Web-to-Print: Easy Does It for Customers
Mimeo.com’s template for poster ordering and file download interface.
Interface for ordering custom invitations and envelopes from Envelopes.com.
For the inevitable customer stumble, Mimeo.com offers live chats and an 800-number to ease the online shopping process.
“(Co-founder) David Uyttendaele bought a DocuTech and connected a Website to it,” Gehman observes of Mimeo’s first W2P solution. “There was no other way to do it back then, as there were no off-the-shelf solutions. We’re constantly making improvements; we do releases every couple of weeks that add functionality.”
Gehman is an ardent supporter of having a great user interface. Though he says it may seem obvious, many Websites he’s seen aren’t as user-friendly as they could be—an overly-busy layout, a nonlinear shopping process and needless stumbling blocks toward a quality shopping experience. Considering that retailers such as Amazon and eBay have made great strides in taking online ordering to the next level, Gehman believes online shoppers won’t have the patience to tolerate perplexing Web interfaces.
“Even most off-the-shelf solutions can be made to look like a mainstream shopping site,” he says. “It’s really about the implementation of it. Companies don’t dedicate enough brain power, enough cycles, to looking at examples of non-printing-related selling on the Web. At Mimeo.com, we’re constantly looking for ways to make it easier.”
That said, a user interface will never be flawless to all, and for those shoppers who get tripped up along the way, Mimeo offers both an 800 number and live chat functions to help save a potential sale. The site also includes instructional videos to aid less-than-savvy online shoppers.
Mimeo keeps an open line of communication with clients and listens to suggestions from buyers as to ways the shopping experience can be improved. “If we can satisfy the need for things that customers ask for in a way that doesn’t require us changing something technically, it’s a much better outcome for us—and them,” Gehman says. “That takes some creativity. I would put that under the category of when your customer asks for something, just don’t throw technology at it.”