Customized Web Portals: New Path to Print Profitability
Print buyers juggle an increasing amount of responsibilities, which has led them to seek out print service providers who offer easy options for ordering and managing their marketing and communication assets. Additionally, because organizations often use multiple print and digital media channels to support their operations, they are drawn toward working with print providers that offer custom online ordering portals that support a diverse array of communications.
According to a NAPCO Research survey, printing companies that offer custom web portals, also known as web-to-print solutions, are reaping many benefits. For example, customized web portals can increase customer retention because they make it easier for clients to order and manage items, while making a printing company part of a customer’s marketing and communication ecosystem.
The survey defined a web portal as: a customized/branded online portal configured to the specific needs of each client. These web portals feature web-to-print and other marketing asset management capabilities. Some solutions come with production, inventory, and fulfillment backend capabilities to streamline operations. These systems enable commercial printers’ customers to manage their products, branding, and users, while making it easy to place orders.
Research Identifies Trends in Web Portals
A key research goal was uncovering market trends and customer demands that are fueling development and use of web portals. NAPCO Research conducted a survey of commercial printers to capture their experiences and successes with offering web portals. The survey revealed that print providers are offering customers access to web portals that support all types of client marketing and communication assets, whether they are produced in-house or outsourced. These portals are branded to customers and specifically configured to meet their needs in offering staff access to a wide variety of products from print to promotional items to apparel.
Survey respondents reported that over half their customers ordered the following items through a web portal: marketing collateral (86%), direct mail (71%), promotional products (65%), signage (61%), forms/manuals (57%), and digital marketing (53%). In addition, 46% of respondents reported customers order digital assets via web portals, while 32% order apparel items.
A Variety of Benefits
Survey results pointed to many benefits in offering customized web portals, such as improving operational efficiency, increasing sales, pursuing larger clients, moving into new customer markets, and enhancing services. When specifically asked about the benefits gained from offering customized web portals, survey respondents reported the following:
- Strengthened our customer relationships 94%
- Increased sales from current clients 93%
- Shortened the customer buying process 92%
- Reduced labor costs 90%
- Increased print order volume 88%
- Enabled pursuing and winning larger clients 86%
- Aided in expanding services (promotional products, signage, etc.) 85%
- Insulated/protected from customer vendor consolidations 84%
Key Customer Targets for Web Portals
The survey asked respondents that offer customized web portals a series of questions on customer characteristics to identify those organizations that can benefit the most from ordering and managing communication assets through these systems. Respondents report their web portal customers have:
- Multiple key decision-makers 51%
- Locations across geographies 41%
- Distributed sales teams 40%
In addition, the survey asked respondents to define the traits of organizations that typically need and use web portals. Respondents report company size was a key consideration with large and mid-size organizations defined as key customers. In addition, one-third of respondents identified marketing agencies, international organizations, and franchise organizations as company types that can benefit from customized web portals.
Top Challenges in Offering Portals
While respondents report offering portals provides many benefits, they also indicate there are challenges to address. Survey respondents report that the top challenges in offering customer web portals include the level of effort and cost to replace or upgrade current systems, platforms can’t be accessed via mobile devices, and meeting clients’ needs for controlling/managing branding, budgets, and inventory.
Download the Report
Customized web portals can be an essential service offering for print providers that results in winning bigger customers, growing sales, and improving productivity. Download the full report to learn more about the opportunities and challenges in offering customized web portals and the value they deliver.
Lisa Cross is the principal analyst of NAPCO Research (a unit of NAPCO Media) where she conducts market research and analysis on emerging trends and changing dynamics in the commercial, in-plant and packaging industries, and the market forces that are driving those changes. With decades of experience covering the graphic arts and marketing industries, Cross has authored thousands of articles on a variety of topics, including technology trends, business strategy, sales, marketing and legislation.