Do Wide-Format Printers Really Need Web-to-Print Software?
Over the years, trade publications have spoken about web-to-print solutions. Have you asked yourself, “Why should my wide-format print shop adopt a web-to-print solution as a channel for doing business with our customers?”
The answer can be as simple as a single word: Amazon.
For a longer answer, we need to examine business efficiencies. In the current economic environment — along with the impact COVID-19 has had on companies worldwide — internal inefficiencies are a luxury printers no longer have.
Despite the automation that has been coming to the wide-format industry, there are still plenty of opportunities to mine out inefficiencies and become more profitable. One of the primary places to find these efficiencies is on the very front end of the process — ordering — which is still overwhelmingly manual.
According to “The Impact of Customer Buying Preferences on the Commercial Printing Industry” (NAPCO Research, 2019), the top three ways that customers are ordering jobs from print businesses are email requests for a job quote (87%); phone calls to sales representatives or CSRs (76%); and face-to-face meetings with sales representatives (58%). Only 32% cited using web-to-print storefronts specifically for a customer’s business and 18% cited web-to-print storefronts open to the public.
That is a tremendous amount of inefficiency remaining in the process, and if printers want to grow and be more profitable, automation is no longer an option. Especially with 73% of printers saying pressure on turnarounds is increasing, and nearly two-thirds (62%) indicating their customers expect a turnaround of three days or less.
Just as with any manufactured product, by standardizing and automating as much of the ordering and production workflow as possible, printers can enable greater throughput, minimize errors, and achieve far greater efficiency. This translates into bottom-line benefits for both printer and client, while still creative flexibility within the guidelines established by the brand owner.
But it’s not just the use of web-to-print solutions that has expanded, it’s their functionality, as well. As web-to-print has matured, printers are automating more formerly manual processes, including preflight, reporting, mailing and list purchasing, and fulfillment. But more custom items — like wide-format and promotional products — are also starting to find their way into web-to-print platforms.
But how are these solutions evolving? How are printers currently using them within their own businesses? What you can learn from commercial printers and others who were early adopters of this technology?
Click here to get your free copy of the report, “Benefits of Web-to-Print Workflows & Online Storefronts” from Wide-Format Impressions.
Denise Gustavson is the Editorial Director and Special Projects Editor for the Printing & Packaging Group, which includes Printing Impressions, packagePRINTING, In-plant Graphics and Wide-Format Impressions magazines, among other brands. She is also the Editor-in-Chief of Wide-Format Impressions.