Katie Beaumont, the Further Competition Co-ordinator for ICT in the procurement services team puts our Print Marketplace solution to the test, and shares her experiences and challenges she faced along the way.
I’m Katie, the Further Competition Co-ordinator for the ICT procurement team. I’m the main point of contact for publishing further competitions and answering any clarifications within the ICT category. I help customers everyday with their procurement process, offering advice and compliant routes to market.
One of the most frequently asked questions I get asked is ‘How does your Print Marketplace solution work?’. To be able to offer the best service possible to our customers, I decided to try our print marketplace for myself. Throughout this blog, I share my experience and the challenges I faced along the way.
So, what is Print Marketplace?
This is a brand new solution we have launched in partnership with Crown Commercial Service, and the provider of the marketplace, APS Group. It’s a self-service digital platform, allowing public sector organisations to get instant print quotes from suppliers and buy print services online.
Our in-house marketing team approached me, asking if I could arrange the print of marketing literature. This needed to be a quick turnaround as they wanted them in time for an event they were attending. I knew the marketplace was going to be the quickest and easiest solution, and a compliant route to market.
As part of the support we provide, I always recommend customers have a free virtual demonstration of the marketplace, to help gain a better understanding of how it all works - so, what better place to start. The short virtual demonstration by the marketplace provider, APS Group was a real insight, it was so easy to follow, and I felt I had a good understanding of the process involved – I then had the confidence to login to the marketplace and receive some quotes.
Using the marketplace
Our marketing team sent me a print specification form with all their requirements. This included paper weight, quantities, finish options, deadlines and delivery instructions.
After logging into the marketplace, I filled in all the requirements and within seconds I received instant print quotes and lead times (it was just like one of those comparison websites you use for your car insurance!) – the whole process only took a few minutes. I then passed the quotes onto the marketing team, so they could decide which was the best option for them.
One of the print requirements was for a booklet, which was a little more complicated. As I have no background in print myself, I was a little unsure of the right options to select. For the sections I needed help with there is an ‘assisted route’ option on the system. So, I selected this and a member from APS’ dedicated team contacted me straight away to help me finalise the information, ensuring I ordered exactly what our marketing team required. The team at APS were amazing, they really put my mind at rest, and supported me throughout the process.
For my print jobs, time was of the essence. When I inputted all the details into the system and received the instant quotes, they were all showing a lead time of three days, however we only had two. I got in touch with APS, who contacted the suppliers on my behalf and within the hour they got back to me confirming that it would be possible, and with no extra cost!
Despite helping customers with this framework daily, I was still apprehensive to use it for the first time, having no previous print experience. However, any concerns soon disappeared – it was very easy to use. The demo really helped me gain an understanding of the system and the APS team were so helpful and attentive whenever I had any queries. I can’t stress enough how you really don’t need any experience or knowledge in print to use this marketplace.
I didn’t find anything about the marketplace difficult, it was so simple and easy to use. However, if I had to highlight one challenge, it would be the print jargon on the system. As mentioned previously I had no background in print, so I did struggle to understand some of the specification fields. If it wasn’t for the marketing team suggesting a paper weight (gsm) I wouldn’t have known what paper weight to put! However, for any fields I was unable to answer or needed guidance on, I knew there was a dedicated team at APS always on hand to help with the technical side and guide me through the process.
Would I recommend Print Marketplace?
I’ve always been aware of the great benefits that the marketplace offers and the fantastic provider behind it, however, after gaining first-hand experience, I would not hesitate in recommending this solution to public sector organisations. It’s a quick, easy, compliant route for all your printing needs, with a dedicated team to help you along the way. You’re also able to introduce your own suppliers to the marketplace – so if you want to use your current supplier through our compliant solution, you can - this also helps the supplier, getting added exposure to potential new customers!
Get in touch
If like I was, you aren’t quite sure how the Print Marketplace could work for you, or you’d like a free demonstration – please get in touch, I’d be more than happy to help. Or you can find out more about the Print Marketplace solution here.