This article is sponsored by Propago as part of WhatTheyThink's Print Software Product Spotlight series. In preparing this article, the WhatTheyThink Print Software Section editors conducted original, in-depth research on Propago’s web-to-print product. This Product Spotlight describes what the editors feel are the product’s strengths in the marketplace. Propago reviewed the final article for accuracy but had no editorial control over the content.
Have you ever felt like your web-to-print vendor didn’t understand your print business or get your customers? You find yourself explaining things over and over and feeling like the things you’re explaining should be so obvious to technology companies who are selling to printers all the time?
Building software from the perspective of being in the business of selling technology can be different than building software from the perspective of making a print business thrive online. Propago’s origin story starts inside a print organization, the original intent of the Propago product was to make a large, diverse, and high-volume print organization as efficient as possible for the print organization and as flexible as possible for the real customer of web-to-print THE ONLINE USER.
If you look at web-to-print technology based on a pure feature comparison, the solutions all look the same. Every web-to-print solution targeted at supplying online technology to support your business-to-business (B2B) print customers, has some functionality around providing order history for example, but the “how” each of the vendors solve these customer challenges is often what creates differentiation.
In studying the Propago product, a consistent theme reverberated throughout the product; this product was built based on real-time feedback from live users in a large scale deployment. The approach to solving the business challenges of web-to-print are rooted in data-driven decisions rather than theoretical solutions to ill-defined challenges. Propago came out of a large commercial printing organization that consisted of twenty-five companies across the nation. In 2015, the technology was split off into an independent software company. The platform was already operating at scale, 70,000+ active users and 50,000+ active products.
For example, let’s consider the real business challenge of giving your customers access to the data about how their store is performing so they can manage, monitor, and evaluate user adoption and return on investment (ROI). For many web-to-print systems, customers are limited to order history at the user level and some custom reports delivered on a regular basis to the customer’s leadership. Propago provides each of the customers you put on the platform with a well-designed business intelligence dashboard.
The key advantage to moving your customer’s order-entry online is the ability to track and measure – the Propago product allows your customers to be in the driver’s seat to monitor, manage, and track the adoption and engagement on their platform. This is a win-win for everyone because the #1 complaint from printers is that B2B web-to-print platforms are deployed and never fully adopted.
One of the ways to drive adoption is to put the analytics, metrics, and goals into the hands of the customer via a graphical dashboard. Don’t make your customers come to you to understand how their community is using the store. The more you drive engagement with the platform on all levels, the more business you’ll drive through the store.
Diversification has to be part of every printer’s strategy in this very disruptive driven economy. Some of the core components of our industry (printed marketing materials) are being rapidly replaced by digital alternatives. Printers are expanding their value propositions by adding products like promotional items and other products and services used by marketing departments. A very common extension for printers of all sizes is adding fulfillment services. Adding fulfillment can feel daunting, especially when you look at the price and complexity of some of the full blown fulfillment applications offered in the industry. Propago has fulfillment, finished goods inventory and a complete warehouse management system built into their web-to-print platform. This enables printers to not only be able to confidently offer fulfillment services but they don’t have to worry about maintaining two separate systems or the costs of integration and maintenance.
As we see contraction in the tradition printing of marketing communications messaging, it’s important that printers seek out additional value-added services that they can offer to their existing customers. Because printers have been in the business of custom manufacturing forever, extending to storage, kitting, and delivery of fulfillment items is a transition most printers can get their heads around. In our predominantly online world, any fulfillment service is required to have online updates, show real inventory numbers, and process backorders. With Propago, you get web-to-print, fulfillment, and kitting all in one solution.
As we all know, one of the challenges is getting your web-to-print solution implemented and launched to your customers. Many printers and vendors struggle with this project with lots of finger pointing and frustration on both sides.
Here’s a fundamental question that I think is worth talking about:
“Do you want to learn what every button does on your web-to-print solution?”
“Do you want to start taking orders through your web-to-print solution as soon as possible?”
My guess is that every single print owner reading this article will agree; I want to start taking orders because that means my ROI has started. Propago’s approach to implementation is to get your first store up and running. The services is a “do” model vs. a “teach” model. I’m not saying you don’t need to be trained but doing is a form of training that actually produces something you can use (in this case your first live site). My guess is that Propago’s customers are experiencing a return on their investment much sooner than their competitors because getting printers live with their first customer is built into their services strategy.
Online ordering isn’t a nice to have; it isn’t something reserved for only a few of your customers, self-service order entry is an expectation for almost all of your customers today. Propago’s highlights are in its overall approach to solving the challenges of this space and the three main areas we highlighted in this article; customer facing dashboards, built-in fulfillment and inventory, and the get live approach to implementation services.
To learn more about WhatTheyThink.com’s Print Software Product Spotlights, please contact Jennifer Matt, Print Software Section Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.