Today’s Web to Print Requirements: Addressing Key Benefits and Challenges

Today’s Web to Print Requirements: Addressing Key Benefits and Challenges

The Following Interview Took Place on Printing Impressions Website with Nathan Safran – Director of Research @ NAPCO Media

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Mark Alderman– Regional Business Manager, UK & Ireland,

PDC – BIG: A Division of Brady Corporation

Brady’s mission:  To identify and protect premises, products and people.

Brand overview:

  • PDC-BIG is part of Brady Corporation.
  • Founded 1914 >100 Years Old
  • A global organization with $1.2 Billion dollar turnover
  • 5 thousand employees globally
  • Operations in 26 countries
  • Distribution in +100 Countries.
  • Brady Corporation acquired BIG in 2003. (B.I.G stood for Badge International Group)
  • Acquired PDC to form PDC BIG in 2013.
PDC-BIG’s Web-to-Print Journey

PDC-BIG started its W2P journey in 1997 as one of the first businesses (if not the first business) in the UK to put business card ordering online. At that point it was a fairly rudimentary, form fill-in exercise, which took data from the web and manually applied it to product. In 2000, BIG invested in the first SaaS solution, Print Channel, which at the time was an EFI product.  The solutions was great for business cards but rather inhibitive for name badges – their core market.

The SaaS solution at the time, involved paying a click charge, which was inhibitive, because the click charge was more expensive than the name badge and the total cost of the business cards.  BIG instead, decided to complement their SaaS solution with their own PHP platform – Badge Easy, a product developed with an in-house developer to make it simple for customers to order badges online from thousands of different locations.

In 2010, PDC-BIG decided to develop and build their own system entirely due to inherent limitations and expenses associated with their SaaS solution.  They bought a solution called X-Raille as a hosted system to be developed alongside the solution provider – ROI. This proved challenging due to the rate at which information came in that prompted a change and an update to the technology.  The solution provider ROI, was less and less willing to add functionality for BIG.  This factor was essential to PDC-BIG’s business.  They eventually switched course and engaged Racad Tech through the use of the ePOWER W2P CLOUD.

The following statements are excerpts from the NAPCO Interview with Mark Alderman:

On Researching the Right W2P Solution Provider

“We sought to be unique and these products were to differentiate us in our marketplace. Having a partner that doesn’t support you in development alongside is a real killer for our business, so we decided to move away. It took us a while because we had to prepare for that … the level of diligence to assess the marketplace, make sure you make smart decisions and choose the right provider is absolutely of paramount importance. We did our due-diligence, we met the guys at RacadTech and we decided that we would move over to E-Power.”

On Evolving Their Business and their W2P System in Tandem with their W2P Provider

“… we’ve continued that same process, the difference is that we haven’t moved away from the product, we’ve actually made it more important and more integrated than ever in our backend workflow solutions … We’re now migrating all our legacy systems into the same platform (the ePOWER W2P CLOUD) because we have that level of confidence, capability and ability to diversify us when we need to.”

“I’m a firm believer that you learn from your mistakes, and where we continue to look at in the future is testament to making sure that once you commit to something and you see the value in it, as the study shows, it’s certainly pertinent to make sure that you continue to develop alongside your customers’ needs as well and you need a partner to support that.”

On High Volume Variable Data

We have 30 years experience in name badges, with 20 years experience in the web2print solutions.  We are a product business where almost everything we produce has somebody’s name on it at the minimum.  So whether it’s a nametag or a business card or whatever product we’re touching, … the minimum is that it has somebody’s name on it. I know lots of people now deal with variable data but we’re dealing with hundreds of thousands of those things on a daily basis and this is all under pin & bar web2print technology.”

On Creating Custom Application for PDC-BIG on the ePOWER W2P CLOUD

The W2P CLOUD offering from Racad allowed PDC BIG to “turn technology on its head”… Typical W2P Solutions involve the creation of a template which somebody is going to submit one order for a million letterheads. PDC-BIG’s business is the complete opposite of that.  They require the W2P system to generate a million PDFs of one unique product, then consolidate those into a fairly efficient production cycle, and then distribute out to thousands of delivery addresses.

On PDC-BIG’s Production Volume

“To give you an essence of what ePOWER supports us with on a monthly basis, we would accept 79,000 order lines, and for us an order line is a delivery address, (I’m hoping this gives you an idea of the scale that these systems are capable of managing). 96.8% of all our orders, irrespective of what product it is, comes from our online ordering solution. We ship out more than 3,600 delivery locations a day, that’s 4,000 PDFs generated, 18,000 variables within those PDFs, and that’s with 0 human intervention until it reaches the production device.”

On the Benefits of the General Benefits of the ePOWER W2P CLOUD Solution

“Where there would be potential concern, …are these systems suitable?  Are they capable? I think that is a resounding yes.  If your business is simple, there are solution that help manage that. Nametags seem on the outset very straight forward but the infrastructure of the system needs to be very flexible and designed very differently. You need to qualify the provider that supports that and enhances that experience both for you as an organization but also for your customers as well.”

On ePOWER’s Custom Output Capabilities

“We have a multitude of production devices/ presses which work from PDFs but the format of their output, how you need to tailor that output, the colour profiling of those different solutions are also imperative in your consideration of how your system will work. My boss’ previous saying is “if you only have a hammer you better hope your only problems are nails”, so your solution is the same – you need it to be flexible, open, and agile in the way that you do things as well.”

On the ePOWER W2P CLOUD Ability to Manage ALL of PDC-BIG’s Requirements

“It services a broad range of products. I don’t like the term catalogue, but it’s certainly an online solution and a one-stop entity for lots of our customers. It’s a platform to develop your offer to a customer. It makes it easier to add new product, it makes it far more simplistic to make it visible to an existing customer base, and it also gives you control over what you have available and what you do not have available.

Contrasting ePOWER’s W2P CLOUD Pricing Matrix with General Solutions Like Magento

“When you have a direct web portal, using a web shop like Magento, your pricing is far more difficult to siphon off and have dedicated to specific customers. You end up having a multitude of discount codes or some other solution that is appropriate.  All this is pretty much tailored per customer, and we have the ability to develop those specifically in mind, in partnership with the guys (at Racad Tech for ePOWER).

On PDC-BIG’s Efficiency using ePOWER’s W2P CLOUD

“Having a solution to facilitate the production and the order acceptance of a product which is viewed as highly commoditized, but low value in terms of perceived value, we need to take that and be able to take that and produce it really effectively, really quickly, and with minimum administration involved.”

ON ePOWER’s Capabilities to Manage HIGH VOLUME for Global Brands – GLOBALLY

“On a global level … many businesses use us.  (Our Click2Order portal powered by ePOWER’s W2P CLOUD) is one of the portals that we offer them.  It’s what gives us the confidence to be able to take their orders, manufacture really small low cost items, and distribute them back out to thousands of delivery locations across the UK and Europe. These are massive brands in the UK and across Europe.  If our solution can support them, I’m sure they can support many others across the globe as well. As I say it’s super flexible, at the moment we can take orders at any point during today for over half a million users.”

On Why PDC-BIG Chose the ePOWER W2P CLOUD by Racad Tech

We had more than 650 reasons to choose Racad Tech!  When we actually went through the 4 or 5 legacy solutions we were maintaining in the past, we had a fairly laborious process but based on all of the solutions, customized or otherwise, we provided to our customers to date.  It was incredibly important that we catered to all of those (requirements) when we migrated to a new system. We came up with a list of over 650 pieces of functionality.  Some were already inherent in the system … but we really needed a company that would be able to support us in developing their system further.  It had 90% of everything we need, and then there were certain fundamental things that we’d already developed that we needed to be encompassed within the solution that we chose. Racad were the guys that were able to supply 650 and some, and we’ve benefited from that continuously since then.”

On the Differentiation PDC-BIG Requires for their MarketPlace

This marketplace is tough.  You have to be able to differentiate yourself from your competition. To do that you need to be agile, you need to be able to take advantage of marketplace changes, you need to be able to see an opportunity and then actually deliver upon it.  These solutions are key for all of those. Personalization of cups with heaps of variable data, these are critical for our customers. Being able to keep our costs low/ lean in terms of how we manufacture – it’s a fundamental part of everything that we do in our manufacturing site in the UK – to make sure that we actually produce this product profitably.

On Brand Management

“(Our customers) have trust in these systems to make sure that once it’s actually in the system, anybody can log into our system … and at any point any of those employees can order to their branch location and at the same time the marketing director will be 100% confident that we’re going produce the exact same product, time and time again, to their brand guidelines, and deliver it out to any one of their branches. In summary, it provides control for us, it gives us a great level of control over our productivity and our processes, and for our customer obviously it’s critical.

On the benefit of Improving PDC-BIG’s Employees Skills

“For us in our business, I’ve been delighted to see lots of our team actually benefit from the fact that they can be involved in new things.  They can learn new skills.  It’s also important for our employees to have that opportunity to help build a business, but also develop it moving forward.”