Commentary & Analysis
Gelato: It Could Sweeten Your Business and Make You Mobile!
Henrik Müller-Hansen, Gelato’s Founder and CEO, had a vision for democratizing the world of printing. This article provides an overview of the Gelato Group’s offerings and explores how these solutions can make a difference in today’s mobile world.
By Barb Pellow
Published: December 2, 2015
Although just about everyone has heard of the famous Italian ice cream known as Gelato, you might be less familiar with the Norwegian firm named the Gelato Group. This company has developed a business model that can help you sweeten your commercial printing business. Henrik Müller-Hansen, Gelato’s Founder and CEO, was formerly the CEO for a $400 million telco called Tele2 Norway. He had a vision for democratizing the world of printing, and he invested all of his family’s earnings based on his ideas about where technology could take the printing industry. Müller-Hansen states, “By connecting printers from all over the world to a ‘print cloud’ that is open to everyone, excess capacity can be allocated intelligently and print jobs can be placed where it makes the most sense. Sharing permits owners of fixed assets to monetize the underutilized assets. It offers environmentally-friendly local delivery. This means that printing can be cheaper, faster, and simpler. The industry has a need for a different kind of solution, and it will take a different kind of company to build it. The result was the Gelato Group.”
By investing in software solutions for the printing industry, Müller-Hansen has created an “iTunes for printing.” His instincts are proving right thus far—GelatoGroup posted 73% year-over-year revenue growth for the first 6 months of 2015. EBITDA for this period grew approximately 200%, rising from 3.1 million Norwegian Kroner for the first half of 2014 to 9.5 million Norwegian Kroner in 2015. The company has sent more than 3 million parcels and is serving thousands of customers every day. More than 40 countries are connected by printing partners in 13 countries, and the firm has a reach of a billion people. Gelato is moving into the U.S. market this year, which will further broaden its customer base and build a stronger print partner network.
So What is Gelato?
Gelato has built a marketplace within the global printing industry. Through its software platform, Gelato Group connects private users and businesses with more than 50 professional print houses, enabling 48-hour delivery of printed materials to 40 countries—always to the print house located closest to the delivery address.
Designed for the consumer market,Optimalprint is a comprehensive suite of tools for creating print material online. The platform is device-neutral, and the store is available on PCs as well as mobile devices to set the product apart from its competitors. Consumers can choose from over 30,000 design templates from a wide variety of occasion categories. All orders are printed with a 100% quality guarantee. Templates can be personalized using any online device. Once the user selects the card stock, the finish, and specifies the shipping destination, the order is printed locally and delivered within 48 hours in 40 countries.
Focused on the design community, Gelato Cloud has an Adobe Extension. This enables designers and agencies to work with the tools they are familiar with, including Adobe InDesign, Photoshop, and Illustrator. The designer is able to upload the file to Gelato Cloud, select the paper weight and type, specify the destination of the order, and choose the currency for payment. Orders are printed in the desired country and sent to the customer on the next working day. All orders are printed on FSC, SFI, and ECF certified papers.
Gelato Air is a white-label version of the Optimalprint offering. Partners can use it to open their own online store for selling personalized greeting cards and calendars. In addition to having the ability to add custom designs, users can access the 30,000 designs already in the platform that can be customized by the partner’s customers. The Gelato Air platform handles all the software, shipping, and payment details for the store. The partner has full access to and ownership of all data about visitors, registered users, and customers; Gelato Air has no right to use it in any other way than to deliver services to the partner. Gelato supports the partner with tips and ideas for attracting visitors and expanding reach. Every two weeks, the white label partner collects profits and receives a breakdown of customer charges, costs, refunds, reprints, and gross profit.
UNICEF in Norway decided to leverage the Gelato platform to sell greeting cards as a fundraiser. The organization had no experience in the online consumer greeting card market, but Gelato Air made it easy for UNICEF to make money for a good cause.
Gelato Globe is designed to help multi-location enterprises manage print more effectively. By utilizing Gelato Globe’s software capabilities, enterprises can realize a number of benefits:
48-hour delivery of prints to 40+ countries, eliminating the need to stock printed materials
Files produced at local print service providers to reduce shipping costs (and carbon emissions)
Simplified connections with remote locations to share print files, payment methods, and shipping addresses
Mobile solutions to support fast ordering for a global sales force
Consistent color and print quality to secure brand alignment
Gelato Network represents a significant opportunity for print service providers. Gelato is establishing a network of printers with Xerox iGen or HP Indigo devices to service jobs coming in through Optimalprint, Gelato Cloud, Gelato Air, or Gelato Globe. The Gelato Network was designed to create a global marketplace for digital print. Its vision is to bring constant and profitable volumes to service providers. Because the Gelato Group made an extensive investment in workflow, the entire process is simplified for the print service provider that receives the files. The inbound orders utilize a limited number of stocks and formats, and orders are automatically bundled for greatest efficiency. Uploaded files are ready to print with no pre-press required. The Gelato Network has established relationships with shipping providers, so it is able to offer the best possible delivery pricing. A network app makes it easy to view the jobs that are moving through your operation. Although there is no fee to join the network, service providers must meet critical quality and delivery specifications.
Although the Gelato Network is only just getting started in the U.S. market, there are a number of very enthusiastic participants in the European market. Sweden-based Vitt Grafiska has been a Gelato Print Partner since August 2014. CEO Dag Wassberg noted, “With the emergence of mobile technology, the buying patterns have changed. Consumers want to make purchases using their smartphones, and Gelato gives me easy access to this new buying pattern. In three months, we went from 30 orders per day to 2,000 orders a day. This was all new business, and Gelato’s workflow efficiency made it possible. We started out primarily as a B2B printer, but Gelato helped open the B2C market for us.”
G&H Print Services Limited (Manchester, England) joined the Gelato Network in January 2015. Director Ian Lamb reports, “Working with Gelato has made a very positive impact on our business. It has streamlined our digital operation, and we’ve been able to carry a lot of positive changes throughout our production process. We know exactly what’s coming in, and every file is ready to go straight on press. Because we ourselves and Gelato both have full visibility of costs, invoicing and payment are never issues. This agreement has generated 100% new business, and the volume is reliable and growing.”
All print service providers are striving to increase efficiency, capture on-the-go consumers, and identify new sources of revenue with little or no cost to sales. Gelato’s business model appears to be working for a number of European organizations. This is definitely a technology worth exploring as you seek opportunities to utilize excess capacity, participate in today’s mobile world, and expand your business.