Hamilton--Are We Ready for E-Commerce?
The same is true of ink, plates, film, chemistry and other consumables, though to a lesser extent. Although the e-commerce firms are fully aware of this, the size of this market is dwarfed by print buying and, economics being what they are, they are after the big prize.
From a printing buyer's point of view, the idea of getting a quote for 10,000 brochures, which require four-over-four with spot coating plus folding and cutting, without leaving your desk sounds pretty good. And it should have more than a few printing salespeople thinking about the value they add to the print procurement process. If you add in the ability to just drop the file into a hot folder and wait for the delivery trucks, it sounds even more compelling.
Yet, successful execution is going to require a little more than installing a customized Web interface on your client's desktop. Not only is the relationship between most printing companies and their clients based on a "what have you done for me lately" basis, but the cutthroat competition in our industry makes me wonder how many printing buyers will want to tie themselves to a single vendor. Will we have an
"E-bay" for printing and prepress?
No Sure Java Cure
Another critical factor that no amount of Java can cure—at least on the procurement front—is the current status of digital workflows. Despite the fact that desktop publishing has been in widespread use by the vast majority of companies involved with professional publishing—magazine and book publishers, ad agencies, designers, packaging firms, catalogers, etc.—for nearly a decade, we are still at a point where 80 percent of the files submitted by clients cannot be printed without a fair amount of work.
In fact, according to Collabria's Robert Hu, the cost of prepress as a percentage of the total job has risen with the advent of DTP! While some of that is attributable to the fact that shorter runs means the ratio of prepress to press time increases, this fact does not bode well for those that wish to apply such an economic model to much of the high-quality commercial printing that is generated.