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Collaborative Commerce: The Necessary Evolution of Web-to-Print

Web-to-print technology and the customer facing resources working in print today need to evolve together so we can support online “collaborative commerce”: a procurement process that requires collaboration between the buyer and the seller.

By Jennifer Matt
Published: November 24, 2014


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Jennifer Matt is the managing editor of WhatTheyThink’s Print Software section as well as President of Web2Print Experts, Inc. a technology-independent print software consulting firm helping printers with web-to-print and print MIS solutions. You can reach her at jen@whattheythink.com.



By Carina Karlsson on Nov 25, 2014

Really like this article. With only fixed products, as in todays web solutions, we are missing out on the most valuable thing with print, the possibility to be unique. There are a million different ways, within each printing company, to produce something that stands out. If well done, it will engage the receiver in so many more ways than is possible in digital solutions. To get the full potential of print all these possibilities must be presented in an easy-to-understand, easy-to-use, and easy-to-order way for print buyers.


By John Henry on Nov 26, 2014

Yet all print sales expert preach touches. The want more touches not less. Live phones personal contact.

So do you separate the ordering function from sales functions?

Do you go with automated pricing, ordering and become faceless and just another online printer with no human contact?

I use all the tools and streamline Web to print, but try and keep the human touch involved.


By Jennifer Matt on Nov 26, 2014

This is not a binary choice: human touch or self-service but providing both options. You might feel more comfortable with the human touch but this isn't about what you're comfortable with its about the changes in customer's preference.

Human touch is important, relationship is important but your customer's time is THE MOST IMPORTANT factor in building loyalty. You might be defining it as human touch while your customers may be defining it as burden.

Give the option and let your customers choose. Support both.



By Scott Burford on Jan 24, 2015

Great article, and you articulate very well the feelings I have had on this issue for years. I have been providing clients with web-to-print 1.0 solutions for close to 20 years now, but still struggle with how to best handle the issues of collaborative commerce. We want to provide full service, because that is what many of us were initially taught, but realize we also need to respond to changing customer attitudes about the buying process. I find myself in 2014 conducting significant account-based business with people I have never met in person. This is working because of the tools we provide, and because we engage clients in a way that they are comfortable. We are a marketing agency with no salespeople and no equipment.


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