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Internet--The Evolving Print Community

January 2000
Internet companies are changing print buyer to printer (and printer to printer) interaction. Beyond e-procurement and equipment auctions, the Internet is targeting the very core of the printing industry—the printing community itself.


BY MARIE RANOIA ALONSO


John Cooley Jr., vice president of sales at his family's business, Philadelphia-based, $25 million Innovation Printing & Litho, does not oversee a company the size and scope of R.R. Donnelley & Sons. Cooley does not buy consumables with the same purchase power as do print consolidators the likes of Nationwide Graphics. Cooley does not push Innovation Printing, founded by Cooley's father, to compete against the billion dollar printing giants—the Mail-Wells of the print world—that command the respect, and rebates, of the industry's elite supply community.

Or does he?

Recently, Innovation Printing & Litho signed onto a new Internet community offering, which unites independent printers, to give this family owned and operated printing company some buying leverage with the supply community.

PrinterAlliance.com is a group of more than 60 (and counting!) independent commercial printers, joined together via the Internet, with the goal of remaining profitable and independent in a time of consolidation. PrinterAlliance.com is the embodiment of independent printers, banded as one buying community to ensure collective rebates from the supply sector.

"PrinterAlliance.com is about making money, making profit," reports Cooley. "The service allows us, the smaller, independent printer, to be profitable by empowering us to purchase supplies as one huge buying group. It's a fabulous and progressive concept that rewards us independent, family owned printing companies, by enabling us to make the same consumables and supply purchases we would normally make, but with the buying leverage of the big boys."

PrinterAlliance.com negotiates the purchase for the independent printer. Printers, like Innovation Printing, submit invoices to PrinterAlliance.com, and the Internet service takes it from there—negotiating national rebate programs, while purchasing their products from local distributors of choice. PrinterAlliance.com compiles information submitted by independent printers and, based on usage figures, calculates a bi-annual rebate for each printer.

"It's almost like a union for the independent commercial printer, a buying union," Innovation's Cooley states. "We join together, buy our products as a whole and get rewarded for it—no more paperwork for us."

Outside of PrinterAlliance.com, positioning itself as a portal service for the graphic arts industry is GraphicsResourceCenter.com. The site offers commercial printers, publishers, industry associations and manufacturers, as well as educational institutions, a platform to communicate, shop and promote new business opportunities.
 

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