Web-to-Print Improves the Book Printing Opportunity

Digital printing has redefined the entire book supply chain by mitigating the inherent risks of mass production and offering advantages such as faster time-to-market, reduced waste, and lower fixed costs (for short runs). Although limitations associated with quality, speed, flexibility, and affordability have traditionally slowed the widespread adoption of digital, the emergence of mature high-speed production inkjet systems with a variety of prices, quality levels, and speeds has accelerated this adoption. The supply chain of printed books has seen the single largest impact of this, positioning digital print platforms as essential to the success of printers and publishers alike.

Digitally produced book pages are expected to climb from 80.5 billion pages in 2015 to over 130 billion pages in 2020, representing an increase of nearly 50 billion digital impressions.

Savvy print service providers (PSPs) are reaping the benefits of adopting web-to-print solutions. According to Keypoint Intelligence/InfoTrends’ research on web-to-print, about 82% of PSPs report that web-to-print is critical for their businesses, and 87% believe that web-to-print has made their operations more efficient. What makes web-to-print so important? For starters, the internet has revolutionized the way that all companies conduct business — and the book printing industry is no exception. To truly thrive in today’s digitally-connected business world, PSPs must invest in technologies and processes that enable customers to order and track jobs online.

According to InfoTrends’ application forecast, digitally printed book pages will see substantial growth in the future.

Web portals enable streamlined interaction between you and your customers. These online tools provide a way for all users to submit their orders regardless of whether they are in the office, at home, or halfway around the world. The time-consuming aspect of back-and-forth communication between you and your customer is reduced. Important job milestones can be pushed to the customer via email or pulled from a website. These notifications can alert customers about necessary changes, job completion, or shipping to an external location. Web-to-print portals can standardize the order-taking process by codifying specifications and gathering information that was previously taken by phone or email. They integrate with your production workflow to ensure that all orders — regardless of whether they involve a single copy or 10,000 copies — can be automated for efficiency. Automated job tracking also lends itself to more efficient scheduling, reducing the amount of downtime that commonly results from confusion or unexpected delays.

More and more PSPs are investing in web-to-print solutions — the internet-based tools that offer e-commerce, collaboration, and/or customer service interaction between buyers, authors, and sellers of printed books — to better serve customers and automate workflows. Most commercial printers have implemented an online storefront that enables customers to place/submit orders, make payments, and track jobs. These businesses expect the volume of print ordered via their web-to-print portals to grow by 70% over the next two years. Whether they are static or personalized, adding books to your print-on-demand application portfolio can be a profitable opportunity.

Web portals enable streamlined interaction between you and your customers.

In addition to being a demand of today’s customers, online ordering and job management is an important component of automating the production process and driving enhanced manufacturing efficiency within your print shop. A common practice of highly efficient printing firms is maximizing technological investments to reduce production costs, strengthen customer relationships, and increase profitability for production volumes. Web-to-print solutions come in many shapes and sizes and can be integrated into various workflows.

Some common features from solutions like Océ PRISMAdirect® Webshop and EFI-Digital StoreFront include:

  • Customizable storefronts
  • Personalized order overviews, trackability and re-order from order history
  • Built-in soft-proofs to enable online approval
  • Easy-to-use templates for static or personalized editions
  • Multiple payment options, tax calculation and invoicing capabilities
  • The ability to automate file preparation and document make-ready processes
  • Gain insights into business with strong reporting capabilities

Scalable to Grow with Your Business Continuously

When it comes to book printing, many large manufacturers and publishers have built complex customized web-to-print systems that integrate with a workflow solution such as Océ PRISMAproduction® server. Meanwhile, smaller and mid-tier book printers or commercial printers that are expanding into book applications can often take advantage of turnkey web-to-print solutions. By integrating a storefront into a workflow solution such as PRISMAdirect, you can simplify and standardize the job onboarding process. Jobs originate from many sources but are systematically funneled into one production workflow. Today, a web-to-print solution doesn’t just facilitate the file submission from the customer to your print shop — it should link to your entire production operation to reduce errors and optimize efficiencies. These solutions are integral to workflow automation and encompass the entire production process, including preflighting and color corrections, proofing, online payment, and online shipping.

Print providers that implement web-to-print systems typically experience the following key benefits:

Automated Ordering and Delivery

Web-to-print enables 24/7 order submission and is the first step towards a “lights out” manufacturing workflow, and it helps firms reduce the cost of extensive order handling and automated order status updates. These systems automate ordering and enable jobs to be routed based on a number of factors, including print dimensions, quantity, finishing type, and rush job requirements.

Volume Flexibility

Web-to-print gives you the flexibility to print in volumes as low as one, efficiently produce shorter runs, and restock specific orders. Never again will a title go out of print, and you can ship direct to customers or retail outlets/ It also opens new market opportunities as it allows for personalization and customization of books utilizing variable data technology.

Centralized Job Tracking and Reporting

Web-to-print enables a centralized job administration or tracking status at any point in the process, and these systems can generate reports including shipping, number/type of orders, and in-stock inventory.

Expanded Geographic Reach and Increased Hours of Operation

Web-to-print solutions offer customers 24/7 ordering access from any location with internet connectivity. While they are commonly tied to a digital printing system, your web-to-print solution can also be used to sell offerings such as offset printing, promotional items, marketing campaigns, and kitting and fulfillment.

Superb Customer Communications

By automating workflow steps with customer notifications provides personalized service without the dedicated personnel. Automated email notifications confirm order receipt, forward soft-proofs for approval, drive clients to web portal for acceptance of quotes, notifies of order printing and shipment status and expected delivery.

Improved Cash Flow

Online ordering systems can also improve your business’ cash flow, as payment for orders can be charged to a customer’s credit card. Invoicing payments is also an option, and some solutions will integrate seamlessly with your MIS to automate the billing process. You can also reduce the number of unsold books, cut storage costs, run reprints in small batches, and print limited market and self-published titles.

According to InfoTrends’ research, most large PSPs are already conducting business via the web, and many are focusing their efforts on extending the range of products and services that customers can order online. A number of larger print providers are offering personalization and cross-media capabilities, and are expanding into fulfillment and digital media services. The next priority is to provide customers with access to these services via mobile devices.