A big thank you to Matt Blue from Hampden Press for taking the time to speak to us today. In this quick interview with Kirk, our Head of Site Flow Sales, we learn that the traditional B2B side of Hampden Press suffered a lot during the pandemic. Yet, fortunately, this has been more than offset by explosive growth in the B2C side of the business and this is now an area that the family run print shop intends to double down. Hampden Press became an HP Site Flow customer in 2019.
Matt, tell us a little bit about your business?
Sure, we're a commercial printer mainly. My dad started this business as a quick print-type model about 45 years ago, and we evolved into a business-to-business, high-value advertising support company. We've since devoted a little more time to a new group of products that are more of a business consumer product. As the pandemic hit and things like that, we've really tried to pivot towards a different model, a business-to-consumer model.
How did last year go for you through the pandemic?
It was a roller coaster. Q1 was excellent. We started the year strong. Q2 was pandemic, and we saw our commercial business-to-business prints come to a screeching halt really. But Q3, we saw the business-to-consumer side of our business just explode. I mean, we were doing three times the volume than we were about a year before. These are inexpensive products that people stuck at home in the pandemic tended to order. So we saw that really come alive, and Q3 and Q4 were really good. We finished the year about even actually, and feel pretty fortunate about that.
Is that a trend that you see continuing throughout 2021?
Yeah. Absolutely. We're really focusing on this now. It's clear to me that this is the direction that our business needs to go. We have been at the mercy of recessions and housing crises and things like that, that really affect the business-to-business side, and we're really enjoying this business-to-consumer side and developing new products with our clients.
Could you shed some light behind your decision to invest in HP Site Flow?
Sure. When we first started doing the B2C stuff, it was very manual and clunky. We were doing 50 orders a day, and then it ramped up to 100 and then maybe 200. Then the first peak season happened the Cyber Five, that Thanksgiving into the next week, and suddenly we had 1,000 orders a day. A bit clunky is okay when you have 100 orders, but when you have 1,000, it's disastrous. So, we got way behind, and we had some concerns about whether we could continue. We got through that, got caught up, and that's when I started looking for some real automation tools and the demo for Site Flow. It checked a lot of boxes. It looked like it was going to do a lot for us, and it has.
Looking back, what would you say is the main misperception behind print workflow automation?
You know what, I always thought automation tools were expensive. I envisioned that you'd have to have a development team to create APIs to connect and things like that. You had to be a Shutterfly to have that kind of automation. This new automation, the Site Flow automation, is pay for what you use. If you're small and you have a few orders, you pay a little, and if you have a lot, then you pay a lot more. But overall it's easy to budget and put in your pricing, things like that. Yeah. The perception that it's unobtainable for smaller companies is incorrect. We found that this was pretty easy to implement and really inexpensive when you look at the whole scheme of things.
That’s wonderful to hear. Now what trends or markets are you looking at this year?
We are really focused on this B2C business and we're co-developing new products with our clients. The challenge is every time you develop a new product, it's almost like starting a new business. It often means you're using a new piece of equipment that you either have or have to acquire. There's training, and then at the end of the day, if it's a $3 products, you have to do it in a really efficient manner and really dial in your workflow so you can make this a profitable venture. But the challenge is it's time-consuming to develop the new products, and each product has its own new workflow. Site Flow automates, but you still have to develop that automation of insight as well. That's the challenge, but we're excited about it.
Any great stat or anecdote you’d care to share?
Yeah. It's a story I've told a few times is my dad who started this company, he's retired, but I still consult with him. I bounce ideas off of him, and this opportunity for these B2C products landed in our lap. He said, "How are you ever going to make any money on a $3 product?" And I said, "I don't know, but we'd better figure it out." We determined we barcode it, take out the touches, and all of that, and just try to maximize labor and that sort of thing. We might be able to make 50 cents on a $3 product. And a year later, we evaluated the whole situation, and we figured out this is the most profitable part of our business. This is the avenue we need to grow.