Nothing is impossible in the online print sector – a few days ago the new online platform for fold-out maps operated by Megadruck, an online print provider based in the far north of Germany, went live. This is an interesting solution that it is worth taking a look at.
Westerstede is located north of Oldenburg in Eastern Frisia and is at present not necessarily regarded as an online print stronghold. Megadruck – online since 2006 – has taken it upon itself to change this. This particular provider and its small, almost unassuming store application for fold-out maps are a hot topic of conversation in the industry. The company, which focuses on industrial online print is ranked in the Top 50 online print providers in D/A/CH and offers a broad product and service portfolio ranging from web-fed to sheet-fed printing. Its mission is to provide one-stop shopping for business customers.
The new product-related online store can be found online at www.faltplandruck.de and is characterized more by its functionality rather than great screen design. There is definitely room for improvement on that score. However the positives include the practical pricing function and the really detailed assistance in the form of help texts to enable users to generate the necessary data. Unfortunately Megadruck has dispensed with a visualization function for uploaded data, meaning you have to make do with a sheet folded accordingly. That’s a pity, because the effort involved is not that huge and it would be a great help for users.
Customers can easily price up maps featuring up to 14 cross-folds and folds plus cover themselves via faltplandruck.de, and the results are presented to users in the form of a folded sheet. The maximum sized format is 100 x 70 cm – the range of materials is modest yet functional and prices are reasonable, not especially cheap, but definitely market-conform. This is in particular because Megadruck offers a range of free services, e.g. data check. The application was developed by Varel-based Studio Philip Simon, which has already actioned a number of applications for the online print sector.
“Faltplandruck.de is demonstrating how you can develop your own small market by offering niche print products.” – Bernd Zipper
Owner Carsten Müller, who only opened his new print center in Westerstede three years ago, is afflicted by the same hardship as many other online print providers. From his 2100 sqm production facilities he serves more customers spread throughout Germany than he does those right on his doorstep. So the new niche store is a good idea – according to Megadruck, fold-out maps or instruction leaflets/package inserts can both be produced via the platform and are a frequently sought-after product on the Internet. But Müller and his team have obviously thought ahead, because the application has been enhanced for browser and mobile use from the word go. Granted, nobody is going to commission a fold-out plan on their cellphone, but as a mobile calculator the store will provide the basis for quick decisions in a fair few meetings.
So you now have to ask the question, why is Zipper getting so excited about a “simple” online fold-out map store? The answer is straightforward: I love niche offerings that turn simple print products into “heroes”. For those print providers hoping to play a role in the market in the age of Cimpress and Flyeralarm, this is a suitable strategy for gaining new customers. If the online niche provider is able to appeal to customers post ordering by providing product quality, service and delivery reliability, they can reach out to new customers from their niche. Or, and this is no longer a rarity in the age of coopetition, by bringing their system to the party, they qualify to partner with one of the online print giants, who are keen on providing niche offerings, but usually prefer not to produce these offerings themselves.
Therefore, even if it definitely has some homework to do in terms of usability and design – Megadruck has landed a compact and bijou hit. I think folks will have to keep this company in mind.