Print buyers know the procedure: Specify requirements, find suitable production partners, obtain offers, evaluate, decide. This takes time; sometimes even 10 to 15 days. But it doesn’t have to, says Lucas Scherer, founder and CEO of sourc-e. The Cologne-based start-up, which was launched six years ago to digitize print purchasing, has since developed into a full-service print broker with a powerful network of international print shops behind it. What does that mean? It’s high time we had a chat!
Lucas Scherer is actually a trained business economist, having worked for many years in management consulting and also supported major brands, corporations and publishing houses in purchasing. At the same time, however, he is also an optimizer and automator – so the question of whether the recurring tasks in the purchasing process for print products could be digitized was an obvious one.
It was no sooner said than done. Together with Felix Severing, also a sourc-e managing director, he developed an algorithm that automates and digitizes the proposal and pricing process for print products on the basis of how they are calculated. What was initially the company’s main product or service is now part of an entire platform solution. After all, sourc-e has made considerable progress in recent years – despite the challenges posed by the pandemic.
The company, which now has a good 40 employees, primarily provides print purchasing services to large companies, brand owners and corporate groups – and does so comprehensively, given that sourc-e today provides an entire system that can be integrated into the customer’s ERP system via interfaces and across the respective process chain. The most important pillar of the platform – in addition to the IT and the algorithms – is the network of print shops that ultimately produce the jobs that are requested via sourc-e. The sourc-e network now numbers more than 250 print shops in 17 countries. Lucas Scherer’s team knows each of them personally – after all, as an intermediary, the startup is ultimately responsible for quality and delivery reliability. Accordingly, the topic of quality management is important to sourc-e. There are audits in the onboarding process, ongoing checks, reporting on customer feedback to the print partner – but above all transparent communication with each other.
Because sourc-e doesn’t want to sell primarily on the price argument, but on the entire package. And that includes not only an appropriate price, but also (reproducible) quality, delivery reliability, good communication, and above all the savings potential offered by process optimization. “We want a fair solution for all parties involved,” says Lucas Scherer, and “price beating is not sustainable.”
Last but not least, sourc-e is just as committed to the print shops in the network as it is to the companies that use the platform for their print purchases – and ideally become regular customers. That’s why the Cologne team also has to balance the network, select print shops carefully, and ensure that the producers also receive regular orders. This calls for a sure instinct – as well as new approaches. For example, sourc-e now also offers a reseller system.
What’s behind this, how the sourc-e platform works in detail, how customers’ requirements for print products have changed in recent years, and what role their own employees play for Lucas Scherer and Felix Severing, you can find out in the latest episode of our podcast “Zippers Insights”. It’s worth a click.