Commentary & Analysis
Discovering New Business Opportunities with Web-to-Print
By Jon Bracken The trend among consumers and businesses to increasingly order products and services online provides exciting opportunities for digital printers.
By WhatTheyThink Guest Contributor
Published: October 29, 2007
By Jon Bracken
The trend among consumers and businesses to increasingly order products and services online provides exciting opportunities for digital printers. A report issued in December 2006 by Nielsen Media Research found that 78.2% of online users have made purchases over the Internet. Print providers like Greg Meeker and Jim Tomblinson recognize what that means for their businesses: new ways to increase their revenues and strengthen customer relationships by offering web-to-print services.
"Anybody who buys much print is enamored with the idea of online ordering. They're doing it for other products and want to have the same ability with us," said Meeker, President of Brown Printing in Jefferson City, Mo.
An effective web-to-print solution involves three components: a storefront that facilitates online ordering and purchasing; variable data printing capabilities for customizing materials, if applicable; and workflow automation that connects the storefront to printing devices.
An effective web-to-print solution involves three components: an online storefront, variable data printing capabilities and an automated workflow
As the next progression in the company's digital growth strategy, Brown Printing recently started offering customers the ability to create, select and purchase products via an electronic storefront.
"When we look at adding a capability, our motivation is always to drive more work through the pressroom," said Meeker. "We see web-to-print as a major tool for generating more business."
Strengthening the Bottom Line
Based on its new web-to-print offerings, Brown Printing has a significant new program in the works for a customer it had been calling on for years. In collaboration with an advertising agency, Brown Printing plans to set up a web-to-print solution for a franchisor with multiple sites. Franchisees will go to a branded site that allows them to order and receive collateral materials from a single provider, giving the franchisor better control of the process and providing a streamlined system for franchisees.
"We see web-to-print as a major tool for generating more business. Our motivation is always to drive more work through the pressroom."
"The web-to-print solution significantly simplifies the process of developing and ordering materials for customers, a key to achieving top-line growth," said Jim Tomblinson, Assistant Plant Superintendent, of Modern Litho, sister company to Brown Printing. "We expect web-to-print will help improve our bottom line through cost efficiencies by completely automating processes, from ordering through invoicing."
Capitalizing on a Growing Trend
Findings in a new study reflect the steady growth of web to print. According to InfoTrends, the worldwide web-to-print software market is expected to demonstrate a compound annual growth rate of 17%, increasing from $195 million in 2006 to just over $432 million in 2011. InfoTrends estimates that about 12% of enterprise print-related spending is conducted via e-enabled systems.
The Forum Group recently expanded its operation to take advantage of the ongoing growth in e-enabled print business. The British Columbia-based print provider added web-to-print capabilities to enhance services for its current customers and position the company to fully capitalize on its investments in digital printing technology.
"We've put together a system that demystifies the process of sending files through the web and assures customers that their jobs will be completed more efficiently and effectively than ever," said Garry Gunter, General Manager, Development & Technology Director, the Forum Group.
"We expect web-to-print will help improve our bottom line through cost efficiencies by completely automating processes, from ordering through invoicing."
The addition of web-to-print services helped the Forum Group recently bring back a former customer. The company is in the health foods and natural supplements industry and produces a tremendous amount of business cards, sell sheets, brochures and other communications pieces. The Forum Group put together a proposal to consolidate all ordering, printing and shipping through one online location.
"The abilities to customize home pages and the browser interface to a client's preference, as well as add variable data to documents, makes for a robust, flexible web-to-print solution that customers appreciate," said Gunter. "Web-to-print provides a significant growth opportunity."
Print service providers always seek new ways to achieve stronger profits, add new services, and simplify processes for customers and within their organization. For more and more digital printers, web-to-print capabilities help them meet their business and growth targets.