Tradeprint is the first of the Cimpress group to convert completely to the Mass Customisation Platform that the online print group believes will drive its future prosperity and opportunities.
Others have implemented elements of the MCP alongside existing technology, but only the Dundee company has made the full transition. It had to. The system it had grown up on was showing its age and the portal was beginning to creak, and not only at the edges.
“It’s not quite the same as starting from scratch,” says Rod Scrimgeour, chief innovation and product officer, “but moving from a 21-year-old legacy throws up some challenges along the way.” It was a 15-month project, longer than initially anticipated in the grand tradition of software projects “but now we have the tools to run the business for the future” he says.
That future is still about working through resellers, either printers or designers, that can tap into the production capacity that Tradeprint has, and also the production capacity that other sites in the Cimpress group offers. Only now the platform that the online print business is based on is responsive, faster to adapt and based on future proof technologies.
Two decades ago when Tradeprint started its online activities it chose the appropriate technology for the time. That was then. “The technology had not reached the level of maturity it has now,” says . “It was good to take us to sales of £15 million, but not to go to £100 million. We knew to do that we would have to redevelop the technology.”
Now the system is built on APIs to plug software functionality together within a micro services architecture which makes the technology much more adaptable and flexible than it has been. Not that at first sight this is visible. The interface looks almost the same, retaining a familiarity for customers being an essential starting point. But there are significant improvements that are being welcomed by customers says . “We can store credit card details for example, so that users do not have to enter details each time they place an order.
“The new system is much much quicker. A customer can go from specification of a product to check out in less than a minute compared to two-and-a-half minutes previously. A page will load in two seconds, not six.”
It has enabled Tradeprint to expand the products offered. Customers can now buy self adhesive labels on a roll, through not produced in Scotland; customers can browse pens, caps, T-shirts and polos and other promotional items; there is a new range of luxury business cards, triple ply with a coloured core and rounded corners. And it goes on, with flags the latest range added.
To get to the new level of business, Tradeprint has devolved some functions to its customers. A proof is delivered in real time at the point of a file upload. This will also point out errors, lack of bleed, incorrect resolutions and so on that the customer can put right without calling the customer service team.
It saves time all round and frees up the CSRs for more creative interaction with customers. “It’s about convenience, reducing the friction points for customers doing business with us,” he says. “The customers are no longer answering the simple questions and if they contact us, it’s for good reasons.”
While, as a business to business site, Tradeprint will never try to upset a customer at the check out point – after all the quantity and style of the job has been settled at this point. Instead earlier intervention can help its customers sell more to their customers, points out. In order to sell the full range of services that Cimpress can offer, there is a continuing training requirement, but it is worthwhile. “We can show people what their artwork will look like as a flag, as a T-shirt or promotional item,” adds. “It gives customers ideas for what they can sell on to their clients.”
The new platform is fully mobile compliant. Customers have always been able to track orders via phones of tablets. Now they can order repeat jobs and using standard upload technology, can create new jobs or edit existing jobs.
The API will also be available for customers so they can automate the ordering of jobs from their own MIS or online portal, or from an ERP system that a customer runs to automate its purchasing processes. This will appeal to print management companies. “A customer can send the job to Tradeprint and have access to the full MCP,” says . “That means an order may be produced in Germany, close to the point of delivery from a single point of entry.
“We want to partner with print management. They are very good at dealing with the full range of their customer requirements, not all of it of high value. By working with us, the print manager can concentrate of the portion that needs high levels of intervention and which adds value.”
The vast amount of data collected is used internally in equally sophisticated ways. explains: “If a customer gives us a negative comment on a review site, those details are tracked into the data warehouse and we can pull the details into a marketing system which will flag it to a sales person to contact the customer who is not happy to offer help or discounts.
“One part of the business can understand what is happening in another. It is about being able to do something insightful with the data that is really exciting.”
On a more prosaic level, investment continues. A laminator will be installed shortly, a Heidelberg Cylinder is already in place along with a 7 series HP Indigo. A dedicated digital print cell with associated finishing technology has been set up. It is open to other opportunities as the impact of the new software rolls out. This will help increase efficiency with better use of ganging for jobs and production scheduling.
Tradeprint is the first company in the Cimpress Group to completely transition to the Mass Customisation Platform. "Now we have the tools to run the business for the future," explains Tradeprint chief innovation and product officer Rod Scrimgeour.
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The new APIs have already made the connection between the Tradeprint software and Magnolia CMS and have taken the operating technology into the cloud. Managing director Simon Cooper explains that a context relevant shopping experience for customers will be delivered, as well as making it easier to add products and greater flexibility.
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