WEB-TO-PRINT — JUST BROWSING
Allowing clients to order business cards online in the late 1990s provided the starting point for Consolidated Graphics. Its first foray into Web-to-print began at its Printing Inc. facility in Wichita, KS. An independent entity, CGXSolutions, was born from that branch, with its own office, a crew of programmers and developers. That entity, headquartered in Houston with a full staff of developers, customer service, technical support and sales staff, now services all CGX branches and their clients.
“As we built a team to support the products and services customers requested, they wanted other items to be available—inventory product, print-on-demand product and other types of marketing literature,” Farris says. “We can offer a salesperson the ability to customize a sales sheet, or allow a marketing department to offload some of the routine customization or typesetting that it was doing for various office locations. We can add in legal disclaimers, offers, price points and phone numbers and roll the same technology that the business card application afforded across all of the different collateral materials the company might want to have available.”
That progression of functionality dictated increased controls for access; instead of only a chosen few trafficking stationery orders, the solution would now support an entire company and its numerous branches. And it is here where Web-to-print’s complexity grew, Farris says, demanding a need for having approval processes in place, methods for managing costs, budgets, charge backs, shipping issues and the like.
In its eight years of operation, CGXSolutions has found that a template-driven solution is the most popular form of Web-to-print, though the company offers a print-on-demand technology for uploading files and repurposing them for print. Templates are attractive for managing corporate standards, Farris notes, and are the most user-friendly.
“When you have a more open template, you have to increase the controls, which requires a human eye,” Farris says. “If you go with a (formatted) template, you’re more likely to avoid that human interaction with the piece, and you can control and monitor what they do digitally. It’s a process with fewer approval steps.”