Web-to-print or web-2-print refers to the use of the internet to facilitate the submission of print jobs.
Obviously the kind of customers that a web-to-print solution targets is very important. These can be categorized in different ways:
- public stores – The store markets products and services to anyone who is interested.
- private or closed stores – The store is created for a specific group of users or customers. To access the site they have to be authenticated: users must log in using a name and password or the store is part of a corporate network that requires authentication.
Another way of defining stores is by looking at the type of customers:
- B2C or business-to-consumer stores focus on the general audience.
- B2B or business-to-business stores are set up for selling products to businesses.
Types of web-to-print solutions
Web-to-print solutions are offered in two different ways:
- Hosted solutions – The vendor provides the web-to-print system as a service (SaaS or Software as a Service), which means that they manage the internet connection, take care of updates and maintain the systems.
- Stand-alone packages – The software is installed and managed by the printer, either on a system in the local network or on a server in a data center.
Some solutions are only available hosted, others only as stand-alone software. Some are available in both forms, potentially with the option to start with a hosted solution and migrate to a stand-alone system when the order volume and data traffic justify the higher cost.
A wide range of vendors offer web-to-print solutions. Picking the right kind of supplier is not an easy task. These are the available options:
- MIS vendors – Given the fact that all orders at most printers are managed by an MIS or Management Information System, it is logical that the suppliers of such MIS systems also offer a web portal for ordering print.
- Workflow vendors – Many of the companies that develop prepress workflow systems also offer an ecommerce option to extend that workflow. This may be an internally developed application or rebranded software. Among the suppliers are Kodak, Fujifilm, Heidelberg.
- Pure web-to-print vendors – There are companies that purely develop and market web-to-print solutions, without being involved in other aspects of prepress and printing.