Welcome to Digital: Finding a Web-to-Print Solution that Streamlines and Simplifies
Recent advancements in digital presses have been enticing more and more traditionally offset print shops to embrace digital. As a result, many old-school printers are, for the first time, seriously considering the benefits of adding Web-to-print software. A good Web-to-print solution is the first step to automation and leveraging workflow solutions throughout your operation. Web-to-print can help streamline both production and customer relationship management, while also serving as a marketing and sales enablement tool.
A user-friendly Web-to-print portal helps potential customers preview and better understand your offerings. But more importantly — at least to your accounting department — it makes it easier for customers to place an order with you from anywhere with an internet connection, while using form fields to clear up common miscommunications, and funnel new, clear orders directly into a prepress workflow queue.
How do you know which Web-to-print solution is right for you? Look for these four characteristics:
1. User friendly: It must be a simple solution that’s powerful enough to handle requests as diverse as your capabilities. Create a welcoming experience for potential customers, so they can easily find what they’re looking for — while maybe being introduced to a few related offerings they may also be interested in along the way.
2. Vendor agnostic: Today’s print shops tend to leverage hardware and software from a variety of different vendors. An otherwise excellent Web-to-print solution that can’t interface with all of the technology currently in your shop — and all of the technology you’re likely to add as market needs change — won’t take you very far, unfortunately. Look for vendor-agnostic solutions that can automatically move Web-to-print orders where you need them in the workflow, so your team doesn’t get stuck manually teeing up every new job order — because at that point, you’re not getting nearly as much out of Web-to-print as you should.
3. Cross-system communication: Similar to being vendor-agnostic, a good Web-to-print portal should be able to communicate with all of the aspects of your workflow it has reason to touch, from hot folders, to user authentication and beyond. This will allow for improved automation and streamlining, reducing manual touchpoints and related opportunities for inefficiency and error. All in all, Web-to-print job submission is better secured and more reliable than more traditional approaches, such as email-based and manual order entry.
4. Rules-based automation: As you’ve seen in the other three items in the list, effective automation is at the heart of many of the business benefits of Web-to-print. An effective solution in today’s market should leverage rules that apply conditional logic to unique tasks to keep work flowing intelligently through the necessary processes, keeping device availability, hardware capabilities, and SLAs in mind, among other things. This kind of automation can help in other ways, too, such as automatically checking incoming files for problems before they reach the production floor, or intelligently filtering jobs based on media, finishing needs, or other characteristics, to route jobs with similar requirements for back-to-back production, helping to maximize device utilization.
Automation helps make incoming work easier to triage, and it turns predictable patterns of recurring jobs into an asset, feeding into intelligent decision making and job-batching. With jobs flowing into your shop routinely, quickly, and error-free, you can keep your focus on creative design, expanding capabilities, and improving customer experiences.