Essen, 16.01.2018 – It is probably a unique association that was founded on 18 December 2007 in Düsseldorf: An association of online printers, software manufacturers and companies from the supplier industry came together on the initiative of industry consultant Bernd Zipper to safeguard the interests of the still young web-to-print user group. 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 German market. After the differences of opinion were settled in 2010, the association renamed itself “Initiative Online-Print”. By opening up the association and expanding its content, the “IOP” was initially only intended to serve as a mouthpiece for other associations and institutions.
In the meantime, the Initiative Online-Print, unique in the world, is the association as an independent communication and networking platform of the leading small and large online printers in Europe. In addition to industry giants such as Cimpress, Cewe, Onlineprinters and Helloprint – smaller companies also have a voice in the market with the IOP. Together, the members actively promote fair competition in the field of online printing services and the visibility of the online print industry as an independent sector. This is appreciated by many companies as membership numbers continue to rise. This diversity is in line with the IOP’s objective, as it allows for a greater exchange between individual companies and enables projects and solutions to be implemented as effectively as possible in order to advance the online print industry.
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 vice-chairmen, Wilhelm A. Soll (PrintPlanet / digital print Garbsen GmbH) and Thomas Masselink (BWH Hannover GmbH).
“We do not see ourselves as a classic association – here we greatly appreciate the work of the bvdm and the print associations – but, as an association of “like-minded people” – as a platform for cooperation and networking. The interests of the online print industry are located differently from the interests of traditional printing companies. Our topics are very much e-commerce-oriented and thus naturally somewhat more complex. At present, for example, the impact of the new EU data protection regulation on online print is being discussed, as are new e-commerce forms and characteristics,” says Wilhelm A. Soll.
Bernd Zipper adds: “We are still enthusiastic about the diversity, the cooperation of large and small suppliers and the lively interest in our meetings. Twice a year, the representatives of the companies organised in the IOP meet – in the context of these events. Usually the CEOs and managing directors are there in person and the exciting field of competition certainly leads to one or the other engaged discussion. Future topics in particular are currently being hotly debated.”
The Initiative Online-Print can also be seen in “figures”: the 34 companies organised in the IOP generate a total turnover (excluding bvdm member companies) of over 4.4 billion euros in Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland and Benelux. “We are definitely on the way to becoming a European association – but we deliberately want to do this step by step, as this would of course also have an impact on the communication culture of our meetings. However, Europe is just around the corner and so we are receiving more and more enquiries from neighbouring countries,” adds Thomas Masselink. “As Advisory Partner of the Online-Print-Symposium.de 2018, you will meet many members of the IOP and also the Executive Board there – we invite all interested parties to make first contacts with us for networking and industry discussions, because the market continues to grow and together we can move a lot”.