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Internet Ambassadors

December 1999
The Internet's rapid adoption as a vehicle for business communication broke new ground in '99 with the emergence of a variety of e-commerce services targeting commercial printers. With 2000 in sight, it is imperative to know the Internet players that want to know YOU.


Interested in using the Internet for winning print bids and for collaborative discussions with print buyers? Curious about using the Web to get the best prices on paper, or to take part in an equipment auction? If so, there are suddenly, it seems, an aggressive variety of e-commerce companies positioning to be the shopping platform of choice for the printing industry—everything from print buying to buying supplies to get the printing done.

Forget the telephone. Never mind leaving voicemails for paper or ink suppliers, or answering voicemails from anxious print buyers calling for quotes, job status or reprint orders. Forget entirely the mundane sound of another human voice, as it applies to print procurement, print production and print fulfillment protocol. (Hey, it's the price of progress!)

At present, there are an impressive variety of new, Internet-based, business-to-business technology providers. Make no mistake, with sights set on the commercial printer, these companies mean big business—or rather, e-business.

To get a handle on the current field of Internet players aiming their Web links at the, like it or not, (dot)com-mercial printer, Printing Impressions offers this checklist of e-companies, e-services and, more astutely, their respective e-significance to the craft that remains putting ink on paper—for profit, with or without the Internet.

Ten years ago, Robert Hu, formerly president of Menlo Park, CA-based A&a Printers & Lithographers, started voicing his thoughts on industry trends—from emerging prepress technologies to pressroom practices to the Internet. In 1997, Hu decided to focus on his Internet intentions, specifically as they applied to print procurement.

The result: Collabria, a company, headed by Hu and his brother, Alan, a former IBM executive. Collabria's PrintCommerce model reportedly makes it easy for commercial printers to use e-commerce technology to strengthen customer relationships and streamline operations. PrintCommerce enables commercial printers to deliver a complete procurement package to print buyers—an on-line, digital catalog of corporate-standard print materials.

Through PrintCommerce, print buyers can modify, proof, procure and track all printed products, ordering in a matter of minutes and easily updating or personalizing their purchases.

Significance: For the printer, Collabria delivers its Internet brand of print procurement—PrintCommerce—on a purely subscription basis. Collabria wants to give printers a tool to strengthen relationships with the print buying community. Print bids do not happen on Collabria's PrintCommerce network. PrintCommerce sets up individual, private channels between printer and print buyer that accelerate the process of exclusive print procurement. For Collabria, security is the key with PrintCommerce.



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