Launched yesterday (21 March), Trade Print Management (TPM) will initially offer print management on litho, digital and web offset jobs before expanding out to the full range of print services, including direct mail, POS, promotional and office stationery.
TPM uses software that has been developed and refined by Bicester-headquartered Webmart over the past 18 years and was launched due to the significant demand for outsourcing the firm was receiving from its partners within the print sector.
Chief executive Simon Biltcliffe said: “Outsourcing was probably making up around 25% of our turnover and so we knew that there was a market there.
“It is a world first, there is nothing like it. Nobody else has live pricing like this which is open to printers. We have had lots of people on a free beta trial for the past two months and it has been very successful so far and we look forward to broadening out.
“Our biggest order so far was valued around £100,000 and the smallest was £75, so we are offering the full range and we plan to scale up as it expands. It uses the same framework as Webmart uses in general with clients and so it is business as usual with the same quality-assured network of printers that we always use.”
TPM will begin as a UK-only proposition but, according to Biltcliffe, interest has been signalled already by potential clients in the US, India and China, so global expansion is set to be a matter of “months, not years”.
Regarding concerns that the platform has the potential to drive down print prices in the market, Biltcliffe said: “Effectively, the lowest print price is given to the printer because we give them all the prices from highest to lowest and they know what the market rate is so they can mark it up and that value goes to the printer directly.
“Markup is usually 20%-30%. There is no auction or anything like that and we get a margin lower than anywhere else in cost of service. Everybody wins.”
Coming out of the beta trial, TPM’s first official customer to outsource some work to the platform is PrintWeek Awards 2018 Company of the Year ProCo in Sheffield, whose chief executive Jon Bailey has a long-standing business relationship with Biltcliffe.
Bailey said: “I have known Simon for a long time, and we have had lengthy discussion about what a platform like this could do. It is the speed and the ease of understanding market rates and pricing that are key to our motivation for signing up.”
£26m turnover Webmart is based out of four locations in Barnsley, Bicester, East Kilbride and London. It currently employs 47 members of staff, including four new additions to support the marketing and software design of TPM.
According to Biltcliffe, scaling up will take place as TPM grows and more hires are on the cards.