Pixartprinting is one of the fathers of the online printing world. The Italian company started as a digital only printer, working with HP Indigo and Xerox cut sheet presses and an array of roll to roll inkjet machines from a two-storey unit close to Venice.
It is still close to Venice, but almost everything else has changed. The business employs 800 across two sites, offers digital printing from the largest European line up of HP Indigo presses, sheetfed offset through nine Komoris, all with H-UV, a battalion of large format inkjet presses, an Indigo 30000 for carton printing coupled with Scodix and Highcon for finishing.
And while the business is no longer the privately owned independent company as it is part of the Cimpress group, it has managed to retain the culture and identity it had established before joining the group.
Federico Gonzalez is marketing and sales director of the company, heading an extensive team that covers most European markets and is in position to track developments across the changing markets. Pixartprinting he says has been very interested in packaging, investing in an HP Indigo 6800 label press as well as the carton press.
It can cope with minimum order levels well below those that established packaging printers would consider. These means a starting point of 50 cartons he says. Investment in fast change and makeready technology for cutting and creasing and folder gluing makes this possible in production terms. Continuing investment in IT to process orders and manage the workflows make this possible in prepress terms.
However, while packaging may eventually become larger than commercial print for Pixartprinting, the company is not neglecting its core audience. “The market for online printing is still growing,” he says. “But it is also changing. There is going to be consolidation among the bigger companies. The landscape is more challenging than it was only four years ago. There are new players entering and some private equity companies involved.”
The acquisitions made by Onlineprinters, Solopress in the UK and LaserTryck in Denmark, have followed private equity investment. Outside investors have also taken stakes in Helloprint and Gelato among others. It is a fast evolving market that still has plenty of opportunities.
“New companies will emerge, will create an online store, but will fail to reach the critical mass. Some will survive, some will not,” he says. Pixartprinting clearly intends to survive. That will mean staying one step ahead as he puts it. That will be through continuing to invest in the IT and the production base. Around 10% of revenues is ploughed back in this way.
It is also about creating new products. “Extending the gamut of products is a key driver to keep us in position,” says Gonzalez, “but also investment to adopt best practices from other commerce companies, not just those in print.”
Those other commerce companies are going to be looking closely at opportunities in print, Amazon included.
As well as new products to drive growth, there are new opportunities for the online print business. The finishing touches are being applied to the next Pixartprinting project. “There is too much fragmentation in the supply base which causes problems for brands seeking quality and consistency. It will need a different marketing and sales approach,” he adds.
Equally there are opportunities for Pixartprinting in expanding its coverage to new countries and in encouraging more printers to work with rather than against the online print companies. “Printers should outsource to expand the range of products they can offer customers and to achieve greater efficiencies on certain products,” Gonzalez explains.
Printers he adds can be reluctant to offer customers new styles of product that they cannot produce internally. And investment in a new untried product area or piece of technology is an expensive risk. The message is that printers would work with Pixartprinting to offer products that clients want to buy or that they might be interested in and only when sufficient volume has been built up to mitigate the risk of an investment should the printer make the investment.
“We need to educate printers that we can be a partner not just a competitor. As a partner we can expand the products they can offer. The opportunity comes through collaboration and growing networks. We cannot offer the proximity to the customer that a printer in a close relationship with his customer can, and to stay strong with that customer or in the niche he has established, the printer needs to offer more.
“It is a process the industry has to go through or risk death by suicidal pricing.”
As well as new products to drive growth, there are new opportunities for the Italian online print business Pixartprinting. Finishing touches are being applied to the next Pixartprinting project, and there are opportunities for the company to expand its coverage to new countries and to encourage more printers to work with rather than against online print companies.
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Federico Gonzalez, Pixartprinting's marketing and sales director says the company has been very interested in packaging, but while the sector may eventually become larger than commercial print, the company is not neglecting its core audience. “The market for online printing is still growing,” he says. “But it is also changing. We need to educate printers that we can be a partner not just a competitor. As a partner we can expand the products they can offer."
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