Printing Business in the Digital Age
Helsinki-based WhyPrint has found its own international business opportunity in digitalization. Printed material is now being wanted all over the world uniquely and as quickly as possible.
WhyPrint got its start in 2007 when three men bought an old printing shop in Helsinki. With the digital wave growing higher at the time, many people might have found it crazy to set up a printing business.
"The whole time the idea was to turn operations in a digital direction," explains the company's chief technology officer Anssi Pehrsson. Today, the company employs eight people.
WhyPrint prints especially paper products, posters and T-shirts. In 2013, the company began to develop new ideas to serve online customers. Thus, Printmotor was born. It is a service offering various societies, graphic designers and enterprises, among others, a free shop for selling products. Partner companies take care of product design, marketing and sales, while WhyPrint prints the orders and takes care of their delivery.
Large printing volumes and major consortia are often mentioned as means of survival in the printing industry, but a small business can find its niche as well.
"The number of orders is going up, but the size of the orders is going down. People want fewer products faster," says Mr. Pehrsson, describing the progress of business operations. "Orders come in bursts. If some partner of ours has just been mentioned or seen in a blog, on YouTube or, say, on Instagram, there will be plenty of orders coming in."
Digitalization in the printing industry manifests also as internationality. No longer do customers choose the nearest printing house; on the contrary, customers and orders may come from anywhere in the world.
Ninety percent of the posters printed at WhyPrint are delivered abroad, and the company's biggest markets are the United States, Sweden and Germany. Internationality and low numbers of items per order pose challenges of their own for logistics as well.
"PostNord seemed to be a humane company suitable for us. The people there understood our challenges and wanted to take the bull by its horns," Mr. Pehrsson recalls.
In terms of both warehousing and logistics, orders coming in clusters are a challenge for the company, since the customers of today expect delivery with speed and certainty. Mr. Pehrsson stresses the importance of serving those who want popular products just as quickly as those who want less ordered ones.
"A person ordering a white, M-size T-shirt, which is our most popular product, wants the shirt just as badly as the person who orders an XXS-size yellow one, which has precious little demand. You have to think of each customer as an individual," he says.
Customers also want to follow the progress of their orders more specifically than before and to know when each order will arrive. According to Mr. Pehrsson, customers will understand if some product spends a few days at customs, but if they order a delivery without being told what the delivery time is, the whole service experience may go sour.
"Customers always want to know how their orders are doing. PostNord has been a big help to us in this," he says.
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