OPS 2017: What you can’t afford to miss – Onlineprinters Group expands internationally and Gelato, the professional digital print jobs broker

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No other online print event facilitates the transfer of know-how, the sharing of visions and at the same time the successful search for collaborative partners as well as the Online Print Symposium does. What’s the reason for that?

As already advised, the Online Print Symposium, which is due to open its doors next week, is not just packed with highlights, in fact it consists of a comprehensive program of events that provides valuable insights into the online print sector for every executive from the industry. This will provide the basis for conversations between online print experts and executives, which will then generate a partnership (to some extent market-dominating) or two in the future. What is important to note is that company size does not play a role. This is where the SMEs of the online print industry meet the big boys; established players get in touch with startups. A glance at the program on both event days shows why the OPS is again the place to be for online print decision-makers, not least given the significant increase in delegate numbers over the past few years and the more noticeable drive towards internationalization. To give you a brief taster of some of the highlights, I shall now profile two more top speakers and their companies.

Onlineprinters – Not just a major player in Germany

Onlineprinters recently demonstrated this by acquiring Solopress (UK). It has been in the online print business since 2004. The company, which is now one of Europe’s largest web-to-print providers, emerged from a regional job-printing business, based in the Bavarian town of Neustadt an der Aisch, which is where its 3 production facilities are still located. Its success in Europe is based on its 16 local-language online print stores, which showcase Onlineprinters’ product range and therefore reach out to customers in 30 European countries. The Group’s range of products primarily includes B2B-typical business offset print items as well as digital print LFP products. Together with recently acquired UK-based online print company, Solopress, the Onlineprinters Group employs more than 800 people. Onlineprinters has made substantial progress since mid-2016 in terms of accessing customers in Western Europe and of enhancing its product portfolio. Dr. Michael Fries, CEO of Onlineprinters, will be delivering a special keynote on the second day of the OPS. He terms aspects that his company regards as key to performing successfully in the online print market as follows: “We will expand our product range as we have done previously. The key thing is to identify needs in the market and to listen to your customers. […] Customers have learned from major players like Amazon et al that nearly everything is available the next day – these are the standards that we need to meet.”

Michael Fries and Onlineprinters are already “old Online Print Symposium hands”. This is me with him during a podium discussion at OPS 2016; Source: zipcon consulting

Gelato – smart cloud solution gives digital print partners greater production volumes

Gelato, based in Norway, is a successful broker of print jobs. Besides the Gelato network, which forms the core of its international business, the technology company also provides a digital brand management system (Gelato Globe), a white-label solution for consumer brands (Gelato Air) and a special website for photo products (Optimalprint), which is aimed primarily at families as consumers. The network incorporates various components, such as the software and billing system used, professional print companies and affiliated shipping companies – a northern European full service for digital print products. Henrik Müller-Hansen, CEO of Gelato, rates the network as follows: “We are convinced that this network enables us to provide the right platform, with the aid of which international companies can manage their brands both digitally and physically.” Based on his experiences, his business partner Mike Arbuzov, CTO of Gelato, will deal with the topics of print networks plus print and competitiveness convergence in his presentation on the first day of the event.

“Major international online print players and successful cloud service providers that don’t have their own printing presses – all facets of the online print industry are on display at the OPS.” – Bernd Zipper

Since Gelato does not have any printing facilities of its own, it forwards orders to one of its print partners, which operate state-of-the-art digital printing presses and otherwise meet the broker’s high finishing and quality standards. Gelato handles pre-press itself, meaning all orders are pooled and handed over its partners ready to print. For digital print providers, being a member of the Gelato network means significantly higher production capacity utilization and greater efficiency throughout the process. Last year around one million individual orders were fulfilled via the network.

Gelato attaches great importance to the quality provided by its digital print partners; Source: Gelato SA

My take: We are again set for another two days packed with inspirational and profitable opportunities to help entrepreneurs gear up their online print businesses for the future. Last week I reported on the partnership between Onlineprinters and the letterpress specialist, Letterjazz. This partnership originated at the Online Print Symposium in 2015 – so the industry’s leading international event provides the ideal platform for such collaborative ventures and sharing online print business ideas. And other web-to-print obstacles and opportunities will be focused on in the Hilton Munich Airport on April 6 and 7. I am already looking forward to it!

Founder and CEO of zipcon consulting GmbH, one of the leading consulting companies for the print and media industry in Central Europe. The technology and strategy consultant and his team actively support practical implementation in a wide variety of customer projects. His work involves developing visions, concepts and strategies for the players active in the print production process across a wide range of industries. His areas of expertise include online print, mass customization, strategy and technological assessment for print, and the development of new strategies in the print and media environment. Bernd Zipper is the creator and chairman of Initiative Online Print e.V. and, in addition to his consulting activities, is an author, lecturer and sought-after speaker, orator and moderator. His visionary lectures are regarded worldwide as trend-setting management recommendations for the print and media industry. (Profiles also in Xing, LinkedIn).

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