PERSONAL bestsSeptember 2006
As digital printing technology has matured—becoming more reliable, easier to use and available at a range of price points—the advancements seem to have made it more practical for end users to bring the capability in-house. Lines of distinction continue to blur between graphic arts, transactional and corporate printing solutions.
When it comes to implementing variable data and/or a Web-to-print solution to support a dispersed user base, though, the reverse can actually happen. Even a corporation with an extensive in-plant operation may look to an outside supplier for the required expertise. Digital can open doors that are locked to offset services.
Roadway Express, a $3 billion transportation company, considered all the possibilities when it decided the time had come to revamp the entire process it used for sales collateral management and fulfillment. All of its materials were being conventionally printed and warehoused, with some limited capability for online ordering and inventory management.
Management wanted to create an easy to use Web-to-print solution that would allow the company’s sales representatives (1,000+ people) to order, track and manage their own collateral.
In keeping with its overall philosophy of treating each customer as if that person is its only customer, the company wanted its sales representatives to be able to customize the literature. The goal in adding customization went beyond the idea of including a few fields that would increase response rates, reports Mike Lyman, Roadway’s manager of online communications.
Getting Away from Offset
At the time, the transportation company was having all of its printing done by service providers on offset presses. Roadway wanted to revamp the process for printing and storing sales and marketing materials to reduce and keep better track of its production costs. Roadway also wanted to increase the effectiveness of its direct mail efforts by personalizing sales collateral on a prospect level and reducing the time required to print and receive the materials.
After completing an internal ROI study of potential solutions, the company issued a request for proposals. It reviewed the RFPs it received over a four-month period before selecting HKM Direct Market Communications in Cleveland. The transportation company reportedly chose HKM because it was clear that a canned solution would not fill the bill and HKM was ready, willing and able to develop a custom solution.
Dubbed the “Literature Center,” the Web-based solution HKM developed enables Roadway’s entire team of sales reps to customize and order a variety of sales literature and maps of shipping routes. It also includes tools for corporate staff to monitor and track orders along with the inventory of printed materials.