Internet pioneer "flyerpara.de" switches to HIFLEX Webshop
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Aachen - The Internet portal flyerpara has been online for around eight years. At the beginning, the sole objective pursued by its operator – Ortmaier Druck GmbH, based in Frontenhausen, about 100 km northeast of Munich, Germany – was to test the market acceptance of selling printed products via the Internet. Their website functioned quite well for a self-programmed system offering postcards and business cards, at least until more and more customers began to use the portal for their orders and the range of products began to rapidly expand. In this phase, an external service provider was hired to take care of the programming – but he, too, was eventually unable to handle the demand.
Ortmaier Druck's managing director Stefan Ortmaier had issued a clear directive for the future: "We cannot continue with our two-pronged production approach. The classic method of using one channel for Internet orders and one for orders calculated is just not effective in our environment." The traditional method of working was obviously interfering with the transparency of both administrative and production processes, while the turnover from online orders was beginning to reach the levels of conventional orders. "Everything in one system" was the goal that Ortmaier had to reach in order to maintain profitability. The solution was HIFLEX Webshop.
Ortmaier estimates with HIFLEX Webshop
"Print companies which operate exclusively through a web portal have things a lot easier than we do, because they have no additional interfaces to worry about," says Stefan Ortmaier, outlining his business situation. "Our staff must still be able to calculate quotations for classic orders. After all, it is pretty unlikely that a customer is going to order a book with refined finishing or a complex high-volume catalogue via the Internet. These customers still contact us by phone to obtain a normal quotation." Stefan Ortmaier also admits that these alternative quotations could be a source of problems, because a traditional estimation does not necessarily produce the same result as a Webshop calculation. "We cannot afford to quote different prices for jobs which customers could just calculate online by themselves."
Nevertheless, Stefan Ortmaier accepts this tightrope walk, because it mainly concerns jobs which either cannot be requested via the Internet portal or can be calculated at flyerpara.de by the office staff. The latter has become quite a common practice.
Flyerpara.de places trust in HIFLEX Webshop
The Internet portal flyerpara.de was redesigned in October of last year, attracting new customers to the re-launched web portal. To be able to satisfy the growing demands of print buyers, Stefan Ortmaier chose to place his trust in HIFLEX Webshop. HIFLEX supplies its Web2Print solution as a plug-in module for the open source content management system Drupal, which offers print companies simple and professional tools for Webshop administration. "The new system has allowed us to enable many new functions, giving us the ability to offer our customers even more services," says Stefan Ortmaier.
The implementation of this system has proven the validity in the saying "success is the fruit of hard work." The HIFLEX concept demands a certain initial commitment on the part of the user, but they are soon able to reap the plentiful benefits. Stefan Ortmaier explains: "Before you get to sit back, relax and watch the sales come in with a flexible quotation tool, you have to feed the system with accurate hourly rates, machine data, paper prices and a whole host of additional details. This process is actually quite demanding. On the other hand, there is no need to continually type in long price lists. The system calculates its prices in real-time, which is an invaluable benefit. If the price of a particular kind of paper changes, for example, I only have to enter the new paper price in the database and all of the products using this paper will automatically reflect the adjustment. Once the system is set up, HIFLEX Webshop saves an enormous amount of time when individual factors change."
When the basic framework is in place, it is a very straightforward process to add or modify the most varied products as needed. For Stefan Ortmaier, this is a decisive advantage of the content management system Drupal which contains the HIFLEX solution. "Layout changes are child's play and, as an example, it takes only a few minutes to rename predefined elements to reflect the precise nature of our particular services." Every user can make modifications such as this without needing to contact the programmers at HIFLEX.
Extremely broad product range
Flexibility is an imperative. After all, the constant investment in equipment at Ortmaier Druck is mirrored in a constantly growing product range. The equipment purchased in 2009 included a digital press, a new folder, a saddle-stitcher, a perfect binder, a gatherer and a cellophaning machine. "This new equipment influences both our portfolio and production processes, so I had no choice but to amend the structure of the Internet portal," says Stefan Ortmaier.
The whole company is characterized by a high level of innovation and a uniquely broad spectrum of activities. Stefan Ortmaier went on to say "Our prepress boasts the latest technology with a Prinergy workflow and the fully automatic CtP platesetter Lotem 800 from Kodak, which guarantees a very smooth production chain. Back in 2005, we were one of the first printers in Bavaria to obtain PSO certification." Ortmaier Druck was also the second company in the whole of Germany to switch to CtP.
Alongside its state-of-the-art equipment, such as a four-color Roland 700 and a five-color KBA Rapida 105 coater press, Ortmaier is still able to rely on the services of machinery with a much longer tradition. "And for good reason," says Stefan Ortmaier with a smile, "because the old plate and cylinder are actually running larger quantities than back in my grandfather's day. This means that we can offer our customers an comprehensive assortment of processes which other companies are unable to match. We can handle embossing, stitching, binding, die-cutting, perforating, numbering, and much more." Ortmaier Druck also offers logistics services, such as the addressing and distribution of customer orders.
Ortmaier Druck is more than just a "normal" offset print company in many respects. In 2001, for example, a screen/textile printing department was set up. Stickers, signs, T-shirts, sweatshirts, work clothing and cotton bags, are just a sampling of the items offered, all of which are refined to the highest quality standards. There is no shortage of creativity in Frontenhausen, so it seemed only natural to establish a separate "promotional materials" department, with a product portfolio ranging from advertising banners, contour-cut stickers, vehicle graphics, and illuminated advertising to flags, displays, roll-ups, sign systems and more. All of these products can be ordered directly through the print company's website.
Last but not least, Ortmaier Druck publishes and prints the weekly advertiser "Vilstalbote". Five regional editions with a circulation of 110,000 copies and a total of 400 pages are printed on the company's own web offset press.
Exploiting the lead
In view of such diversity, one might wonder if there is anything that Ortmaier cannot print. "Money" is the spontaneous answer from Stefan Ortmaier. And in response to the question as to how many products flyerpara.de offers, he simply shrugs his shoulders: "I have no idea, and there is also little point in trying to count, because – in addition to the standard products in defined formats and quantities – our portal customers can specify their own individual formats and the number of copies to be printed. HIFLEX Webshop calculates an exact quotation for these orders, too."
Stefan Ortmaier recognizes this extreme flexibility as a significant advantage over other Internet portals which are rigid in their specifications of what is possible and what is not: "Others will probably follow our example, but we can make full use of our advantages and exploit the lead we have established."
Stefan Ortmaier is convinced that Internet customers, in particular, look very closely at the products a print company offers. However, with the intuitive and convenient user interface of Webshop, as well as the option of designing non-standard products and the "fantastic service", flyerpara.de is easily able to hold its own against larger Web2Print portals.
Thanks to HIFLEX Webshop, Ortmaier Druck has acquired a large customer base, even extending outside its own region. Stefan Ortmaier points out that this can prove to be an important factor in difficult economic times, as customers are spread over many different industries and the level of diversification is very high. At the same time, the extensive product range of Ortmaier Druck is paying off. Fortunately, Stefan Ortmaier is not going to let his company's success go to his head: "We have expanded in many directions in the past few years, but it has always been planned, purposeful and within reasonable dimensions."
This structured and strategic approach to growth reflects the foresightedness of a businessman who views online storefronts with carefully considered and calculated business planning. "If I had to start again now, I would still set out slowly on a small scale to test the waters and functionality, and then go for a full solution once the demand is there," says Stefan Ortmaier, adding: "If you ask me, the HIFLEX Web2Print solution was absolutely the right decision. Now we can think about getting into the 'fast lane'."
Box: Ortmaier Druck
Ortmaier Druck was founded in Frontenhausen, Germany by Willi and Anna Ortmaier in 1966. In November 1973, the "Vilstalbote" was published for the first time as an advertising magazine for the immediate area. Currently it is published weekly in five regional editions with a total circulation of over 110,000 copies. Helmut and Georgine Ortmaier, who took over the business in 1978, first expanded at the original location, before moving into a new building at the present site in 1989. The web offset press installed in that same year is still printing the "Vilstalbote" today. By 1996, Ortmaier Druck was one of the first print companies in Germany to adopt the new computer-to-plate technology, and backed this decision with the purchase of a four-color sheetfed offset press. With the establishment of the new textile/screen printing and signage departments in 2001, the company continued to extend its service portfolio, before launching the online portal www.flyerpara.de in August 2002. Additional investments have introduced new technologies and adapted the company structure to changing demands. This development also included certification by Process Standard Offset in 2005 – making them the first print company in Lower Bavaria to receive it. The family owned business Ortmaier Druck, which is managed jointly by brothers Stefan and Rainer Ortmaier, is home to 150 employees.