Letterpress business cards are handcrafted works of the printer’s art – and Onlineprinters recently added them to its portfolio. What’s behind this partnership between these “small” and “large” print providers?
For those folk who may have forgotten – Letterpresso, one of the largest letterpress studios, has operated its own print store online since March 2016. Extending the reach of the Essen-based print specialist was on the agenda in February 2017, via a partnership with one of Europe’s online print big boys, Onlineprinters. Quality comes at a price – and deep-embossed business cards are not consistently regarded as “typical” online print products. So why not start offering this niche product on a larger platform and thus get customers that previously associated letterpress with letters to acquire a taste for these handcrafted print items. To mark the start of this partnership between this small print company and one of Europe’s largest online print providers, I headed off for a conversation with Sven Winterstein, owner of Letterjazz, and Michael Fries, CEO of Onlineprinters.
Bernd Zipper: It is interesting to see two print providers of such different sizes and specialisms working together. How did this partnership come about?
Sven Winterstein: In 2015 I gave a presentation about our own online print activities to the specialist audience at the Online Print Symposium in Munich, which subsequently opened up a most gratifying channel of communication with Onlineprinters, in which common ideas were looked at in a very constructive way.
Michael Fries: The product examples demonstrated by Letterjazz at the OPS were very exciting. After a couple of conversations and reciprocal visits, we spoke about an actual partnership. Given that Onlineprinters also has traditional job printing roots, and we therefore feel we have a bond with the traditions of the printer’s craft, the partnership with Letterjazz is a really good fit with our business. Sven’s company only uses vintage Heidelberg letterpress printing presses, which can be used to produce the premium products that some of our customers want to buy.
Bernd Zipper: Since when have Onlineprinters’ customers been able to buy letterpress business cards?
Michael Fries: Letterpress business cards have been available from diedruckerei.de and our international Onlineprinters stores since mid-February 2017.
Bernd Zipper: What was the idea behind the link-up or rather what do you expect of this relationship?
Michael Fries: The primary idea behind any product launch is that we always want to provide benefits to our customers. In this specific case we are giving them access to a particular printing method. Of course we want to enhance our customer retention by doing this. Our customers will hopefully associate as many positive buying experiences as possible with our business. The more products we offer, the more opportunities we have to achieve this. That is why we incorporated 80 new products into our range last year and are continuing the expansion of our portfolio this year too.
Sven Winterstein: We have already demonstrated with Letterpresso.com that letterpress is an attractive offering for print customers, especially online. The idea that a major online print business like Onlineprinters with its more than 15 web stores sells such a specialist product in international markets makes this partnership an exciting one for us.
“Even if they can’t be sold at discount prices, the major players know the value that such niche print products add to their own portfolios.” – Bernd Zipper
Bernd Zipper: Letterpress business cards are indeed very special print products. What benefits do customers derive from being able to purchase them from a larger platform?
Sven Winterstein: Since Onlineprinters has a very strong following especially among technically well versed or experienced print customers, you can say that a luxury offering like letterpress ideally complements the one-stop-shopping concept “at the top end”. I personally am delighted that letterpress in general is appearing on the radar of those customers, who were not previously aware of this printing method and the distinctive charm of letterpress print products.
Bernd Zipper: How is the whole thing shaping up and what other letterpress products can we expect during the course of this partnership?
Michael Fries: We have already delivered the first orders placed. We recently rolled out our communications campaign and will monitor if and how this topic appeals to our customers for a while. At the same time we definitely see demand and can imagine offering this printing method for other products too in the near future.
This is a valuable partnership, which, as is so often the case, originated at the OPS. So I should like to take this opportunity to advise you that Dr. Michael Fries will give the Special Keynote on the second day (April 7) of the upcoming Online Print Symposium at the beginning of April. That will be an enriching experience for delegates and the entire event, not least because of all that’s been happening at Onlineprinters in the last six months.
My take: Great stuff – I hope that both parties make a success of this concept and that as many discerning buyers as possible just try it out. Basically the principle of integrating so-called niche print products into wider product portfolios has got a viable future. If it works out, that would be a win-win situation for both sides – Onlineprinters could permanently incorporate another high-quality print product in its store for its discerning customers and Letterjazz would gain a broader customer base. And since premium print products have not been the preserve of offline print providers for a long time now, the letterpress printing method will continue to gain a foothold in the online print segment. That gives rise to a desire for more such forms of cooperation that enhance online print as a whole…