The Big Business Change: E-Commerce, Web-to-Print, and how you can Embrace it.

Written by Dharminder Biharie
Business Development Manager
Xerox Graphic Communication, The Netherlands

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It’s a new year. Take a look around. You’ll see that the business landscape is changing everywhere, for everyone. So if business mythology is changing, shouldn’t you consider making changes to your strategy, sales, marketing and website…you know, to survive? Makes sense, right?  Sounds easy, right? Just remember, change is never easy and unlearning is always more difficult than learning.
A customer of mine took notice of the changing times and wanted to discuss web-to-print opportunities.
It was a cold and rainy Thursday here in Holland and I was driving to visit with the customer, listening to 10CC Live in Japan. Great music for driving. To fight the cold, I had the heat turned on in my VW Golf Bluemotion. Talk about going green.
So as I’m driving along, I’m thinking about this customer. He sounded interested in web-to-print, and I will believe him if he can present a good marketing and communication plan showing how he will market the business. Once in the office, I get a decent cup of tea and we start discussing the business case.
It doesn’t take long for me to start having doubts. Web-to-Print? Why on earth would he consider this? The customer states that he wants to compete against online price choppers who have lean and mean print factories. I openly question this strategy, stating that I don’t think it would be the best idea to survive. He doesn’t have a clue about online marketing, doesn’t have a budget for Google AdWords, and lacks a content manager…yet he still want to compete against online printers with the lowest price?
So, what happened, you ask? Well, after two weeks of research we found that his inbound sales was suffering from a syndrome commonly known as: we help the customers because they pay the bills, but we don’t have a clue if we are making a profit ….
The inbound sales was always very busy helping customers. And busy is good, right? But what they were actually doing was spending their time helping customers with what we call commodity-based revenue streams. And commodity revenue streams can vaporize or transfer to Internet print brokers in a click.
So what we did was help the customer to transfer the commodity revenue stream online to create space and room for developing customer relationships with better profit and revenue opportunities. The customer managed to transform about 25% of their order intake stream to the web. They are now in the driver’s seat and helping themselves, as opposed to being at the mercy of the customer.
The advantage? This customer offered a ‘clicks and bricks’ business model. Order through the internet if you want the cheapest price, but come to our office if you want personal contact, advice and project management.
Was it bold? Yes. Was it difficult? Yes and no. What was the biggest challenge? Humans. Like we discussed, unlearning is always more difficult than learning.

DharminderBiharieDharminder Biharie is a Business Development Manager with Xerox Graphic Communication in The Netherlands. To get in touch with Dharminder, please contact Dharminder.Biharie@xerox.com, + 31 (0) 6 2020 499 42.

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10 Comments

  1. Cliff Hollingsworth January 15, 2014 - Reply

    This is an article that has a TON of good guidance and information if the reader would take the time to dissect it properly. I am amazed at how many printers still struggle with Web-to-Print, digital printing, and workflow. I have done a lot of work with printers of all sizes and the issues and opportunities are the same. It’s almost always the HUMANS!!

    Old habits and cultures die slowly, but the industry is moving at a rapid evolutionary pace. Quite a conundrum for managers, executives and owners.

    We owe it to our employees to make the investment in the humans.

  2. Dharminder Biharie January 16, 2014 - Reply

    Hi Cliff, many thanks for your response. I think you are right with the last line. I believe in transforming Human Resource into Human Capital, we can start making a difference how we look at employees.
    Humans are sometimes like deer in business process, they freeze on the road if they see the headlight of the car. And you can guess what will happen next….
    And at the end it is all about priorities. I know companies have to keep up the revenue streams in this challenging economy to pay bills and the employees. Here is a tip to speed up the process of change: In Holland we have a huge culture of debating and business meetings. If you want to speed up your internal business meeting: no chairs. Only a table where you should stand. This really helps to cut the crap.
    You will see another behavior of the the employees or people. And discuss the challenge always at the place of crime. Pre-press issues? Standing meeting! Print problems? Standing meeting at the (digital) press. A surgeon operates at the place where it is needed. Just some small things I have noticed, and implemented, that help to create immediate change.

  3. Léon van Schie January 16, 2014 - Reply

    In a survey we did, 85% of all print buyers want to buy online. The other 15% are just a few years away from their pension. Nowadays, print buyers (and consumers alike) want to have the freedom to order products at a time that’s convenient to them (even after opening hours or in weekends). They want to have total control, because – thanks to W2P/e-commerce – they can.

    Holding on to that 20th century business model is a recipe for disaster. I’ve seen it literally hundreds of times, it’s the way of the dodo. Businesses like these, will go bankrupt in the end.

    Times have changed dear Printers, don’t fight the internet like you fought against the coming of digital print. You all know what Darwin said; “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”. Well, e-commerce is that change, and it’s unstoppable!

  4. Mark Sarpa January 16, 2014 - Reply

    Love the article.

    Thanks for posting it.

    Over half of our business now is submitted online through our Frecklebox.com and StationeryHQ.com. The investment was high, the pain was real however the results can be great. From our perspective the key is to find an online niche that you are really good at. The market is out there and they are looking.

  5. Dharminder Biharie January 24, 2014 - Reply

    Hi Mark and Leon, thank you both for your comments.

    One of the key reason to go with a W2P strategy is 70% of buying behaviour starts online ( at least here in the Netherlands).

    So if 70% starts online, this will impact your marketing and sales activities. @Mark you can see the benefits right now and what it will bring to your business. And with W2P in-house, you can activate the clicks-and-bricks strategy.

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