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Web-to-Print Offers Extensive Benefits to Print Service Providers


Web-to-Print Defined

Web-to-print solutions are browser-based applications that facilitate commerce, collaboration, and/or customer service interaction between those who buy printed products and those who sell them. Common functions of these solutions include page design, file submission, catalog ordering, order entry, versioning/VDP, job tracking, soft proofing, online payment, online shipping, and inventory management.

Benefits for the Print Service Provider

For print service providers, a Web-to-print solution can offer a “lights out” workflow, avoiding the cost and labor of extensive order handling. This is important since run lengths are dropping and most print service providers must process a larger number of lower-dollar-value orders to maintain or grow revenue. Because the document format is typically PDF, there is rarely a need for prepress staff to get involved. Orders placed online can be routed directly to the digital press RIP device and into the queue for production. Because there is integration with major couriers such as FedEx, UPS, DHL, and even the USPS, shipping fees can often be calculated in real time and turnaround time is greatly improved with the ability to fulfill orders within 24 hours.

Additionally, Web-to-print gives print service providers a centralized method of administration where job status can be tracked at any point in the process and various reports (shipping, orders, and inventory) can be printed and/or exported into an electronic format. If you are a small to medium-sized print service provider, a Web-to-print solution can expand your market reach beyond your local footprint. Since these solutions are available to customers 24/7, orders can be processed during non-operating hours from any remote location. Although Web-to-print solutions are normally tied in with digital printing systems, they are fundamentally a portal. Your business can also leverage the solutions to market and sell other products and services such as offset printing, promotional items, as well as kitting and fulfillment.

A Web-to-print solution can minimize the time that CSRs (customer service representatives) must spend on the telephone answering the same questions over and over again, because end-users can get quick quotes online right from the desktop. Once the order is placed, they can also track the order throughout the process from a dashboard.

With an e-commerce module in place, payment for orders can be charged to a customer’s credit card which contributes to positive cash flow. Some solutions even integrate seamlessly with an MIS (Management Information System), automating the invoicing and billing process for payments not handled with credit cards.

The value of a Web-to-print offering inevitably translates into customer retention, and also means more print volume to your press.

Campaign Execution

The figure below illustrates how a Web-to-print solution typically works. In this example, the software vendor has provided the print service provider with a hosted Web-to-print solution. The print service provider (in this example, Media Direct, Inc.) can then set up its own online retail storefront. Media Direct, Inc. can also offer its customers (Widget Enterprises) a customized Web storefront that all authorized users can log onto to order custom Widget Enterprise printed materials.


The preceding is an excerpt from a report entitled Customized Communications: Web-to-Print. To learn more about this report, visit our online store or contact Robyn Wuori at ext. 1o3 or via e-mail at .

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