Web-to-Print : Hard Lessons Learned
"It's taken us two to three years to figure that all out, and we're finally in a spot where we have a clear path forward," Novak says. "We've defined our development platform, and now we know how to talk to the customer. We're finally starting to get some traction. People understand what we're talking about and they're very interested."
Another Midwestern printer, St. Paul, MN-based Western Graphics has been offering W2P solutions since 2000. It uses Four51 technology which, along with Printable, may be the only surviving solutions from that year, says Tim Keran, Western Graphics CEO.
Western Graphics oversees about a dozen client sites. About half offer variable content, with the remainder used for literature procurement and support fulfillment, according to Keran. Products range from brochures and direct mail postcards to training materials, product manuals and some kit building. Clients primarily include manufacturers, retailers and franchisors. Western Graphics reaps an average of about 40 orders per day from these sites.
"Since we got into it so early, there really wasn't a strategy. We were just seeing if it would stick," he recalls. "We made all of the traditional mistakes those first couple of years. We built a couple of sites on the promise that (the customers) were going to use them; no setup costs. But, since they didn't have any money invested, they didn't have any reason to sell it (within their own organizations). A couple went to mothball right away."
Today, Western Graphics generally charges for the startup and building of the Website. A technology fee is also assessed, depending upon customer volume. Pricing is dependent on how much time and energy are expended on a given site; static content sites won't incur many charges, but the more robust ones with options for variable output will command more fees.