By Nosmot Gbadamosi Friday, 13 March 2009
UK printers need to invest in their web-to-print capabilities to make sure that work doesn't go elsewhere, discovers Nosmot Gbadamosi.
It’s taken a while, but web-to-print (W2P) is slowly establishing itself in the UK market. Many print firms are still slow on the uptake, but with competition from overseas hotting up it is becoming an increasingly important aspect of the modern industry.
"There was an Israeli-based printer that set up a UK website and a W2P system, but printed in Israel and then shipped to the UK," cites Neil Bather product manager at Transeo Media, on the overseas opportunities from W2P.
With this threat in mind, UK printers and buyers need to get to grips with W2P no matter what the size of their business. This is not something that is only for the big boys, says Steve Richardson, sales director at Optimus.
"While newer organisations that are more digitally savvy are looking to grow their businesses, some smaller printers are slow on the uptake," he explains.
With hosted sites, building your W2P offering doesn’t require a vast array of IT skills. But for any printer taking W2P seriously it’s necessary to link the system up to your entire workflow as this means that you can track jobs more effectively. It’s also worth educating buyers as to how your W2P system works and showing them that one of the key benefits is that they can order at any time of the day.
But there are areas you need to be wary of before investing. Firstly make sure that your investment is scalable; as your business grows, your W2P should be able to grow with it. Also consider whether you want a W2P system from a digital press vendor or an independent supplier?
"There are a number of digital press manufacturers bundling W2P solutions with their offerings in order to differentiate themselves, but the printer might not be getting what they need," says Dale Northcliffe, partner at Ower Consultants. With built-in propriety technology a lot of the tools given are not industry standard tools – it’s the manufacturer’s own template creator."
Ivor Dixon, managing director at Positive Focus, adds that you also need to choose a W2P system that’s unrestricted in output. "PDF-based templates are usually quite restricted in the degree of customisation that can be achieved compared to working with native page layout."
What's new in... Web-to-Print
- Positive Focus was appointed to distribute and integrate Belgian software developer Digital Media Partners’ web-to-print software, FLO Suite, in the UK and Ireland in January
- Carlsberg teamed up with print management company Gecko to offer personalised print to pub owners. The Danish brewer’s online portal, We Deliver More, allows users to create menus, POS and event planners
- Océ expanded its web-to-print offering with the international release of Prismaweb 5.0 and Prismaweb eManager 2.0 last month
- Italian online digital printer Pixart.it launched a web-to-print service in the UK targeting SME printers wanting to outsource work, as well as marketing agencies, designers, and photographers
- Last summer, Optimus announced integration with Xralle and Red Tie web-to-print on its MIS systems
- Digital People has launched Click for Print – a web-to-print product that provides a lower cost option for its HP Indigo Press clients
View Buyers' Guide tables for web-to-print software
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