When does a potential race to the bottom become a complete success story? It’s when you do a complete 180 to make your business the leading online provider of cheap color copies and Online Printing Services since 2003.
That’s the DocuCopies story, and the company’s management says it couldn’t have been done without partnering with Konica Minolta to evolve and revolutionize their printing business. Today the online color copying and printing leader has two production facilities, and their website gets 4 million clicks each month.
DocuCopies started out in 1982 as a traditional printer called Copy Cat Printing in Hudson, WI. The small company prided itself on providing outstanding color printing quality and service to customers in their area. Quantum started out marketing to local businesses and printing their materials, like so many of their competitors, with Minneapolis as the closest metro market.
But they were one print shop among many. An interesting fact as to why there are so many printers located in Minnesota and Wisconsin is because that‘s where all the paper mills were located 100 years ago – there were lots of trees and agriculture, and the printing businesses sprang up by the mills because it saved a lot in transportation costs for the paper they needed.
And as the years ticked by, price cutting among the competition got to be too much to stay profitable. Quantum knew they had to make a change. So they literally closed their doors to walk-in business and started their journey to become an online-only printer.
“We knew we had to pivot.”
Jeff Corbo, President of DocuCopies, has been with the company since 1997, and formerly served as Quantum’s marketing Director. “By the late 90s, we saw that the internet was booming. So we decided to completely change our business model and become an online-only business called DocuCopies.com – and close our doors to services for walk-in customers.”
The company went all in on building their website and hired a team of SEO specialists to drive traffic to the site. Offering fast shipping times was a key element in developing their business strategy as part of the company’s commitment to customer service, in addition to reducing driving and their carbon footprint. The site’s design was also highly strategic. From the start, DocuCopies.com featured a user-friendly, non-nonsense design intended to be intuitive and help businesses find what they needed – fast. With their pivot, the company also knew they had to scale up fast if they were to be an online-only printer. This required hitting Google parameters and having “cheap color copies” come up in searches all across the country.
They also had big dreams for the ultimate, most efficient workflow – the company wanted to leverage their experience in high-quality color printing and excellent customer service, whether to commercial businesses looking to print tens of thousands of booklets or to parents needing to print 50 invitations for a child’s birthday party. But to do all that, they needed the right vendor to hit their goals.
They went online in 2003
DocuCopies began offering online copying and printing services from their original Hudson, WI, location with a mixture of Xerox B/W and Canon color devices. At six copies/min. and .14 click rates, they were able to compete with the local Brick and Mortar shops but knew speed and click rates would have to improve to be successful online. That would happen a few years later when they purchased the 50 copies/min c500 device from Konica Minolta.
Their user-friendly website and helpful customer service agents were also key advantages. Live phone and email help from friendly customer service agents during regular business hours provides information to a growing number of customers, and each order is assigned to a dedicated representative who sets up the customer’s files for print and stays in touch if any questions or issues arise during the job. As part of their dedication to customer service, DocuCopies.com was able to provide one-day ground shipping to all of their customers in Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
In addition, DocuCopies.com also offered bulk printing deals and frequent coupons to drive more online traffic. The high quality they produced kept customers coming back for more, and their SEO expertise helped their business expand beyond their initial expectations.
Lowest-cost color copies and booklet printing became their sweet spots.
All types of booklets were a large factor in DocuCopies.com’s growth spurt because “books are what drive us most,” said Roe Pressley, Vice President of Marketing and Communications. “We print thousands of training manuals, calendars, spiral-bound books and stapled booklets for all types of businesses.”
In addition, DocuCopies.com offers an in-house creative team that continuously adds content on the company’s website including articles, videos and other useful information for their customers. The site also features online printing resources for ideas, tips and extended knowledge on graphics and printing, all to help their customers take advantage of DocuCopies.com’s extensive capabilities and high quality at low prices – or, as they say on their website: “Cheap printing, priceless quality.”
Konica Minolta helped scale up DocuCopies.com’s color printing services.
The continued evolution of copying and printing technology and equipment was key to the relationship between the two companies. “We began partnering with Konica Minolta in 2006, bought more machines, eventually purchased their new bizhub C8000 PRESS. We weren’t on board at first, but the C8000 uses their new Simitri HD toner that delivers print quality comparable to offset technology. We purchased the very first C8000 in the U.S., back in 2010,” said DocuCopies.com’s president, Jeff Corbo. “And then we bought five at once.”
Konica Minolta’s bizhub C8000 was the groundbreaking 80 ppm press – whether B/W or color – with a dual-fusing engine. In addition, it offers a maximum weight of 350 gsm in simplex and 300 gsm in duplex, which exceeds by far the 256 gsm of Konica Minolta’s other production presses.
The C8000 shocked the commercial print world with its digital workflow that delivers web-to-print job ordering, variable-data printing and cost-effective inline finishing options. With its speed, versatility and superior print quality, it became one of Konica Minolta’s most successful product launches to date. Thousands of this press have since been sold in the U.S. DocuCopies.com took full advantage of this new technology. Then business really spiked.
Konica Minolta then helped make a second printing facility possible.
DocuCopies.com grew to 50,000 customers nationwide and was serving many different industries, in particular healthcare clients, training companies and schools. Their book printing business skyrocketed, ranging from elementary and college yearbooks to engineering training books for UC Davis and Stanford. And while the Hudson, WI, location was able to offer one-to-three-day shipping nationwide, the company began to see advantages to having a new location on the west coast. In 2012, they opened a second production facility in San Luis Obispo, CA, which now produces all orders from the Pacific to the Rockies, along with any overflow from the Midwest. Even better, most of California’s customers get free ground shipping in just one day.
Konica Minolta’s team jumped right in to make the second facility a reality. “What made it so special is that everyone was on board. They were so excited to help us scale and open up another location – there was reciprocal excitement,” said Roe Pressley. “Another big plus was that even though they had no nearby locations, Konica Minolta was able to service us directly, which was tricky in the SLO area. Other device manufacturers couldn’t service us the way they did while we were purchasing so much new equipment.”
Now DocuCopies.com has ten Konica Minolta digital presses at their Hudson, WI, location along with a Konica Minolta C14000 press, and a nearly identical print operation in San Luis Obispo. Their website gets 4 million clicks a month. And DocuCopies.com has expanded into digital labels, wide-format printing, and other finishing options, along with digital inkjet printing, all of which Konica Minolta is helping them to provide.
While most of the software DocuCopies.com uses is homegrown due to the nature of its unique business, it all works seamlessly with Konica Minolta’s standard EFI Workflow for production printing equipment. DocuCopies.com also has its own IT department and internal command workstation, with all processes queued into the company’s back-end system for closed-loop ordering, production, shipping and invoicing. As DocuCopies.com says, “Digital printing is what we know, but customer service is our expertise.”
As the company maintains its online printing leadership with cheap color copies – and a wide range of other printed materials – their commitment to dedicated customer service and excellent print quality continues, with Konica Minolta’s dedicated assistance. I’m proud to say we earn Jeff’s business every month. He gets competitive quotes, but remains a 99 percent Konica Minolta shop.