Printing Over the Internet Takes Hold



Printing Over the Internet Takes Hold

Franchise Times | By Jonathan Maze

As soon as private companies began offering Internet service in the late 1980s, it seemed only a matter of time before commercial printers would start going online. That may have taken a bit longer than, say, online shopping, but Web-based commercial printing is rapidly taking hold. Several online printers, including New York-based Mimeo.com and the Massachusetts-based 48hourprint.com, are seeing substantial revenue growth.

Traditional printers are also joining in. Nearly half of the country’s digital printing companies already offer their own Web-based services and more are expected to in the next couple of years, according to a print industry trade group. The companies are lured to the service by its promise of a more consistent customer base.

The customers, meanwhile, are lured to the service for the same reason they like using online retailers: convenience. Printing over the Web can be done from a desk; the online printers say it’s cheaper and users can frequently have the products sent to their destined locations – say, to individual franchisees in far-flung states. “Once people have experienced the ease of online printing, they’re a customer for life,” said Peter Dammann, vice president of marketing and business development for 48hourprint.com.

There is a “but” to Dammann’s comment: “There’s a hurdle or barrier customers need to get over” before they use online printing, he said. “It’s no different from the first time they placed an order with Amazon. There is a comfort level with looking at everything on a screen as opposed to feeling something in your hand.” Numerous companies have emerged to provide online printing to businesses – a quick online search yielded dozens. But many of them have grown. 48hourprint.com started five years ago and is now a $20 million company. Mimeo.com was founded 10 years ago in the midst of the Internet boom and, following some rough patches, has been growing by 40 percent a year for the last five years. Today it has 500 workers and is looking to expand worldwide. Both companies focus on business clients and target franchises in particular.

The printing companies boast that it’s just as easy as printing to an office printer and can be delivered quickly. Mimeo.com – which doesn’t like the “printing company” label – has its printing plant in Memphis near the FedEx hub. “We can take on work until the last possible minute,” said Tom Karrat, executive vice president of sales and marketing for Mimeo. “We can allow someone to upload an order by 10 p.m. and we will deliver by 8 a.m. the next morning.”

Dammann said his company is less expensive than traditional printers – the prices are as much as three-quarters lower, he said. An order of 500, 8.5-by-11, two-sided, single-fold brochures cost $329. Delivery, however, adds cost and the more complex the delivery, the higher that price.

He said the company has an advantage on cost because it is not limited by geography. So 48hourprint can take on more orders and print more efficiently. “We have an unlimited audience,” Dammann said. “The more orders we can take in, the more that can go through the one run in the press. That savings is passed onto customers.”

What about security? Mimeo, for one, said its security systems are rigorous. And they have to be, because many of the company’s customers are banks. “We have to maintain a high level of focus to make sure the security the clients expect is met,” Karrat said. “Otherwise, we wouldn’t be able to sell to the clients we have.”

About Mimeo
Mimeo is the innovator of online, on-demand cloud printing services. Over 4,000 companies rely on Mimeo’s award winning document management tools and print on demand solutions to lower document related costs while improving employee productivity. The company was founded in 1998 and operates digital print facilities in both the U.S. and the U.K. Investors include Draper Fisher Jurvetson, DFJ Gotham, Goldman Sachs (GS) Harbourvest and Hewlett Packard (HP). For additional information on Mimeo, visit https://www.mimeo.com or call 1.800.466.4636.