This article is sponsored by LiveArt as part of WhatTheyThink's Print Software Product Spotlight series. In preparing this article, the WhatTheyThink editors conducted original, in-depth research on LiveArt’s web-to-print offerings. This Product Spotlight describes what the editors feel are the service’s strengths in the marketplace. LiveArt reviewed the final article for accuracy but had no editorial control over the content.

(Watch Pat McGrew’s interview with LiveArt CEO Volodymyr Yatsevsky here.)

Call it a generational shift several generations in the making, but consumers are no longer satisfied with only buying mass-produced products. The consulting firm Deloitte determined that 36% of consumers said they are interested in buying customized and, in some cases, personalized products according to their Made-to-order: The rise of mass personalization study. Print businesses have good reason to embrace these customization and personalization trends because their clients are willing to pay more for those products. The same Deloitte study found that one in five consumers were willing to pay up to 20% more for personalization.

The printing industry cannot escape this shift in behavior. Online and brick-and-mortar print shops have offered B2B and B2C buyers the ability to customize printed products, from business cards to photo books, labels, and stickers, through their web-to-print solutions, but the process is sometimes complex and hard to understand. The tools to create custom-printed products began with limited editing capabilities, usually based on variable form fields to enter text and defined placeholders to replace images. Then came the online design tools based on enabling technologies like HTML5 stack of technologies and SVG that unlocked a more comprehensive range of design and editing capabilities. Even with the new features, many printers still found off-the-shelf online design tools and web-to-print solutions limited the type of experience they wanted to deliver to their users.

That is where Ukraine-based LiveArt, a web-to-print product and services company with 15 years of experience, saw an opportunity. Founded to address the gap between off-the-shelf web-to-print solutions available in the market and the growing needs of printers requiring more custom-tailored solutions for their clients, LiveArt's solutions and development expertise is a perfect fit. Their clients include printers selling signage, uniform kits, apparel, and promotional products, but the company has supported many niche segments, including an online editing tool for custom jewelry.

The LiveArt approach allows them to meet the growing development requirement to help their clients transform from a brick-and-mortar way of doing business to a digitally automated one. They help their clients by expanding the customization capabilities of the online design tool framework required for complex product catalogs and custom personalization flows. The result is improved customer experience, communication, and streamlining of the printer's back-end processes. The experience a company provides is as important as its products and services, based on the Fifth Edition State of the Connected Customer survey conducted by Salesforce last year.

Improving Customer Experience to Increase Productivity at StickyLife

The need to improve the customer experience led StickyLife, a North Carolina-based online print provider, to search for a custom-developed solution. Trying to support their catalog of more than 2,000 products taxed their systems leading to failures of their existing online design tool. Their diverse customers, from small businesses, creative professionals, schools, religious institutions, and individuals, needed a more accessible and reliable path to self-expression. As an online company producing custom-printed products, from signs, banners, decals to buttons to license plates, StickyLife needed an online design tool to empower their customers' designs while streamlining the production process.

Their ideal solution needed advanced clipart editing, the ability to resize products and design elements, and more expansive proofing and approval capabilities. Their goal was to eliminate the time staff spent formatting and resizing elements for customers and manually sending proofs for approval. The custom-developed solution from LiveArt enabled StickyLife customers to design and accurately preview all changes, even for irregularly shaped items, so the approved file could be confidently sent for output. Reflecting on the development process with LiveArt, the cofounder of StickyLife, Natalee Fisher, said, “They already had a tool that they built. They customized it heavily to meet our needs. I threw out lots of challenges to improve the product, and they met them all.”

The result was an increase in sales and a more streamlined process that freed staff from manual work. Now they focus on their business and marketing goals instead of losing time sending and waiting on emails from clients.

Making MetalPressions Shine!

The LiveArt team supports more than print and promotional products. In 2009, MetalPressions were looking for a tool to improve the customer design and ordering experience for their growing custom jewelry business. They wanted to expand personalization options while making the entire process as easy as possible.

The LiveArt solution was a visual designer that allowed customers to design and review in a simple user interface. Customers were able to create quickly in real-time. The new approach reduced the hours spent by customer support representatives to verify orders and changes, while the manufacturing team expanded the number of options, including handwritten script and laser-engraving. With the changes to the web-to-jewelry storefront, MetalPressions expanded its catalog of premade templates.

The streamlining of processes allowed MetalPressions to take their business to the next level by working with resellers' physical stores where customers can design and order custom jewelry from the designer tool. After launching the kiosk network, MetalPressions significantly increased its revenue and noticed customer growth. Starting as a small business in a very competitive market, they now scaled to a global level and have the differentiators they need to grow further.

Six Steps to Your Custom Solution from LiveArt

The process StickyLife and MetalPressions followed with the LiveArt team is used for all custom projects. Using their years of experience, LiveArt has perfected its custom development process. They use a framework divided into six stages to ensure clients receive the solution that fully addresses their needs for timely and cost-efficient delivery. The process starts with the project discussion and discovery, where a two-way dialogue ensures the requirements are understood and the project is accurately scoped.

The LiveArt team defines and documents the development requirements, including addressing technical risks and creating clickable prototypes. In the third step, LiveArt delivers a solution approach, a detailed quote for the solution development, and project timelines and milestones. LiveArt’s experienced development team uses an agile approach and modern development tools to build highly scalable and reliable software solutions in the fourth project step.

At launch, the team assists with the delivery and deployment, then closely monitors and responds to any issues. When the solution is live and running as expected, the LiveArt team gathers feedback and proactively builds a roadmap for further solution improvement and optimization designed to bring even more value to your business.

Product Personalization Your Way

LiveArt understands that each printing environment is unique, with its own set of clients and needs. While custom development is often the best solution, for printers who want a turnkey, pre-integrated solution ready for the most popular eCommerce platforms: Shopify, WooCommerce, and Magento, they offer The Shop solution. Unlike many other online design tools and web-to-print solutions in the market, LiveArt has a simple annual licensing fee that avoids per-item royalties or revenue sharing, making pricing easier.

With The Shop, print shops can offer their customers a design solution that is easy to use, visually appealing, and supported by a robust infrastructure that supports both simple and complex projects. And LiveArt listens. The support team is always ready to talk to clients and guide them to the best solution. Those conversations become part of the planning for new features and updates to ensure that the platform continues to grow as market needs shift and expand.

For websites not running on the major eCommerce platforms, the HTML5 Product Designer Tool is available as a standalone solution or integrated into any website using APIs. The user interface can be fully customized for brand awareness and an improved customer experience by customizing the front-end part of the designer or white-labeling it. Products and all the solution assets, including product catalog, fonts, artwork gallery, and pricing,  can be created, modified, and controlled through a dedicated administration panel that is easy to learn and manage.

Whether you need to build value and grow sales for a complex product catalog or prefer a turnkey approach, the team at LiveArt has a suite of tools and solutions to meet your needs. Their development and support teams have worked with customers around the world to help them grow the number of solutions while also improving their customer’s experience. Their customers are the proof.