What is Web to Print?An Introduction of Web to Print Systems With the advent of the internet, printers have reached beyond their geographic confines to tap into a larger customer base. Innovative and aggressive companies such as Vistaprint and 4Over have proven that the internet can create success for the print industry. They have also allowed open access to print manufacturing prices, effectively demystifying the pricing secrets of print. Print has become a competitive space. Print prices have dropped drastically bringing their profit margins down with it. While VistaPrint and 4Over have proven that print can still be lucrative with bulk sales and advanced technology, the majority of the print vendors market are finding that they can barely keep above water. There is no need to lose hope. Common print vendors have some advantages that VistaPrint cannot compete with. The local printer can provide a face and a smile. A relationship goes a long way. Printers are professionals and often, consumers want to rely on people they trust. Providing a face responsible for print, a trusting smile (and a neck to choke) can tip the scales in favor of printing locally instead of at some giant monolithic production plant that may be more interested in their bottom line than the quality expected by a familiar face and/or reliant friend or acquantance. But don’t bank on having a relationship and a local store to be your only marketing factor to win print business. If you have not invested in your print business by creating a web storefront and e-commerce component, you may be giving the the edge back to your competition. Over the next few issues, we 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, navigate the sea of options when researching the available technologies and methods of employing them to work for you in generating new business and strengthening existing business. In this issue, we will be giving credit where credit is due by giving a bird’s eye overview of what web to print is, what types of solutions exist and its evolution historically. What is Web to Print? Web to print has come to replace the requirement to physically deliver original documents or disc containing digital files that need to be printed. Put simply, Web to Print is the term most commonly used within the printing industry to describe the process of sending print files from a print consumer to a print production location via the web (i.e. through the internet). Web to Print is actually a broad term, as it encompasses many methods and technologies to accomplish its objective of delivering files to a print location via the web. More advanced Web to Print systems contain an amalgamation of digital publishing capabilities coupled with e-commerce ordering features - with many variations based on the diverse requirements of print consumers and print suppliers.