Creating a Business Front Website

AP90

Well-known member
Hey guys, so our business has been looking into creating an online storefront that will serve as a way for us to drive in more individual customers. We primarily deal with businesses only, save the few people who are walk in customers who want the random 500 business cards, etc. Heres the problem with that. Most people don't want to pay for custom business card design or wedding programs, and frankly, it is more of a hassle on our end than anything also. We would like to be able to have a storefront online that has templates that are editable by customers. Are these storefronts a fortune? Do we have to create our own templates? We are wanting this to be as hands off on our end until the printing. I know I can request demo's from the companies and ask questions, but with you guys being the end users, I like to get real time feedback.

So basically heres what we are wanting to handle:
Online storefront
Manages orders and send print ready pdf's
Templates for business cards, wedding programs, postcards, etc.
Cost effective.
 

OffsetStorefront

Well-known member
Most "web-to-print" software packages require a lot of setup and time managing them and configuring them. Ones that you can set up and leave alone will still require quite a bit of initial setup. There are cheap ones which will look and act cheap without extensive customization ($200-$500 monthly subscription + a couple thousand in startup fees) and more substantial ones that give you lots of control and power ($1,000-$1,800 monthly & $5000+ in upfront fees). You're probably about to be blasted with a bunch of posts from salespeople selling these solutions.

There is a lot of value in offering these customized storefronts to your business clients and if you're interested in that, one of the above options would be more suited. But if you're wanting one just for consumers that you don't have to put much work into:

4Over has a product we use called "PrinterBridge" that is basically a pre-configured online storefront you can slap your logo on that you can populate with whatever pre-configured products you want and you can set the markup on. Orders you receive can either be printed yourself, or you can send them to 4Over to print & ship on your behalf. I think it's like $100/month, so a lot cheaper than a "build/configure yourself" solution. I don't think it has an online editor for custom products, but I know they can upload artwork for a specific product through it and download template files to help design within that product's parameters. It's not very customizable and won't integrate with anything, but it's a quick and dirty way to have an online storefront you can push all your consumer business to if you don't want to deal with them through the normal workflow.
 

onprintshop

Well-known member
Hey guys, so our business has been looking into creating an online storefront that will serve as a way for us to drive in more individual customers. We primarily deal with businesses only, save the few people who are walk in customers who want the random 500 business cards, etc. Heres the problem with that. Most people don't want to pay for custom business card design or wedding programs, and frankly, it is more of a hassle on our end than anything also. We would like to be able to have a storefront online that has templates that are editable by customers. Are these storefronts a fortune? Do we have to create our own templates? We are wanting this to be as hands off on our end until the printing. I know I can request demo's from the companies and ask questions, but with you guys being the end users, I like to get real time feedback.

So basically heres what we are wanting to handle:
Online storefront
Manages orders and send print ready pdf's
Templates for business cards, wedding programs, postcards, etc.
Cost effective.


I agree to the response shared by Offset Storefront. However not all web-to-print is so expensive offering all control. We have launched 2 Special cost-effective SaaS plans for PSPs who wish to launch Professional B2C/Retail Storefront where Printers get complete control to market & personalize their Mobile Responsive Storefront the way they need starting as low as $185/Month. if you need more details, feel free to contact us
 

jwheeler

Well-known member
Another post just asked nearly the same thing. Here's what I posted:

I did this for a medium sized print shop I worked at. I originally just setup a website with a listing of our services and an upload file section. I then upgraded to the next tier to allow customer portals/login for our top customers. This helped to lock them in as our customer because they could easily login and place re-orders, typeset their own business cards, submit new PO's, etc. We made it very clear on the site that people could still call us and get ahold of a human being because we didn't want to lose that customer service touch. I then looked at what items had a low profit margin, required too much work, or we couldn't do in-house, and made those available completely automated on the website. This included greeting cards, business cards, and promotional items.

A company called Birchcraft (which I believe is now called DFSonline and you can setup here: https://www.dfsonline.com/dfs/holida...ifts-Calendars) offers a generic website that you can customize with your logos/info. The customer can login through a link on your original website and it takes them to the site where they can browse through selections of holiday cards, wedding invites, etc, and then typeset it themselves, see an instant proof, pay and submit the order. You get an automated message to confirm the order before Birchcraft starts processing. You can ask them to ship to you or blind ship to your customer and you get paid.

There was another company (easycarddesigner . com) that did the same thing for business cards where customers could browse thousands of templates and typeset online. The great thing about this site is they would send us a hi-rez version of the business card so we could print ourselves if we wanted, or have them print if the customer requested UV coating since we didn't have this in-house. At the time, their pricing was competitive with companies like 4over or gotprint, not sure about it now.

There is another company for promo items (asicentral . com) that links you up with all sorts of vendors for imprinting on anything like pens, keychains, coffee cups, etc. They also provided a generic website that you can brand for yourself and your customer can browse through a large library of items, upload their logo, see a proof, and place an order...and you just collect the check!

The rest of the items we listed under services such as 'brochures' for example, all linked back to our own quote request/place an order page where they would fill out contact information and upload a file. They would get an automated email that their request was received and someone would be contacting them shortly...and we really would contact them right away. It's all about customer service!
 

Craig

Well-known member
Here is the problem we ran into with 3 different platforms, including 1 from above. The VAST majority of the general public is just to uninformed on how to design online (or at all). Almost every order that came in had some issue that required us to call and interact with the user. At first we just printed the order because after all, they signed off on it. Then when they pick it up you get "well I didn't think it would print that way" and they would refuse the order and cancel their CC payment, or bitch and moan until you reprinted it just to keep a person from badmouthing you. In the end we dumped B2C and just have a B2B platform. Life is so much easier too!!
 
AP90 - Imo, important in your decision is not just initial price, or ongoing costs - but many other factors too.

Not least is - How are you going to connect it to your MIS?... and is any such integration viable, or pretty limited in scope. Do you have to maintain two databases ongoing, prices lists, product images, customer addresses? Is the "integration" bi-directional (updates from the MIS pushed out and in), or one-way only?

Will your MIS/W2P give you a production-ready job-ticket with stock, production times & processes, and scheduling data, or just a pick-list of "products". To achieve sais integration are you left with an API document to sort out yourself or do you have to pay someone to do it? - so then what is the TRUE cost and timescale involved in that integration? Does the solution run on mobile platforms and not use Flash/plugins?

As another member wrote - be very wary of the razzle-dazzle of B2C - it's a pipe dream for most unless you invest heavily in SEO, and are prepared to deal with uneducated customers, poor artwork files, and those that only buy on price with no repeat business/ongoing customer relationships, AND you;re prepared to go up against the biggest who have invest $m's in their platform and still do.

B2B gives you an edge, it makes you unique (or rare at least), it helps build loyalty, trust, relationships, repeat business, locks in your customers so it's harder for them to go elsewhere, and will help you win new major contracts - BUT you have to go out a market & educate new and existing clients. "Build it and they will come" does NOT work in W2P.
 

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