The UPS Store Now Nation's Largest Online Printing Network
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Today, the nation's largest franchise network of retail shipping, postal, document and business services centers announced the first phase of its new online printing solution. With more than 4,400 locations, The UPS Store franchise anticipates its sheer size and accessibility will position it as a leader in the online printing arena.
"After reviewing the research and listening to our small-business customers, we realized there is a real need in the marketplace for an online printing platform that is easy to use, provides functionality geared to small businesses, and is supported by a convenient network of physical locations," said Stuart Mathis, president of Mail Boxes Etc., Inc. (MBE), franchisor of The UPS Store brand. "Nobody can match the size and scope of our network or the commitment of our franchisees."
Every aspect of the user-friendly program is built from the small-business perspective, with the ability to work on the fly and manage print production from any computer with Internet access. Unlike competitors' online printing platforms, The UPS Store solution provides a one-page view with a pull-down, accordion-style menu, eliminating the need for the user to navigate back and forth when choosing printing options. The user actively pages through a document preview, selecting print options such as paper, binding, covers, etc., which are applied in real time. Furthermore, by allowing customers to distribute information or documents first and then print at the point of need, the solution reduces cost and environmental impact.
Although the platform is geared to small business, it's also a convenient way for schools, churches, other organizations and the general consumer to manage their print needs. Planned future additions, such as wide-format printing for graphics, banner and poster applications, and an integrated shipping function will create even more appeal.
The UPS Store franchisees, like Ismael Hernandez, are eager to begin offering this new service.
"I was initially attracted to The UPS Store franchise because of the opportunity for growth built around serving the small-business community," said Hernandez. "The online printing program convinced me this was an organization that was committed to providing its small-business customers with all the products and services they need."
To access the program, the user simply logs onto theupsstore.com/print, uploads a new document or multiple documents, selects printing options (paper, binding, etc.) and chooses a convenient participating location for pickup as well as the desired date and time for completion. On the initial use, the first-time customer creates a profile, establishing a secure workspace and a virtual "filing cabinet" for future reprints. Each job is assigned a number, allowing the customer to track the print job from beginning to end. Payment is taken online, making pickup at the center quick and easy.
"As small-business owners themselves, our franchisees know the opportunities and challenges of running a business," said Mathis. "We have nearly 30 years of experience helping fellow small-business owners grow their businesses. We've always employed a follow-the-customer strategy, so as our customers began making the transition to the online world, we needed to make that transition with them."
According to InfoTrends, the leading worldwide market research and strategic consulting firm for the document technology industry, the surging interest in online print is dramatically changing the relationship between print buyers and print service providers.
"Online print is a trend that will only continue to expand," said Barb Pellow, group director at InfoTrends. "Last year, print jobs that moved through the Internet made up 14 percent of the total U.S. printing market, and we project online printing will grow at an average rate of 24 percent per year from 2008 to 2011."
"Consumers understand the benefits associated with online printing, including lower printing costs, shorter turnaround times, better tracking, less unnecessary printing, and better brand management," Pellow added.
In addition to digital printing, black-and-white and color duplications, and document finishing (binding, laminating, etc.), The UPS Store locations offer domestic and international shipping; full-service packing; notary; printing services (business cards, letterhead, rubber stamps, etc.); custom crating and freight shipping for large items (grandfather clocks, motorcycles, etc.); mailbox and postal services; office and packaging supplies; and more.