Nettl - Turning Print on its Head

Juriaan van Beelen (Photo by

Juriaan van Beelen (Photo by

We talked with Juriaan van Beelen at Nettl Benelux, a Pure Digital exhibiting company, about a business model that is quite frankly turning the traditional print shop model right on its head. It is an inspiring story of how thinking differently, moving with change and making stuff happen can create new value and success.

What is your background?

In the past, I used to work with companies in the web to print field such as Drukwerkdeal/Printdeal – and I worked with a lot of creatives and designers from web to print. The story of Nettl is about seeing their needs for the past 6-7 years, because no one really got what they wanted from printing. The web to print sites are OK for some jobs, but they are first and foremost transactional which is useful to some extent, but there is value in human interaction and that is what Nettl fosters.

Tell us more about Nettl

The essence of Nettl is about being client centric. Back 2000, Britney Spears was in the top 3 and we were running shops (a regular town centre print shop). Clients were asking for 5000 flyers and saying to us, why do I see that I can buy this same thing online at a competitor for only £90? Continuously the conversation we had was about price.

Then we thought, why not do it differently? We decided to get rid of these machines and tear down those cheap sales stickers. We decided to instead produce a creative area, where you can sit down with your clients and show them some inspirational designs.

This change in format fostered a real conversation. We would talk about marketing needs and they would open up and say thing like, hey I have an event how can I promote it? So they were no longer asking about 5000 flyers, as they also wanted a responsive website, landing pages, SEO, and they asked us if we could help them with this also? And the value grew.

For example, your local bakery is not only asking for a print expert but an all-around communications expert, they will need branding, corporate identity and they will want to have their communication needs solved.

If you are a printer, I guess the question you have to ask yourself is why not be a communication expert? This is where the real value is.

And it really isn’t that difficult from a technical perspective. If you make something in illustrator for a print document, it is not much of a leap to also make it for a WordPress website as well. You just need the right support and training at first to get started. The output may be slightly different and the medium different but the aim is identical, in essence, to communicate, engage and promote - and Nettl can really help here.

As a business, we really want to help printers and digital agencies to get more out of both worlds, this is print and online. Especially print resellers who are superheroes but could be more customer-centric. And this has involved online – we see online media as a friend, not an enemy of print!

How many print shop partners do you now have?

Now we have 131 in the UK. We have signed up these people who want to add online services to their portfolio. In the Netherlands, we have 19 now but will grow to 50 in the next 6 months, and we only launched in July 2017. France is 9, NZ 4, but the Benelux market is the most rapidly growing.

How does it work on a practical business model level?

Nettl is a license fee model. We charge €500 euros and this covers all the software, development and marketing & sales support. You basically hire us to figure out the painful stuff. Then we have an initial fee for 6 months of training for 2 members of your staff to learn how to do all of the online stuff. Then we have a business developer work with all their partners for their first conversations, learning how to sell, learning how to help other companies how to build in responsive websites and, for instance, how to set payment to the Nettl system to the client. And then we have a very small fee we take per sold website. If you sell a WordPress website for 1500 euros we will take 89 euros as a deployment royalty. So the owner of the business decides on his own selling price and takes the largest amount by far.

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Do you have to really know how to operate a website?

I guess many years ago coding was a basic requirement for anyone operating a website 10-15 years ago. But this has changed. There are amazing platforms such as WordPress and Brambl which make it so easy for us to make websites. It is quick, responsive and easy to operate.  So the future is not coding as online technology has moved on and you can now effectively use off the shelf website solutions. Really anyone can learn to operate a WordPress site. Overall, what Nettl enables is a solution that fits your needs, that pulls everything together and makes it as easy as possible to operate.

Have you found that fear of change from your potential customers a challenge when promoting Nettl?

Yes for some. In the Netherlands, we have this analogy called ‘cold water fear’. This is when you want to enter the water but when you do, your feet get cold and you get turned off. People are generally comfortable in the zone which they have been for 5-10-30 years. This makes sense, as they have been making money and paying mortgages and setting up a business. But they are so dragged into their own internal world they can’t see outside and the opportunity that a changing world can provide.

A local bakery does not only want your printed flyers. In reality, 2 weeks before the launch of the bakery, they will want a responsive website, a Facebook page as the primary communication is online. But then they will also wanted printed collateral. They want to have a complete marketing strategy and presence online as their clients expect this. If you can provide an end to end solution. You will sell more print, it is simple.

But yes for some of the market there is a lot of fear, and many people would rather stay within their comfort zone. Customers want communication solutions, and if you have solved the communication problem then you will sell the print. And this really makes people’s lives easier.

It is as simple as that. We offer a strategic solution, not merely a tactical one.

Print is not dying. It has just become more personalized, lower volume and higher quality. We don’t order 100 flyers and say we sell mackerel one time a year. We have to sell all of the time, and communicate intelligently why a customer should engage with us. We want to know how to get the print out there to be responsive, targeted and aligned with our other marketing channels. This approach streamlines everything and makes it easy for a small business owner to really punch above their weight and reach out to customers in a very effective and targeted way.

Why has Nettl decided to participate in Pure Digital?

Because we believe this event is needed. That reaching creative people with the possibilities of web and digital printing will help us all to generate new business. Besides helping creatives to explore and understand the world of online we also help them with selling a new line of fabrics & displays that we produce in the UK. With these fabrics, creatives can easily create an intimate space in for instance an office or are able to set up something cooler than just a roll-up banner at a networking event. If creatives, designers, and marketers knew what is possible with digital printing, like cool fabrics and displays, then we would generate more value and profit. 

For more information on Nettl