By Piet De Pauw, Head of Marketing at Enfocus
There are plenty of discussions about how web-to-print and automation have shifted the print market. Afterall, web storefronts are now a staple in every industry. As for print, it causes service providers to have to compete across a much larger geography. But there are factors to consider before deciding that providing an online sales portal adds too much complexity to a business. The question is not about how much print business can be acquired online, but how to best implement that channel. Print businesses have to effectively compete against the shop across town and the one in another country.
Automation levels the glocal playing field. Can businesses afford to implement an automated storefront that will drive work into production without human interaction? The answer isn’t, “they can’t afford not to.” With an investment of less than the salary of one integration expert for one year, they probably can afford it. The difficult part can be finding a trusted sales and integration firm that will do a few things exactly the right way for a business.
An integrator worth their salt, and their billable hours, should help a print service provider plan the implementation. An approachable actionable list should be established with both parties committed to seeing that milestones are met. Integrators should be building automation into a shop’s workflow. Unless they were also hired to restructure production, a worthy integration specialist will keep familiarity in the process.
This should go without saying, but since the opposite happens all too often, an integrator you can trust needs to set a business up to succeed with their new automation solutions. The owners and operators should be educated, and the integrator should be available after turning things over. Questions will arise and businesses shouldn’t be left wondering how to make the most of their investment. As the business grows or changes, the workflow has to be adaptable and dynamic.
Simply competing online isn’t enough to consider a business to be glocal. Print service providers must deliver consistent timely products to their customers. Every job is rush order. An automated web to print to finish to ship environment is the only way to print local and serve global. Automation allows orders to be onboarded, processed, and delivered in hours instead of days. It also allows printers to become part of a network of providers who can take global orders and deliver them locally.
File delivery can be automated and so can onboarding, including preflight. The reporting of job status throughout a workflow can be automated. Imposition and file delivery to press can be automated. Output and finishing device setup can be automated. Where automation truly has an impact on glocality is the point where the entire workflow is connected and communicating. Islands of technology can be connected. When jobs are passing through a print shop unhindered by human interaction, the business is glocal.
Printers can have a global presence and a local impact. They can employ locally and serve globally. Businesses are able to be a part of both worlds and maintain a hometown feel with the effective implementation of full automation. This doesn’t mean lights-out, but automation from job acquisition to product delivery. The technology available has made what recently seemed to be a fantasy into tangible possibility. For many printers it’s already a glocal reality.