Photobox beats market odds by printing personal

If the headlines are to be believed, print media is going down. From 2011 to 2018, retail sales of print magazines in the UK fell 54%. Uncoincidentally, advertisers are slashing their print ad budgets. However, a quick look behind the scenes reveals that the truth is not so black and white. Some companies are swimming against the tide by giving power to the consumer.

We chatted with Alexandre Filleul on how Europe’s leading provider of personalised gifts, Photobox, has managed to turn the downward trend on its head.

The story of Photobox began in 1999 with a simple idea: creating a service for printing digital photos online. Since then, the company has skyrocketed. Through their five factories, Photobox now provides personalised photo books, gifts, wall art and calendars, as well as canvas and regular prints, for 15 markets across Europe.

Alexandre Filleul, procurement manager for one of Photobox’s five brands, Moonpig, credits the company’s success to its customer-centric business model.

“Where printing services used to be a necessity, now, in many cases they have become an option. Even though print has its strengths, you need to be able to add a personal touch to compete with digital alternatives.”

The market seems to agree with Filleul’s assessment. According to a 2018 analysis by ZIPCON consulting, German demand for B2C print products such as photo books and textiles has increased threefold since 2009. In a diminishing supplier base, transformational companies are reaping the benefits.

However, success in a struggling industry rarely comes without growing pains.

“Despite print’s overall decline, the demand for personalised products continues to grow. In the future, we need to pay close attention to how we secure our supply chain and keep costs down in a market with decreasing supplier volumes and production capacity” Filleul states.

Exceptional products result from exceptional processes. According to Filleul, one of the biggest challenges for personalised printers is finding a supplier who fits their needs.

“We are a non-standard business with very specific needs. The fact that Stora Enso as one of the world’s largest paper manufacturers can take those needs into account and modify their processes accordingly is much appreciated.”

Photobox uses Lumi for one of their highest value products – their customisable photo albums. When it comes to quality control, the company runs a tight ship.

“Especially when it comes to our books, our quality control is top-notch. All books are checked page by page before they’re sent out to customers. Lumi has proven an excellent choice both for its durability and color production.”