Philip Foster, Saxoprint's UK senior key account manager, was invited to attend the Printing Charity’s 150th anniversary celebration at the St Bride Foundation in May, right in the heart of the UK printing industry.
This was a highly symbolic move in demonstrating in terms of how Saxoprint is approaching the UK differently to its online print colleagues. And the invitation came because the online print business has started to support the Printing Charity’s Print Futures Award.
Instead Saxoprint is aiming to persuade designers to trust that a print business located in Dresden can produce the high quality work needed at reasonable, but not necessarily the lowest, price.
“Saxoprint's main client base is professional print buyers in the B2B sector,” says Foster, “A more corporate environment where high standards of quality and service are expected. Our aim is to be the perfect print partner for professional print buyers.” The company is also recruiting resellers and printers looking to outsource a percentage of their work.
Foster continues: “We back up our wide range of products online with the added value of excellent one to one customer service that professional print buyers would expect from a traditional offline commercial printer. We treat all our clients with the same Human Touch approach and we don’t just listen to our clients requests we react to them, something that can only be done if you invest in people.
“That is why we have native experienced account managers in every country our clients are based. We find that all our clients welcome the peace of mind the Human Touch gives them.”
A key part of this is transparency on price: the price presented is the final price without hidden charges for delivery, proofs, and VAT that can result in unwanted surprises.
The company was founded in 1999, opening its first online portal in 2006, later than some. Since 2012 it has been part of CeWe, the largest photobook producer in Europe. Hence there is a wealth of e-commerce experience and workflow to draw upon if required.
It also has a staggering line up of print capacity including eight-colour perfecting Heidelberg Speedmaster XL106s. These are backed up by an XL145 used for single-sided printing, posters for example as well as KBA Rapida B1presses. It has invested more than €20 million since 2013
The Heidelberg connection flows into finishing where Saxoprint has settled on Stahlfolders, and on the Stitchliners before Heidelberg sold this business to Muller Martini. Unsurprisingly given that the plant will handle several thousand jobs a day, the emphasis is on makeready and automation. The control systems log regular folds on standard papers for example for instant start ups on standard job types.
And while standard products, based on A4 formats, remain the easiest to automate and manage, Saxoprint is expanding the product range as well as introducing pay on account services rather than having to pay upfront for an order.
The company is evolving as the market changes from a faceless service which was price led to the Human Touch strategy that Saxoprint is now building. And working with professional buyers means fewer issues with customers that do not understand the technology or processes involved.
“Our target client base is mainly professional print buyers and resellers, such as print management companies, printers, design agencies and marketing companies,” says Foster. “Because they understand print and their clients requirements, they can use our services to offer their client a cost effective solution to their needs, while supplying us with professionally created artwork for us to achieve the best possible quality results.”
The support required differs from those that are pitching for work from customers unused to how to create a print ready PDF where much greater levels of support are required. Says Foster: “Clients requirements are simple, they are looking for good quality, reliable service and competitive pricing, how we offer that isn’t so simple.”
The company does not discuss the workflow in place, nor how scaleable this is. But there are no barriers to expansion. In short online purchasing of print has a distance to go.
“I believe there are no limits to how far it can go, as people become more and more comfortable with buying on line, it becomes like any other shopping experience and as long as you can offer the buyer, what they want, when they want it, at a price they are willing to pay, then the options should be endless,” says Foster.
“Print is an especially good commodity to buy on line as in the main it is easy to pack and is non-perishable and can be ordered on demand. I think as people become more familiar with the process of ordering on line they will start to request more and more services and it’s our job to listen and react to those demands.”