On December 6, 2011, two nearly simultaneous news announcements lit up the graphic communications industry: EFI announced it acquired Alphagraph, and HP, Hiflex. EFI’s Alphagrah acquisition is part of its growth through expansion program, bringing 6,000 (mostly European) customers into EFI’s...
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On December 6, 2011, two nearly simultaneous news announcements lit up the graphic communications industry: EFI announced it acquired Alphagraph, and HP, Hiflex. EFI’s Alphagrah acquisition is part of its growth through expansion program, bringing 6,000 (mostly European) customers into EFI’s fold; its previous Prism acquisition brought 7,000. For HP, the Hiflex addition lets the digital printing and technology company expand full force into cloud printing.
The acquisitions position EFI and HP for increased market share in Web-to-print, and coincides well with the buzz that e-commerce software is the current must-have technology for the industry.
Market forces and technology are aligned. Print operations need to streamline operations as advertising and marketing budgets are curtailed, and faster turnarounds and shorter run lengths become standard operating procedure. Web-to-print software numbers in the dozens, fueled by advancements—and the growing use of--digital print. An increasingly Internet-savvy customer base is very comfortable submitting print orders online. Digital tablets and mobile devices allow for easy Internet access, allowing jobs to be submitted, approved, and tracked 24/7.
Industry consultancy group InfoTrends estimates that by 2014, $31 billion, or 30 percent, of the $107 billion in commercial print and in-plant revenues will be generated through a Web-to-print system. Plus, its research shows that more than half of print service providers within the U.S. have already invested in an e-commerce system.
Global Industry Analysts, Inc. estimates the global market for Web-to-print software will reach $869 million by 2017.
In addition to EFI and Hiflex, Web-to-print software is available from Aleyant Systems, Avanti, GMC Software, interlinkOne, PageFlex, PagePath, PrinterPresence, PrintPoint, Inc., PTI, RedTie, WitPrint Technology, and XMPie, among others.
A Key to Survival
“In this day and age, if you want to compete and survive you have to have Web-to-print, especially if you have the type of jobs coming in that will benefit from having it,” says Scott Perry, Web and IT Administrator, Pegasus Interprint. The Portland, OR facility uses EFI’s Digital StoreFront as its e-commerce platform.
“Using Web-to-print is a no-brainer for jobs like standard stationery jobs and flyers—the jobs that are quick and easy to put on there,” says Perry. “We have several customers that have a ton of products and have personnel or facilities nationwide—having DSF is essential, especially with integration with Pace (EFI’s MIS technology). “
EFI’s Digital StoreFront is already one of the leading Web-to-print products for the printing industry, in use by more than 3,000 sites worldwide, reports Marc Olin, Senior Vice President and General Manager of APPS, EFI. Digital StoreFront Version 5.2, with an enhanced user interface and online preview capability, in now in full commercial release.
“We have seen a tremendous demand for our technology; all of our offerings have experienced double-digit growth,” says Olin. “Customers are realizing that in order to survive in this market and be competitive, they need state-of-the-art technology to manage workflows and costs. You have to know where you can make money and be able to fine tune costs to be more efficient.”
Hiflex’s Web-to-print technology, Webshop, combines an open platform JDF core with the Drupal Open Source Content Management System, allowing print customers to quickly configure and manage their portals.
“HP views cloud-based printing as a strategic and large market opportunity, especially as the print service market trends towards shorter runs and more personalization, which calls for robust Web-to-print solutions that increase profits and reduce turnaround times,” says Luis Casado, Business Director of HP Print Production Solutions. “The HIflex technology is a natural extension of our industry-leading cloud printing strategy of delivering a seamless, secure and context-aware cloud experience. This acquisition will help us create new solutions that provide enterprise and SMB customers with a simple on-ramp to cloud services, including document capture, authentication, storage and search, and most relevant to Hiflex technology, the print and publish component.”