Industry veteran Rick Taylor of Graphfix Trade Solutions has set up a web to print portal for printers to use for innumerable printed products. He also says that printers will increasingly become sales, design and marketing businesses, leaving the actual manufacturing of print to a handful of players
Web to print in theory is a complete winner, having your printshop available at the click of a button to your customers and hundreds or thousands of potential customers for a minimal price has got to be a good idea.
There are various solutions available, all with differing claims, with the print portal developed by Aussie trade printer Graphfix Trade Solutions now not only are you able to accesses direct through there web site or buy a stand alone portal rebranded in your company image. The bigger winner is the printers in the huge range of product offering that Graphfix offers that previous they may not have been able to offer their clients.
What makes the Graphfix web to print solution stand out is that it not only puts a print business on the internet, but also puts a whole heap of print products out there, products that you may not necessarily print, but which can be printed by a trade supplier, think stickers, mugs, flyers anything in fact. Of course Graphfix Trade Solutions has an interest here, as it is a trade printer capable of printing most of these products, however the printer using the Graphfix portal is not limited to them, the printer is free to choose whichever supplier they want.
The Graphfix portal is around $2500 for a printer, which covers the costs and the re-skinning with your own company’s brand. Graphfix will also provide a pricing matrix, or printers can insert their own.
Graphfix Trade Solutions also has its own trade only portal, where printers can get instant quotations (total price) and order innumerable printed products.
The owner and manager of Graphfix Trade Solutions is Rick Taylor, who has a 33 year track record in the print industry, most of it in the trade printing business. He started as a press apprentice for a company called Hot Spot Printing owned by WC Penfolds which became the first of many Kwik Kopy Franchises, Penfolds at the time used their horse and cart to deliver orders around Sydney.
He then joined what become the country’s first hub and spoke printing business at Pink Panther, which had a central manufacturing facility and several stores around Sydney, rising to become production manager. Then 15 years ago with business partner Mark Price (now NSW manager for Ryobi agent Cyber) he opened for business, striking lucky on the very first day when another trade printer bought a rival and closed it down, leaving a clear path for the newcomers. Taylor says, “We went from zip to a $1.8m turnover in 18 months, and were winning major accounts with print management companies such as Westpac.”
Business partner Mark Price moved on three years ago, with Taylor taking the company in a new direction, from February 2009 adding CMYK , PMS with different stocks and plastic business cards, along with a very large product range. He says,. “The response has been remarkable, we have had a huge increase in turnover since that period.”
He also decided that web to print was the golden opportunity for local printers to move forward. He says, “Traditionally printers have had a relatively narrow product band. However there is a lot of work out there for speciality printing. By developing the web to print portal and putting a plethora of printed products on there we are all of a sudden providing all printers nationally with many additional revenue streams, and at no cost to themselves, as they can ask us, or another supplier, to produce them.”
Taylor credits Reg Waite, the first Kwik Kopy franchisee owner in Australia with much of the inspiration for his business, he says, “Reg Waite was a pioneer, he understood the value of good customer service, and he focused on creating a real rapport with the customer, he knew how important it is to get to understand them and their business needs.
“That’s what’s needed today in the market place, owners need to free themselves up to get out there, listen to there customers needs, and partner with them on how to grow, and market their business needs.”
Taylor has an interesting view on the future of print, linked in with trade printing and web to print. He says, “I believe the current print industry will change dramatically over the next five to ten years, with most printers transforming into sales and marketing organisations, leaving the print manufacturing to maybe ten per cent of the companies that now do it. The obstacles for printers in raising capital necessary for equipment, combined with the anxiety about filling those presses, combined with the need to offer a broad range of products means the opportunity for most printers will exist in becoming a brand, and using trade suppliers to do their manufacturing. They will then have massively reduced overheads, their loans will be minimal. The printshop owners will be able to operate with a sales force, a designer and a small back office, using an array of suppliers, or maybe just one for all their work, which they will be able to place through web to print, all of which will keep costs down and increase efficiencies.”
Not everyone will agree with Taylor’s view that 90 per cent of print manufacturing companies will disappear over the next ten years, but there is some logic to his argument. With a set of 500 business cards from a trade printer like Graphfix costing just $35 why bother putting in our own equipment and hiring your own staff to print them?
Concentrating on sales, design and marketing your clients may be a lot less stressful than having a manufacturing site, and putting a $120 margin on those cards to sell retail at $155 seems a fairly straightforward proposition, especially with the customer ordering and paying online.
The other advantage is that the specialist suppliers can put the work into developing the product, Graphfix Trade Solutions for instance has a wide range of products like presentation folders, flyers, mouse matts and so on with business cards, with CMYK, PMS colours, embossing, spot uv, foiling, die cutting, they are printed onto card and plastics, giving a far wider choice to a printer’s clients than the printer could offer on its own.
There is no doubt that web to print does offer plenty of potential to printers, with the Graphfix approach of not only providing a web to print solution, but also one that significantly broadens the product portfolio of the average printer, likely to be warmly welcomed by the average small to medium size printer.