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Maintaining Multiple Web-to-Print Solutions

Printers get frustrated with complex software solutions, this frustration often results in the purchase of additional complex software solutions. Don’t rush to buy your way out of the challenge – it might be more effective to learn your way out of it by doubling down on your commitment to the software you already have.


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About Jennifer Matt

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.


By Joe Fedor on Aug 12, 2016

Wow, really good topic for today, Jen. Definitely what I would call "w2p 2.0," considering how many printers today have some kind of platform in place.

But I think it's a real challenge to figure HOW to go about the discovery learning you describe, outside of handling the customer needs that one is given to solve in the course of business that comes one's way. How does one learn about the capabilities of their platform that relate to needs their customers have not asked for yet? This kind of knowledge is critical for a Print E-Commerce Manager that serves as a pre-sales resource, assisting sales with new customer opportunities.

This is where giving your Print E-Commerce Manager time to experiment ahead of time is important. Time to keep up to date on release notes, webinars; time to spend on user forums and online communities for their platform, where users of the more established platforms share their solutions to challenges they have faced. Of course, giving someone that time is easier when Print E-Commerce is their only focus, and more difficult when it's a side project for someone that's already doing prepress or customer service.

Do you have any thoughts on how to go about that discovery learning?


By Jennifer Matt on Aug 12, 2016


Excellent question.

Here's my #1 advice on this... have the ecommerce manager build the best freakin sales demo site.

What do I mean by the best freakin sales demo site? I mean dig in and figure out EVERY single feature on the platform and configure it on the site - learn it by building it out to demonstrate it.

This will be a lot of work AND it is WORTH IT.

Then have your ecommerce person conduct a formal trainign for your sales reps, your CSRs, and your management so everyone is aware of what the tool can do. Your sales team should NEVER have to say... "our solution can do that but we don't have this site configured for it." Which in my mind equates to sending the prospect this message (you are not important enough for us to spend the time to prepare our site to show you everything!)

Configure a product on the demo site that has multi-level approvals. Test it for real. Learn how it works from the customer's perspective.

Configure a product on the demo site that utilizes special accounting during the transaction (e.g. Cost Centers).

Configure a product on the demo site that auto-fills the personalized information from the users profile.

Configure a demo site that has different groups that see all the different things you can configure by group (e.g. categories, products, payment methods, shipping choices, etc.)

Configure a demo site that has one of each kind of product workflow (variable, static, inventory, multi-variant, upload/ad hoc, email, campaign, poster/oversize, etc.)

You get what I mean b/c I could go on for ever!

Dig in and figure out how everything works so you can give a perfect demonstration of the FULL breathe of features and functionality to your internal team. When a new release comes out from the vendor - add those features and functionality to your demo site.

When you get stuck, dig in and try a little harder to LEARN. Don't blame the vendor, don't focus on what you think is wrong with the solution. Be successful in SPITE of the weaknesses.

Why is this strategy a win-win-win?

1) You create internal expertise and you adopt the solution as your own.
2) Your sales team believes in your internal expertise and is thus more likely to sell the solution (a lot of sales people don't sell web-to-print b/c they don't trust the team behind them to execute.
3) You actually know what you bought so nobody is making up assumptions about what the product can or cannot do.




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