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The printing industry becomes a software industry

A Review of the Procurement Process in Printing Companies

I have been working at Zaikio in product marketing for three months – my first station in the printing industry. Before that, I spent several years in the software environment, where digitisation and automation were a given.

In the first weeks of my time at Zaikio I realised that the printing industry has a lot of catching up to do in this area. I learned a lot about the processes in printing companies and how they actually work. Coming from an industry that automated everything that could be automated, I first had to get used to the fact that printers, for example, increasingly use the phone to order paper and other materials. 

I can only imagine what a time-consuming and often nerve-wracking process this is - with double entries of the same data into different systems.

What do we need to do in the future?

If you take a closer look at the purchasing process, you realise that the solution to this challenge is not entirely trivial. Even if printers manage to digitally map the individually agreed terms and conditions with suppliers, it must be ensured that all relevant systems can communicate with each other - in real time. The central system of the printing company must communicate with the ERP of the supplier to ensure a smooth process. Up to now, the two people talking to each other on the phone have formed the interface. This cannot be the final solution if purchasing is to be made more efficient.

The solution – very simplified, of course – is to connect these two systems and provide the printer with an interface through which they can request their materials and receive a real-time response about availability and price. 

Zaikio Procurement

Zaikio has taken on this challenge as a connectivity platform. By connecting MIS as well as suppliers to Zaikio, printers can place their orders digitally, without any integration projects at all - directly from the MIS. This saves them several hours a week that staff previously spent on phone calls or waiting for callbacks. At the same time, of course, the error rate, which used to be very high due to human error, is also reduced. 

What can you, as a printer, expect from Zaikio?
  • Overview of suppliers and dealers that can be easily integrated into the procurement process
  • Live article search of the supplier's complete assortment
  • Live price query of desired articles
  • Digital ordering of materials
  • Selection of delivery date and place
  • Provision of order confirmation, current prices and availability of goods
  • and much more

The supplier is also very interested in establishing this connection. In addition to the benefits that the print shop also enjoys, he would like to use the data that ends up directly in his ERP to sustainably improve production and make it more efficient. 


There has to be a rethink in the direction of digital processes, otherwise the individual parties will not meet the market requirements. There are only a few large orders now. In this day and age, individual orders are more likely to be commissioned in a smaller print run. This means that it is precisely those who can tailor their operations to these requirements and handle orders flexibly who will make a profit. 

In concrete terms it means:
  • Different systems must talk to each other 
  • Recurring steps must be automated 
  • Data must be stored and analysed
  • Actions must be derived from the data to make processes more efficient
  • Systems must open up!

A large part of the industry participants have recognised the need for networking and digitisation. The only thing missing at the moment is the right way to tackle this big project. However, I am sure that more and more market participants will gradually recognise the opportunities and take advantage of them.  
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