Continued growth: Online printers transform the printing sector

Onlineprinters has leveraged the industry transformation

The Onlineprinters web shop offers customers a varied range of printed products, including business cards, brochures, exhibition counters and promotional items, Copyright: Onlineprinters GmbH
(lifePR) ( Fuerth, )
In spite of the fact that the industry's doom has been predicted several times, the European printing sector continues to flourish, generating an annual revenue of EUR 80 billion. “Companies that embrace the transformation have significant growth opportunities," says Michael Fries, the CEO of Onlineprinters GmbH. The international group of companies, known under the brand name of in Germany, is one of the top 3 online print providers in Europe.

The printing industry has undergone massive transformation for years. Figures published by Intergraf, an organisation that promotes and protects the interests of the printing and graphic industry, confirm this: Over a period of ten years (from 2005 to 2015), the number of print shops declined by 14 percent to just over 110,000 companies in 2015. During the same time, the number of employees decreased by a third to 622,000. Sales in contrast have continued to be robust: For more than ten years, the European printing market has generated around EUR 80 million in turnover each year. "Nevertheless, the industry is experiencing a massive and disruptive transformation process which shakes the whole sector," says Michael Fries and he adds: "Each company has to challenge its business model and align it to the new requirements on the market. In the future, products such as business cards and flyers will be ordered online almost exclusively and produced by large online printers. But this does not mean that local printers have no future, quite to the contrary, today there is a growing trend to work together: "Special print solutions, local support and customised services are the strengths of classic print shops. A lot of them purchase products such as letterheads, posters and brochures from online print shops such as Onlineprinters and operate as resellers. At the same time, we also purchase from specialist providers such as manufacturers of letterpress business cards and promotional items for which Onlineprinters provides a marketing platform. Companies that differentiate their business model will be successful." This new form of competition only has advantages for customers: The quality of service in the industry is increasing and there is a suitable provider for every print project imaginable.

Online printers are a trend

In the early 2000s, Onlineprinters made the transition from being a traditional, family-run commercial printer to becoming an e-commerce business that has established a strong position today. Local print shops can thrive, too, but only if they adopt a clever marketing concept and specialise in specific products or services. Onlineprinters is a reliable partner for such printers, especially when it comes to top-selling products such as flyers, business cards and brochures. The commercial printer E. Meyer in the town of Neustadt an der Aisch near Nuremberg in the south of Germany was forced to realign its business to survive the fierce competition in the industry. In 2004, founder Walter Meyer took the business online: He launched the website which offered printed flyers and posters customers could order online. The initial objective was to support his parents' print business; today the group generates an annual turnover of more than EUR 200 million. The former pioneer of the industry has become one of the major online print providers in Europe.

Quantity and quality

Michael Fries expects online print shops in Western Europe to continue their two-digit growth in turnover in the next years. "We currently serve one million clients, most of whom are business customers, in more than 30 European countries," Michael Fries says. Since 2008, the Franconian company has expanded its operations to other European countries. With the acquisition of UK printer Solopress and Danish market leader LaserTryk, the company became the Onlineprinters group, one of the market leaders in Europe today, which produced and sold 3 billion+ printed products in 2018 – from business cards, letterheads and flyers to brochures, roller banners and large-format advertising banners. The products, which are for the most part standardised, are printed in gang runs to guarantee low and transparent prices. Instead of printing each job separately, the e-commerce business combines up to 50 print projects on the same sheet using complex algorithms. In this extremely economical process, less paper goes unused which helps save cost and the environment.

More employees

Contrary to the general trend in the industry, the workforce of Onlineprinters continues to grow: starting with some 20 employees in the Franconian town of Neustadt an der Aisch before launching its e-commerce operations in 2004 to more than 1,400 employees in 2018, working in an international corporate group at sites in Germany, the UK, Denmark and Poland. The company is looking for qualified employees at all its sites: More than 100 vacancies are currently available.
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