“Web-to-Print has not reached its full potential yet.”
Interview with Fabian Frenzel, Chief Officer of Innovation/Marketing at Unitedprint SE
“Everything which is quite common today was somehow unusual before – which was the case not so long ago for WtP too. And much of what is unusual today will eventually become quite common. This is due to the nature of disruptive changes by smart companies, like we are at Unitedprint.”
Since July 1, 2019 Fabian Frenzel is the new member of the Management Board of Unitedprint responsible for Innovation/Marketing. In an interview, he gives an exclusive insight into Unitedprint’s strategy and an outlook as to the future of WtP.
Mr. Frenzel, thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview. Can you tell us more about your future responsibilities in your new position on Unitedprint’s Board of Directors and what your mission is?
In the coming years, the main focus will be on accompanying our transformation from a hybrid group consisting of WtP with its own production facilities to a smart, data-intelligent e-commerce company consistently committed to platform strategy. It is therefore a matter of breaking down complex, traditional business vertical processes so that we will be able to carry them out more efficiently with the interaction of different, networked participants. This brings with it not only new marketing and sales processes, but above all new procurement processes, which is of course a challenge for our entire company.
So far, Unitedprint has been known as a company which produces for its own customers. Will this therefore change in the future?
Yes, something very fundamental is changing for us. We are currently implementing the step-by-step outsourcing of our entire in-house production. We are increasingly extending our analogue printing production – i.e. everything relating to offset printing – via qualified national and international production partners. We are using new online-based, technology-supported resources with decisive advantages over conventional structures. With the help of this system, operational processes – which expressly includes manufacturing processes – can be presented in a decentralized, scalable and internationally process-optimized way. Among other things, this gives us a maximum degree of flexibility and accelerates delivery times because we are much closer to our customers. “Think global. Print local.” This is a slogan that we have been putting in practice very successfully on various levels for several years now and continue to perfect consistently.
Your customers value print24 – Unitedprint’s flagship portal – because of its products’ high quality and delivery reliability. Can your production partnerships meet these requirements of industrial production?
Throughout Europe, there are thousands of small, medium and large printing companies with great expertise in delivering high quality products with very high performance and absolute reliability. We have all noticed in recent years that many of these printing companies are still experiencing difficult times because they simply lack sufficient capacity for highly qualified employees and mostly first-class technical equipment. With us, they gain an additional, significant source of revenue without having to incur additional marketing and sales costs. At Unitedprint, we will focus more than ever on innovative, professional e-commerce in the future, so that our production partners have the necessary power to produce these orders optimally in large numbers for our customers. Of course, we moderate these fully automated processes and ensure the necessary standards are respected. It is an advantage from which our production partners also benefit massively, not only through the orders placed by our customers, but also through an optimized organization, lean processes and, last but not least, significantly improved material purchasing conditions.
Understood. So platform economy in procurement.
And in Sales! At Unitedprint, we have been offering our USS Partnershop program since 2016. We now have several hundred independent partners throughout Europe who operate their own WtP shop.
These partners use our free WtP power including the complete IT infrastructure to build an independent Web-to-Print business, focusing on their local and regional target groups. This works really well and is, so to speak, the sales counterpart to our procurement platform. In particular, my colleague Ali Jason Bazooband, managing director of all our international sales companies, plays a crucial role here. He is responsible for the sales of our brand shops print24, Easyprint and our special portal for advertising equipment DDK PRINT BIG as well as all our USS Partnershops. We therefore see ourselves as an open network which no longer relies on its own production, but above all empowers third parties, such as trading partners and producers. All this has a lot to do with data intelligence, network competence and, for more than ten years at least, a very long and very successful experience as an international online printing company. As a completely debt-free company with a magnificent capital base that is second to none, we are very proud to be able to stand up to national and international listed and capital market-financed corporations.
So local and regional presences are still in demand in the online age?
Correct! With this concept of enabling geographical proximity with personal advice, our USS partners do not just act as contacts within large conurbations. Many of our partners are active through their personal networks – where there has been little contact with WtP so far.
In the past two years, we have also particularly invested in customer proximity for our print24 brand. We now have our own local sales teams in each of our 22 European target countries, who personally look after our customers’ interests and develop new customer relationships.
What are the big topics in the area of marketing?
Of course, our core task is still to achieve the highest customer satisfaction and to guarantee it permanently. We work almost obsessively to provide our customers with the perfect mix of variety, product quality, delivery speed, service and best prices. This means that support, promotion and sales are even more central to all our efforts than they have been in the past. One concrete task will be to provide our existing customers with even more individual and tailor-made support. This means, on one hand, a targeted customer communication based on the requirements and needs of our respective customers and, on the other hand, a targeted and effective intermeshing of all communication channels. In the future, our customers will be approached exactly by the content and channels which suit them best. This means great efforts in using contemporary data intelligence and, of course, improving our web presence.
Does that mean print24 gets a new face?
Not only print24, but also Easyprint – our portal especially dedicated to smaller companies and individuals where they can easily create a variety of products online with great new design templates and our brand-new FreeDesign tool. Here, too, we are taking a completely new approach and integrating our self-developed Kl-based chatbot for an automated customer communication.
That sounds very exciting and your mission is ambitious.
Everyone has realized that the Internet has fundamentally changed our lives in a very short time. And every company must be aware that the further dynamics of digitization will turn the basic concept of the previous corporate strategy upside down.