Add Value with Variable Data

Christopher Little
Integrate your VDP solution into a Web-to-print storefront to better automate your workflow.

We have seen a growing interest amongst in-plants to invest in variable data printing (VDP) solutions, to automate the process of producing personalized printed products. Utilizing a VDP solution allows in-plants to eliminate the amount of time it would take to manually input unique customer data. Instead, a database of variable content can be built, which then interacts with the digital front end of a print device to add customer-focused content to the static areas of a print document.

According to an InfoTrends’ research study (Production Print Services in North America: an Evolution in Progress, 2011), 70.6 percent of in-plants currently own or subscribe to a variable data design/composition solution. The solutions, however, are not being used to their fullest potential; they are currently being used mostly to add customer names and address information to mailings and statements.

An area of improvement in-plants should consider is to integrate the VDP solution into a Web-based, automated workflow. Most VDP solutions in the market can be easily connected with a Web-to-print storefront, which allows in-plant customers to upload databases or input custom text and images themselves, while also providing online proofing and order tracking capabilities. This significantly reduces costly errors and provides opportunities for the in-plant production manager to fully automate the workflow.

In-plants that have not invested in VDP should consider the value-added service opportunities that it has to offer. Integrating variable data services within existing production operations allows in-plants to offer faster turnaround times and reduce the costs associated with outsourcing jobs that require personalization. Having a VDP solution will allow them to stay relevant and serve the printing needs of multiple departments within their organization.

InfoTrends Recommendations

  • In-plants should consider VDP solutions that integrate well with Web-to-print, such as Pageflex, Rochester Software Associates WebCRD, or XMPie, to facilitate easy ordering for customers.
  • Understanding the level of customer demand is important for acquiring sufficient funding and support. In turn, creating a solid plan for getting customers to buy in will ensure the investment is well received.
  • In-plants should do their homework and research solutions thoroughly to allow for accurate expectations for implementation, integration, costs, and vendor assistance. Check out the InfoTrends Ultimate Guide for tools to evaluate variable data and Web-to-print solutions.

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