Takeaways for the print service providers from the Vistaprint mix-up

Recently, we all saw an incident surrounding the incorrect delivery by VistaPrint that was made to one of their customers where a lawsuit was filed in Massachusetts accusing Vistaprint of replacing a same-sex couple’s program order with the ‘‘hateful, discriminatory’’ pamphlets. Stephen Heasley and Andrew Borg were excited to see the wedding programs they ordered for their big day. But according to a federal lawsuit against printing company Vistaprint, when the package arrived, the couple was horrified to instead find religious pamphlets with messages about temptation and sin.
Whereas on the other hand, Trynka Shineman, CEO, VistaPrint, said a contractor had sent the items intended for another customer to Heasley and Borg. She also added that the company would react assertively if it learned that someone had acted intentionally. “People feel terrible about this,” and concluded saying that this was not aligned with who they were as a company.

There are many similar incidents in the past where the Printing companies failed to deliver the correct finished products to the customers as per their requirements. And such occurrences not only work negatively amongst the customers but also affect the brand image immensely. Earlier this month the CEO, in her letter, said that the mistake was an unintentional order mix up and not a targeted act by an employee or partner. Their findings determined that this incident was due to human error, and was without malicious intent or even knowledge that it had occurred.

The case now seems to be closed, but unanswered questions remain. How did this happen? Could this error be avoided? Are there any ways of reducing such human errors? How can all the other relative issues resolve i.e. costs, reprinting jobs and waste management? So, let us have a look at the take away from this mishap and the different ways through which such incidences can be not only be controlled but prevented.

Hidden Costs: There are many instances where the customer feels cheated when he realizes that the total cost of the product comes out to be different than what it was supposed to be. Though there are chances that the customers might have used a certain additional features and add-ons which may be chargeable and most of the time such costs are hidden and applied during the payment process. Hence to reduce such dissatisfaction from the customers you can offer your customers a complete quote workflow on your printing portal where you can offer instant or live quotes, that can be predefined and set on various product specific settings based on multiple parameters (may it be quantity, size, features, delivery region, etc.) and also generate custom quotes with special offers and discounts, accept or reject quote requests, convert quote to order etc.

Artwork Dissatisfaction: One of the major issues faced in the customized product print industry is that either they are not satisfied with the work you create for them or even face issues while creating the artwork themselves and need some assistance or guidance in order to solve their queries regarding the product. Hence, in order to reduce such issues artwork approval workflow can be offered where the customers can place their notes while ordering. Now before printing, respective person in the artwork department can check those notes, do the artwork corrections and upload the soft-proof again for the approval. Now, the customer can download and view the proof files, check the history of comments and changes made, and finally approve the proof or make new comments as per his satisfaction. And all this in turn, reduces the time of reprinting and reduced the waste too.

Documentation: How easy would it become say, whenever and order is received the order details are automatically fed in a document and a job sheet is produced along with an order having all the related details. With this, one may get rid of many human errors that come with manual job sheet creation. In relation to the above incident, with the job sheet and order management system, the order number, the product details and its shipping address can be verified before the dispatch, if that is the case.

Tracking and Communication: Delay in the product delivery is also of a major concern in this fast paced world. So in order to never lose track of job status you can use a production workflow management module and get notifications at each step until order completion. You can create various workflow users based on production stages or different departments with access to only those orders which they need to work on and process further. Not only you or your production team can see the status of any job, but your sales people and even customers can track the status over the web with right information access. Because delay in the delivery due to internal process is an error, but not informing it to the customers can turn out to be a blunder at times. Say if it is a case like the above mentioned, it becomes very easy for you to find out that from where it went wrong.

Shipping errors: The above case could be a delivery issue where the wrong product has been delivered to the wrong customer or as we say the products might have interchanged. So, with the use of an integrated shipping management and shipment tracking system you can better track all your order deliveries in real-time. A well designed web-to-print solution can help you integrate multiple drop-ship vendors you can automatically outsource jobs to and handle order fulfilment with little effort and without manual intervention. Some systems even allow you to create a hot folder on external FTP site for each vendor to push order details and print ready files for further production and fulfilment.

Printing multiple copies with little change: For certain products where the customers wants to personalize each printed piece while keeping the artwork same, like business cards, photo IDs or invitations and certificates, it becomes not only tiring but cumbersome to create a new artwork every time with a new set of data. To reduce the efforts, variable data printing allows customers to create mass print orders with a master template and a database of unique data on each individual piece in the print order. Such programs allow replacing designated text and images defined in design templates with unique entries and customers can create number of prints with a little change in each one without manual editing.

Printing business is lucrative – it seems that you can make a fortune, simply by answering to the market demand with use of technology and invention and building your network to offer one stop printing solutions to your retail and corporate customers. The advancement in the technology has brought a lot of changes not only in the print industry but also in various aspects of doing the print business.  In today’s world customer experience and convenience rules the game for any enterprise and printing is not an exception. In the constantly changing environment where a minor mistake or error may cost you a lot, may it be in terms of amount, your brand image or your market share, make sure that your business, its solutions and your services associated are customer centric. Focus on what is needed by the customers and they will take care of your needs. Build an online self service printing portal to offer convenience to your customer to order prints anytime from anywhere from any device. They can directly upload their print files or create one based on their needs. With this you can off-load a lot of responsibility as well empower your customers, a win-win for everyone involved. Happy printing!

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