Printing is an inherently physical business—meaning there will always need to be a press and some sort of tangible material to get the job done. But there are some aspects of printing that have definitely reaped the benefit of digital technologies, including the way many print providers are communicating with customers.
We’re talking, of course, about web-to-print portals and the revolutionary way by which they’ve served to streamline nearly every facet of the printing process!
Ordering, proofing and prepping, made easy
Digital technology in the form of a web-to-print portal has effectively consolidated the print prep process into a real-time, nearly instantaneous workflow. As a result, some of the biggest hurdles in the print process are absolved right from the get-go, including:
- With the ability to create approval workflows, web-to-print offers an immersive, collaborative experience for buyer and printer alike. Customers can submit a design, printers can proof it, and customers can then approve it quickly, expediting a timeline that might otherwise require a more extensive degree of back and forth communication.
- Ordering from scratch is also made simple! Printers can create online storefronts with basic, customizable options, providing a foundation for creation that’s quicker and more affordable for customers than creating something from scratch or hiring a designer.
- Within the web-to-print environment, sharing materials and print collateral is made easy via cloud uploading and collaboration. Again, extensive back and forth is eliminated, getting the project to the print floor quicker and with fewer opportunities for error.
Keep in mind, this is still only value added at the order stage of the print process! A functional web-to-print portal goes beyond just facilitating efficiency after an order is placed.
Generating sales and prompting leads
As a printer, being able to offer a web-to-print portal as a sales tool means creating accessibility that prompts inquiries and generates leads. Consider the following benefits:
- Customers looking for a quick, non-committal quote can submit a small amount of information through the portal, which opens up a dialog with the printer. Quotes and pricing can be exchanged, with the opportunity to create a conversion through this passive sales channel.
- Web-to-print environments present the allure of modernization. Being accessible online, where a majority of business is done, is appealing to potential customers who want an upfront guarantee of effectiveness and efficiency.
- For printers, inquiries through the web-to-print portal can be handled accordingly via workflow automation. For example, an inquiry regarding large format POP materials may be directed to one person specifically within the business—leads can automatically be sent to that person through the web-to-print portal.
Saving time and money through efficiency
Perhaps the most critical value a web-to-print portal provides is that of cost-saving efficiency, for both the printer and the customer. In creating a system of checks and balances, while simultaneously eliminating errors and waste, the savings on a per-job basis can become prolific for both sides:
- In proofing projects throughout the duration of the workflow, as prompted by the portal’s built-in checks and balances, printers can ensure the final job going to print is perfect, minimizing re-print potential due to poor proofing.
- Customers can submit collateral through the web portal, saving them the time of having to send multiple emails or navigate through various links to online repositories. This also expedites the job by giving printers instant access to necessary files throughout the duration of the job.
- The organization and structure of a web-to-print portal means minimizing lost collateral, misplaced files or erratic email chains. These things all cost time and money to resolve.
Value that cannot be ignored
With benefits at every stage of the customer-to-print process, the value of a web-to-print portal cannot be ignored by modern print providers. From capturing leads and providing quotes, to gathering collateral and communicating feedback, to proofing and finally printing: web-to-print is changing the way people get their final print materials. And while printing will always be a physical process at its core, the path to the press is more digital than ever before.