A to Z Web-to-Print Guide Part 6: How to Grow Your Web-to-Print Business & How to Measure Success

How to Grow your W2P Business & How to measure Success

In this series of A to Z guide of web-to-print and its implementation we learnt it all from What is Web-to-Print, What are its challenges, What preparations need to be done before implementing Web-to-Print, how to implement Web-to-Print to how to promote your web-to-print store. In this last part of the series we will learn how you can grow your web-to-print online print business and how you can measure your success after digitally transform your business. 

The Growth Phase

When Robert S. Keane launched Vistaprint® (a CIMPRESS company) in 1995, little did he know that it would become the world’s leading provider of printing services to small businesses. Even today, for many, Vistaprint is synonymous with low-cost personalized business cards. However, the brand is much more than that.

From selling personalized stationery, pens, and banners to labels, mugs, and photo books – the Netherlands-based company has an extensive product catalog offering. But it didn’t start doing business like this.

In 2011, Vistaprint pivoted and launched branded apparel comprising t-shirts, jackets, sweatshirts, caps, laptop handbags, and tote bags for both men and women.

Vistaprint’s journey from merely being a business card printer to a brand voice enabler is remarkable, and it is a fantastic example of transformation brought by web-to-print.

vistaprint success story

While self-service design, proofing, and ordering are handled at the front-end through their website, the company manages controlled printing, cutting, packing, and dispatching from the back-end through its printing plants, spread across the globe, in end-to-end productions.

Today, Vistaprint is regarded as the source for high-quality graphic design, Internet printing, and premium service – used by both businesses and individuals. That brings us to a very crucial point in this book, i.e., growth.

Even though your web-to-print technology has become available for use by your potential customers, with operations running smoothly, it doesn’t mean you stop finding ways to pivot, disrupt, or scale your printing business.

1. Move Beyond Printing Services

It is a matter of convenience if your web-to-print storefront enables consumers to customize and place orders on a range of products such as stationery, t-shirts, and mugs. It is essential to be viewed as a one-stop-shop, just like Vistaprint.

However, you can take it a step further and include value-added services to the mix. These services include graphic design assistance, artwork correction, and address book preparation.

For example, if your potential customer is neither adept at personalizing artwork nor likes using any of the pre-designed templates offered by you and just bounces off your website, that is lost revenue. Consumers, in general, don’t have time to look for options. They want help instantly.

The good news is that by giving them the option to use your graphic design services upfront, you will not only make their buying experience smooth but also win their loyalty for life. The same goes for potential customers looking to get their artwork corrected or address books prepared.

US-based Ascend Sportswear is one of the leading providers of customized cycling jerseys and gears. If their potential customers don’t have a logo and want one, then Ascend Sportswear’s designers provide this service. Therefore, along with customized cycling jerseys, the company offers design support. Their web-to-print technology includes a 3D design studio for the job.

In short, offering value-added services enables you to generate extra revenue and become a provider of a 360-degree solution for your customers.

2. Provide Branded Private Portals

branded store

In a bid to target its B2B clientele, Vistaprint started a Brand Matching facility that enabled small businesses to seamlessly create all kinds of printed marketing products – including pens, mugs, notepads, and brochures – using the same brand colors and fonts. Creating consistent small business branding can be difficult without the right tools.

Your online printing business can grow further by offering branded private portals to your corporate clientele with preloaded design templates for items such as business cards, letterheads, and envelopes. Enable such businesses to lock their brand elements to ensure brand consistency with every order.

A completely secure, private, and branded B2B corporate storefront with role-based access will serve all organizational customer needs.

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There are so many things that can be customized and printed – photo books, mugs, photo cards, calendars, wall art, stationery, uniforms, shoes, and others. Additionally, you may deal with multiple paper types and sizes – thus broadening your offerings.

Simpify your product offering and make it more sensible. For example, if you want to focus on niche product segments and customer groups, create niche stores with a centralized back-end administration. To take the example further, you can set a web-to-print storefront that individually sells photo books and photo products, and have one website that is dedicated to selling t-shirts only.

Digitaaldrukwerk.be is an online printing company where you can order high-quality digital printing and they have set up niche storefronts like Babygrafix.be for offering customized baby cards and other birth prints online with texts and images and Communiekaarten.com where customers can make stickers and wraps for Mento, Sportlife, or Pringles online, but can also quickly design buttons with a bottle opener or mirror. And all these websites operate under centralized application for easy administration.

3. Globalize to Expand Customer Reach

glabal reach

Often defined as the process of triggering a consumer to spend more money to buy an upgraded version of what is already being purchased by the consumer, upselling is a sales concept that could make your web-to-print storefront a success.

In this day and age, consumers assume that any printing company they shop from will deliver high-quality prints and excellent customer service. However, there is another favorable factor that could win you a considerable chunk of the target audience, i.e., localization.

The minute you enable your potential customers to use pre-designed templates or see a 3D preview of their designs or web content in their ‘preferred language’, you instantly transform their shopping experience and become a preferred commodity supplier.

Therefore, to localize your products and services in each region, you can create different stores for each country. For example, for targeting Middle Eastern countries such as Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Kuwait, create three different versions of the website in the languages spoken in these countries, and offer local currency, payment, and shipping options.

4. Transform into a Print Marketplace

Transform your business gradually from being a retail online store to a marketplace. Allow graphics designers from across the globe to register and publish their designs. Define commissions for such designers and award them when prints with their designs are ordered.

That way, you can crowdsource designs without investing huge on an in-house design team and offer a plethora of design options (comprising vector art and photos) to your customers.

Remember: for any printing portal, its unique design templates and artwork are vital to attracting and engaging customers.

Similarly, you can add any number of vendors to your online print storefront and expand your product offerings. Ecommerce giant Amazon follows a similar model, which is why we always have multiple options for the same product.

Take it up a notch and integrate third-party inventory suppliers, fulfillment partners, or drop-shippers with your web-to-print storefront, and automate your ordering and dispatch workflow so that – besides giving more choices to the consumers – you also deliver promptly.

5. Grow Your Reseller Channels

Set up white-labeled website portals for each of your resellers so that they have the freedom to market their unique product catalog and design templates based on their target potential customers. When they can independently sell their services and get orders from you, you can reward them on a commission-to-commission basis.

Such an arrangement creates a win-win proposition for all entities as trade printers can attract more resellers, and resellers get their website for marketing their services even if they can’t process the order in-house.

Don’t hesitate! Press here: Ultimate Guide for T-shirt Printing Business to Stay Afloat during Pandemic

6. Execute a Properly-Planned Digital Marketing Strategy

marketing planning

Gone are those days when a business would be marketed on a whim. Today, having a strategy is essential to assess the effectiveness of initiatives and audience engagement, as marketing has become an expensive function.

Did you know 65 percent of the most successful content marketers have a documented strategy? Your printing company should develop one so that you know what your quarterly or bi-annual priorities are, what tools you need to do your job, and how much revenue your business should ideally generate.

While organic marketing is viewed as a necessity to boost sales and grow, it is also vital to invest in paid ads. In the Project Planning and Build Phases, you must have already set up active social media accounts for your printing business.

In the Growth Phase, however, you must up the game by running paid ads on Google and Facebook. The thing is, it is highly unlikely for a consumer to buy anything on their first visit to your website. Therefore, it is important to keep showing ads to them in various places online. Google and Bing ads can help you achieve that visibility.

Facebook, on the other hand, is the most widely used social media channel, which is bound to get you excellent traction. If you or a custom printing company utilizes Facebook carousel ads effectively, for example, your reach will skyrocket on this popular platform. With that said, it is best not to put all your eggs in one basket but mix and match instead. Do keyword research and identify the kinds of ads your competitors are running.

Thirty percent of all internet users implemented ad blockers by the end of 2018 and early 2019. [CMI]

The statistic is alarming, given how fast PPC adverts are mushrooming the internet space. Does that mean your printing company should not use this marketing tactic at all?

No, but they should create an ad strategy first and focus on writing a good, converting copy that addresses the pain points of the potential customers and nurtures them to become converting clients of your online printing business.

Besides running ads, you should explore referral partnerships, email marketing, and influencer engagement programs that help in driving organic traffic to your website and make way for a two-way conversation with your customers.

Again – a strategy also helps in narrowing down day-to-day tasks for the respective team for increased efficiency. This way, your marketing team will steer their energies into focusing on those activities that support business growth and add value to your online brand.

Recommended Blog: Printers – 10 Must-Do’s to Revive Your Business during the Pandemic

7. Work with Your Web-To-Print Vendor

7. Work with Your Web-To-Print Vendor​

Like any other ecommerce business, you should build a strong network of trade printers, resellers, and designers, keep your customers happy, market yourself by using different methods, and on different mediums.

More importantly, for the growth of your online print store, you should coordinate with your vendor to implement the changes on your website as per your growth plans. The solution you choose must be progressive.

If your web-to-print software provider is not continually upgrading the system, they are not the right fit for your online printing business. You don’t want to be stuck with someone who does not update the software or doesn’t upgrade or support your growth requirements.

Make sure you team up with a vendor that wants to see your online printing company grow, and helps you achieve unparalleled success year on year.

Of course, many online print storefronts offer the same services. Therefore, you must define what makes your business stand out. Find your niche. Work on your weaknesses and turn them into your strengths.

Listen to your customer feedback and act upon that. Support them. Figure out where your customers are facing trouble on your storefront and resolve those glitches. All these actions will make your customers love you even more.

The Success Phase !

Success has no definition. So, keep re-evaluating your ROI from your web-to-print investment.

Business is unpredictable. Markets are dynamic. Consumers are spoiled for choice. Due to the continuous changes, the only thing you should always measure is your business performance, so that you know what works and what doesn’t.

But how do you measure business success? You can call your online printing company a success even if it sells just 100 print orders in a month or you get 40 percent of your revenues through online stores, and if it integrates well with your long-term business strategy.

Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines success as ‘the fact of getting or achieving wealth, respect or fame’.

Success is a construct – an idea comprising various conceptual elements, which are typically considered to be subjective and not based on empirical evidence. In other words, success is not a single thing but a combination of different phenomena such as hard work, passion, learning from failures, and taking consistent action.

If you don’t mind rolling up your sleeves and getting your hands dirty for your business, you are better off than you think. But if you have put down your business success in numbers, here are seven parameters that can help you to do so:

  1. Client happiness index
  2. Number of print orders
  3. Print production efficiency
  4. Overhead cost 
  5. Errors and re-printing jobs
  6. Number of new customers
  7. Internal team feedback

1. Client happiness index

This is a metric that quantifies the degree to which a consumer is satisfied with a product, service, or shopping experience. It shows how your customers feel about engaging with your company. Interview your customers or take a survey maker to collect their feedback on their buying experience with you.

Depending upon the answers you receive from the survey, apply this simple formula to calculate the metric: Happy Customers/Number of Customers Asked = Happiness Index.

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2. Number of print orders

Number of print orders

Keep track of your print orders to see how much the number has grown or decreased in a specified timeframe. You can make comparisons on a daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual basis – whatever you deem fit.

Create an excel sheet on the cloud and give access to the relevant teams – who can keep updating numbers on the doc regularly

3. Print production efficiency

The same logic applies to measure your production efficiency. Keep track of your print jobs to see the impact on overall efficiency and cost reduction brought by back-office automation and print workflow implementation. Here also, you can make comparisons on a daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual basis.

Create an excel sheet on the cloud and get relevant team members to update the numbers on the doc regularly

4. Overhead costs

Any business is not free from expenditure, and if you are spending more than you can afford, that is an alarm for caution.

Web-to-print technology minimizes the cost of manual labor that includes taking orders on the phone and other time-taking tasks such as creating artwork and proofreading. It does so by digitizing the entire buying process. But you can check by how much the overheads have gone down.

5. Errors and re-printing jobs

Errors and re-printing jobs

If you have reliable data about the number of print errors and re-prints before and after deploying web-to-print technology, then that can give you a clear picture regarding whether the technology has helped you in reducing print waste or not.

6. Number of new customers

One of the most common growth metrics is to measure the number of new customers you are acquiring within a specified timeframe. You can do this calculation on a monthly, quarterly, or annual basis and compare it with the numbers before you deployed web-to-print technology.

7. Internal team feedback

Successful businesses comprise team members that are open to feedback and opinions of each other and work together to develop ideas and solutions for the project.

Therefore, survey your internal teams from all divisions – such as sales, pre-press, post-press, shipment, and delivery – to check whether or not web-to-print has changed their way of working for the better.


You don’t always have to pop open a bottle of champagne every time your actual figures surpass the estimates. But doing something as simple as having a pizza party in the office can boost everyone’s morale in your team. Communicate every win – big or small – to them.

Success is built on structure and having a long-term plan to get your printing business where you want. If you have a growth framework, you are already pretty successful. Most business owners don’t plan!

The adage, “Action is the foundational key to all success,” seems appropriate in such a scenario.

We hope you take on board some of the strategies we discussed in this book and make your web-to-print storefront a smash hit. And finally, learn to enjoy the ride. It is essential to have fun along the way!

Remember: “There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.” – Colin Powell

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This blog is part of a  series.

Read others: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 |

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