A couple of years ago, almost every mall in America had some sort of custom T-Shirt design store where teenagers could go to get their graduation shirts printed and senior citizens could design and print up family reunion shirts. Today, however, someone would be hard pressed to find a t-shirt printing store anywhere. Most people today go online to obtain t-shirt printing services simply because the ease of browsing, designing, and purchasing t-shirts for an event has become easier and frequently more affordable.
In recent years, online sales within virtually every consumer market have literally exploded. People even buy their groceries online through services such as those offered by Amazon. The wide format printing industry, however, has largely been behind the curve with respect to this obvious consumer trend for a number of reasons.
However, since online shopping is only going to continue to increase, now is the time to figure out how web-to-print services can help you and your wide format printing business attract more customers and boost profitability. While not everybody will be able to make a business selling custom graphics for peoples’ cell phones and computers, the fact that digital wide format printing now makes economic sense for quantities down to “one,” has dramatically changed opportunities.
What are Web-to-Print Services?
Most people who want their digital pictures printed know of those computer kiosks at stores such as Walgreens. You simply insert your memory stick, choose the pictures you want to be printed, and edit them. You can even choose different printing formats, such as printing on canvas and creating simple collages.
In a sense, web-to-print services within the wide format printing world needs to emulate this online arrangement. With the right software and print finishing equipment, your wide format printing industry can offer customers easy to follow templates that will essentially allow consumers them to design their own cards, posters, banners, wall hangings, and other wide format printing products. For business customers, the same kind of opportunities exist, from signage to Point of Purchase, and allowing for individualization on a store by store, or business location basis.
Why Incorporate Web-to-Print Services for Your Business?
Recent studies have shown that only 20% of wide format printing businesses offer some sort of web-to-print services. Many of these businesses may have given up on this innovative service because of the challenges associated with large file sizes and the high upfront cost of the software needed to implement this type of system.
With only one out of every five businesses offering this service, however, your business has the opportunity to capture large segments of the market through offering web-to-print services. Furthermore, close to seven out of every ten wide format printing jobs consist of banners, posters, or other types of signage. These three products are most easily adapted to web-to-print services.
The software you choose might very well allow your business to streamline the printing of these types of wide format jobs through web-to-print services that drastically limit the amount of time need to be spent with each customer. While you could designate a graphic designer on your team to work with customers using your web-to-print services, you could also completely automate the process so that your clients can perform the entire design process until their poster, banner, or sign is sent to your print finishing equipment. There are even fairly large print businesses that have totally eliminated sales people as their consumer and/or business customers get the hang of it.
This type of arrangement would free up needed time so that you and your team could dedicate more of your time to working with specialty clients who require high-end, artistic, or more complicated products that aren’t amenable to templates, which also command a higher price and offer a higher profit.
The Challenges to Entering into Web-to-Print Services
While the opportunities related to web-to-print services may seem tantalizing, there are also some challenges of which one needs to be aware. The average cost of a complete system for a web-to-print service is between $50,000 and $80,000 dollars. Agfa Graphics’ Apogee StoreFront, RocketPrint Software’s RocketQuotes, Keen Systems’ Keenprint.com, and EFI Digital StoreFront are just a few of the many e-commerce software platforms that are available to print service providers who are looking to venture into the web-to-print business.
While the upfront cost might seem prohibitive at first, it is important to understand that web-to-print services could dramatically improve workflow efficiency, thereby allowing you to complete more jobs more quickly. Furthermore, depending on your advertising efforts, you should be able to attract a wide array of new customers through providing web-to-print wide format printing services.
Lastly, it can be confusing when trying to choose the correct software. It is important to not simply settle for the most inexpensive option but rather to do in-depth research regarding what each type of software and e-commerce platform can provide.
The Opportunities for Growth with Web-to-Print Services
If your wide format printing business seems to be stuck in neutral, opening up your customer base through the providing of online web-to-print services might very well be an option that could help grow your business. By opening your business to the online world, you can be sure that your business will garner an even larger share of the 24 billion dollars in revenue that the wide format printing business generates annually.