Web-to-Print Portals Lead to Profits, Efficiencies

Shown are sample pages of the user interface for EFI's Digital StoreFront.

The technological laggards of society seem to be catching up and latching on to online ordering. Even for those who didn’t own a personal computer until the first term of the Obama Administration, e-commerce is no longer a threatening proposition.

While there are still B2C users who will freak out at the inability to check out within three clicks, and those who feel uneasy when confronted by a nonlinear process, online commerce has never been more widely embraced. But, as the comfort level has raised, so have the user’s expectation levels.

In the B2B space, where actions are much less dictated by emotions, purveyors of Web-to-print (W2P) ordering systems nonetheless must contend with perception when it comes to ease of use, notes Jim Rosenthal, vice president for Paradigm Digital Color Graphics in Southampton, PA.

Clients still want to be able to move orders off their desks within three to five clicks. By the same token, printers also want that level of simplicity, particularly when it comes to integration.

“If you have to swivel your chair between one computer and another to process orders, you haven’t gained anything there,” Rosenthal notes.

Ah, but W2P systems have come a long way, baby. While it burst on the scene as a source for printers to provide customers with sites for ordering business cards, stationery, post cards and the like—easily and on-demand without the need for clients to warehouse product—the needs have become more sophisticated. Inventory management and document production have become hot button areas for Paradigm Digital Color Graphics. On the latter count, clients can build a personalized document, proof it, select binding and paper types, then place their order.

“From an automation and integration standpoint, we’re getting an order in the back end,” Rosenthal says. “At the same time, we’re also pushing a print-ready document to a device in a very hands-off approach. That capability wasn’t there six or seven years ago.”

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