Web-to-print: Avoiding Typical Missteps

Heath Cajandig
As your in-plant prepares to implement a Web-to-print solution, beware of these three common mistakes that many printers make.

Over the last 15 years, we have seen Web-to-print technologies become increasingly common. Thousands of print providers have stepped up to implement solutions to serve their customers, some with great success and others with not as much.

From the creation of the bleeding edge front runners to today’s market where a myriad of specialized commerce solutions exist, I’m fortunate enough to have been heavily involved in this niche of the industry. For more than a decade I’ve been working with both vendors and printers on a daily basis as they go to market with new solutions in this space. Along the way, I’ve learned some things that I believe can make a real difference for you and your organization when it comes to offering online self-serve for your customer base.

I was once asked what the success rate was for my product(s) while I was a product manager working for a large, well-known print software company. My guess was that around 40 percent of the Web-to-print storefronts were still being used after 18 months…meaning that more than half of them ended up being shelfware. It was a very sobering realization.

Why is this the case? For the first half of my career, I was convinced that the technology was the problem, and while it has improved, I now understand that the biggest keys to success are all about how you identify the right challenges to solve and then deliver a well-planned solution to your customers.

Common Mistakes

Here are three of the most common mistakes that in-plant printers make when trying to implement a new Web-to-print solution.

Failing to understand which customers and problems your Web-to-print solution is for.

The most important thing you need to know about your services are the groups and types of customers that you serve within your organization. This means that you know who they are, what problems they need solved and why. You should have an answer to all of those questions for your most important customers off the top of your head, and if you don’t, your customer service team does. Any technology or service you offer needs to be mapped to those who will be using it, and in this case you are implementing a solution for your customers to use.

Related story: Web Storefronts A Growing Necessity

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