The result is more corporate visibility and control for the wide-format print provider’s corporate customer, he added. If corporate spends a lot of money on an ad campaign, it wants to make sure the printed portion of the campaign is in place, and Digital StoreFront can do that. “The control part if huge,” Walsh said.
“They’re going to know what the spend is for each location. They can control that from corporate. They can proof it for one location, and know every other location will have the same quality. It gives back a lot of time to the print buyer. And if you make it easy for the buyer, that’s what builds relationships.”
Increasingly, web-to-print software is handling more sophisticated tasks than simply printing. “We also store budgets,” PageDNA’s Ballinger said. “In the case of a national retailer, each store’s given a budget by corporate, and every time a retailer orders a poster off this storefront, we take some out of their budget. That’s a new functionality wide-format printers may find appealing.
“They can sell this to their customer, telling the customer, ‘Not only can we handle this versioned product and allow individual stores to customize to their own individual needs, but we can help you people in the corporate offices ensure these stores stay within the budgets allocated to them by corporate.’”
Another intriguing function web-to-print facilitates is couponing, he added. In franchised operations, franchisees could be given coupons that allow them to visit the online store, buy posters, banners, logo-emblazoned wallpaper, and other needed products. The coupon, affixed with an expiration date, serves as a limited-time incentive to get franchisees to try the idea, Ballinger said.
“You could also have a bifurcated site, where we detect if you’re coming from corporate and are allowed to pay from the corporate budget, or if you’re a franchisee and have to pay with your own credit card,” he added. “The overall point is you can use incentives to induce them to try this. If they like it, they can buy from this central repository [containing] many things they need.”
Yet one more advantage is soft proofing. Rottenborn notes Hybrid Integration’s GoPrint allows users to preview a graphic through their web browsers, as opposed to downloading the entire graphic to the screen. “This has matured as a technology until it’s now very well accepted,” he said.
Piggybacking on Others’ Storefronts
Even wide-format imaging shops that don’t set up online storefronts can benefit from the technology. “They should be partnering with printing companies that have online storefronts, don’t usually get wide-format printing orders, but occasionally do have those requests,” Ballinger said.
The growing preference among many large corporations is to deal with fewer rather than more online storefronts, he pointed out. If only five percent of a potential corporate client’s spending is on wide-format printing, it makes sense for wide-format shops to be represented among the providers on a general print company’s online storefront, where they can pick up those wide-format projects. After all, Ballinger noted, the corporation doesn’t want to go searching for a wide-format storefront, but wants instead to visit a one-stop shopping site.
“This requires the wide-format guys to get a better understanding of the lay of the land, who’s selling what to whom, and how to partner with the people who have the major storefronts,” he said.
“Their appeal to those major storefronts should be, ‘The more products you put in the storefront, the more appeal you will have to that corporate client who wants to limit the number of storefronts they deal with.’”
Those who are most likely to leverage the benefits of web-to-print view it as an indispensable tool, EFI’s Walsh says. He notes some printers still see an Internet presence as a webpage where some kind of form is filled out.
“They don’t see this as a productivity tool,” he observed. “The printers who are really successful see this as a productivity tool upfront, and they have their salespeople out there not just selling printing, but selling web-to-print as a service with the printing. Web-to-print can establish a relationship so you don‘t have to sell it again and again. The business just comes in.”