Heidelberg and Marlborough, MA-based Bitstream have inked an OEM deal that will enable the print equipment maker to license Bitstream's PageFlex Storefront web-to-print product solution for its worldwide client base.
The deal gives Heidelberg exclusive rights to sell both the product as well as a software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution under the name Prinect Web-to-Print Manager.
In an interview with PrintWeek, PageFlex general manager Pinhas Romik said the deal came after years of talks between the two companies and added it will enable PageFlex to dramatically expand its global footprint.
"Storefront already is very well known in the US marketplace and has sold well in other English speaking countries such as the UK, Australia and South Africa," he said. "However Storefront was not sold in substantial numbers in other countries outside the US and the main obstacle really was the language issue."
Romik said PageFlex has already embarked on a major effort to localize Storefront for various markets. "We're doing Chinese, we're doing six european languages; we're doing Polish and Russian. We're already half way done and expect to begin targeting these markets by the end of the year."
In a statement, Heidelberg said the launch of the Prinect Web-to-Print Manager will provide its customers with an electronic storefront that provides better brand control for business growth opportunities, as well as the ability to streamline internal processes. The product joins Heidelberg's already established Prinect line of workflow automation solutions, and will be targeted mainly at commercial sheet-fed offset printers.
"By integrating this portfolio into the Prinect system, our customers will benefit two-fold - from the web-to-print expertise of our partner PageFlex on one hand and the comprehensive automation and process transparency of the Prinect production workflow on the other," said Marcel Kiessling, member of the Heidelberg Management Board responsible for Heidelberg Services.
Romik said PageFlex will continue with direct sales to commercial printers, adding that many commercial printers - including those who in the past have focused primarily on offset - are coming to the realization that they need to be moving aggressively into new sectors, especially web-to-print. "The printers that offer cross-media services are much more stable than the many of the other companies in the space," he noted.
Romik conceded that for many commercial printers, the move into web-to-print can be daunting, not because of the costs involved, but because they don't have the IT skills or the infrastructure. PageFlex has been used by the industry's early leaders in variable data and web-to-print storefronts, and Romik explained, "Software as a service really helps lower the bar in terms of what they need in order to offer web-to-print."
While this is the first OEM deal for the Storefront product, Romik noted PageFlex last year expanded the business model for its iWay product line to include OEM relationships with Xerox and HP Indigo.
The company also recently reorganized and fine-tuned its iWay offering after acquiring the company "IWay is a very good system in the market but one of the lessons we learned was never to let the collection of features overwhelm the workability and stability of the product," he said, noting the company has had more than 250 installs of iWay since it was re-tweaked. "It is working very well."