Web-to-print, electronic-commerce, mobile, and social applications are becoming part of normal business operations. Within 18 months, print jobs fulfilled by web-based ordering systems will nearly double over the number from 2009, according to InfoTrends research statistics. Indeed, “e-commerce is...
To access the remainder of this piece of premium content, you must be registered with MyPrintResource. Already have an account? Login
Register in seconds by connecting with your preferred Social Network.
Complete the registration form.
Web-to-print, electronic-commerce, mobile, and social applications are becoming part of normal business operations. Within 18 months, print jobs fulfilled by web-based ordering systems will nearly double over the number from 2009, according to InfoTrends research statistics. Indeed, “e-commerce is becoming the backbone of many [print] service providers today,” commented Idan Youval, business portal product manager for XMPie.
To ensure success, what do you need to know about storefronts, cross-media capabilities, workflow, and business system integration? Agility is the most critical attribute in a business world of IT automation and integration, contends Eric Wold, VP at Datatech SmartSoft, which three years ago acquired end-to-end print workflow system PressWise. The right software can empower printers to eliminate what he calls “value-less touches” in their workflows and withstand the inevitable market quakes down the road.
PressWise, for example, offers an all-in-one, browser-based workflow system that handles all shop orders, from point of entry to shipping and fulfillment. It is designed to replace the need for printers to purchase separate web-to-print, production workflow management, print MIS, and mail-preparation software, Wold said. He told MyPrintResource that redirecting labor from non-value-added processes to value-added processes is the printing industry’s greatest challenge.
“Stop throwing bodies and payroll dollars at mundane tasks like order processing, writing quotes and job dockets, and endless production meetings,” Wold advises print firms. “Clients don’t pay for these activities, so the less time you spend on them, the better off you will be.” He added that many print firm owners still need to shift away from their software-as-a-necessary-evil mentalities. Instead, mastering new software tools should be viewed as an opportunity to keep up with and even stay ahead of the proverbial pack.
This past May at the quadrennial drupa print fair, more than 145 vendors showed their product improvements and innovations within the “Workflow Systems” category, which included prepress/premedia, press, workflow, and data-handling software. Many of these firms also will exhibit this fall at Graph Expo in Chicago (Oct. 7-10).
So-called hybrid workflows are fitting together all the print pieces. The Kodak Unified Workflow Solution, for instance, is designed to bring all systems together and integrate and unify available information. Screen has introduced Equios, a universal workflow that drives multi-device production. Shown at drupa, this web-to-delivery turnkey solution provides end-to-end automation “from the initial job quote all the way through the invoicing of the finished project,” the developer said. With a single interface, the workflow automatically drives streamlined production from web to print to the delivery of the finished item. Users don’t need to operate different device-dependent workflows, each with a different way of handling imposition and color management, to drive their variety of Screen CTP, toner, and inkjet devices: Communication with a variety of third-party finishing systems is automated via Equios JDF.
Mobile platform compatibility is the “biggest shift,” according to Steve Ciesemier, who heads up the sales team at web-to-print storefront provider Aleyant Systems. Some have called rapid mobile adoption the tablet or iPad effect. “Your web-to-print needs to be there,” he said. This spring, Aleyant rolled out its open-platform, mobile-friendly eDocBuilder variable-data product that runs in HTML5 as opposed to Adobe Flash or a proprietary system. “We’ve been XML from Day One,” Ciesemier noted. An Interactive Designer feature allows for print personalization in the Cloud. “Users can reposition text and graphics and even change fonts and colors,” he pointed out.