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By Editor Morten B. Reitoft 

Last week INKISH visited GLD Print & Media in Arnhem in the Netherlands. Always nice to meet people, enjoy great hospitality, and always have a good laugh exchanging bad jokes (from Denmark). Jan Majnik and I have visited countless printing companies. The technology used is more or less the same everywhere - the applications, setup, workflows, and, more importantly, the business models are often VERY different.

We were visiting GLD Print & Media because they are a service provider to the Cloudprinter platform. Cloudprinter is an online platform routing print jobs to participating printing companies based on parameters (i.e., distance/time/capacity). Still, I realized visiting the GLD that Cloudprinter is only part of a well-developed digital mindset.

GLD Print & Media operates from two locations - where one is focusing on digital and large-format. The other is more on offset, but both are located in the Netherlands.

From time to time, I get emails from people asking what business they should focus on. First of all, I am flattered to be asked, and secondly, I have no clue. Good business comes from understanding the market you address. It, therefore, isn't about what I or others suggest but understanding the competitive situation where you can produce and deliver products in demand - sometimes in a competitive environment, sometimes by developing entirely new products and services! The one thing I can advise and suggest is, however, always be where your customers are.

Your customers are as diverse as you are, so online is not a bad place to start. However, depending on what you sell, expect different online presences depending on your products, services, and customers. This is precisely what GLD does - and they do it well.

Many years ago, when I met Bernd Zipper for the first time - way before INKISH, he gave a presentation about web-to-print, and one of the things I learned was having different storefronts since you want to reach as many customers as possible. Some buy premium, others buy discounts, and the service level you offer can often be the differentiator that justifies a price difference. The differentiation can also be in the products you sell - so if you have one online storefront selling posters and another business cards, it makes sense!

Your digital channels are sales channels where you invest in your market, your funnels, and essentially this is where some printers go wrong. A web-to-print solution is NOT about saving on your sales and marketing, but more an asset on a level with your salespeople, enabling sales through lower customer acquisition cost and a broader reach.

Too many printing companies don't use web-to-print this way, but GLD does. Numerous storefronts and connections enable a constant flow of orders from many different sources. The cost of setting up the store and the operation of the same, of course, needs to be balanced with sales and profits, but hey, that isn't any different from any other channel or salesperson you have.

How much you need to invest is not simple to answer, but think of it like this. If your salespeople have a price tag, you judge them on whether they reach their budgets, and why should that be different from your web-to-print? If your web presence costs you €100,000, there are essentially only two questions to answer. Can you afford the €100,000, and do you have a profit? If you can answer yes to both questions, the only remaining question is whether you could have got the same at a lower cost - and see, that's what business is all about.

Some web-to-print solutions cost you a fixed monthly payment - some as low as $395 per month. If this cost can't make you a profit, you probably don't invest enough money in marketing and maybe even don't have a strategy for using your web-to-print solution as an advantage when pitching customers.
A couple of months ago, I moderated two webinars with Ali Ridha Jaffar from Syncoms in an EFI webinar. He insisted that most printing companies fail because they don't invest in customer acquisition, I believe him.

Web-to-print has to move from an opportunity and a cost-saving investment to an active well-considered investment - and if you invest time and money, you will eventually understand the value.

In the upcoming interview with Roy Everts from GLD, he has multiple channels, and using, i.e., Cloudprinter would enable almost any printing company to add a sales channel to your business at practically zero cost. In the example from The Netherlands, Roy Everts gets up to a thousand orders a day, and I don't know about you but wouldn't that be nice to be part of a journey that can only go one way? Cloudprinter and some of the competitors focus on getting large corporates, publishers, and brands as a customer into a global platform, and honestly, will you ever be able to address that market yourself?

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Suppose you are interested in additional sales channels. In that case, you can also look into APIs available from companies like Amazon, but you can also look into companies like Gelato and HP Siteflow. You can also utilize production capacity in automated solutions by looking into APIs from Vistaprint and many of the online printers.

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Here are the channels that GLD Print & Media offer:
https://www.printis.nl/
https://www.promosign.nl/
https://www.grafiteam.nl/
https://www.drukwerkplanet.nl/
https://wllart.nl/
And we know about more shortly online...!

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