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Printello Goes with HIFLEX Webshop

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Press release from the issuing company

(November 05, 2008) We actually wanted to talk about "Printello", a new Web2Print portal set up in the summer and in the meantime promising "quality for all". But that, too, brought us straight back to the overall situation facing the print industry, to worries and fears, price competition, constantly changing market conditions, and a barely predictable future. Werner Dinauer, managing director of both Dinauer Medienbetrieb and the Printello portal, views the developments with the imperative seriousness which every print entrepreneur shares in times like these, but he is still far from falling into despair or pure lamentation. "As long as a print product as such still exists, someone will have to print it." But what if certain print products become obsolete, or are simply no longer demanded by the market? "Then we need to sit down and invent new products," is the spontaneous reply.

This is the kind of attitude which convinces, and can lend others necessary courage. Werner Dinauer, after all, is not just a man of words, and has long since put his proposed approach into practice. He rejects mere black-or-white evaluations, and turns his attention instead to the many grey levels between these two extremes. "It is not really a question of 'either-or', for example between digital and offset print. It is much more important to look for the 'as-well-as', and to identify the genuinely customer-oriented solution."

Differentiation from traditional business

It is thus perfectly natural for Werner Dinauer that a long-established "normal" print company should be joined under a single roof by an Internet portal for print products. "The customers of Dinauer Medienbetrieb come to us with products which require considerable prior discussion and call for changing combinations of printing technologies. This type of business is founded on know-how, experience, awareness of the customers' situation, and a close mutual relationship. And that will also remain so." That is all Werner Dinauer is prepared to say about his original company, which also enjoys a good reputation far beyond the local Munich region. And that with good reason. "We don't deny that Printello constitutes an additional sales channel, but it is at the same time an independent company, and is to be promoted under an independent trademark."

This is one of the points which are understood to distinguish Printello from other similar portals. "Printello is not itself an active print provider, but instead markets print products." The portal can thus operate fully independently of Dinauer Medienbetrieb, and is not just a new label for an old product, as in many other cases. Some of the products can indeed be printed by Dinauer, but there are also products which are bought from external providers: Products which Dinauer is simply not in a position to offer. This is where Werner Dinauer has spotted the potential for Printello to break out of the confines of traditional print business. "It is not that we are not interested in agency and industry customers ¬– we are also offering these customers classic print products via the Internet. But the general aim is to come closer to the end user, in other words to those who today only buy occasionally, but who could in future perhaps be a source of many more orders." Werner Dinauer has very clear visions of the road ahead. But he also recognises that he cannot do everything at once, and so individual ideas have to wait their turn. After all, there is no shortage of work to be done to implement the design wishes of the Printello marketing team, and above all to further boost public awareness for the portal.

Buying should be fun

One essential difference between a traditional order for print products and Web-based marketing is the fact that there is no face-to-face dialogue to offer advice to an Internet customer. "For this reason, the website must be structured as simply as possible – practically self-explanatory," says Werner Dinauer. "The customer must be able to see immediately what is being offered, how orders are processed and which inputs are necessary." An attractive appearance is thus a top priority for Printello, because buying should be fun and the customer should feel happy with the transaction. In this way, as Werner Dinauer points out, it is also possible to build up a certain customer loyalty via the Internet. "Customers are generally not out to switch continually from one website to the next, but instead look for a portal with which to stay. And let's not forget the many customers who specifically want to use the Internet for their orders: They know what they want, and have no intention of engaging in extensive communication." A diversity of facts and challenges, which Werner Dinauer plans to meet as professionally as possible.

In this context, the HIFLEX system offers him practically boundless freedoms. The HIFLEX Webshop is a fully independent product with a management information system – albeit with a somewhat reduced functionality compared to HIFLEX MIS – running in the background, with its own data flow and its own Web server. "The product configurator, the heart of the HIFLEX Webshop, is in our opinion the most modern solution currently on the market. A convincing product which offers extensive flexibility and immediately impressed us more than the alternatives," says Werner Dinauer. He is certain that he has the right tool in his hands.

HIFLEX Webshop as the basis

The Printello website is designed to be pleasing to the eye, with a calm layout combining unobtrusive green highlights and modest grey backgrounds. The desired product can be selected quickly from a horizontal scroll bar. The configuration of an individual product is extremely simple and is not overburdened with technical terminology (as is the case with many other portals). It is defined in next to no time from the properties format, number of pages, colour, paper, finishing and refinement. And it is no more complicated to order a product comprising several parts, for example cover and content. Plausibility checks already exclude unworkable combinations during the configuration process, and any inherently necessary processing steps are added.

Despite this extensive range of combination possibilities, the operator of the portal still only needs to keep a limited number of articles available in the background: 20 individual components can already be combined into over 1,000 different final products. Changes affecting certain articles (for example a new price for a particular paper type) must only be updated once and then apply for all dependent products.

As soon as product definition is completed, the applicable prices are shown for various order volumes. The customer can also specify an individual quantity, can open a PDF quotation containing a full product specification, and is offered direct information on the last deadline for receipt of the job data for Printello to be able to meet the desired delivery date, or on when and how a finished product was dispatched.

After registration and login, the customer can view a detailed overview of the stored delivery and invoice addresses and the agreed form of payment. Automatically generated invoices are sent to the customer via e-mail in the form of a PDF file.

The next step offered by the Webshop is a facility to upload the print data for the job. These data can be communicated to Printello in one of two ways: Either immediately as a data uploads upon order completion, or else at any later time with the aid of an upload link sent to the customer with the relevant order confirmation. Following upload, the data are subjected to a preflight check at Printello. This check serves both to document the process and to maximise processing reliability. The job data are not passed on for actual printing until the customer has clicked a corresponding button to confirm that they are complete and correct.

The HIFLEX Webshop used by Printello is not only extremely convenient on the side of the print buyer but a significant proportion of the administrative processes can be handled automatically by the HIFLEX backend: Customer master data, delivery addresses and orders are managed, and the system creates the appropriate quotations, order confirmations, job dockets, invoices and delivery notes automatically. There is even an interface to the UPS delivery service, via which a request for package collection can be placed and standardised UPS shipping labels can be created with a valid tracking number.

Not an off-the-shelf solution

"As far as design and process sequence are concerned, we have absolute freedom of choice, because the HIFLEX Webshop is in this respect open in all directions," says Werner Dinauer, without hiding the fact that this did not necessarily make his initial task simpler. "It is only natural for the design and start-up phases to demand patience on the part of the user – it is a whole new medium, after all," he explains. Including concept preparation, elaboration of the technical specifications and the selection and installation of the system itself, he has now been working on the project for around a year. "We installed the Webshop in May, a test phase ran until mid-June, and then we began with optimisation." The latter is a permanent process: Printello is long since online, but modifications, amendments and improvements are still regular items on the daily agenda.

Werner Dinauer remains self-critical: "We have now accomplished about 85% of what we have planned." Various aspects await further optimisation before the website finally reaches the level envisaged by the Printello team. But on the other hand, the Webshop is not an off-the-shelf solution. "You need a systematic approach to the project, but then you can adapt the portal precisely to your individual needs and circumstances."

Climate-neutral print is catching on

Whichever way you look at it, the marketing of print products via the Internet is a world of its own. "We offer low prices, but we have no intention of joining the pricebusters at the cheap end of the market," says Werner Dinauer. "It is not only the price which counts – we are noticing that time and again. Look at our presentation folders, for example. The customers don't automatically choose the cheapest offer, and are clearly willing to pay a little more for a high-quality product." The customers already take competitive pricing, quality and punctual delivery for granted, and so other factors play an increasingly significant role. Werner Dinauer: "We also offer our Internet customers the option of climate-neutral printing and specify the associated CO2 emissions. And a sizeable majority of the customers do indeed demand climate-neutral print."

For Werner Dinauer, the essential prerequisite for a portal like Printello, alongside marketing expertise, is imaginative product development. "You need both a fertile imagination and corresponding product know-how. We feel it is our duty to be proactive and to offer customers products which are either completely new or at least not yet one of the options they usually consider." 

As a vivid illustration of such products, Printello offers a sample folder for six euros. This price can be offset against a subsequent order, and according to Werner Dinauer the customers "certainly make good use of this offer." The folder not only presents the available collection of papers, but also contains various product examples, such as labels, envelopes, flyers, brochures and postcards.

Future focus on marketing?

"Web2Print is already today a lot more widespread than some people think," says Werner Dinauer. He is convinced that we will be seeing further considerable shifts in the market for print products, referring not just to the standard products offered by the numerous portals, but above all to individual solutions including product refinements such as embossing, die-cutting and other finishing steps besides. It is his strong belief that portals for special solutions have an important future, and that print companies which forego this additional marketing channel via the Internet could be facing difficult times. Perhaps the future will bring a focus on the marketing of print products – not exclusively on their production. If that is the way things turn out, then Werner Dinauer is already ideally prepared.




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