So print is no longer a lucrative business? Au contraire! That’s provided you have in-depth knowledge of your market, what opportunities it provides, and in particular what it doesn’t provide. A Turkish online print start-up demonstrates how it works.
Visitors to the Online Print Symposium know that this leading industry event is of an international caliber. It also brings entrepreneurs from other countries, where online print is not yet as commonplace as in these parts, to the D/A/CH region. For that reason alone, it is interesting to see what’s happening on the print marketing front in other parts of this continent. What can be said for certain is that you don’t need to have your own printing presses. This interview with Onur Durmuş, COO and co-founder of bidolubaski.com, provides a brief insight into the growing Turkish online print – and how this particular print provider is evolving in that market. All I will say beforehand is that this online print start-up (established in 2014) knows pretty much where it is “headed”. I don’t want to reveal any more – read the interview for yourselves ?
Bernd Zipper: For all those people in the D/A/CH region, who are not yet familiar with you or your company: what does Bidolubaski do and how did you get started in the online print industry?
Onur Durmuş: bidolubaski.com is a W2P company that allows SME’s to acquire all marketing material through an online platform.
We are three friends who spent many years living in different parts of the world. Having an entrepreneurial mindset, we considered various business ideas. Finally, we decided that our investor founders experience in the printing industry would be beneficial to our new venture and we started bidolubaski.com. We are extremely pleased with that decision.
Bernd Zipper: How large is the online print market in Turkey in terms of sales volume and as a proportion of the total print market? How big is Bidolubaski?
Onur Durmuş: The commercial print market in Turkey is estimated to be 10 billion Turkish Liras (about 1.8 billion Euros). Currently, we can say that the market is made of almost entirely by traditional print houses. Within the past 3 years, bidolubaski.com managed to acquire 75,000 SME’s among 2.5 million and delivered more than 200,000 orders to-date. We are very proud of our NPS of 47. Our annual growth rate remains 100% after these 3 years. Our goal is to establish ourselves as the leading brand for all B2B companies in Turkey and eventually become a regional player.
Bernd Zipper: Do you maintain collaborative or partnership relationships with other print providers?
Onur Durmuş: We do not have production facilities at bidolubaski.com therefore our business model is based on transparent partnerships with the best suppliers within Turkey. We built very strong business relationships with 86 different suppliers and we deliver 150+ products daily through our supplier network. This business model allows us to be asset light, financially strong and flexible for new ideas.
Bernd Zipper: You visited the Online Print Symposium this year. What in your opinion distinguishes the mentality of western European companies in the print sector from that of their counterparts in the Near East?
Onur Durmuş: I think the mentality is not very different, but the context and the time frame is different. There are main expectations of customers anywhere in the world like; faster delivery, better prices, quality products and services. These expectations shape our mentalities as well; however the “benchmark” expectations in Near East is not yet up to European standards. We see this as an opportunity as we believe Middle Eastern companies who held themselves to the European standards will outpace the expectations in their local market, giving them a significant advantage over the competition.
Bernd Zipper: The Internet is not yet as widespread in rural areas of Turkey – how do you see things developing in this respect?
Onur Durmuş: Internet penetration in the past years grew 10 % annually, reaching 70 % mark in Turkey. On the other hand, based on statistics of the year 2017, online shopping ratio was 24.9 % for the consumers: a 20 % increase from 20.9 % the year before. Considering this ratio is approximately 40 % in Central Europe, we foresee that the market will be twice as big in the coming years.
We see a similar correlation if we look at GDP in Europe and Turkey. While the share of e-commerce in Turkey in 2017 was only 4. %, it was 9.8 % in developed countries. A young population (ages 15 to 24) of 13 million is also a potential for e-commerce growth.
In our sector particularly and compared to Europe, it is more difficult for SME’s in the rest of Turkey (outside of Istanbul, a population of 60 million people) to procure printed materials. We are aware that they buy low quality products at a high price in small printing companies in Anatolia; hence this remains an exciting and important opportunity for us going forward.
“As far as online print offering standards are concerned, the European online print market sets benchmarks that surrounding regions are guided by!” – Bernd Zipper
Bernd Zipper: Is there a difference between analog print companies and online print providers in Turkey in relation to how customers rate their regional importance? And do Turkish print customers act differently compared to customers in Central Europe?
Onur Durmuş: Clients who require fast delivery sometimes prefer traditional printing houses due to their location. However, we try to overcome this challenge by offering fast production options and free shipping via our professional delivery partners to every location in Turkey. Fast delivery, high quality products and service (which is often a point of dissatisfaction with traditional printing houses) as well as our customer-centric structure helps clients change their habits.
Bernd Zipper: What is the best way of reaching out to customers in print in Turkey and the surrounding region?
Onur Durmuş: If we look at the current situation “as is” significantly higher proportion of the sales are made by traditional field visits and some retail spots. The market is fragmented and seems price sensitive but there are huge number of underserved, higher expectation SME’s in Turkey. Building a brand around a consistent, excellent customer care with a reasonable price range is the best way to reach out customers.
Bernd Zipper: Many online print providers in the D/A/CH region regard “doing business abroad” as very important. What is the situation with you and your competitors as regards cross-border deliveries?
Onur Durmuş: Many online print providers in the D/A/CH region regard “doing business abroad” as very important. What is the situation with you and your competitors as regards cross-border deliveries?
Europe is our neighbour therefore an area we would like to expand into. With the depreciation of Turkish Lira, Turkish companies are also becoming even more competitive on prices. We believe this is an interesting opportunity for our growth (as we also notice orders from areas in Europe with a high Turkish population.)
Bernd Zipper: According to forecasts, eCommerce sales as a proportion of total retail sales in Turkey are set to double in the next four years – does that also apply to print products that you can order online?
Onur Durmuş: Absolutely. Especially for companies with a customer centric approach, right value proposition and a wide product range one can achieve beyond these rates in the printing sector.
Bernd Zipper: In what direction is Bidolubaski set to evolve? In what technologies will you be investing?
Onur Durmuş: Bidolubaski wants to be ‘the’ company SME’s think of first for all their print requirements. In order to achieve this, we wish to grow our product range and meet the demand while maintaining a high service quality. Our technology investments will be into pre-print process, product management and supply chain management.
Bernd Zipper: And in what direction is online print in Turkey heading?
Onur Durmuş: Online print sector in Turkey is still in its infancy. As the largest player, in 3 years we have twice the volume of our closest competitor which shows how much the sector can grow with the right team and investments. The potential for online print business in Turkey is also apparent when compared to the ratio of ‘e-commerce over traditional retail’ in sectors such as clothing, electronics or alike. Once the sector reaches the conversion rates of other e-commerce categories in Turkey, it will have grown 10 times. We expect the market to grow rapidly with continued investments.
My take: there is sufficient growth potential for the online print sector in Turkey. This makes it a lucrative location for conducting not only regional and nationwide but also cross-border business in online print products. The approach taken by bidolubaski.com as an online print provider, in particular in rethinking the old print supply structures in areas outside the conurbations will be even more successful when the benefits of the online business have been grasped in these regions. And the fact that Onur Durmuş’ growth expectations are thoroughly realistic is demonstrated by business models like Helloprint, which have grown rapidly within a very short space of time in what tend to be saturated markets – and continue to do so. European (online) print businesses will certainly be hearing more often from this ambitious Turkish online print provider in the future.