Should We Still Call Web2Print, Web2Print? Is the Term Dated?
I am fortunate to work with a product that was born over 15 years ago and see how much Web2Print technology has evolved. It’s hard to look back at Web2Print platforms from 5–7 years ago (not long ago) and compare them to what is out there today.
Last month after seeing the latest release of our “web-to-print platform,” I saw a platform that should no longer be called “web-to-print”. What I saw was an all-inclusive system that allows Print Service Providers the ability to improve efficiency and become a complete one-stop shop communications provider for their customers.
Today, Web2Print solutions offer products and services that go beyond PRINT putting a big question mark on the term Web2Print. For starters, both retail and private Web2Print solutions handle print and non-print products. They’ve gone from basic job submission ticket systems to complete asset management, cross-media, ordering solutions with powerful backend engines that allow printers to run leaner and more accurately. Is the term Web2Print dated?
Technology moves fast. Really fast. It’s hard to keep up. When a new platform is not being launched another one just got a massive upgrade. What you implement today is out-of-date in months. What used to come in a box now lives in the cloud. What used to cost a lot up front is now licensed based on pay as you grow model (how much you do with the software).
Web2Print solution providers have come a long way. In the early days, Web2Print platforms were crated as job submission systems sending job tickets and files to the shop. Soon the focus shifted from job submission to online ordering –reducing errors and turnaround times. Variable Data Print was then introduced and customers were able to personalize templated assets and order them on the fly. Eventually the platforms became an end user experience, easier to use, and incorporated more effective production management and integration capabilities on the backend.
Unless you are living under a rock, you know the industry took a turn. Digital became cool and print demand slowed down. The industry was forced to go from offering print which might also have business services to one that offers business services which might involve print. This shift forced Web2Print solutions to become bigger and add new features and capabilities giving printers the ability to do more for their clients (sell more than print).
Today, more capabilities aren’t the sole focus anymore, good user experience has gained just as much importance. Sure big enterprise clients with lots of franchisees and teams worry mostly of what happens in the back, (inventory, demand, cost, usage, etc.) but end users worry about what happens in the front. With that in mind, Web2Print platforms are being refreshed with beautiful intuitive user interfaces that simplify search, personalization and ordering tasks for the end user.
Has Web2print become a component of a bigger solution or did it evolve to something bigger?
“Marketing Portals,” “Marketing Storefronts,” “Marketing Asset Management Solutions,” “Distributed Marketing,” and “Localized Marketing software,” typically feature web to print capabilities plus other frontend and backend capabilities that go beyond print. Did We2Print evolve to something bigger but the term didn’t or is Web2Print now simply another feature of a bigger marketing solution.
To put this in perspective let’s use the version Propago released last month. This new release knows the end user better than ever, the products he or she prefers, pre populates any and all products (print and non-print) with personal/business information, handles more client business rules such as branding, spending limits and other granular user rights and submits orders to the most efficient production workflows in the backend. This system streamlines the entire marketing supply chain from start to finish. Compare that to a standard VDP job submission system. Would you still call it Web2Print?
The point is the term is dated, but If you are in the print industry you know what Web2Print means. You know it means a lot more than print. Web2Print will continue to evolve in big ways, and fast, so buckle on and stay tuned for the next big thing and make sure your clients are getting the best from you not the other guy.
Tell us how you refer to web2print systems that handle print, non-print products and offer services outside print, what term do you think would be a better fit with all the new frontend and backend components being added these days?