Being in the website designing and development industry since 1997, we have seen many ups and downs of the industry, and very closely observed the “.com bubble” burst in the year 2000. Usage of web and online world was spreading like wildfire; every industry was struggling to gain knowledge about it and was trying to be the first on web.
During one of the exhibitions in India, lot of visitors were getting confused by online editors offered by other companies, and these editors were offered at a heavy one-time cost combined with open source e-commerce templates. Visitors were mixing up high-end web-to-print solutions with simple editors for editing personalised products like t-shirt and mugs, which is not the same thing as online commercial printing on paper for printing business cards, letterheads, envelopes and brochures/ flyers.
In this blog, we really don’t argue if other vendors are doing right or wrong. We only want to educate our readers about online printing powered by web-to-print technology. Let the reader understand and take a final call on what is right for them.
We have covered this many times in our blog and it’s very important to understand what web-to-print solutions are. In simple words, these are web-based applications that allow online generation (automated) of print-ready files that can be individually modified and delivered to printers for processing and printing.
It’s also the same chain of tasks which is normally followed manually on the print floor or on the counter of retail digital shop. It takes care of prepress such as generation of print-ready files, job tickets, address label per order, delivery tracking to end customer and others, along with back office tasks such as procuring purchase order, preparing invoice, adding to order history, facilitating re-order mechanism, allowing user to carry on minor modification on their own and so on.
Though the online editor, where users can change their details such as name, address or make minor modifications on their print product is the heart of the system, it’s just useless if it’s not weaved in the complete chain of tasks properly, and this is where the pseudo W2P app really fails.
It was observed that some software company developed an editor for their client for them to allow uploading own pictures and few words of text for t-shirt printing which normally follows sub-lamination or screen printing process, and not the offset or digital process which commercial printing follows. They can then modify for business cards the same way it’s used for t-shirt.
The core missing point is generation of high resolutions PDF with CMYK separation and cutting mark or facility for the printing company to upload their own design. There is no module to weave in job tickets and other admin process followed by printing company for pre-order/ pre-print and post-order/ post print.
The idea is to sell their editor and then weave it with open source e-commerce solution (offered free) but a huge amount is charged for the editor which is not meant for the printing industry. Remember, for print industries online printing is not standard e-commerce; it is print commerce or print e-commerce. Here e-commerce is not just listing product, selecting it and paying online. It’s totally different as each product needs to be modified before ordering, and products here are not ready but customised, printed and delivered.
Though in general terms, it is e-commerce and it’s still an online printing store powered by web-to-print technology but it cannot be straightaway replaced by just a simple editor and e-commerce solutions. Next time you come across any company offering editor, don’t express your knowledge and just ask for a demo. You already know the truth!