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(W2P) Web to Print? (M2P) Mobile to Print? Where will the client really print?

It was back in 2008. While participating in Drupa (the largest printing equipment exhibition in the world) in Germany, that we first heard about “Web To Print”. It was a buzzword. As web developers, we wanted to get a first mover advantage and we jumped into developing a web2print solution for printing companies. It has been 7 years and the industry is still to adopt WebToPrint to its fullest!

However, a lot has changed.

  • Printing Technologies - Offset to Digital
  • Devices - Desktop / Laptops to Tablets / Mobile / especially smartphone!
  • Online Editors - Flash to Java / DHTML (Tablet / Mobile Ready Online Printing editor)

Significant investments made on w2p technology with the hope to generate lots of print runs. However, by the time a printing company accepts and adapts an idea, things start changing. This leads to ambiguity. Returns On Investment are never assured.

Further, Google has introduced search engine guidelines for mobile sites, almost forcing everyone to convert/ upgrade their existing sites to make them mobile friendly. Of course printing companies are no exceptions. If they wish to receive organic online traffic and convert them into business, their online printing websites need to be optimised for mobile.

Some software companies are trying to make a quick buck by introducing apps for printing. This is why some printing companies, that are struggling to set up web to print, are now also forced to understand terms like Mobile to Print. So the new question is W2P or M2P?

Moreover, printing companies are also struggling to adapt to quote module, ERP, Work Flow and so on... and not sure if it is a one-time cost for all or an all time cost for each of them.

We might not be wrong to claim that new web and mobile related technologies are being offered by IT companies that don't really understand the printing business. The truth remains that nobody understands printing better than printers themselves. They are the ones who actually work on the floor and directly communicate with clients. They know exactly how the client prefers to order prints. But it is high time they know about web to print technology bringing (useful or useless) changes in the way customer order prints.

Simply put, Web2Print is

  • A web-based (online) application that generates print-ready files that can be individually modified and delivered to printers for processing and printing
  • A system that does not expect its users to have knowledge of any designing or editing software. All you need is an Internet connection and a web browser

So now what is Mobile2Print? Well, it’s the same as above, but the web-based application is replaced by a mobile-based application. What it involves might ease ordering but it also involves a heavy cost. We have covered the pros and cons of web to print in past articles, but what brings us here is the so-called Mobile Revolution, where everyone now want to have their own App.

For the mobile + print environment, we must understand the capabilities. It can be used as a tool for your client to check their past orders and place reorders. They can also make minor textual changes.

However, in case of Mobile Apps, understand these HURDLES too

  • It works differently on iOS & Android
  • Limited screen sizes say 4” to 7” for phablets and wider will enter into Tablet category
  • It is difficult to check proof of bigger layouts like Flyer, Brochure or large formats. It might be okay for business cards

The other practical problems are size of file, bandwidth, Internet connectivity and most importantly battery-life (even with heavy power backups). So while every business wants their clients to use an App for service related requirements, it is important to understand that users are selective about the Apps they download, and prefer to use the phone as a social networking and talking device. It won’t really replace a computer.

In conclusion, while we are discussing about adding a new method for your clients to order pints, first ask yourself if you have successfully implemented web to print. Are your existing clients using it? Are you generating new business? If the answer is Yes, you can think of adding one more technology for giving them a facility to order from mobile. If No, first concentrate on offering w2p and then shift to M2P - mobile to print with basic features like viewing and reprinting.

Whether you have web2print technology driven methods of ordering or not, customers are still ordering. However, methods are changing and you too must. Our goal is to give you inputs, insights, pros and cons about these trends and to make you aware about the options you can give your clients. Once you are sure, you can start thinking about implementing the same. Needless to say we are here to attend to any questions you might have.

To conclude, let the world run towards the mobile revolution, for printing industry, adoption of web to print is the first step. Once there, mobile apps can be added quickly.