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ASPs--Solving Age-old Problems

May 2000
Looking for a way to develop a larger client base, communicate better with your clients and cut the cost of your consumables? Dotcom companies may be the answer for which you've been searching.


BY CAROLINE MILLER


The dotcom companies—they're everywhere. The sheer number of print-oriented e-commerce sites can be a confusing and, frankly, a maddening experience when you are trying to figure out how the emerging dotcom world will benefit you. Never fear: We're here to help. In the second part of our on-going series on e-commerce companies for the printing industry, Printing Impressions takes a look at three age-old problems faced by three printers, and how three new dotcom companies are helping to solve them.

The Problem:
How does a printing company rebuild its client base after one of its largest client picks up and moves to Mexico?

Two and a half years ago, this was the dilemma facing Nationwide Golf & Printing, located in Fayetteville, NC. This $2.5 million company lost about 55 percent of its business when Black & Decker sold part of its housewares business and relocated the rest of its operation to Mexico—taking Nationwide's contract to print their housewares product guides with them, remembers Mike Wilkerson, sales and marketing manager for Nationwide.

Nationwide executives knew they needed a new sales strategy if they were going to reach their goal of returning to the $3 million mark by 2001.

The Solution: 58k.com
58k.com is one of the tools that Nationwide is using to climb back on top, Wilkerson reveals.

58k.com is an open auction site for printing on the Internet, explains Bob Rose, president of 58k.com. "We're a dating service. We connect a printer and a buyer. Then we step back from the transaction."

It's this kind of connection that is helping Nationwide rebuild its client base, Wilkerson reports. "We've been bidding actively, and we've done pretty well so far. It has been a great benefit to us. It enables us to keep the presses running—and any hours that the presses aren't running means we are losing money."

But it isn't just the expanding client base that Wilkerson likes about 58k.com. He enjoys the ability to log on at any time and sort through the jobs list.

"It saves us a lot of time. The specification sheets are very accurate. It's really cut down on much of the guess work," he remarks.

The Problem:
How can independent printers continue to compete against consolidators, which enjoy better marketplace buying power?

This was the question Mark Ravida and others at Broudy Printing in Pittsburgh were asking themselves.

As an independently owned, commercial printing company, Broudy faces the same survival predicament other independent printers are faced with in a consolidator-dominated industry.

The Solution: Printeralliance.com
Broudy Printing turned to Printeralliance.com in order to form an alliance with other independ-ently owned printing companies. Printeralliance.com comprises a group of independent printers

that have banded together to develop for themselves the same buying everage that only consolidators used to enjoy, according to Jay Rogers, executive vice president at Printeralliance.

Printeralliance.com negotiates rebates in areas such as film, paper, insurances, telecommunications and waste removal, he says. "For any procurement area that printers are budgeting for, we are putting together national programs, so that printers can enjoy a national position and collective buying power that our members need to compete."

For management at Broudy Printing, Printeralliance.com was exactly the alliance they were looking for in the industry. "It was an opportunity for us to improve our buying power, and there was no risk to us," Ravida says.

Currently, Broudy is using Printeralliance.com to purchase paper. However, Ravida expects to take advantage of other rebates offered through the Website in the future. "Right now, we are receiving rebates on paper, which has helped us be a little more competitive."

And being able to stay competitive with consolidators will mean that independently owned printers will continue to thrive in the marketplace. "This kind of approach is going to help ensure that the American way of life—owning your own company—continues," concludes Ravida. "It's just one way to help make our business stronger."

The Problem:
How do you ensure better communication among printers, clients and designers while lowering your administrative costs?

This is exactly what David Podmayersky, vice president of Applied Printing—based in Moonachie, NJ, just outside of New York City—has been able to do since signing up with Noosh.com.

The Solution: Noosh.com
Noosh is a business-to-business print management network that enables printing jobs to be created, quoted and submitted over the Internet. And once a job has been procured, it can then be managed through Noosh.com by the client and printer, according to Ned Gibbons, market development manager for Noosh.

A printer using this streamlined supply chain gains greater accountability, a reduction of rework expenses, savings on administrative costs and the standardization of information for the printer and the buyer, Gibbons says.

And Applied Printing is already reaping the rewards of using Noosh.com, reveals Podmayersky. "At this point, we are looking at reducing some of our staffing requirements. There are some layers of client support that we can reduce, because we can have fewer people do more as a result of an online system."

But it's not only the savings in administrative staff that Applied Printing has garnered as a result of Noosh.com. Applied Printing has also seen the Internet-based service improve the capabilities of its sales staff.

"They can sign onto any computer anywhere and get instant access to all the activity that is paired to their client and their account. To us, that is a huge advantage."

The Future:
The consensus among Wilkerson, Ravida and Podmayersky is that Internet-based, e-commerce solutions can be of great value to any printer. They can use the speed, efficiency and communication ability of the Web to help them open up new markets, increase their buying power, streamline their workflow and much, much, more. "It's another tool that printers can use to get work," Ravida concludes.
 

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