Online print is growing – and that applies to Eastern Europe too. Two years ago Interak launched a powerful, expanding brand on the online print market – indeed PrintUp compares well to the major Western European players.
The fact that the major German players in the online print business export a great deal to other European countries is not news to anybody. Exporting accounts for some 5 to 10 percent of total sales at most of these companies. Of course the main markets usually include Austria and Switzerland – and the larger German online print providers are increasingly focusing on countries like France and Spain. But what about markets that lie further east, including Poland? It’s a lucrative market, otherwise some of the major players would not have production facilities and domains dedicated to serving the Polish market. I have documented the cross-border activities of some (German) print providers in the overview below. In this context activities in a particular country always means reaching out to a target audience using a country domain and/or the number of production and sales locations stated by the online print providers.
Yet the figures in the overview indicate a certain “dominance” on the part of the major (German) players. That’s because conversely it appears that online print providers from other European countries – with a few exceptions – do not provide German-language websites for the D/A/CH market. Returning to the Polish market: PrintUp is an ambitious W2P provider owned by Interak, an established player in the Polish market with 30 years of experience. At a headcount of some 400 and sales of more than 30 million Euros, Interak/PrintUp is already roughly in the same league – at least in terms of sales – as established Western European online print players like Druckerei Häuser and Probo. At annual growth of around 40 percent that’s based on a network of 5000 B2B partners, the online brand PrintUp is steadily enhancing its international status. That’s because if you compare the Interak/PrintUp combination with the print providers listed in the overview, the Polish provider, which currently delivers to 15 European countries, already ranks among the more broadly positioned companies. This growth is no coincidence – PrintUp is reacting to increasing demand for online print products in Poland and Europe and is utilizing a fast growing network of partners alongside the already successful foundation provided by its “offline parent” Interak to achieve it. Expansion is then the next logical step to take in order to grow its business even faster beyond the borders of Poland and to exploit online print potential in Europe as well.
“Investing in a proprietary network and an online sales platform pays dividends not just for print providers in Western Europe. Eastern European players like Interak are taking advantage of online’s fast growing share of the overall print business – and are growing in tandem with it.” – Bernd Zipper
As far as technical, know-how and financial resources are concerned, Interak’s subsidiary is of course starting from a “comfortable” position. However, the fact that an online print provider bases its business model on an established enterprise is not unusual – that’s how most large and successful print companies get started. And yet the way that PrintUp is nurturing its business model is still relatively uncommon for the Polish print market. That’s because it’s based exclusively on collaboration with professionals, who themselves are involved in the advertising and print market. At the same time PrintUp is restricting consumer access to its offering by only reaching out to consumers via its own B2B customers and partners. The concept works – 40 percent growth speaks for itself.
The last major step in PrintUp’s expansion strategy includes the merger with print brand Eulotki and the simultaneous launch (mid-2018) of a reseller program, which provides business partners with software support and helps them to offer new products. Here partners can draw on Interak/PrintUp’s product base, set up their own store along with store front, service links, editing environment and add their own products.
Online print brands like PrintUp will also ensure in Eastern Europe that online print increases substantially as a proportion of the overall print market. If the newcomer utilizes all of Interak’s channels and resources, then PrintUp will not only boost its fortunes in its own (home) market, but will also focus even more on neighboring countries. If you consider that online as a proportion of the overall print market (around 20 percent), which Western Europe exceeded in 2017, will only be achieved in Eastern Europe in 2022, according to our forecasts, then there is plenty of potential to exploit. We look forward with anticipation to see how the whole thing pans out.
My take: The example of the Polish online player PrintUp demonstrates that doing international business is one of the most important drivers of growth for print companies. Online print also functions across (many) national borders, is growing as a proportion of the overall print market and is increasingly delivering success not just to the major players. And like other ambitious online print providers, PrintUp’s network is also fueling growth. So long as long-established print providers continue to reject collaboration and the networking ethos, they will not be among those market players – no matter whether domestic or international – that can continue to be successful in the print business. All the better if there are examples like Interak subsidiary PrintUp that demonstrate that you can achieve success in the print business through networks. We mustn’t forget that not only does the platform provider benefit, so do all the linked–in print providers as well.