Investing in software is a key business decision for print startups or small-medium print service providers given shoestring budgets, limited product portfolio and lack of skilled IT manpower to run the application. Therefore, it’s important to understand in which software application to invest this money and resources based on the business goals and expected outcomes.
Primarily, most of the printer is presented with the choice to either invest in a web-to-print so that they can set up their own online printing store or to implement a Print MIS for better control of print production workflow and monitoring back-office functions from order to delivery.
Both Web-to-Print Solution and Print MIS are targeted for specific business purposes and intended to be used by specific end users. Simply put –
⇒ A web to print solution allows you to set up a self-ordering online print store where the print consumers or buyers can personalize the artwork before ordering any product online. It’s basically an online order entry system.
On the contrary ⇒ Print MIS is all about workflow management and reporting once an order enters into the production process.
So, it is easy to understand that both the systems are designed and developed for a specific purpose and do not replace each other. However, both the solutions may overlap in features they offer and a clear demarcation is needed if you are implementing both to meet your business objectives.
In mid-2019, DESIGN’N’BUY conducted a survey on their website to identify the key challenges for printers and from 450+ entries, the top 3 identified reasons are:
1. To win new customers and expand business
2. To serve existing customers better
3. To automate back-office processes for reducing production cost
The survey also shows that most of the print service providers want to adopt a software application to expand into new markets or lines of business. They have limited production facility and optimum in-house staff, hence reducing the internal cost is not the prime motive, but to optimize the utilization of their print machines by getting short-run print jobs from their B2C and B2B customers.
In such a scenario, implementing a web-to-print system can be the right choice, as it opens up a new channel of customer acquisition for them, in addition to reducing the prepress overheads as their customers will create or upload their own artwork and proof-read it online before ordering the prints.
However, many of the print service providers that have established client base further want to implement better production planning processes and automate their production workflow. Print waste management, optimizing production capacity and automation are their key business goals given the lack of skilled manpower and shrinking profit margins. In such a scenario, adopting a befitting print MIS solution can help them monitor all back-office processes under one application and they can do efficient job management with key information drivers like the number of jobs, print queue status and utilization of printing material and sheets.
It is clear that implementing a web to print software can be a bonus for your sales team as it helps in improving the overall customer experience and they can encourage more and more target customers to register on your website and place an order from the convenience of their homes or on-the-go.
On the other hand, implementing an MIS system will delight your production team, as many of the pre-press and post-press processes can be automated to offload their work and they can utilize their time on value-added tasks.
As most of the IT vendors offering a web-to-print solution or print MIS are trying to encompass features of both systems into one, the distinction between the two is blurring. But any Print MIS system that has been built from the production management perspective instead of from the customer’s perspective is bound to fail on end-user print buying experience and your customers may not like it.
Similarly, the production team may not find it easy to use a web2print software admin panel for day-to-day job management as it may lack sophisticated dashboards and reports. As both technologies are evolving, you can even think of picking up the best of each type and integrate the two systems to set up a fully automated online business.
As a starter into online printing, I recommend doing a careful analysis of the software that you choose based on your business goals and look for a solution that may offer you the best of both worlds. Look for software that can help you set up your online print store with fully mobile responsive browsing and ordering experience to your customers, as well as gives you print-ready files for production in the desired format with efficient job and order management with centralized administration panel. And as your online printing business grows, you can expand your IT infrastructure with a fully integrated software setup with specialized applications for ordering and eCommerce, proofing and job management, accounting as well as other operational areas of your business.
For a detailed consultation and to help you identify the right software for setting up your online printing business, contact our web-to-print experts at [email protected].
If you enjoyed this article, you may also want to check out 4 Things to Automate with Web-To-Print for Rapid Sales Growth.