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Making web-to-print work for you

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Online ordering is taking off, and many printers are cashing in on the trend by investing in web-to-print (W2P) systems that promise to slash costs and boost efficiency. EFI’s Daniel Aloi (right) examines the benefits that web-to-print has to offer.

W2P systems allow printers to automate and streamline their ordering processes through a web-based portal. Customers can upload their les directly and pay online, removing the need for sales staff to spend hours on the phone taking customer orders to exact specifications.

Often, the W2P software will plug directly into your MIS and even the printer’s RIP, which bypasses time-consuming and expensive pre-press procedures. EFI’s Digital StoreFront, for example, comes bundled with our print suite packages, and interfaces directly with MIS software and Fiery RIP for a hands-o process. It frees up staff that would otherwise be busy with pre-press to take on higher-value tasks.

W2P can also help open up new market opportunities and expand the range of services you offer your clients. For example, companies such as Vistaprint have made great use of W2P software for short-run, on- demand and bespoke printing jobs. Variable data and W2P go hand-in- hand, with applications ranging from simple business cards and stationery printing to major direct marketing campaigns.

It’s all about the customer

A lot depends on getting the right type of customer to take advantage of what a W2P system can do. As a print service provider investing in W2P, it’s vital to talk to your clients and tell them the benefits of using it – some customers will take to W2P with great enthusiasm, while for others it may take time to adopt new processes and ways of ordering. Those customers who do embrace W2P contribute a significant saving while improving profit margins.

When introducing W2P into your operations, it’s a good idea to sell existing customers on the technology first before trying to use it to win new business. Start small, with something like simple stock ordering, before moving up to fulfilment, non-print items, and ad-hoc work.

(Read Daniel’s complete blog here in the latest issue of Print21 magazine.)