Digital innovation at Heidelberg – foundation of HDU China

Digital innovation at Heidelberg – foundation of HDU China

The Internet of Things opens up new business opportunities not only for consumer markets but also in B-to-B. Manufacturers such as Heidelberg connect their machines and technical equipment to the Internet to open up new opportunities for their customers. Today, Heidelberg already has the data of approximately 15,000 connected printing units. We are striving to develop the leading digital ecosystem of the graphic industry.

To speed up digital innovation, Heidelberg founded the Heidelberg Digital Unit (HDU) in April 2018. Only one year later, this organization has grown to a global network of digital units in China, Asia-Pacific, the U.S., and Europe. The HDU is responsible for all marketing activities at Heidelberg, with a key focus on digital activities including e-commerce, data, new business models as well as customer-facing IT platforms and operations. With everything we do, we want to simplify the lives of our customers and enable them to make better business decisions. We support the sales teams and thus contribute to the business success of Heidelberg.

What did we reach in the first year? HDU provides an e-commerce platform that allows customers to automate their online transactions when purchasing consumables and services. HDU has significantly increased e-commerce sales by making full use of the eShop potential: from optimized eShop portfolio to automated reordering and online voucher campaigns to re-activate eShop customers.

The first step towards a digital ecosystem is the Heidelberg ID (HEI-ID): Customers register once and gain access to different Heidelberg online services. With their HEI-ID, customers can, for example, access the Heidelberg Assistant which provides performance figures about their installed equipment and helps ensure the efficient operation of their print shop. The Heidelberg Assistant also offers customers a complete overview of the service and maintenance status of their machines, as well as instructions for how to prevent malfunctions. Data-based performance analysis helps unlock the potential to boost their productivity. Since its launch one year ago, more than 700 print shops and almost 1,200 active users worldwide have taken advantage of this digital offering.

What’s the next step towards our digital ecosystem? With its growing market potential, China has become a digital innovation powerhouse. To better meet the special needs of the Chinese market, we founded the Heidelberg Digital Unit China. At Print China 2019, the largest Chinese trade show in the print media industry, HDU China presented its very first offerings and showed how it will operate the Heidelberg e-commerce business on WeChat, China’s every-day mobile app. To increase our reach, we offer two different WeChat feeds: the first one is our standard feed, offering informational and entertainment news to more than 19,000 followers. On the second feed, we share premium material and links to our new “WeChat Mall” platform, where we sell a selection of consumables, spare parts, service packages and merchandizing items to our customers directly through the WeChat application. In the last two months alone, this feed went from 2,000 to 9,000 followers, which confirms the great interest of Chinese customers for this type of platform.


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From left to right: Amy Zhu, Head of HDU China; Dr. Ulrich Hermann, CDO, Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG; Sonja Mechling, Chairperson, HDU and CMO Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG.

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