European Web Sites
European ink companies are increasingly using their web sites to reach a global audience.
By Kerry Pianoforte, Associate Editor
As the ink market increasingly becomes more global, companies are more frequently turning to the Internet as a quick way to get their information out to a wide range of people. Many sites even have versions in multiple languages in order to reach an even broader range of potential customers.
Siegwerk Druckfarben, a German-based ink manufacturer, sees its web site, www.siegwerk.de, as an efficient way to reach an international audience. “Having a web site means showing presence and getting international contacts,” said Ingrid Buss of Siegwerk. “A web page is like a business card for a company.”
Siegwerk’s web site has a variety of unique features that are informative to both potential and existing customers. The site can be accessed in either German or English. Its homepage contains a variety of links to different sections on the site.
The About Us section contains a profile and history of the company. The Products section lists the many products the company produces including web offset, heatset inks, news inks, publication gravure printing inks, packaging inks and special inks for flexographic and gravure printing, as well as UV curable inks.
The Services section allows users to order a variety of informational brochures about different printing inks in several languages. Some of the brochures include “Color mixing charts for sheetfed offset printing” and “Color mixing charts for coldset.”
The Contact section has a clickable map with Siegwerk sales addresses and contact information located throughout the world.
The News section contains the latest information about Siegwerk and its ink, as well as an e-shop on the German homepage for testing sheetfed inks. The Employment section has job offerings and apprenticeships that are available within the company.
Siegwerk’s site offers a wealth of information to its international customers.
“Siegwerk offers a lot of different (cost-free) brochures in several languages explaining usage of our printing inks as well as overall knowledge of colors and inks,” said Ms. Buss. “These brochures find high response from schools and universities, clients and also private persons.”
As with many ink companies, their web site is not designed for Internet sales. Siegwerk feels that their customers want the personalized attention and knowledge that can only come with dealing with a live person.
“Sales via Internet do not yet have that importance for Siegwerk, as we mostly supply big customers with custom-made products as well as with services and know how. Our clients prefer the personal relation to our technical service and sales staff. Clients who order smaller quantities ask for the same service level, which means that sales via Internet do actually not satisfy their needs,” said Ms. Buss.
Druckfarbenfabrik Gebr. Schmidt GmbH
Another ink company that is harnessing the power of the Internet is Druckfarbenfabrik Gebr. Schmidt GmbH (GS), a German-based company. The company’s web site, www.gs-druckfarben.de, provides users with a complete overview of the company, as well as specific information on its products.
“As a modern supplier of printing inks worldwide with our research and development and production facilities, for GS it is both a matter of course and vital to utilize the global medium that is the Internet as a supporting dialogue and information medium,” said Hans-Wolfgang Blumschein, managing director, marketing and sales. “Our aim in doing so is to offer our customers a platform for dialogue on all questions and problems that may arise. Moreover, we wish to communicate quickly and clearly to potential new customers, and all those interested in the graphics industry, a comprehensive overview of our extensive range of services as well as of the GS company and its history.”
Their homepage is divided into four sections, Corporate Information, Fields and Solutions, Services and News, so that users can easily navigate the site.
“The clearly structured division of our home into four separate areas, ‘Corporate Information, Fields and Solutions, Services and News’ with corresponding links, enables the user to easily find his way and quickly access information relevant to his needs,” said Mr. Blumschein. “Thus, for example, in the Corporate Information area the user can learn interesting facts concerning the GS corporate philosophy and working principles that form the basis for our innovative and responsive activities on the market, and also the many corporate locations (production plants and representative offices) that have evolved during the company’s 123-year history which emphasizes the quality and competence of GS as a global player.”
Other features of the site include downloadable PDFs, contact information for specific products and online customer service.
“In the area Fields and Solutions we present our products individually, with the responsible contact partners who can be addressed at all times directly and personally via telephone or e-mail to answer all queries. Detailed data and facts about the GS ink program can additionally be downloaded as PDF files. Furthermore, there is the possibility to conduct an aimed dialogue with our customer service via our online dialogue system,” Mr. Blumschein said.
The News section keeps customers informed of company news.
“The News area informs about the latest GS developments and plans such as, for example, GS participation in upcoming exhibitions or the current GS presence in the trade press in the form of published specialized articles on the company and its products. The possibility is offered also to order the latest issue of our customer magazine, “Der Fadenzahler,” or the new GS Process Printing Color Diagram that provides valuable help for the safe use of color in the production of printing copy.”
Mr. Blumschein stated that the web site allows GS to provide its customers with enhanced, individualized service, 24 hours a day.
“Because our customers expect complete and individual system solutions, we make every effort to satisfy these expectations via our comprehensive service. At GS, this includes application technology and supply logistics. The primary objective of GS user consultancy is optimal customer orientation and identification with our customers’ wishes, ranging from problem analysis up to practical instruction at the printing press. And our world-wide supply system guarantees an optimal supply of every GS ink in order to give the best possible support to the complex print process chain – just-in-time and around the clock.”
Akzo Nobel Inks
Akzo Nobel Inks’ web site, www.aninks.com, was first established simply as an informational site.It has since evolved into a vital link between the company and its multinational customers.
“The goal in the beginning was just to be there with basic, rather static information and e-mail contact information,” said Bertil Ahlberg, marketing director, Akzo Nobel Inks. “Today we see the web site as one of the most important tools for customer service in its broadest meaning.”
Akzo Nobel’s site is an effective way to provide customer service to a large group of clients. With manufacturing plants and customers throughout the world, their web site is a way to centralize their information.
“It is important for all companies to have this service available, not only ink producers. Especially if you have a large group of small-sized customers that you can’t visit personally.”
Akzo Nobel Inks’ web site continues to evolve and grow with the advancing technology that it available. The company has plans to redesign the site.
“The site today is not very distinctive from other ink makers’, but we are working on a total redesign,” said Mr. Ahlberg.
Some of the upcoming upgrades are a password protected section that will allow customers to enter and track orders, look up their account history and download safety data sheets.
“The redesign will include our Intranet, Extranet and open Internet applications,” explained Mr. Ahlberg. “This means that our customers with a password will be able to enter orders, track deliveries, check account history, find mix and matching formulations and download safety data sheets.”
“Intranet is going to be our most important tool for communication with our group of 19 companies, spread all over the world. If we then add some 40 distributors, it’s obvious that the Internet applications will be more and more important to be able to service internal and external customers quickly, efficiently with updated information.”
As the ink industry becomes more accustomed to doing business and getting their information from the Internet, ink companies will surely respond to their needs with moretechnologically advanced web sites that provide information and other customer-focused services.