By Barb Pellow
April 2nd, 2008 — While simple Web-to-print applications are a cornerstone of e-enablement, there are other aspects of e-enablement that are rapidly becoming mainstream. InfoTrends recently released a study entitled e-Enablement: The Future of Graphic Communications. It demonstrates that support for even more complex Web-based multi-channel communications and data management services is becoming critical to business success. Buyers and sellers of print are leveraging these systems to increase automation, improve operational efficiency, remove costs, and enhance the quality and currency of printed materials. In aggregate, print e-business services have expanded beyond simply Web-to-print to a broader multi-channel Web services paradigm, and they are being leveraged by enterprises using internal and external service providers.
Mimeo is a pioneer in online Web-to-print services. The company has historically been known as an organization that prints, binds, and delivers documents from files that are uploaded to its Web site. To start printing, customers simply go to Mimeo.com, upload a document from any application, and then select paper, tab, cover, and binding options. After proofing the exact look of the finished document online, customers select one or more recipients and choose a mail delivery method. Documents submitted by 10:00 pm ET can be delivered the next morning. Online tracking and delivery notification are provided for all orders. The objective is to help time-starved customers and offer a service that lets them send their documents electronically and get the materials efficiently delivered at the point of need.
This past week, I had the opportunity to participate in a marketing event hosted by Mimeo at the Harvard Club in New York City. It was enlightening to see an organization working to reposition the organization while also announcing expanded Web capabilities to meet the needs if its target audience.
The Mimeo Academy: Reaching Its Target Market
One of Mimeo’s target markets is the training industry. Mimeo invited training professionals, human resources directors, and chief learning officers to the Mimeo Academy to discuss how to re-engineer the training process. The session was NOT specifically about print, but focused on understanding how new “web 2.0” technologies and approaches will affect learning and performance. Experts from the training industry reviewed new trends in learning, e-learning, and performance improvement. In addition, there was extensive dialogue about new collaboration and community-building tools at the forefront of learning. The objective was to position Mimeo as much more than a print services provider. Participants left the session viewing Mimeo as a trusted source of information on education and training.
Expanding Web-to-Print Capabilities
Mimeo also used the event to announce its Mimeo Marketplace, an on-demand publishing and document distribution tool designed to revolutionize the way documents are produced and distributed online. Mimeo built the system to accommodate customer’s wishes to have an effective, easy-to-use mechanism for distributing information.
With Mimeo Marketplace, users can create customized online storefronts, produce and place documents into them, and let others do the ordering. The system features a user-friendly interface that enables users to create their own storefronts. It requires naming the marketplace, customizing Web addresses, uploading a logo, and choosing appropriate color schemes. From there, users can publish documents to their store. They can click and revise documents and select associated covers, tabs, finishing options, photos, and other associated information. Coworkers or customers can log onto the Marketplace, put items in a shopping cart, provide their shipping address, and pay. Mimeo accepts corporate accounts or any major credit card. The Marketplace can also be integrated with corporate intranets.
Mimeo customers can also store branded items including mugs, t-shirts, caps, and pens along with printed documents in a secure, climate-controlled warehouse. Based on the order placed from the user’s Marketplace site, Mimeo will kit and ship as required.
Mimeo’s focus with the offering includes franchises, retailers, learning and development professionals, sales operations, and self-publishers. The message is a simple one—the Marketplace owner has control of the information and who can access it. The owner can select security settings or make information public. Users also can keep track of where documentation is going. They receive monthly reports identifying what was ordered and by whom.
In some instances, corporations or self publishers are attempting to make informational content into a profit center. Mimeo’s Marketplace royalty service allows users to mark up the price of the document to whatever they determine, and Mimeo will return a check for the difference. Even more interestingly, the service requires no start-up costs or recurring fees, and is maintained by a 24-hour customer support team. Its fast and easy setup enables users to customize, brand, publish, and update documents in real time.
Web-Enabled Services Mean Business Growth
Based on its business model, Mimeo understands that the Internet is clearly the strategy for service providers in the graphic communications market. In fact, the Internet is Mimeo’s strategy. Mimeo was founded in 1998 (ten years ago) and currently employs more than 500 people. Revenues have increased in excess of 40% for each of the past 6 years and the company is profitable. It serves more than 4,000 customers, 38% of which are Fortune 500 companies. Its mission is to delight customers with the easiest, fastest, and most reliable way to print, manage, and distribute documents. The basic business premise is that the Internet displaces the need for in-person copy shops and print centers. By centralizing production, it provides clients with economies of scale that make it the low-cost producer as well as the high-value provider. The company can handle large volumes and quick turnaround with high quality.
In InfoTrends’ e-E-Enablement survey, more than 180 print service providers and 170 print buyers indicated that the Internet was integral to their strategy. 66% of print buyer respondents reported using Web-to-print services offered by internal or external providers, up from only 11% in our 2000 study. Nearly half of the print service providers surveyed are offering these services, with another third intend to offer them within the next 24 months. InfoTrends’ research in 2000 indicated that less than 5% of print service providers had Web-to-print service offerings. InfoTrends estimates that $9 billion of print shipments last year were procured through a Web-enabled system, and this will increase to $33 billion by 2011 (representing a growth rate of 31% per year).
While not of the same magnitude as Mimeo, survey respondents reported an average increase of 8% in print volume attributable to e-business services, and an 8.1% increase in revenue. These rates are significantly higher than general industry growth, which is in the low single digits. Of equal importance, 54% indicated margin improvements since implementing print e-business solutions, with average margins up over 7%. Providers also pointed to the marriage of e-enabled services, digital print, and offset printing as creating a new and different relationship with existing customers, and opening the doors to new customers.
As I look at Mimeo’s business model, there are two key elements that are making the company successful. The first is focus—the company has identified key target markets and is working at a document owner level to prove that it is more than a printer. Through activities like the Mimeo Academy, the organization is positioning itself as a strategic partner.
Secondly, with a clear understanding of customer needs, Mimeo is building and enhancing Web-enabled capabilities to continue to drive double-digit revenue growth. The company provides proof that e-enablement is not the wave of the future for the graphic communications industry—it is here today and will only continue to increase in power and robustness. Mimeo provides reaffirmation that e-enablement is:
- A pathway to automating business processes and “super-efficiency” for buyers and sellers of print
- The key to effective utilization of procurement networks for more efficient print supply chain management
- An important means of delivering affordable global access to customers
- A launching pad for participation in new market niches or evolution into a totally new business
Let Barb know what you think! She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.