A lot has been heard and said about web-to-print, but it has become a critical decision for many print businesses because of all the pros and cons associated with this technology. The success of your web-to-print implementation depends on several factors and this post lists some of the most important aspects you should consider before choosing the right web-to-print solution for your business.
First and foremost plan what you are going to sell. Go for a web-to-print solution that is specially designed and developed for the products you offer and produces ready-to-print file as supported by your printing machinery. Printing is a very diverse and extensive domain. You can print and sell personalized t-shirts, promotional items, business cards, as well as, wide format banners. It’s impossible to get a web-to-print solution that covers it all.
For example, if you are selling, posters, you would like customers to specify finish size, printing material, coating, quantity etc. to determine the final order price. While if you are selling decorated apparel it could be just size and quantity. So first look for a solution that best fits your product offerings.
Second, know your customers. Whom you are targeting to sell online? What is their designing quotient?
For example, if you are selling personalized t-shirts or gifts, you should go for a web-to-print solution that offers a very easy-to-use design center interface with generic design facilities like add text, clipart and upload images. As your customers may be first time designers and will love to design and order T-shirts quickly and conveniently without making design errors.
On the other hand, if you offer business supplies like business cards, flyers, menu cards, banners etc., you need a more professional and accurate design interface that allows your customers to create pixel perfect designs with the print output having trim and cut margins, QR codes etc. etc.
Thirdly, consider the back-office implementation. Check how easy it is to configure your product catalog and implement your print workflow with minimum training and staff. You can also consider the feasibility of integrating your current MIS and workflow systems. Choose a solution that gives you a very user friendly and scalable back-office support so that you can implement your full print cycle requiring minimal human intervention.
Fourth, remember, what you see on web is all 72 DPI and RGB. But for actual print production you need high quality print ready files that are at least 300 DPI and offer CMYK. So you must choose a solution that has a very robust and accurate print engine to convert web designs into print-ready files or at least offers layered PDF or source file that can be touched up to be of print quality.
The fifth aspect you need to consider is that web offers a limited design area. Hence most of the web- to-print solutions, scale up or down products to fit the visible design area. The designs that look very small within a design studio are actually intended to be printed on a much larger surface. You need a solution that offers maximum design area to your customers so that they can create and visualize their design perfectly. Avoid a design studio that requires scrolling or paging to view the design area.
The sixth consideration is choosing a solution provider that offers excellent support and training. While most of the web-to-print solution providers offer all or most of the features listed above, many of them lack customer support. Failure of most of the web-to-print implementations is attributed to untrained staff and lack of on-time support. And remember, training your customers to make best use of your solution is equally important as training your in-house staff for the success of your web-to-print implementation.
Next, decide whether you want to purchase the licensed software or go for software as a service (SaaS) model. Licensing means you buy the software and host it on your own while software as a service means you rent it. Choose a vendor that offers you flexible plans, may be allowing you to start with low cost, low risk SaaS and move to license later.
And last but most importantly, plan your marketing and promotion strategy at very beginning of your web-to-print implementation. Discuss the features and support provided for SEO and marketing with your solution provider. Promote it properly and involve everybody in this process including your staff, customers and sales team. Broader the online visibility, greater are the chances of success.
We believe that a failure is a failure for both buyer and the vendor. So in a nutshell, if you just take care of some basic aspects of web-to-print implementation before choosing your provider, you can reap great benefits of this revolutionary concept and get your sales registers flowing with more orders per day.