Printo's Sharma: 2015 is the high growth year for us

Manish Sharma, the head of Printo with 18 stores in Bengaluru and Hyderabad; talks us through his five year old web-to-print process

07 Jan 2015 | By Ramu Ramanathan

Printo has 18 stores in Bengaluru and Hyderabad: In 2015 we will expand in Hyderabad. Plus we will enter at least one more city like Chennai or Delhi NCR. 

For Printo, 2015 is the “return of the high growth” year.

Today, Printo has moved more production to a centralised location, enabling us to offer many more products across shops, irrespective of the retail footprint. We have reduced capital costs by deploying more software enabled systems for centralised production.


Most importantly, we have moved from just a production hub to a production cum outsourcing process management hub.

The cost of customer acquisition on the web is not very different for various firms in ready to sell segments. But the average order values are lower for the most common product categories. Further, the high cost of transportation for higher volume orders makes it difficult to increase the Average Order Value (AOV) as customers will find to cost effective to buy locally. Finally, good technology is not cheap. So when you consider the costs of marketing and technology, an omni channel approach seems the only way to profit that I know of.

Corporates and IT brands
First, corporate customers want to consolidate vendors as they are increasingly wary of growing transaction costs with multiple vendors for print. They were unable to consolidate as very few print firms offered a multi-product, multi-service and multi-location proposition. Second, large brands are taking cognizance of corruption in the supply chain and they rather deal with professionally managed firms with a clear policy on sustainability and ethical conduct. Mature CFOs are aware that they can save money just by moving to an ethical provider who does not over-invoice or under-supply. 

Digital print is clearly a big enabler but only a proximate driver. Underlying changes that seem to driving quick print service is the way businesses are communicating (more frequently, more targeted) and the way businesses are able to generate high quality ‘printable’ content using easy publishing tools and images - on their laptops or on the web. Finally, photo content (which is a good part of our business at Printo) has boomed with individuals looking for products to embellish with their photos.

Our philosophy of customer service which is underpinned by strong processes and policies, right from training in customer interaction to ensuring keeping promises of TAT and quality. All our key managers, from the CEO to the Store Heads, are involved in receiving and responding to customer feedback and conducting QSIs (quality standards inspections). Irrespective of rank, every new entrant has to spend time serving and observing at our retail stores.   

The role of HubQ
We use our proprietary HubQ software to timestamp and track each job sent to the production hub. It is our core system and eventually provides us with our home grown metric of OTTS (On Time / To Specification).  The OTTS of the HubQ delivers customer satisfaction by helping us remain true to our mantra of “Under Promise, Over Deliver”.

E-commerce boom has led to the natural mushrooming of several players, thanks to the access to capital. It is fantastic to see the VC money flow to create a market category which did not exist - consumer print brands. But this is short lived and I see only a couple of players remaining and already there is a sense of caution among investors in this space.

One of the bigger impacts of ecommerce on print is that niche websites can set up viable businesses to focus on specific customers across the country rather than in a region. This will hurt regional specialty providers. On the other hand, ecommerce makes it easier for firms like Printo to add to our long tail as we combine bricks with clicks. Customers can order from work and home and pick up from a Printo store just a few hours later.

My thumb rule at Printo for quick print service marketing is: stay close to your customer rather than technology.


Employee best practices at Printo?
Trust our team, trust our customers. No one is fired for making a mistake. We learn from errors.

Innovation at Printo?
We innovate using process and products. While process is the strength of all key managers, we have a product team that focuses on new products for businesses and individuals.

Creation of a tangible brand presence with Printo?
Our brand is built on the shopfloor. It is not what we do but how we do it.

Work culture at Printo?
Egalitarian. From CEO to delivery assistants, we all wear the same uniform.

Mantra at Printo?
Happy people, happy customers. And "Under Promise, Over Deliver".