Although the topic is rarely discussed, the power of these applications is a well-known secret.

So what is it like to operate in this market space? This article will look at the use of Web-to-print by a number of printers that have been successful with this technology.

Ditto Document Solutions (DDS), a $6 million document management and digital print shop based in Pittsburgh, PA, started out as a legal copying business. It gradually evolved into corporate digital printing, outputting on the Xerox iGen3, then added Web-to-print. It is using a mix of different systems, including PrinterSite Exchange from EFI for static documents and its own home-grown solution for more complex, custom builds. It also works with third-party software developers, as necessary.

Ken Shriber, owner and principal of DDS, describes the company’s journey in Web-to-print as occurring in three stages: crawling, walking and running.

When the company first started out—the crawling stage—it focused on static information. Because of its background in legal documents, DDS served as a document management solutions provider as much as it did a copy center. This allowed it to set up a variety of branded Web portals, where customers could click, print and ship.

Currently, DDS maintains more than 100 different password- protected sites, each of which has anywhere from one to 30 users. Typical products include training manuals, booklets and business cards.

As it grew, DDS began allowing customers to develop personalized flyers, brochures and business cards, with the ability to customize by name, logo or images. This has been a popular application for real estate agencies, which can allow local offices and realtors to customize their own sales materials.

For more complex applications, the company works with software developers like Catalogixx. One customer uses the Web-to-print interface to create custom covers for pre-printed catalogs, as well as mini-catalogs ranging from eight to 16 pages. Fifteen thousand distributors have access to the catalog, creating monthly volumes in the hundreds of thousands. Another customer, College Prowler, uses the site to keep hundreds of its regularly updated “behind the scenes of college life” book titles current, then fulfills them as needed for retailers around the country.

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