Vendor Profile: COLOP

Stamp and marking manufacturer COLOP is fully embracing the future as the launch of its first electronic marking device proves.

Founded in the early 1980s, Austria-based COLOP is a global leader in the manufacturing of modern marking devices and a specialist in the production of self-inking stamps. As a major player in the stamp industry, the company has achieved an outstanding position in the market thanks to its contemporary designs, product enhancements and pioneering ideas, such as EOS Flash stamps and materials for the production of text plates.

“Innovation is, and always has been, a key factor for our company,” says COLOP Managing Director Ernst Faber. True to his word, the manufacturer now sets a new milestone in the area of marking solutions with the launch of its first electronic marking device – the e-mark. This unique stamp is making its worldwide debut at Paperworld in Frankfurt, Germany, with the Swedish market set to see the initial roll out of the product.

“Interest from the office supplies industry has been great and the e-mark has been listed immediately in important Swedish office products catalogues,” says COLOP International Sales & Marketing Manager Franz Ratzenberger. “The results from Sweden will form an important basis for further marketing measures of the e-mark,” he adds.

Following the initial release, the e-mark will be available in major European countries during the first half of 2019, with availability in the rest of Europe and the US over the course of this year. This will be followed by a global product introduction.

What is the e-mark?

The e-mark is an electronic (battery-powered) mobile marking device that enables users to make their own imprints with an easy sideways movement. The product has been in development for several years, but now the e-mark and its corresponding app are ready for serial production.

The e-mark opens up many new avenues for the office supplies sector and is aimed at both business customers and end consumers. With its numerous features and fields of application, it has the potential to usher in a new era in marking solutions.

Through an app created by COLOP’s specialist in-house development team, there are almost unlimited designs, ready-to-use templates and special features available, including company logos, date, time and number functions, and a QR or barcode generator. Any absorbent surface such as paper, envelopes, books, cardboard, paper bags or even wood can easily be marked with the e-mark. “Used in combination with COLOP e-mark label sheets, many other materials such as glass and metal can also be stamped. This makes the e-mark not only a perfect organisational and office tool, but in addition offers fantastic opportunities for personalisation,” states Ratzenberger.

E-mark applications

The e-mark app is compatible with both iOS and Android devices and can be downloaded from the Apple Store or the Google Play Store free of charge. It makes it possible to create, change and transfer individual full-colour and/or black & white imprints wirelessly to a device, enabling the e-mark to be used wherever, whenever and however.

Thanks to its inbuilt rechargeable battery, the e-mark is perfect to use on the go, either in online or offline mode, whether in the office, warehouse, studio, outdoors, or on a business trip. Unlike traditional stamps, personalised imprints can be changed as required, either using one of the many predefined templates or by entering personal data – including images and text – into the app, which is then displayed in full colour on the e-mark.

In contrast to standard stamps, the e-mark’s single imprints can be up to 150 mm in length and its continual marking function offers even longer markings. The only current limitation is the 14 mm one-line height, but users can simply print several consecutive lines.

“The first e-mark device has been received enthusiastically and as befits an international, innovative company, COLOP has secured a clear competitive edge in electronic stamping through our worldwide patents,” says COLOP Head of Product Management Wolfgang Pichler.

The product was developed in cooperation with HP Specialty Printing Systems. The OEM partnership has resulted in COLOP being one of the first manufacturers to incorporate HP’s latest three-colour inkjet printing technology.

The e-mark’s sensor technology has also been provided by leading manufacturers in their field, ensuring paper navigation is extremely reliable and the quality of the imprints is outstanding. “Despite all its features, the e-mark is no substitute for conventional stamps, but rather an important addition to our core business where many new fields of application will open up,” comments Faber.

“We are positive that the development of this product will strengthen and expand our other business. With a price point of around €300 ($343), it is also clearly different from our main assortment, but then the e-mark offers so much more!”

Strength in numbers

COLOP is an international player with a distribution network and sales presence in more than 120 countries. It has over 500 employees worldwide. The manufacturer is also strengthened by several COLOP-owned distribution branches or direct involvement in markets such as Germany, Sweden, France, Romania, the UK, the Slovak Republic, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Spain, Poland, China and India. In addition to its main production plant situated in Wels, Austria, the company has a second site located in Borovany in the Czech Republic.

COLOP is constantly striving to improve the quality and durability of all its merchandise, as well as increase the variety of available applications. The company’s ISO 9001 certification ensures that products and services are subjected to regulated quality criteria. Environmental responsibility plays another important role in its mission and policies. For many years, the manufacturer’s environmental management system has been certified according to ISO 14001, which guarantees that all processes are optimised according to ecological criteria. This forms part of its ongoing endeavours to make the biggest possible contribution to protecting and preserving the environment.

Global expansion

As well as developing innovative products, COLOP is on a worldwide expansion path. Recently, two new sales offices have been set up in metropolitan cities in China and India to gain a stronger foothold in the region. “Due to the economic upturn in these countries, we have decided to take this important step,” Faber explains.

“The Asian market, with more than four billion inhabitants, is becoming increasingly important to COLOP as the demand for high-quality products in the stamping industry grows. With our sales offices in Guangzhou and Mumbai, supplies to the territory can now be optimised,” he adds.

With 11 subsidiaries, Europe is still by far the company’s most important territory. Over the past few years, COLOP Austria has been busy cementing its position which has included the acquisition of a majority share in each of its distribution businesses in France and Poland.

COLOP goes digital

In keeping with its ambitious growth plans, COLOP has founded a new company – COLOP Digital – in collaboration with Swedish R&D engineer, inventor and business partner Alex Breton. As the name suggests, the division will focus on the development of new digital and electronic stamping solutions.

In addition to the new e-mark, further products are already in the pipeline, which will be accelerated as the development and management teams grow. “The founding of COLOP Digital is our answer to an increasingly connected world. With our electronic and digital products, we want to make an active contribution to global development, which is in accordance with our guiding principle ‘The Spirit of Innovation’,” concludes Faber.