It’s a hip word in business: the platform economy. But what exactly is this? What are the opportunities of this growing phenomenon and where does the model encounter resistance? And how can platforms work in the print industry? Prindustry leads the way with a platform with an online print marketplace.
A platform economy: online platforms with marketplaces
With a platform economy we mean an economic system that works with an online platform. On such a digital platform, the supply and demand of products or services come together. The platform economy has gradually expanded enormously with smart algorithms. Amazon, Zalando, Airbnb, Uber, Booking.com or Alibaba are examples of successful platforms.
The most important character of such an online platform is that it consists of a market in which supply and demand clearly come together. It can be a marketplace with products like Amazon or a marketplace with services like Uber. There are various marketplace platforms in both the B2C and B2B markets.
Pros and cons of platforms
Platforms offer enormous possibilities. Providers can enter new markets quickly and easily through platforms. Users can easily find all kinds of products and/or services on one structured platform. In addition, platform companies offer opportunities for services that previously didn’t exist or were expensive.
However, there are also opponents of the platform economy. According to them, large platforms have a monopoly position, have too much power, or even abuse data. There would be an inadequate balance between the interests of the platforms and the interests of the users or entrepreneurs on the platforms.
Promising future platforms
For or against, platforms are a growing phenomenon. The international accountant and consulting organization KPMG says in a study (2018): “Resistance to the growing power of platforms is not only pointless, but also a misunderstanding of their value.” The business organization VNO-NCW agrees: “The question is not whether digital platforms will have an impact, but what impact it will have. Platforms are not a separate part in the economy, they turn existing business models in all parts of the economy and in all sectors upside down.”
At Bernd Zipper’s Online Print Symposium (2019), Dr. Holger Schmidt talks about the role that digital platforms play in successful business models: “In contrast to classic linear business models, platform models are based on interactions between supply and demand. Although traditional producers are still needed, a significant part of the added value is shifting from production to interaction. These values often create decisive competitive advantages for platform providers.”
Platforms in the printing industry
Digital platforms are also possible in the print industry. Holger Schmidt translated the platform model to the printing industry for web-to-print. “It’s about creating partnerships. Think about who you can form a good combination with. An online-to-print provider can work together with a designer, a 3D printer, a provider of AR / clickable paper, but also with marketing specialists and supplier services. There must be a platform operator who translates these partnerships into an online structure. The producers and intermediaries can then handle their interactions via the platform.”
For several years now, Prindustry has been responding to the online gap in the market between print resellers and producers and brings them together with a platform. Prindustry’s WhiteLabelShop offers a web-to-print platform with a marketplace in which print manufacturers offer their products to resellers, who can further sell them online.
The Prindustry platform: an online print marketplace
The essence of Prindustry is connecting: the IT company links (print) communication products, partners and systems to each other.
Each Prindustry online print webshop, the WhiteLabelShop, has access to a marketplace where dozens of print media specialists offer their (print) communication products. This is the drop shipment principle. Suppliers offer their products white label to resellers, produce these products for the resellers and can ship them directly to the customers.
As a reseller you get the opportunity to present a large (print) communication range to your customers. You can choose which products from the marketplace you sell in your webshop. This can be white label, so with your own name and with prices to end customers that you determine yourself. If you are already a customer of a supplier, you continue on the same customer account and with the same price agreements. You can also add your own suppliers or products.
As a supplier you reach a larger target group through the marketplace that can buy your products. With a minimal investment you can expand your sales market in one go.
Platform comparison: Prindustry and Amazon
Just like Amazon, a Prindustry webshop is a successful platform with a marketplace with various affiliated partners. Both formulas combine supply and demand with an extensive range, a simple ordering and payment method and clear delivery agreements. A platform like Amazon or Prindustry opens the doors to a large sales market through an extensive network.
There are also differences between these platforms. The Prindustry marketplace is only visible to the webshop owner. It is a closed marketplace, while the products offered on Amazon can be viewed by anyone. Resellers can offer the products from the closed Prindustry white label marketplace, with prices that they determine themselves. You can also decide for yourself which products you want to offer. Prindustry resellers have complete control over their own sales portal.
Another difference is that a product that is ordered in a print webshop has yet to be made. Amazon (resellers) has the offered products ready in a warehouse, but printed products such as business cards, brochures or T-shirts still have to be produced. However, customers also expect fast delivery and the quality product. This means that the ordering process behind an online print shop has to be carefully coordinated. Prindustry has translated the numerous print job options on the marketplace platform. There is also a fully automated workflow. An order can immediately go into production with one of the connected suppliers within the platform.
Curious how the Prindustry platform works? You manage your own B2C webshop or B2B brand portal with a unique web2print workflow for orders, quotations, invoicing, accounting, product information, stock, payment systems, online editing and more from one central platform. Request a no-obligation demo now!