Cloudprinter is aimed at app and store operators that require print capacities and at print providers looking for capacity utilization. What can this print API do?
Print job intermediation via platforms or cloud services can be attractive for a number of parties involved. Ideally buyers of print products can find a (local) print provider that meets their exact requirements quickly and easily, while store operators that want to add certain services to their offerings are not permanently forced to invest in machinery and infrastructural assets. At any rate an intermediary must do one thing – design the ordering process so that it is simple and reliable. On this note, I recently took a look at photo print segment APIs in this blog. Following its official launch in August, a new API provider, which in contrast to those previously profiled does not have any production capacity of its own, is now edging into the market. The Dutch start-up, Cloudprinter.com, based in Barendrecht, was established in 2015 by Martijn Eier and Mogens Winther and champions the extensive advantages of API-based print intermediation. The foundations for this are to be provided by a growing global network of print and logistics partners. I have taken a closer look at what’s behind this start-up business.
Cloudprinter’s API is aimed on the one hand at print and fulfillment partners for the purposes of expanding its network as well as at various types of consumers of print products on the other, and, according to Cloudprinter sources, is restricted neither to the European market nor to a specific product category. This is very ambitious in my opinion. But the company’s objectives don’t seem to have been plucked out of thin air, as it can rely on the support of well-known companies like Xerox and HP to help customers find the ideal network partner in one of its target markets in North or Central America, Europe, Asia (India) or Oceania.
Irrespective of which Cloudprinter functions you wish to use – all the services in this SaaS solution are intended to be provided on a cloud basis. The offering includes Starter, Business and Enterprise versions, which feature tiered pricing and are based on the volume of jobs to be processed. In addition to monthly costs of 999 Euros for the Business version, flat-rate job fees are also charged, starting at more than 500 jobs processed via the interface. So that could be worth print consumers‘ while, depending on the value and size of individual jobs – provided of course a suitable partner can be located via the network. Anybody that wants to handle a larger quantity of jobs on an API-basis has to select the “large” Enterprise version. And how does Cloudprinter ensure you can locate the right partner within the network? To select print providers, you have to specify your criteria within Cloudprinter and be able to reach quality agreements (routing) for each print job; the print partners for their part specify their services in advance. Furthermore the API is to feature integrated functions for print data PDF validation and provide buyers with order status notifications.
“The appeal of integration-capable, web-based ordering and workflow solutions is growing, in the print sector too. That applies in particular if they ensure greater production capacity utilization on the one hand and simpler, faster access to print products for consumers on the other.” – Bernd Zipper
Cloudprinter’s objective is to model entire print workflows including all production-relevant information via its functions in the cloud. An app and a backend admin console are to be provided for the purposes of monitoring and displaying orders in progress in an easy-to-understand format. Cloudprinter’s website provides information about the cloud application’s core functions, and while it provides a broad range of API documentation for those willing to integrate the API, layout/design could do with being tweaked to make it somewhat easier to understand, in order to present the modules in a more coherent way to potential customers and partners. But perhaps in this respect I have been too spoiled in the past.
My take: in order to derive sufficient profit from marketing the API, the software building blocks, and print job intermediation, Cloudprinter as a “newcomer” needs in future to process huge volumes and also establish a strong network. It needs to get its focus right. That’s because there is no lack of competition in this segment! There are already a couple of other major players, who may not be as broadly positioned as far as functions are concerned, but who already have a wealth of experience. At any rate I am curious to see how this start-up evolves. This certainly won’t be the last time that I report on print-industry APIs.