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HP Launches MarketSplash - A Design and Print Fulfillment Service

By Adam Dewitz
Published: February 18, 2009

Updated 5:01PM to include comments from HP.

Last month HP officially launched a new Web-based service targeted at small businesses to provide "the industry’s lowest prices and fastest delivery times for brand marketing services such as professional-quality design and print fulfillment."

In the press release from the company, HP’s Printing & Imaging Group’s Executive Vice President Vyomesh Joshi stated, “MarketSplash helps small businesses create the high impact look of a big company without requiring the resources of one. As part of our Print 2.0 strategy, MarketSplash helps customers easily and affordably access professional design services from the web and print how, where and when they want.”



The announcement includes a call for retail partnerships:

The MarketSplash platform and application can be licensed to retailers for co-branding, allowing them to offer MarketSplash design and print services directly to their customers. The interactive web pages that deliver MarketSplash tools were designed to easily transform and adopt the co-branding of a retailer’s website.

HP has provided graphic design services for small businesses through LogoWorks which it acquired in April 2007. MarketSplash appears to be an extension of Logoworks with its management team made up of Logoworks executives.

Will this make HP Graphic Arts customers question HP's commitment to their business? If you're going to Dscoop you might want to ask. To be fair to the folks in HP Graphic Arts, MarketSplash was initiated and is managed by a separate business unit within HP.

In 2007 Kodak tried the a similar thing with the Kodak Creative Network which it shutdown five months later.

The HP announcement did not include information on who is producing the printed products sold through this service. When asked to comment a HP spokesperson stated, "MarketSplash offers customers the convenience of choosing between several convenient print fulfillment options: When completing an order online, customers can print from their own printer, receive their order via mail delivery, or pick it up at any Staples Copy and Print center in its retail stores in the United States. (Retail pick-up option available for MarketSplash business cards initially. Retail pick-up option will be expanded to other products in FY09.) HP plans to expand its retail options in the future.

For customers that choose to receive their order via mail delivery, MarketSplash is working with Print Service Providers (PSPs) for print fulfillment. The PSP network for MarketSplash is not exclusive and HP expects the network of PSPs to grow as MarketSplash and its customer base grow.

MarketSplash's intent is not to be a printer or print provider. MarketSplash actually works in a complimentary manner with PSPs and enables and promotes printing for them."


 

Discussion

By Dr Joe Webb on Feb 18, 2009

Looks like a replay of the "Adobe-Kinkos" problem of a couple of years ago. Wonder if they will make a statement at DSCOOP. They should make the capability available to all of the HP Indigo owners who have Web2Print front ends.

 

By Slava Apel on Feb 18, 2009

Great looking interface, killer offers. Didn't Kodak try to do same thing 1 year ago with their Kodak Creative Network and got a big backlash from industry? At least Kodak was selling business cards at $2 back then before pulling the offer down. HP is offering business cards for free.

I agree that it is time for web to print applications to be merged with pick up locations to drive foot traffic and reinforce brands. Co-branding or leveraging brands of others is the fastest way to get your application noticed.

So, next move is up to industry to embrace web to print as mainstream another product that every print shop should have, or license it from web to print technology companies (like ours) if your equipment provider is not offering a complete web to print solution to you. No sense watching your market walking away from you, instead of you going after a market, the way HP did.

 

By Gail Nickel-Kailing on Feb 18, 2009

Now we know what HP is doing with LogoWorks - bought it in 2007: http://www.hp.com/hpinfo/newsroom/press/2007/070424b.html

Gail

 

By Michael Josefowicz on Feb 18, 2009

Given that they are doing licenses to Staple and others, my bet is that they will deal with the "industry" backlash by giving them another thing to sell.

If HP aggregates the work, and local printers can sell it with a markup without having to do any work, it will take headache jobs out of the shop.

It sounds a lot like Regency thermography with a digital twist.

 

By Dr Joe Webb on Feb 18, 2009

Sounds like they will use other print businesses as well in the program... perhaps there will be more details very soon, like shortly... like @ DSCOOP?

 

By John Henry on Feb 19, 2009

Let’s see pay HP 100's of thousands for an Indigo. Have Hp sending print work to every Staples. Starts small with business cards, then rolls to postcard mailers and personalized mailers, how do I make money?

Funny part staples "print for pay" area runs on mostly Xerox boxes, not HP. New bullet point for Xerox and Kodak, did you hear HP is now selling printing directly via web and Staples? Fear is huge factor motivator for printers along with trust. HP has just broken both with me and many other printers.

 

By Pat Berger on Feb 19, 2009

Hp is looking for a new revenue stream at the cost of loosing the loyalty of print shops that help make them what they are today. We have used HP laser printers since they first came out as have tens of thousands of other printers. They have used us for over 2 decades to fatten there cash coffers. Now we are to be treated like Adobe and Kinko's did a few years ago. History lesson's many times fall on deaf ears. Looks like it has happened again.

 

By Michael Josefowicz on Feb 19, 2009

Pat and Henry,

The idea that any large vendor "cares" for the printer is just not real. They are in business. If the service and incentives help them, they will do it. If not, then not. Nothing personal, just business.

I read recently that Consolidated bought a whole bunch of Indigos. They bought them not because HP cared for them. It just made business sense.

As for the value of printers as customers. The situation I see is that as the industry consolidates and differentiates, the printer's customer is everyone's customer. If HP thinks that the information they can harvest from a huge end consumer base is worth it, they will do it.

If the printers have enough power to change the business logic, HP will. Consider that HP has already had one failure with this model, took it off the market, and are now out with version 2.0. I'm thinking they are in it for real this time around.

The potential opportunity for printers is to become "dealers." If Indigo users could push for special deals and get a system in place to print as well as retail, I think they could probably beat the pants off of Staples. I can imagine a network of Indigo supplied printers, sending over lots of orders to their local Staples for delivery to retail customers.

No way is any Staples any where is going to install an Indigo.

 

By Tom Tozier on Feb 19, 2009

Yes it does have the feel of the "Adobe-Kinkos" issue. I was one of the industry consortium members who met with Adobe regarding their Kinkos "button" I represented the in-Plant and Higher Education segment. One of the strongest points that the consortium made to Adobe was that the 50,000 printers around the country made Adobe what it is, we were the supporters and users of Adobe software in the early days and what Adobe had done was a betrayal to a loyal customer base.

It seems that HP has abandoned a segment of their customer base ro persue additional revenue streams, unless of course you are a HP PSP. I have an Indigo in my shop and I have never heard a word from HP about this endeavor. Let's hope they communicate more openly with all of us about their plans.

 

By Dr Joe Webb on Feb 19, 2009

Remember Staples has offsite production facilities beyond the stores

 

By Michael Josefowicz on Feb 19, 2009

I didn't know that. If you have any info you could share. . .

 

By Brian Regan on Feb 19, 2009

We have seen a steady increase in demand for temporary talent from Staples and other similar firms in recent years. Digital print operators, docutech, dtp etc...

 

By Philippe Cardyn on Feb 20, 2009

I don't see this as a major "problem" for print service providers. It was a common reaction when Kodak tried the same, but having the right technology isn't enough. Even if this does succeed, I'd be interested to see what type of volume they would be taking away from traditional PSP's or MSP's. To me this means more competition for other similar approaches such as Vistaprint or the recently launched Earthtone.

 

By Michael Josefowicz on Feb 20, 2009

Brian,
Anything you can share re a couple of
Re the wagescomparable to similar jobs in commercial plants?

Do they typically give healthcare?

Is there a migration path for increased responsibility and career development?

 

By John G on Feb 20, 2009

Unless they have some kind of agreement in place that states that any output must be done on an Indigo this may not help their Indigo unit as much as you think. Staples outsources some of their work to local printers, one of my customers does quite a bit of VDP work for them and does not have an Indigo, or Xerox, which is what they put in their stores

 

By Paul on Feb 20, 2009

We were looking at the Indigo vs. iGen. It looks as if HP wants to compete against me. I am not working with HP until this site is shut down.

 

By Marc Johnson on Feb 20, 2009

Michael- Staples has substantial printing (and direct mail) capabilities through their purchase of Corporate Express.

 

By Brian Regan on Feb 20, 2009

Michael,

Wages seem close in most regards. The DTP/Graphics people have a similar pay scale as does docutech and copy side. The bindery is lower, but its a much smaller type of bindery than a web or large sheet fed plant. Digital press ops like iGen, Indigo and NexPress can be as high as $27 an hour, but drop much lower if the skill level needed doesnt include too much on the tech side.

Benefits are offered should the employees be converted to the companies payroll. However, with what the current administration is doing with COBRA we are starting to think it possible that companies will no be able to afford to offer health care, which leads the way to nationalized healthcare.. A rather brilliant move on their behalf as they seemed to have sneak it in under peoples radar. I certainly am fearful of having to pay 65% of laid off employees COBRA and have them retro the cost back to September... ouch. We are still not 100% sure how it will play out, but it seems like an issue.

Another big difference is how they look at utilizing skilled temp workers. They all embrace a model that has a decent % of their workforce as "Temp" so they are able to develop effective controls on their payroll expense. Most printers understand this from their non skilled side, but are resistant on the higher skilled positions. Basically the Staples of the world think like large business in how they manage their print division.

Hope this helps.

 

By Greg Goldman on Feb 20, 2009

I am sure this type of site will attract some percentage of consumer based work, but if you look closer there is only the use of LogoWorks like templates for your projects. I am sure this is just a start. I would imagine there will be many abandoned shopping carts in the short-term. The fun will begin when they open up the ability to upload a custom created PDF and the print providers behind the black curtain must produce the work at some acceptable level of quality. Producing a profit for HP as well as the print provider given the initial volumes and price points will be a challenge.

All that said, I applaud HP for making the move to enabling web to print with a distributed manufacturing back-end. It is not an easy task. There are some larger B2B (corporate to print supplier) success stories out there, but very few consumer/SMB stories. Good luck to team driving this within HP. Given the current economic environment it will be interesting to see how long VJ is willing to support MarketSplash if there is little traction.

 

By Mark Flanders on Feb 20, 2009

Good article and posts. Lots to think about.
Quick note on Cobra health insurance... Obama's stimulus is picking up the tab on the 65%, not dumping it on the businesses.

 

By Brian Regan on Feb 20, 2009

Mark,

Right and wrong. They say they will reimbursed the companies, however the companies right now HAVE to cover it with no clear idea of how the gov't will pay it back. Perhaps you have data I dont yet.

Read: http://humanresources.about.com/od/benefits/a/cobra_changes.htm

And

http://humanresources.about.com/od/benefits/a/cobra_changes_2.htm

 

By Michael Burgard on Feb 20, 2009

HP and Xerox and Kodak will all try to do what generates the most revenue. If that means partnering with printers, then they will. If that means competing with printers, then they will do that. If that means cutting a product line or restricting its sale, then they will. I have come to realize that no large corporation has any characteristics that we attribute to functional human beings (and to small business) - compassion, loyalty, empathy, relationships, etc. . If HP-Staples succeeds in taking away our business, it will be because either we did not do our job or what we offer to clients no longer matters. Consolidation in print (Vista Print, Fed Ex Kinkos, etc) is going to continue. 26,000 printers cannot continue to survive and thrive. I will be one that thrives. Buy what makes business sense. Sell what the customer wants. Provide solutions not products.

 

By Michael Josefowicz on Feb 20, 2009

Brian,
Thank you for the detailed reply. I wonder whether vocational schools understand that there is a big new corporate player on the scene.

I think it would add a nice buzz to getting both kids and their teachers to look at our industry in a different way.

I did a post at one of my blogs - Tough Love for Xerox - that tries to pull together a lot of this discussion within a framework that might resonate with students.

its' at:
http://toughloveforxerox.blogspot.com/2009/02/hey-wall-street-print-output-industry.html

 

By Heidi Tolliver-Nigro on Feb 22, 2009

Anyone know why HP thinks it can do what Kodak could not do (or get away with)? What's different this time around?

 

By Michael Josefowicz on Feb 23, 2009

HP lives in the world of the internet and IT, and has just entered the world of commercial print.

They have little legacy to protect in commercial print. With the addition of Indigo, they've been able to make inroads, but they have no previous brand to protect.

Kodak lives in the world of commercial offset printing and photo reproduction on the web. They have lots and lots of legacy brand to protect in the commercial print space.

Plus HP probably was watching the errors and problems Kodak faced and learned from them. Plus the print output infrastructure is much more developed now, than then.

 

By Mark Parent on Feb 24, 2009

I thought Xerox did this to their installation base? Opened commercial stores to compete with their own customers. Is this where HP is headed? Is Xerox still doing this?

If the volume is there I am sure they will do it. What other stores does HP own? Snapfish etc? There is a bigger idea here.

I have an Indigo like many of you and have not heard about partnership opportunities.

 

By Ray Pinard on Feb 24, 2009

If HP wants to compete directly with their customers, I will have to take a close look at other digital presses.
Ray Pinard

 

By christian on Feb 25, 2009

Not sure what I think about this yet. HP may not be getting into the "printer or print provider" role, but they certainly are going to have an affect on them. Good for the PSP's, not so good for the small shops competing for the same small buis accounts and cant match the price. I think HP's efforts are best spent on developing the technology, not the business.

 

By Slava Apel on Feb 25, 2009

So, are we facing web to print software challenge? Manufacturer going direct challenge? Distribution challenge?

Glad to see so many comments. Would love to see the real numbers coming out; how many orders are actually being placed through marketsplash. Marketsplash.com went from 0 (zero) visitors in September to 5,000 visitors in November, 22,000 in December. This is impressive. If 5% visitors end up purchasing (getting cards for free), that’s over 1000 orders per month. At their current growth rate, they can reach that per day very quickly.


To Mark Parent. HP also invested into Mimeo http://www.mimeo.com/aboutus/investors.html

To Ray Pinard. Good luck with your choices. Almost every digital provider looks like having a direct offering nowadays, if you want to know who and where, give me a call.

To Michael Burgard. Interesting examples you mention. Any insight?

 

By max on Feb 25, 2009

Hey chaps. Take it easy.
Their conversion rate is very low. There is simply nothing to choose from. Me looks after few busy w2p sites. I tell a good one from a splash one.

 

By Michael Josefowicz on Feb 26, 2009

Hey Max,
Are you in a position to share some url's on what you see as the really good ones?

If you look after a "few busy w2p" sites, I understand if you can't, but it sure would be cool..

It seems vistaprint, has that W2P thing pretty figured out.

 

By Slava Apel on Feb 26, 2009

Michael, I'll pitch a few better looking web to print B2C sites:
http://www.123ezprint.com" rel="nofollow">http://www.123ezprint.com or http://www.profesorprint.com" rel="nofollow">http://www.profesorprint.com or http://www.allbusinesscards.com" rel="nofollow">http://www.allbusinesscards.com if you want 100s more that look better and convert better, we should do that offline not to make that look like a spam forum. Disclosure: none of those sites are owned by us.

Max, my estimated 5% for Marketsplash was a guess, based on some print for consumer sites that we monitor conversion rates for. Do you have better data?

 

By Sam I. on Mar 03, 2009

What's next. HP spamming like the other big online vendor?

HP is playing a very dangerous game with their new venture called MarketSplash. They’re offering free business cards and many other products at a much discounted price to end consumer from their websites. Immediate target is VistaPrint, as Vistaprints’ cards are not all free, as you have to pay for shipping. Second target is anyone that sells print online, as now HP is now an absolute price leader. Third target is anyone that has purchased their equipment, as you don’t get that print work… STAPLES does, even though Staples is a Xerox shop. HP has also launched an online campaign saying that consumers don’t have to go for business cards, postcards, flyers to their printer anymore, as they can print it all using HP templates straight from their home printer. Hence, a dangerous game by killing off any online, or offline printer.

 

By Michael J on Mar 03, 2009

Sam,
I think you've got it right that it's a dangerous game for printers on the ground. On the other hand, HP seems to have had a very successful meeting with over 1000 of their indigo owners.

My take is that it's going to be just one more Fedex Kinkos. They keep scooping up the small business market. It's going to keep putting pressure on the independent that is trying to go after the same market.

 

By Curtis Johnson on Mar 12, 2009

It's unfortunate. I understand the competitive world; and I don't like my vendor to compete with me. I need my vendor support me and continue to improve their products so I can be successful with them. There's a difference between providing marketing templates and taking my market. The vendor can create alliances and pricing to benefit their own interests in the market. So, when two presses go down, one at a MarketSplash provider and one at my shop; who is going to get the attention? This is a clear conflict. I waiting for Apple's introduction into the digital press arena, with the iPress.

 

By Michael J on Mar 12, 2009

@Curtis,
I'm just curious what you might think if HP gave you a referral fee for using Market Splash?

Then you could offer your clients a choice. They could do it themselves at the website. It will take x days, and cost y and they have to do all the work.

Or

They could save a lot of time and aggravation, have you do it, they know it's not going to get lost in Fedex, and have a trusted person to do the job.

Usually the very small job is much too small and time consuming to make money.

The only time it works, is when you get paid for security, help and next morning secure delivery.

So.. when it's a pain, rent them computer time, let them go the website. Be very nice and get an affiliate fee from HP. In addition to setting up the service at Staples, why wouldn't they set up the service in your conference room?

 

By David Lowis on Mar 20, 2009

This is not just a dangerous game, it is a dirty game started by HP against its own loyal Indigo customer, There are over 1000's worldwide of HP indigo owners it is time to not buy any new equipment form HP anymore..
If you need a PC choose another brand.
If you need a Laser/color Printer choose another brand.
If you need a server/storage choose another brand.
If you need a commercial digital printer choose another brand.
Trust me we can make a big difference and it is time to give HP an unforgettable lesson.
Shame on HP!?

 

By Lowis on Mar 25, 2009

HP is Back stabbing to 1000's of HP indigo owners, by offering online printing. HP is selling equipment to small print shop and the same time selling to end users, sorry giving FREE!!??

 

By Michael J on Mar 26, 2009

@ David,
Just a thought. It's not personal, it's business. The idea that any company has loyalty to anyone if business interests get in the way just doesn't make sense to me.

I would suggest that instead of not buying printers, everyone should fight for piece of the action. There should be plenty to go around.

 

By kelmar on Apr 16, 2009

In these trouble times its nice to see Corporate Greed is alive and doing well. As mom and pop shops struggle to stay alive in this country it never ceases to amaze me how a company like HP has to feed on the few crumbs left for us small printers offering huge discounts that we can't match. As you try corner another market our loyal customers still remember what it is like to speak directly to a person they know and trust. A person they can see as well as person who contributes to our local economy. Good luck . Didn't you guys sell COMPUTERS and Printers? I guess you now are printers as well.

 

By Michael J on Apr 16, 2009

@kelmar,
It's not corporate greed. It's total fear.

The margins in computers are razor thin. HP has to figure out what to do with Carly's purchase of Compaq at the same time that IBM sold their laptop division to Lenovo. Meanwhile, Cisco is going into the server business. And the stock price is just mosseying along.

Meanwhile, their place in Managed Print Services is being challenged by independents and the top of the pyramid organizations are totally reorganizing. To top it all off, the toner and supply market is getting more competitive every day.


If you think PSP's on the ground have a problem, imagine what an HP Board Meeting sounds like.

 

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