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Making Web-to-Print Part of Your Culture

Web-to-print is a strategic initiative that creates two service level paths through your organization; self-service and full-service. Your leadership is the key ingredient required for success.

By Jennifer Matt
Published: March 16, 2016

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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.

 

Discussion

By Joe Fedor on Mar 16, 2016

Jen, you and I have been talking with folks about W2P and Print eCommerce since before those terms even existed. That's a lot of conversations on a lot of different topics. But I think, for where the print industry as a whole is in it's adoption of online business, these points you've described so well here are the most important and relevant things I can communicate to someone right now.

From my own experience, I'm seeing printers having the most challenges with two of these ideas specifically - (a) hiring an eCommerce manager, and (b) not blaming the technology.

Hiring an eCommerce manager - the pushback I hear on this is something along the lines of "So, you're saying I need to ADD headcount in order to succeed with this? What gives? This is supposed to take AWAY work my people do through automation." Yes - W2P is supposed to fit into your overall automation strategy, and free people up from customer service tasks that can and should be self-service, so they can spend their time on the things that need to and should be full-service. But you would not set up a digital department without someone managing it. You would not have a pressroom without a production manager. You would not let your salespeople call around all willy-nilly without someone managing them and driving them towards your goals and theirs. Online business and interaction with your customers is just as important an aspect of business today as any of these other areas. If it's not, you're just making it that much more important (and valuable) to your competitors.

Blaming the technology - in full disclosure for folks who don't know me, I'm a vendor (EFI), and I have the luxury of working everyday with one of the very best platforms for Print eCommerce available (Digital StoreFront - and the fact that my statement is biased does not necessarily mean it's not also accurate!). Of course I don't want to my customers blaming my tech when they are disappointed with their progress. But it's too easy of a trap to fall into, especially when there are other printers out there, just like you, that are succeeding by focusing on filling needs and solving problems for their customer with self-service programs - coincidentally, with the same tech you are blaming instead of mastering. When the promising salesperson you hired is not finding their feet, do you blame the business school they came from, or the former employers where they gained their experience? No, you take them in hand and you work with them to find their groove, and it pays off. I think the same thing applies to any technology you invest in - not just with Print eCommerce.

Great job, Jen, as always!

 

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