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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Using to Full Advantage
In spite of the proliferation of Web-to-print use, many graphic communication firms are not using the software to its full advantage.
“If you’re going to spend the money to execute a Web-to-print program, then dedicate resources solely for the purpose of supporting that product,” says Perry. “You can’t just go out and buy a Web-to-print platform and expect the prepress department to manage it. For a successful program, you have to make the investment in personnel and time, to make it work for your company and to generate revenue.”
Many businesses put up a website and that’s the extent of their Web-to-print strategy, reports Olin. In fact, one 2010 market trend analysis (SGIA) found that while 80 percent reported they use their company site to “inform” clients and prospects, only 15 percent use their website to facilitate business and to take online orders.
“We’ve found that even those who use their website to facilitate business many times do it as a standalone process,” says Olin. “They use an online form or email to collect information from their client that is then keyed into their in-house system. Even businesses that have adopted third-party Web-to-print solutions many times find themselves manually manipulating the data to move it from the Web-to-print solution into their workflow.”
To be fully effective—including acting as a profit generator—the Web-to-print software needs to integrate into the print shop’s workflow and MIS to reduce the amount of touches the company is taking in for their customers. As dollar amounts of print orders shrink, this becomes even more critical. It explains why a key focus for EFI’s applications is building seamless workflows for digital print.
“If the information flows directly into your estimating system and the specification is complete and accurate, your quotes will be accurate and your response time will be lightning fast,” says Olin. “As a result, you’ll win more jobs and you’ll make more money on the jobs you win. At the same time, if you’ve collected the right information online and move that information—without manual touches—into planning and production, your efficiencies will be higher and you’ll eliminate many instances of chargeable and non-chargeable rework.”
Customers experiencing the most success with their Web-to-print technology use it as part of the package that they sell to their clients. “Our customers are finding creative ways of positioning themselves for their end clients, using Web-to-print as an enabler,” Olin says. “They aren’t just selling print, but selling a solution, and Web-to-print is an integral part of what they can offer.”
A Total Management Solution
Hybrid Software has also taken a holistic approach. Its suite of Order Lifecycle Management products, including FrontDesk, its Web-to-print software, addresses the entire production workflow, from online ordering to tracking to delivery, and interfaces with leading MIS, databases, and production systems. “The minute a customer has a need for something until that need is met and fulfilled, that’s OLM, from needing a design, to approving a proof, to having the job printed and fulfilled,” says Michael Rottenborn, president and CEO, Hybrid Software.
FrontDesk OLM, launched at Graph Expo 2011, is “one step removed from traditional Web-to-print,” says Rottenborn. “It’s like a digital front desk; it’s the first thing your customers will see when they come to your website.”
Hybrid Software takes the view that printers require more than one Web-to-print site, with different applications requiring different sites. “Some are good for mail merge, some for business cards—there is a huge variety of what buyers orders from printers,” says Rottenborn. “You can’t expect one Web-to-print platform to supply everything for the entire graphic communications industry.”