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Entrepreneurs

Web to Print: Give it a Thought as an Entrepreneur

Is it the next big thing?
Web to Print: Give it a Thought as an Entrepreneur
Image credit: Shutterstock
CEO & Co-Founder of Design’N’Buy, Mobicommerce & OhoShop
6 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

You're reading Entrepreneur India, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

Web to print is more than ‘just’ getting an online shop and providing printing solutions to the customers. This emerged as a basic requirement for businesses to thrive in the age of digital technologies. The entire workflow of printing in the age of print 4.0 is to get over the conventional printing business model. In the digital printing realm, web to print is the only solution that can help in acquiring the prominent position.

Apart from providing new business models like - print on demand, variable data printing, standardizing printing workflows, web to print is flourishing in many aspects. Few things that were considered ‘Impossible’ are now being adopted by printing shops commercially.  The base of keep growing in conventional printing business is undoubtedly technology. But, is the web-to-print technology is just about putting a business online or just a one-time invention? No, web-to-print technology is one such boon that has a lot of scope for improvement and invention. In this blog, we will run down and trace to discuss the importance of new and emerging things in web-to-print -

The Mobile First Approach - With the mobile being omnipresent, mobile cannot take back seat for the web to print initiatives. The mobile first approach is required to make the complete online printing shopping experience seamless across all the screens. Apart from the seamless shopping experience, to keep pace with the personalization trends, it is important to provide complete design solution using mobile so that customers can upload pictures, edit designs and place orders using mobile, tablets and PC.

Print Marketplace - Better are taking over the good, faster are taking over the slow, bigger are taking over the small. This is all about business scenarios across the industries. In the age of startups disrupting big and established companies, companies collaborating on various fronts with different specialization are winning the game.  Print marketplaces are giving the edge to help customers provide whatever they require by networking different businesses with different capabilities. It helps businesses in getting customers without spending much on marketing and promotional front. Apart from the businesses getting regular customers, it helps customers to get one stop solution for all their requirements.

Fulfilment Partner Integration - The fulfilment partner can be used for various purposes. From company to company it varies in terms of warehousing of items, being a printing partner, packaging and shipping of printing orders to respective customers. This fulfilment partner, their services need to be seamlessly integrated with customer portal as well as back end admin portal. Web to print allows this seamless integration with APIs to let companies help in fulfilling customer requirements.

In absence of web to print technologies, it is very ambiguous to find out about various collaborations and how partners are fulfilling their responsibilities. One of the very successful web to print giants added more than 100 fulfilment partners for shipping their orders worldwide. Intelligent integration with the entire production and order workflow help them in shipping products worldwide for every customer, also adhering to different regulations and requirements for each geography. This is extremely important because no one can thrive alone in this world of partnerships.

This is just one example and there can be more partnerships in terms of promotional requirements, printing specific techniques and products etc. Even small printers can replicate the same model and scale it as per business requirements.

Omni Design Templates - A right web to a print solution needs to be ready to import design templates from all the channels. These Omni design printer ready templates required to be imported from the mobile, web and need to work completely in sync with all the devices. This trend will rise as the next big thing on the web to print because of mobile photo apps, selfie trends, personalization and gifting are on the rise.

3D printing - Web to print technology vendors have to create new modules for 3D printing requirements. The hardware for 3D printing has already reached maturity level, web to print has to speed up and match up the 3D printing requirements. 3D printing is getting its application in the healthcare domain, manufacturing, developing prototypes and models for the building. With all these industries getting traction, web to print has to get modules ready for industry-specific requirements.

Variable Data Printing - Variable data printing has already emerged as successful next big thing but it will see hyper-personalization in terms of customizing complete marketing messages instead of just fields of name and address. Variable data printing will go beyond marketing messages to daily customer interactions, producing real-time offers by reading data from web to print stores or companies using it to produce personalized offers.

Voice Based control and command - Web to print need to integrate with new age technologies like voice bases search, command and control. While Alexa and Google Home are already invading our houses, we can image people expecting the smart web to print portals that operate with voice commands, make changes, edit document etc with just their voice.

Experiential Printing - Web to print is a technology capable of doing everything. With virtual and augmented reality it is possible for brands to have their own web to print capabilities that bring the experiential printing for customers. Printing firms no longer can work in silos but they have to adapt to serve requirements of different industries. Printing

'Impossible!' – it is not unusual for success stories to start like this. So too in the printing industry. For example, when the first online print shops started popping up almost 20 years ago. Standardizing printed matter so that it can be costed and automatically produced at the touch of a button? An estimated 99 per cent of commercial print shops thought this was a fantasy.

Conclusion - While these big things are just a few trends, we expect in future, we really don’t know what future holds for the web to print and related technologies. Web to print vendors has to look for new features to provide value-added for their customers which can be data analytics, voice search, end-to-end security for data, 3D printing, mobile-based web to print, integration with different technologies within the organization etc. Sales and market shares for the web to print are constantly growing, Web to print as technology will keep on changing and things will never stand still for it. While impossible is the word that does not hold relevance in the world of technology, we have to wait and see how future of web to print unveils.

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