It has been a thoroughly successful comeback: After a forced break in 2021 due to corona, the Online Print Symposium has returned this year with a “big bang” in the truest sense of the word – and more than 250 participants from Europe and the world accepted the invitation. In our first wrap-up article on Day 1 of the Symposium, we reveal which topics were in focus on the first day of the event – and why everyone suddenly found themselves in the “lion’s den”.
First things first: The Online Print Symposium, which kicked off in the Munich’s Science Congress Center under the motto “Start Up and Print Online!” is the place-to-be for everyone at home in the online print industry or thinking about joining it. Nowhere else will industry insiders and experts provide such enlightening as well as valuable insights into online print developments and trends: A total of 12 top-class speakers from all over the world, six innovative start-ups and 13 partner companies in the associated exhibition were among this year’s “line-up”. But the main role was of course played by visitors in 2022 as well, because there is no better opportunity to network with the “who’s who” of the online print industry than the OPS.
On stage at OPS 2022
Roland Keppler, CEO of Onlineprinters, kicked things off. Under the motto “Internationalisation of Onlineprint,” he not only gave a behind-the-scenes look at the well-known group of companies, but also shared key learnings that Onlineprinters has taken away from the past two years. He was convinced that the Corona crisis had not only caused problems for the online print industry but had also acted as a catalyst. What will therefore shape the market most in the future, he said, is a shift in channels, the general and industrialisation-driven consolidation of market players, “consumerisation” and increased customer expectations, and the issue of sustainability.
Roland Keppler was certain that all these megatrends will provide plenty of stimulus and opportunities for online print companies. We will be reporting on which ones in the next few days here on beyond-print.de.
Why the 08/15 print shop has had its day
Then the stage belonged to Bernd Zipper, who spoke about the developments and trends in the online print industry in the DACH region. His talk was entitled “Restart” and picked up exactly where he left off in 2020: the forecasts for online printers were promising, then the pandemic hit. But sticking your head in the sand doesn’t apply to Bernd Zipper. Therefore, he recommended: Take note of the facts, evaluate and act. To survive crises like those of the last two years, courage and resilience are needed. Resilience, in other words, with all the associated qualities, can ultimately provide inspiration for important developments. Almost like a real superpower.
According to Zipper, the fact is that online print needs to be rethought – and that applies today more than ever. Because society has transformed in turbo mode, print buyers understand online mechanisms, understand mass customisation, and print on demand. In short, online has become the new “normal” for people – and at the same time has raised the demands and expectations of customers.
What does this mean for the printing industry and, above all, for online-generated print sales (OGPU), both now and in the future? We’ll be revealing that here in our blog soon. But this much can already be revealed: The era of 08/15 print shops is coming to an end and, at the same time, print will become more valuable and more appreciated in the future.
Diversity in the industry
What makes companies successful in online business also lies to a large extent in the internal employee and management structures, as Hanne Dinkel, Chief Customer Delivery Officer of the Spread Group, emphasised. Her presentation was themed “Women in leadership positions in the industry” – but it was actually about much more. Namely, why it is good to mix teams, hire more women and more employees from other countries, and also to break new ground when it comes to the company language.
The Spread Group itself is the best example of this. Spread Group, with its five well-known brands, employs people of 49 nationalities at its main site in Leipzig alone. More than half of the employees are female. In the director positions, the distribution is 50/50, and among managers, women even account for a share of over 57 percent. At the Polish site, on the other hand, the management team as a whole is almost 90 percent female. And what’s more, the company language is English. That, in turn, is an important argument when it comes to attracting the best specialists, including those from other countries. And the needs and strengths of different generations should not be ignored either.
From autodidact to successful online printer
Thomas Völcker, Managing Director of the Munich-based online print shop Topp Digital, gave a completely different insight into the online print business. After all, as an “autodidact” and career changer into the online print business, he could certainly confirm this: Firstly, a good printer is not automatically a successful online printer, and secondly, you don’t become a successful online printer overnight, reports Völcker from experience. Rather, the road to success is bumpy and riddled with all kinds of errors.
What are these errors? They include the belief that plug-and-play software tools can do everything with no effort, that IT experts can solve any problem, and that awareness can be achieved without online marketing. The managing director then explained what is involved and what lessons he has learned, using the example of his own online store TOPP-Druckwerkstatt.de, which started from scratch four years ago and is now running successfully.
But what do you need most to run a successful online print business? For Thomas Völcker, the answer is clear: COURAGE. And not in the general sense, but: Money, i.e., budget, entrepreneurship – that means perseverance, diligence, hard work and patience – and Target, i.e., goals, confidence and vision.
Digital leadership: What today’s leaders need to know
The presentation by Haeme Ulrich, founder of morntag GmbH from Switzerland and a proven expert in publishing and digital leadership, focused on the new way of managing a company and its employees. He pointed out that the economic upheavals our society is currently experiencing don’t have to be a bad thing. Instead, they offer many new opportunities that must also lead to a new understanding of organisation and leadership.
As always, there will be winners and losers in the face of the current challenges. But what makes a company a winner? On the one hand, new forms of collaboration, as Haeme Ulrich explained. But also, a new understanding of roles, including one or the other paradigm shift, such as “the customer is a partner, not king”. And last but not least, a new approach to technology is also crucial.
BeNeLux as a driver of the online print industry?
A look beyond one’s own backyard always gives an idea of new and exciting developments. That’s why it’s almost a tradition at the Online Print Symposium to take a look at other regions and countries. This year, Ramon van Wingerden, CEO and founder of the software company Prindustry in the Netherlands, spoke about trends in the BeNeLux region, where some changes in the printing industry are taking place a little earlier than elsewhere in Europe. For example, as he explained, the market for open and closed stores is currently changing a lot and there is an increasing merging of previously separate disciplines, such as online and offline. In addition, the changing communication habits of the various generations are driving changes and trends. And this is exactly what print companies have to deal with today.
Van Wingerden sees one possibility, for example, in the development of a genuine European marketplace, which he believes does not yet exist in this form, even if some platforms give this impression. However, in order to implement such projects, the right tools are also needed. To this end, Prindustry has recently been working on MACH technologies – but you’ll be reading about what’s behind them in a few days at beyond-print.de.
Six at a stroke
But new developments always include new (business) ideas. And it was precisely these that the Online Print Symposium 2022 addressed in the form of Insight Pitches. In the new format, startups of all persuasions were able to apply for one of the six slots advertised. In the end, these six made it:
- Hoodie Hoo, which combines intuitive software and creator solutions with the establishment of its own API-controlled textile production in Izmir to enable individual textile production from as little as 50 pieces and a production time of 20 days,
- Printess, whose creators have demonstrated how to easily manage complex products with strong margins,
- Lox Solution, which uses AI-driven technologies to detect inconsistencies in the, logistics process and thus help save lots of money
- Design’n Drink, which specialises in digital printing on aluminum cans,
- FotoSystem, an intuitive, cloud-based photo management, mass customisation and print platform made in Austria, and
- Imprimu, whose CEO and founder Miki Rubin provided insight into the online print world in Latin America.
If you want to find out more about the individual presentations at the Online Print Symposium, you should check back regularly at beyond-print.de. Because in the coming days and weeks, we’ll be talking about the individual topics in even more detail.
Oh, and: In order to present this year’s partner companies of the Online Print Symposium in a fitting manner, the team from zipcon and printXmedia came up with something special and, without further ado, set up their own version of the “Lion’s Den”. Did sappi, cloudlab, rissc, ctrl-s, Deutsche Post, Benchpool, Impressed, PrintBox and Screen manage to convince the strict “jury”?