The Initiative Online Print e.V. (short: IOP) is a worldwide unique association of the leading companies in the online print industry in Europe to form an independent communication and networking platform. Founded 18 December 2007 in Düsseldorf on the initiative of industry consultant Bernd Zipper, the IOP is a steadily growing association in which online printers, software manufacturers and companies from the supply industry regularly exchange information and take a joint stand on important industry issues.
In addition to industry giants, smaller companies also have a voice in the market with the IOP and an opportunity to communicate or possibly even cooperate with larger companies in the industry.
In addition to regular web meetings, the representatives of the IOP companies meet twice a year in the context of member conferences at an IOP member’s premises. Usually the managing directors are there in person and exchange views on current events at “eye level”, engage in committed discussions and also have future topics addressed by external specialists.
Furthermore, the IOP sees itself as a professional and economic lobby for the online print industry. The IOP strengthens the online print industry by organising information events, working groups, public relations work, cooperations with other associations and consultations with politics and society.
Externally, the IOP is represented on an honorary basis by the Board of Directors, consisting of the Chairman Bernd Zipper (zipcon consulting GmbH) and the two Deputy Chairmen, Roland Keppler (Onlineprinters GmbH) and Ulrich Schätzl (Elanders Print+Packaging Group).
In February 2024, the members approved a position paper detailing the specific positioning of the Initiative Online Print.
The 51 companies organised in the IOP generate a total turnover (excluding bvdm member companies) of over 10 billion Euros in Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Benelux.
Print is omnipresent, even in digital times. Packaging, labels, books, newspapers, magazines, flyers, decorative print, photo products and much more live from the diverse production possibilities of the modern printing industry. But the printing industry is facing the biggest revolution since Gutenberg’s time: The Digital Transformation. This is not only noticeable in extensive automation and digitalisation within production, but also customer access is becoming increasingly digitalised.
Some printing companies already ventured into the online world years ago and are active in the market as “online printers”. Online-based ordering processes for B2B and B2C, web-to-print, direct connection of customers via cloud services and much more are what make the players in the online print industry so successful. The high degree of automation in print production, optimised value chains between printers and customers as well as state-of-the-art production facilities open up new profits and make online printing so viable for the future – to the benefit of everyone who implements print in their communication.
Nevertheless, some procedures and processes that have long been established in other industries are often only conditionally defined in online printing. Basics such as general terms and conditions, standardised processes, quality seals, data protection agreements, licences for server use of software and fonts, etc. have hardly been regulated in the online print industry to date. Legislators in Europe have not yet addressed these issues – more than that: online print is usually only noticed when companies from this sector act as sponsors, but as a growing industry, online print is often denied the attention of institutions.
The IOP addresses these issues in its committees and develops constructive proposals for the regulation and standardisation of online production and buying processes for the print and media industry. The interests of the online print industry are located differently than the interests of classic printing companies. The topics of the IOP are very much e-commerce oriented and often cross-sectoral.
As “Interessengemeinschaft zur Förderung des freien Wettbewerbs Web-to-Print e.V.” (Interest Group for the Promotion of Free Competition Web-to-Print), the association primarily acted against restrictions on competition that some market participants derived from patents for the European market. After the differences of opinion were settled in 2010, the association renamed itself “Initiative Online Print e.V.”. The IOP came into being, as it is active today.