When it comes to online printing space, most printers fall into one of three categories. You either 1) are contemplating whether you should enter the online print market; 2) have already entered the online print market and may or may not be satisfied with the results; or 3) refuse to allow customers to order through your website because you don’t want to sell cheap printing.
So how do you decide if offering printing online is right for you without feeling like you are giving away your work? Let’s start by gaining a deeper understanding and setting realistic expectations.
Before we identify a realistic starting point for your business, let’s review the different categories for online printing.
1. Place an Order: A client completes an order form, attaches a file, and sends the job. No payment is made; the only transaction is the order, which you then manually enter into your MIS system. Your graphic designer creates the artwork, a proof is submitted to the client for approval, etc.
2. Storefront with Username & Password: Clients log in with a username and password to view a catalog of static items they order on a regular basis. Your customer places an order, you produce the job, and deliver to the client’s destination. The order may or may not integrate into your MIS system. A Web-to-print storefront allows variable information to be entered by your client. They can proof their changes, submit the order, and you send a print-ready file directly to your output device.
3. Public Storefront: You provide a catalog of templates ranging from business cards to door hangers. The customer selects the layout, enters their info, uploads images and logos, changes fonts, etc. The file is submitted to you ready for output, typically on a digital printer.
The public storefront is where many individuals freeze. These can be time consuming to set up, printers feel they must provide these products at a lower price point, and there is often a belief that a public storefront devalues the other services a printing company provides. Here’s the reality.
We know that most individuals who order printing are not trained to the point that they can effectively order most printed projects or integrated campaigns. That’s great news for you because, after all, it’s what you do. We also know that people are becoming comfortable with simple orders such as business cards, letterhead, and direct mail pieces.
If you can produce these items profitably, why not provide the technology through your website? This technology doesn’t have to be used by your customers alone.
For smaller projects, your CSR and staff can use the technology. Some companies use this inside their shops for walk-in traffic.
Tell the World
The biggest challenge is the “build it and they will come” mentality. Launching your system for online printing cannot succeed without a vehicle for getting the word out, so a marketing strategy will certainly help get things off the ground.
Here are three strategies that you may want to consider for utilizing an online catalog:
1. Products: Identify five products (e.g.: business cards, letterhead), create a landing page unique to each of these products, set up search engine optimization (SEO), create a marketing message on the home page of the site, and create a direct mail marketing piece to be sent to smaller businesses making them aware of their ability to order through your website.
2. Vertical Markets: Identify five vertical markets you would like to target. Create a landing page unique to each market, focus on SEO, and create a direct mail piece for each to drive people to the site.
3. Internal Kiosk: Use an online catalog with a WYSWYG interface internally. For smaller projects where it doesn’t makes sense to engage a graphic designer, have your CSR design online. If clients walk in, you can provide a kiosk and let them create their own piece.