Web-to-print: Avoiding Typical Missteps
Take the time to be clear about what you want to do and what you aren't trying to accomplish. Business cards, for example, are typically a product everyone orders, and the online solution solves the problems of personalization and proofing the content. It is an online service for practically everyone in your company or institution, and it makes their lives easier because they can quickly personalize their content and be given confidence that the finished product will have the right information.
On the other hand, consider complex bound documents for a moment. They are commonly ordered by training or educational organizations to serve as the learning or reference material for specific groups of people attending their classes. This is a very different need, and an online offering of value here requires specific functionality to best solve their problem. Customers' lives are being made easier because the solution may allow them to upload many files, assemble them, insert tabs, select paper stocks and many other options. The problem being solved is this: easier assembly, proofing and ordering of content and specifications by a learning or teaching department.
Think you can just get a solution that does everything? Probably not. Today's solutions are flexible and powerful but none are likely to solve all of the challenges your different customers want you to solve. Be very diligent in prioritizing what you want to solve online.
You have many groups of customers that have different problems. Make sure your entire business strategy is focused on prioritizing and measuring your success with each of them, and your technology decisions will become much easier.
Viewing the launch of your online storefront as a single big event.
One of the great lessons of the last 10 years in the Internet world is that everything is a guess or hypothesis until real customer use provides insights. You need a well-defined starting goal that gives your staff an opportunity to comfortably get their hands around the solution as not only a new service channel, but also an online customer service laboratory that will always be changing to better meet the needs of different customer groups.
Related story: Web Storefronts A Growing Necessity