Web-to-Print: A Path to Buyer SatisfactionJuly 2013 By Stephanie Pieruccini and Arianna Valentini
In today's competitive marketplace, customer service and satisfaction go farther than ever before. Maintaining a high level of customer service can be a challenge for print service providers (PSPs) that are experiencing the effects of the changing industry. Nevertheless, there are opportunities for PSPs to leverage technology that can help automate customer ordering and interactions. That technology is Web-to-print.
Since its early adoption beginning in the 1990s, Web-to-print has grown to become an integral part of the printing business for service providers and the customers ordering print and media. The implementation of these systems has broadened the customer reach and awareness for the service providers who have adopted this technology, while allowing customers the access to the self-service information they desire. As a result, Web-to-print storefronts have become an important part of how the printing business maintains a customer relationship.
In March of 2013, InfoTrends, in partnership with North American Publishing Co. (NAPCO), publisher of Printing Impressions, surveyed 254 print service providers, including 96 print-for-pay providers, to find out how print service providers are developing, implementing and growing Web-based business models. The results from this survey provide practical insights for service providers as to how Web-to-print technology is being implemented in production print environments and the key opportunities it provides.
There are many definitions for what Web-to-print entails. Though often used interchangeably with print e-commerce, Info-Trends defines the concept of Web-to-print as connecting print buyers with print sellers through a Web-based interface where they can order print products. It also describes a category of software that enables this process. There are many levels of Web-to-print adoption, such as allowing one-off or ad-hoc file submission for non-recurring jobs, catalog ordering for static print, or template-based ordering to enable personalized or variable print.
Today's print buyers are increasingly technology savvy. Like many consumers, they are adopting smartphones and ordering products online. Which begs the question, why would they not want to order print online? For some, it is the comfort of doing things as they were always done. For others, it is a lack of knowledge that this service may be available and the convenience it brings.
As a customer, a Web-to-print storefront allows for more purchasing of different products and services in once place. For brand-conscience businesses, a storefront enables brand management in the form of predesigned and approved templates that follow corporate branding guidelines. Web-to-print storefronts also introduce the opportunity for creating approval workflows that help optimize internal business processes when ordering certain products that require a manager's approval before it's processed. Above all, a storefront provides customers with access to their order history, job status and billing details—freeing up the time of customer service representatives to do other tasks and helping the print service provider gain access to payments at a faster rate. Printing and customer satisfaction are based on consistency; the more a customer has, the better their overall experience.