Sponsored Article: Colop

These days, almost all products can be customised to a greater or lesser extent, from mobile telephones and laptops to cars. So why not stamps, asks Colop?

Since it was founded over 30 years ago, Colop has always been committed to product innovations in the field of modern marking equipment, with a particular focus on stamps.

One of the company’s core differentiating factors and very important to Colop is the fact that its products are manufactured almost exclusively in Europe. The recent expansion of its primary production facilities at the headquarters in Wels, Austria, and the additional manufacturing capacity currently being worked on at its secondary site in Borovany in the Czech Republic, are clear signs that Colop will continue to adhere to this strategy in the future.

Company CEO Ernst Faber says: “Exceptionally well-qualified employees, guaranteed optimal working conditions and legal certainty are very important factors for successfully producing high-quality stamp products for the global market.”

Colop’s expanded production capabilities at HQ level have also been instrumental in facilitating the launch of its new Printer on a global scale.

Planned for the summer of this year, the international product launch of the new Colop Printer is much anticipated, as the company’s Head of Marketing Gerald Binder explains: “The last few months have been used to adding the final touches to our marketing measures in our export markets. Alongside a multi-stage advertising campaign, there will also be numerous promotion materials including catalogues, folders, flyers and posters in the relevant languages – ready and waiting to be used.”

New Colop Printer

The new Colop Printer is the seventh generation of this self-inking stamp. The current Printer Standard series was initially launched in 2004 and has become the company’s most successful product range by far. The 2014 stamp – carbon neutral in line with Colop’s environmental principles and based on the ‘cradle to gate’ system – is a logical step forward from its predecessor and its development has been shaped both by experience gained over the past few years as well as feedback from the reseller channel and end consumers.

Faber points out, however, that it’s much more than just an update of a previous product. He says: “The desire to create something new, something unprecedented, is plain to see in the unique contemporary design of the product.”

Developed in collaboration with Viennese design agency Spirit Design, the new Printer prides itself on its high-quality design and timeless elegance. As a standard, the Printer is available with a black or white handle, but the actual colour of the product is not evident until the image card is inserted.

The stamp is available in eight different basic designs, which can be created using the colours black, white, red, green and blue. Initially, the new Printer will be available in the four most important sizes: 10 (imprint size 10 x 27 mm), 20 (14 x 38 mm), 30 (18 x 47 mm) and 40 (23 x 59 mm). Two further sizes will be added to the range in due course.

Personalisation tools

The standout feature of the stamp, however, is the option to create your own design for the XXL image window. Colop first devised the concept of personalised stamp product designs using image cards around ten years ago. With the new Printer, it’s taking this concept to the next level, as Franz Ratzenberger, Head of International Sales & Marketing, explains: “The extra large image window – with dimensions previously unavailable in the world of stamps – can be personalised with great ease by using simple paper image cards. This makes every Printer unique, just like its owner or user.”

Whether it’s used for personal photos, QR codes, company logos, cartoons or typography, this feature offers a multitude of options for the user and is ideal for creating an eye-catching personalised product.

Colop’s E-Business team has created two new tools that make it easy to create a unique and professional design for the image card, both on the front and the back.

For B2B customers, a new software solution called the ImageCard Designer has been developed. This enables for example rubber stamp makers and retailers to simply, quickly and flexibly design the card for themselves or for their customers.

The company logo and address of a rubber stamp maker, for example, can be placed on the image card, so that customers bear them in mind for new or repeat orders. The Printer could also display the logo of a company that uses the stamp as a promotional gift for its customers. Alternatively, it could simply display the logo of the company using the stamp itself, becoming part of its corporate identity and providing it with a consistent image both outside and inside the company.

Head of E-Business Alexander Zicha, who developed the personalisation tools together with his team, comments: “It is particularly important that the new software can be integrated into existing online shops. This allows image card design to be offered as an additional service and acts as an excellent USP that makes it stand out from the competition.”

Software options

In ImageCard Designer, a whole host of backgrounds and images from a range of categories will be available. In addition, other files such as personal photos or QR codes can be uploaded.

In essence, the software provides rubber stamp makers and retailers with everything they need to simplify not only the process of designing the image cards, but also the process of managing and printing them. The latter can be done using any standard printer. To avoid any complicated cutting-out of the image cards, Colop offers perforated A4 and A5 image card sheets.

For end users, a simple software package with the most important functions will be available online, free of charge. From uploading photos over cropping them to the right size and rotating them if necessary, to saving, printing and cutting them out, the new Printer is the ultimate personalised stamp.

And it is that personalisation and individuality that end consumers want, says Ratzenberger: “With these options, Colop is adjusting to the change in consumer behaviour and taking stamp personalisation to a new level. Specific design requests or branding can be performed more flexibly using ImageCard Designer. Both software tools from Colop provide a modern way to design innovative stamps, with their intuitive approach adding to the appeal.”

Ratzenberger adds that while both of the tools are available as a service, they do not have to be used to design image cards – it’s a completely optional feature. The image cards can also be personalised using any other graphics software.

A positive knock-on effect is its logistics benefits. In effect, significantly fewer product variants of the new generation of Printers have to be stocked in customers’ warehouses than has been the case with traditional and previous models, without reducing the available range.

Up until now, resellers and distributors have had to stock every stamp size in every colour in their warehouse in order to provide their customers with an attractive overall product range. Taking the example of the usual six sizes of the Printer Standard, ie Printer 10-60, in eight product colours, this requires 48 SKUs, without even taking into account variants with different inkpad colours, which would dramatically increase the theoretical stock size.

In the case of the new Printer, the colours are defined using the imagecard, while the stamp is available only in two basic colours – black and white. Image cards in four different colours are automatically packaged along with each stamp, thereby further reducing the number of SKUs.

So if a customer wants a blue Printer, the rubber stamp maker takes a black stamp from the rack, makes the text plate, takes the blue image card, stamps the customer’s imprint on it, inserts the image card into the stamp and there you have it – a finished blue stamp.

Stock reduction

The customer’s request has been met, just like before, but only 12 SKUs are required in order to do so. Product Manager Wolfgang Pichler states: “Rubber stamp makers or retailers can free up to 75% of their warehousing space, without reducing their product range.

In other words, they can achieve the same customer satisfaction with one quarter of the usual warehousing space.”