Unitedprint's 'Smart Business' transformation: mission accomplishedSponsored
Tuesday, November 17, 2020
As one of the largest e-commerce companies in the European web-to-print market, Unitedprint has successfully completed its transformation into a “smart business”. Unitedprint summarises its strategy formula in a simple equation: Data intelligence + Network coordination = Smart business.
Claudia Wolf, director of sales at Unitedprint, which encompasses market-leading brands print24 and Easyprint, joined the company in 2018. Wolf oversees all of Unitedprint’s European customers via its national and international sales and service teams.
In the following Q&A, she shares insights into the transformation of Unitedprint from an in-house production model into a pure e-commerce company that works with an unrivalled international production partner network.
Firstly, congratulations on completing your transformation from an inhouse production model to a pure e-commerce company. How relieved were you at Unitedprint to know that at least this area of your business was no longer hit by the force of the Covid-19 pandemic?
Of course, nobody could have foreseen the European impact of Covid 19 pandemic – but you’re right, we were rewarded directly for our courage, consistency and our foresight in transferring Unitedprint to a ‘smart business’. A company will always be more successful when it stays one step ahead of the market, and we fundamentally believe operating as a ‘smart business’ is the best way to support our customers.
However, we actually made the decision to adopt our smart business strategy way back in 2018. It is and always was our goal to achieve long-term investments by establishing and expanding internationally to fuel profitable growth. But key to scaling the business was to be able to do this without tying up considerable expenditure and energy, which would have made us inflexible and unable to react quickly.
So, you clearly don’t think in-house production is the future for online print businesses like yours?
Most online printers with inhouse production chose that model because they wanted to ensure that they had the latest print technology which they could push to the absolute productivity limits. We believe this is a one-way street, which leads directly and irreversibly to a dead end because the latest or fastest equipment in isolation doesn’t guarantee success or happy customers, far from it. Flexibility and agility are key and, as we all know, the global industry is well served by businesses boasting first-class production technology operated by great production teams.
We firmly believe that the international division of labour is a major step forward and a huge growth driver for us and our legions of customers. We work closely with partners all over the world that are experts in their fields ensuring that our customers have access to best-in-class suppliers across every product we offer. More than that, it also means that our customers have access to the latest application innovations – ensuring that they, like us, remain one step ahead of the curve.
So, why aren’t more web-to-print companies adopting the same business model?
Simply put, things that are unusual today, and work, become completely normal over time. That is the nature of disruptive change. At Unitedprint, we see ourselves as an open network. An opensource print business that is not constrained by its own production facilities, but one that embraces the power of a network of production partners and trading partners to ensure that it is even greater than the sum of its parts.
All major online print providers have invested a huge amount in their own production facilities – and for this very reason they cannot simply flip the switch, when there is a new trend or a crisis like the current Covid-19 pandemic.
Equally we offer an important revenue stream for our production partners. Of course, on the one hand we are competitors, but on the other we also allow the printing industry to participate directly in the online revolution by producing web-to-print orders.
For a business to be successful, it needs to have a diversified model with a mix of clients and operate across a range of markets, and that’s exactly what we offer to our production partners. Because we believe that if you want to move forward quickly, go alone. If you want to go far (and have great progress), go with others.
From the beginning, Unitedprint has offered an unrivalled web-to-print platform and that is large part of the reason that we have achieved a lot as an independent, privately owned company. That same independence and strength is what has allowed us to switch to focus on our core strength as an e-commerce platform, one that as a pure technology company has a sharp focus on its area of expertise, what we call web-to-print 5.0. Just like our carefully selected production partners focus on their print 5.0 offering.
How did your customers react to your transformation?
Well, what is our business about? The core values are choice, quality, price, delivery speed and customer care, all of these values with the highest service. So, provided we deliver all of this, then where an order is produced is irrelevant to the customer. And we know that these core values can be best served by a decentralised and flexible production network of unrivalled specialists. More than that, it gets us back to the earlier point – it is partnerships, and partnerships that create an offer that is greater than the sum of its parts.
What is the customer benefit of your smart business system?
With print24 and Easyprint, we power platforms on which our customers can find a first-class offer for their respective needs, and on which our trading and production partners can import and sell their products and their services. And instead of trying to balance customer requirements against our production offering, our laser sharp focus is delivering maximum customer satisfaction.
For example, we recently switched our entire logistics network to DHL and DHL Express, because we only want to work with the best. And we have completely relaunched Easyprint for smaller companies and private customers. With Easyprint we offer a state-of-the-art platform with industry standard design templates for an enormous range of attractive products for simple and free personalisation, that offer professional results even for users with limited design and IT experience.
In addition, we have created new and extremely lucrative third-party sales models with our affiliate system and partner shops. The fact that we at Unitedprint can now fully concentrate on the needs of our customers and the endless possibilities of the market ensures that we remain at the forefront of this dynamic industry along with our customers and partners.
Are there any concrete plans for developments in the coming months?
Many. We are shortly going to relaunch print24, something we’re really excited about. We are also constantly updating Easyprint with new and additional content and a lot of digital communication offers, this is a completely new chapter in the history of Unitedprint and a very exciting topic.
Our mission with Easyprint is to enable everyone to design everything. To publish it at any time or place, for any product, in any language, across all countries, on any channel and device. Easyprint is no less than the one-stop online shop for design and publishing. And last but not least, we will again significantly expand our international presence and also penetrate global markets beyond Europe. And how can we do this? Smart business makes it possible.