Which Web-To-Print Solution is Best for You?

01/11/2016

We've already looked at the various issues surrounding web-to-print software but now it's time to see some of the options on offer.

Most of us are now so used to ordering all sorts of items online that there's really very little excuse for any business to not have some kind of Web presence. It's up to the business owner to decide the level of sophistication, which can range from a simple price list to a full-blown ecommerce solution.

There are plenty of off-the-peg options, such as Wordpress, which will let you build a website within a few minutes for little or no cost.

However, a dedicated web-to-print solution can help you automate the sales process and job submission and should pay for itself. There are plenty to choose from, including several designed specifically for working with wide format printing.
AGFA STOREFRONT

Agfa, for example, has developed its own web-to-print program, Storefront, which works in conjunction with Agfa's wide format workflow, Asanti, and its prepress workflow, Apogee. Agfa has tweaked the web-to-print process according to the target market, so that there's a dedicated Asanti Storefront for wide format users.
Agfa has developed Asanti Storefront, a web-to-print system that complements its own Asanti RIP and wide format workflow.

This allows prices to be set by the square metre and can calculate volume discounts on either the number of copies or the total area to be printed. It can also calculate pricing for items like grommets.

It's sold as a hosted service and can be used as a standalone product but also integrates with Asanti to send orders direct to the workflow. Print service providers can set up templates of predefined products and customers can upload their artwork and personalise their designs. There's an optional module for uploading an Excel file that can automatically fill in variable data to a designated area of a design.

Laurens Leurs, product manager for Agfa Graphics, explains: "We have copy fitting rules within the system where you can see that if a certain text is too long then you can reduce the text size. You can do that across different text frames so that the text still remains the same size across the whole poster."

There's an optional preflight module that can check for things like low resolution images and missing fonts. As well as printed products it can also handle other things such as mounting brackets or promotional gift items. It can even mix different items together as a single order. It can track deliveries and accepts multiple currencies and payment methods.

EFI DIGITAL STOREFRONT

EFI's web-to-print offering is called Digital StoreFront. It's a long-established system that can be used as a standalone product but also integrates tightly with EFI's various MIS as well as the Fiery production software and is included within EFI's Productivity Suites. It can be deployed across large enterprises, which might have different production plants. It can handle multiple languages and currencies.

It's available as an SaaS product hosted by EFI but can also be self-hosted for customers that want to have complete control over their own IT infrastructure. It supports multiple storefronts, with a template-based SmartStore tool for setting up different sites. It integrates with EFI's DirectSmile for targeted marketing campaigns and can handle variable data.

CALDERA WEBSHOP

Caldera produces WebShop, which naturally is designed to work alongside its RIP and workflow products so that it should be a good fit for wide format use. It's sold on a SaaS basis and can be used as a standalone product without having a Caldera RIP.

It's based on a Joomla content management system, which should provide all the tools necessary to create a complete web presence together with the Magento e-commerce platform. It allows users to create multiple shop fronts with their own branding and pricing.

Users can define certain products, such as posters and banners, with fixed prices and there's an option with more complex pricing for customers to vary the size of those products, and to order several products together as a single order.

FUJIFILM XMF PRINTCENTRE

Fujifilm has developed XMF PrintCentre, a standalone web-to-print system that despite the name can be used with any workflow including Fujifilm's own XMF workflow. It's a fully hosted system designed to work for all print processes, ranging from commercial and label printers through to wide format.

It can be set up for customers to call off stock items but can also handle personalised print through pre-uploaded templates. It's possible to set up multiple branded stores.

CATFISH BY INFIGO

There are also a number of web-to-print systems aimed at the commercial print space that can also handle wide format printing. Infigo Software has developed the Catfish web-to-print system, which is sold as a hosted system. It includes an Adobe plug-in that allows print service providers to create templates of the products they want to offer.

There’s also an optional online design tool, MegaEdit Pro for designing leaflets and other documents, and a cross media marketing tool called Symphony. Infigo has also been working with HP as a partner to its SmartStream workflow.

HP PRINTOS

HP has announced details of its new PrintOS, and Infigo has already worked into integrating with this. Essentially, PrintOs will offer a complete set of cloud-based production tools including web-to-print. This will include tools for handling job submission and passing those jobs through to the production system. However, initially, it will only support commercial printers with wide format users having to wait until 2017.

VPRESS COREPRINT

Vpress has developed Coreprint, which is really more of an enterprise-level procurement system that can handle a range of products including online print orders. There are several versions with the basic Coreprint using templates to set up printed products that customers can then use as the basis for their orders.

There's a Pro version that allows printers to manage their own templates and to create different portals for each customer. There's also a variable data option, Coredirect, and a module for handling one-off items, CoreRFQ, that's useful for dealing with tenders.

OPTIMUS CLOUD

We've seen in an earlier story that most MIS also include a web to print option. Optimus, for example, sells Optimus Cloud, a module that works with both its Dash and Optimus 2020 MIS. It lets customers specify their own print jobs and then generates a quote with an option to place an order.

There's a variable data option that gives customers access to the design template. It can also handle stock items and takes care of the CRM aspects of the job, giving customers up to date information on the progress of their orders.

There are plenty of other web-to-print systems around - but not the space to cover them all here. The main issue is to look for a supplier that you are comfortable working with, and that has the capacity to integrate with your existing systems.

This shouldn't be too difficult, given that most print service providers are using standard software packages, and most vendors should be experienced in dealing with all the more commonly used programs.

Written by Nessan Cleary

http://www.fespa.com/item/5572-which-web-to-print-solution-is-best-for-you.html

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