Review: How to Succeed with Web to Print Storefronts

We recently hosted a panel of printshop owners who shared their strategies, stumbles, and successes in implementing an effective and profitable online web-to-print solution.

Despite wide differences in the size of their operations, the number of their production locations and the countries they are located in, I found their insights to be surprisingly similar. What they were able to accomplish with web-to-print e-commerce stores is amazing. As you likely already know, web-to-print solutions enable print buyers to go online to order printing, pay for printing, place reorders, and even design online.

Some background may be helpful before we address the panel’s selling tips.

W2P: B2C vs. B2B

These acronyms remind me of the alphabet soup I enjoyed as a kid! Love them or hate them, acronyms in the printing industry are here to stay. Online web-to-print (W2P) printsites can be generally grouped into two categories: B2C and B2B. B2C (business to consumer) also known as retail storefronts, are the “Amazons of printing”. They cater to the general public. Like Amazon, visitors can browse the print store without logging in. They can see both the products for sale as well as the pricing.

In contrast, B2B (business to business) printstores are private, members only stores. Visitors must login to see the print store. They either need to have an account to login with, or they can create an account and gain entry after their request has been approved (usually by the designated customer approval manager or the print shop running the web-to-print store).

Why B2B Print Stores?

B2B storefronts are often setup as a customer-specific store for a large print buyer who orders significant amounts of printing. In this case, everything about the web-to-print store is tailored to that client: the site URL, the branding, color scheme, product catalogue, pricing, shipping methods, payment options and more.

With a B2B your client enjoys their own print store, tailored for their needs. B2B storefronts are also setup as wholesale “printing for the trade” stores that sell at wholesale prices. This store would typically use your own branding. Again, regardless of the use, these B2B sites are private, and are not accessible by the general public.

As you may know, Aleyant’s Pressero web-to-print storefront software can be used to create both B2C as well as B2B stores, all managed from a single, central hub. We have a web-to-print hub and spoke workflow illustration here.

B2C Web-to-Print Success Tips

So what did our panel of printshop owners have to say? Quite a bit, and I’ll provide a link for you to hear them for yourself.

Regarding B2C print sites, the panel’s main point is you must be different to be successful in the retail space.

  • There are hundreds of thousands of retail printshops online, how will a prospect find your store?
  • By itself, the “we print everything for everyone” approach to web-to-print stores is no longer enough to raise your print site above the online background noise.
  • And SEO is not a magic wand. Effective SEO is about more than using keywords and metatags (we’ll have another free web-to-print SEO webinar in the near future, check our Webinars schedule).
  • What many are doing is coupling specialized SEO with specializied B2C stores that target a single product, or that target a single vertical market.
  • Basically, B2C print sites today must be unique and special in what they sell.

B2B Web-to-Print Success Tips

Regarding B2B print sites, the main takeaway is you are selling a new type of service to corporate accounts, one that is based online using a private, tailored store.

  • Web-to-print is the #1 sales tool for these printers
  • Web-to-print is an advantage or competitive must
  • Sell the system rather than the printed piece or project
  • Branding control via a B2B is a key selling point
  • Show and sell with a demo B2B. Very important! (Register now for a January 21, 2014 webinar on selling print using B2B Demo sites)
  • If the buyer is not ready for web-to-print, move on
  • The ROI for web-to-print is compelling (See our ROI analysis here)
  • The site does not need to be “perfect” day 1
  • When done with the B2B print store, visit with the customer and show them how it works. Have them send in some test orders.

Web-to-Print Webinars

You can listen to the full webinar here. Use the form at the bottom of the page.

Lucia Blanco