24 July 2013
Online broker Printchomp expands network
TORONTO—Printchomp, an online service that hooks up print buyers with printers, has signed a deal with Franchise Services Inc. to bring Sir Speedy, Signal Graphics and Pip Printing to its network.

This adds more than 500 locations to the broker's network, primarily in the U.S. Is this the future of print buying?


Screenshot from Printchomp.com

Printchomp was started about a year ago by Joseph Puopolo (pictured below) in Waterloo, Ont. To date it has signed about 1,000 print shops onto the network across North America. Puopolo, who brings a background in web-to-print marketing, printing and agency experience to the initiative, says he has met with positive response since the launch and the site is growing rapidly, garnering about 10,000 visits per month. "We've had a pretty exciting first year," Puopolo said.
 
One of the first segments he has targeted are agencies, and credits his success to a resurgence of interest in print. "Knowledge of print was removed from many agencies with the rise of digital options and cutbacks. Now, we see a renewed interest in print, but younger print buyers are comfortable buying print online without having strong relationships with their printers."

The system works like like this. Print buyers place a print job up for bid on the site, listing certain specs that help Printchomp direct it to appropriate printers. The quote comes back and is channelled to the buyer. Once the buyer agrees, files get uploaded to the Printchomp website and redirected to the printer. The buyer is aware of who the printer is, but Printchomp acts as the handling manager until the job is delivered. Printchomp gets a percentage of the price of the job.

Most job orders, said Puopolo, come in after midnight, and range from a $20 order for business cards to a 20,000 run for a magazine.

Going forward, plans are to add more printers to the network and ramp up marketing efforts, while also branching out into other verticals including flag production and sign printing.
Comments:
3. Been There says:
31 July 2013 at 3:33 PM
The future of print buying? Seriously? I examined similar concepts with large companies 15 years ago doing the same thing. Even as experienced print buyers we passed on it. It was more labour intensive than calling up or e-mailing a few trusted vendors (and maybe a few new ones too) and doing a traditional RFQ. Now you expect people who don't know print buying to use this and go back and forth with printers? Times must be tough in the industry if they are going for that. This looks like something small shops may be interested in to hopefully drive business. In critical delivery situations (is there any other kind these days?) no real print buyer is going to trust an unknown. This will (as the one 15 years ago did) only serve to place price at the top of the list when buying print, further depressing profits already in scarce supply. I'll stick with vendor management, keeping a small group of proven competitive suppliers and occasionally trying out new ones on non critical work. Price is important but as the article points out, it’s the knowledge that may or may not be present that makes the difference when buying print.
2. Joseph Puopolo says:
24 July 2013 at 4:40 PM
We try to get as much of the specifics up front by asking as many relevant questions as possible. One of the biggest problems is that buyers are not aware of the options thus leading to unnecessary back and forth. Before any job is accepted and sent to print it is accepted or rejected by the printer. Sometimes just rejected and request tweaks to the print ready file. Printchomp uses an internal algorithm based upon the specifications of the job and the capabilities of the printer to pair those things together. There is then further curation to send it to the right printer rather than blasting it out to the network. Printchomp has already partnered with 99designs for design services. We are looking at other options to further assist people with these services.
1. Wayne Guiney says:
24 July 2013 at 4:19 PM
Curious to know how you handle any contract mods because as you know, specs provided by buyers are many times vague or not precise? This will change the price no doubt and in this case do all respondents get a chance to review the project? Also, are bids "closed" until reviewed by the Printchomp coordinator and how to the buyers know the bid they are shown is the lowest/best offering? Has Printchomp considered adding "Design" to their offering inasmuch as it is also specification driven and can be bid much like print collateral? Thnx Wayne
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