 300 flyers, you will pay 38 cents each for them. For 400, 38 cents each. The advantage of this model is that it allows you to order flexible quantities and to easily calculate the costs. The disadvantage of this model is that you can pay one price over a significant quantity.

What is Volume Pricing?

Volume pricing is very simple: a certain quantity of product is offered at a specific price. It is essentially the same as tired pricing, except that rather than letting you choose flexible quantities, it forces you to buy a fixed quantity to get a per unit price. Volume pricing is very common and in our previous flyer examples, Printers A and B both use volume pricing. The disadvantage of this model is the lack of flexibility. If you need 575 flyers, for example, you may be forced to buy 1000 just to have enough. The rest are wasted.

No Tier Pricing is real affordable printing for Vancouver and across Canada

What is No Tier Pricing?

No Tier Pricing is customer oriented pricing that gives you real freedom and value. This is truly affordable printing, Vancouver! While this pricing model still fixes prices at volume reference points – tiers or volumes, if you like – it erases the disadvantages of both of the other models. Rather than fixing the price at a tier, this model calculates the cost difference for each item between the tiers and charges for the exact quantity.

Let’s compare again.

In our previous letter sized flyer example, on 100lb gloss, we determined that Printer A and Printer C had prices that were very close for 500 flyers:

Printer A: $137.50

Printer C: $135.09

Since Printer C’s price was best on the basic comparison, let’s use their pricing to compare the models to best illustrate the difference. This time, we will order a quantity of 650 quality flyers. Here is the pricing using each model:

Volume Pricing: Prices set for 500 or 1000. You want 650, so you need to order 1000. You pay $243.16 and have 350 flyers to recycle.

Tiered Pricing: The price for 500 is $135.09, or just over .27 each for that tier. The next tier is 1000. You pay about 27 cents each for 650, or $175.62. No leftovers to recycle.

No Tier Pricing: The price for 500 is $135.09 (about 27 cents each)and the price for 1000 is $243.16 (about 24 cents each). So, with No Tier Pricing, you pay just under 26 cents each, or $167.51. No leftovers to recycle. You order just what you need.

The No Tier Advantage is obvious

As I pointed out earlier, the most common pricing model is volume pricing. But our lives rarely fit into neat little volume packets, and when the quantity you want to order is not a simple 500 or 1000, volume pricing is pricey. In our example, Printer C’s No Tier Pricing for 650 flyers saves you $75.65 over volume pricing. That is just over 31%.

Back at our original comparison, if you ordered 650 70lb paper flyers, single sided, ready in 2 business days from Printer B, you would have paid $222. With Printer C’s No Tier Pricing, those same flyers would cost $120.71 – a difference of more than $100!

Looking for affordable printing services in Vancouver and across Canada?

Follow these steps to potentially save huge amounts of your hard earned cash:

  • Shop around and compare prices for matching products. Avoid those printers who are overcharging. Find printers with online instant quotes and nothing to hide.
  • Look for real value, not just lowest prices. You want affordable, not cheap.
  • Find out what the production time is. Rush orders can be costly. If a printer is giving you fast service without a rush charge, you are already getting a huge discount.
  • Ask if you are not sure. Use Google or call the printer to ask about the paper or inks they are using.
  • Find a printer who uses No Tier Pricing, like Printer C!
  • Order online to take advantage of further discounts, coupons, and loyalty programs.

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