Helloprint is the online print platform that has been making inroads in the UK market. “It is our fastest growing market,” says Sebastiaan Ram, country manager. “Holland is the largest market by revenue, where the market is dominated by ourselves and Vistaprint. The UK is very fragmented and open so we are growing as fast as possible.
“We want to be the No1 print platform in Europe to make ordering print easier for everyone, anywhere.”
The company operates from a four-floor building which is rapidly filling up with 100 staff at the most recent count. It has no production facilities of its own, instead has a network of 200 partner producers, 25 of these in the UK. These are ranked for quality, on time and quality of delivery. Test jobs, customer feedback and a team of Helloprint assessors form the ranking which is fed to the algorithm which matches the ideal supplier to each incoming job.
“The majority of the work for UK customers is produced in the UK,” says Ram, helped by a key characteristic of the market here: “UK customers are focused on fast delivery, next day delivery and same day dispatch.” Helloprint aims to fill gaps in its service offering to enable it to offer this level of service across the more than 2,000 products featured on the website.
The choice of which product to highlight is another aspect of technology. The company mines its own database, tracks orders, watches the web for fluctuations in search terms and tries to adjust as a result.
Ram explains that if it sees a growth in people searching for flags, it will highlight different styles of flag; if people are buying booklets in quantity, it will add to the range and styles of booklet that are available.
It does not want to offer a static range of business cards. It does not really want to offer business cards at all, because, as Ram explains, these are not the gateway to open a new client, but are a product where customers are extremely fickle, moving from supplier to supplier on cost alone.
Instead it wants to offer the sorts of product that may not have been offered online previously, provided the market is large enough. If not, says Ram “we let someone else develop the market”.
The data analytics team is working on ways to predict shifts in the market for the next 18 months and what it is that influences customers, including changes in the weather which can stimulate demand for outdoor products and flags. It runs cohort analysis routines across groups of customers in order to pitch offers more accurately.
At the same time, it wants to build the network so that it can scale production quickly. The role of the assessors is to help partners improve so that they can take on a greater volume of work and improve the feedback received from customers and be in place as more and more print is bought online.
“Even with business cards and flyers, just 25% are bought online at the moment,” says Ram. “We see that becoming 75% in the next two or three years. There will always be a need to sell print face to face, but printers doing this are going to be under increasing pressure.”
Helloprint has no production equipment of its own, but has a powerful algorithm which assigns incoming jobs to the most suitable of its network of print suppliers. The Dutch company is building a network of providers in the UK to increase the number of jobs that can be produced locally.