Evolution of Web to Print

Profit margins in print are shrinking. Print providers continue to commoditize the industry with cheaper and less reasonable prices. Printers are scouring the market to find more cost effective resources that will improve their profit margins. Any opportunity to procure better rates for paper, cheaper raw material and more effective and cost efficient machines are some of the common ways to cut down on expenses to increase profits.

As technologies improve with time, so have the prices associated with making an investment in web to print also improved. Let’s begin under the premise and understanding that having a web to print service offering is somewhat essential if you are to stabilize and grow your business. If you feel like you have come in to the online scene too late, then don’t sweat it. The good news is that pricing is drastically better than it once was, and so are the technologies available.

This article is one of a series of articles being published by the SGIA Journal that will be exploring the “web to print” space and defining some of the prevalent and newer technologies available that will help both the uninitiated and even the veteran printer, become aware of the public resources that are available that can equip any print provider with essential tools and technologies that are accessible, affordable and reliable.

In our first web to print related article we discussed the basic forms in which front-end web to print is used and presented today. As a basic review, online printing initiatives take on 3 forms:

  1. Upload technology to submit original designs for print. (File upload, PDF Drivers, Online quotes).
  2. Template catalogs with modifiable variables – usually used in B2B scenarios as corporate portals for frequently ordered cataloged items.
  3. Online Design for browser based designs.

Certainly there are other forms, but the above sums up the aspects of web to print as used by the vast majority.

All of the above probably originated as independent online initiatives. If you translate the above into well known brands, then probably the most well known brands pre-dominantly dwell within one of the above models. 4Over , is predominantly a producer of original files uploaded for production while Vistaprint dominates the retail print market by providing design online printing and marketing tools for individuals and small / medium sized businesses. Traditional brick and mortar brands probably still dominate the corporate world of printing and their pre-dominant use of web to print technologies sits within the B2B/corporate model.

The technologies above, once unique, have been replicated by web to print technology providers to equip the rest of the industry with the tools necessary to stay competitive. While the first players in the online printing industry had to invest substantial amounts of money (hundreds of thousands of dollars) to be the first to market with online technology to win online orders, the new age of web to print adopters need not invest more than a few hundred dollars to be able to compete in the online space. This should come as no surprise as smart phones currently have more computational power than giant mainframe computers used over half a century ago. It is the nature of technology to evolve over time in size, efficiency and affordability.

If you are doing your own research, then finding the right web to print solution for your business might be a rather large task with the amount of web to print solution providers that seem to be springing up. But the principles are simple.

 

Related Articles:

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Open Source vs. Proprietary Web to Print

Open Source Web to Print Expenses

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