The fallacy still exists in the print services industry that you can get by without big feature online services. You can’t. Any executive or manager that is looking to improve performance must attend to this item.
A good online and pdf workflow system with right features for customers and production and administrative can drive significant costs out of reworks, job loss to competitors, and lag times on projects. It also can bring in a constant flow of repeat business and give you a competitive advantage. You can establish a clear differentiation from competition and integrate your production workflow with the customer workflow. When they order, you can be the only option on their mind.
Inside the shop, there is an amazing turnaround improvement as wasted hours of looking for information are reduced and the status of every job is known at every moment.
For the administrative team invoice and chargeback information accuracy improves and historical analysis of product mix performance by customer and product type becomes available.
Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt
Why would you not move into this world? Confusion over what you need leads the biggest fear factor. Fear of a long project implementation that fails is another uncertainty area. Doubt that your team can pull off the project correctly is another block to productive adaptation.
What online support is not.
Online support is not an ftp site with a little file information. That is primitive and is what most print providers call online ordering. If that is all you have, you need to move forward rapidly to find a more featured solution.
Online support is not job costing with file attachment. Again, some have moved a step up the chain and adapted to at least give customers some added information. However, most of those serving and most of those ordering are fully aware, the price at the delivery rarely matches in these type systems. Customers need accuracy.
Online support is not an order system that resists integration with the other major processes of a production shop. This can be frustrating.
What is going on in most shops?
In many shops those three represent the extent of online ordering support for the customer and the staff running the shop. Every executive and manager can improve services for the organization and for the customers by going into a big feature online ordering support.
What does real online ordering and pdf workflow look like?
Okay, get your pencil out and begin to go over the checklist. In the next ten years, you will be converted to this way of thinking or you might just not be in the business anymore. It amazes me how much we resist the power of good ideas. You need to demand your online software vendor support what you are getting ready to read and you need to demand your in-plant find a cost effective implementation for you.
- Online ordering requires acceptance of file upload of supported standard file types.
- A good system will archive prior files ordered and allow reorder without reupload.
- Catalogue collection and customization by client group.
- Variable customization of certain orders for dynamic build of post, brochure, business cards.
- Look and feel by client group ordering. Make it personal for the client.
- Tight security and separation of file storage.
- Dynamic status of order reflecting whether the order has been moved to press, finishing, or shipped.
- Content lockdown with marketing, legal, compliance, and any other customer required approvals.
- Great systems have fulfillment for non-print items and high demand print items.
- Great systems are integrated into automatic invoicing.
- Great systems are integrated into shippers like Fedex and UPS for single reference from order point to receipt by the customer.
- Great systems have production integration for the shop so internal service can monitor all orders from a single console.
So, what is keeping the industry from running forward? Automation leaders like VistaPrint and Shutterfly have proven value of powerful online systems. Of course, an in-plant is not purposed to serve the world with such product, but they can certainly improve the purpose they serve. There are some tremendous in-plants that have brought incredible value to their customers and owners through adopting online.
Get with it. Find a way to implement and milk the value out of online and interactive custom ordering services.
Yes, you do need to deal with the fear, uncertainty and doubt.
- Develop a list of criteria.
- Talk to key stakeholders in the customer areas.
- Build a shortlist of acceptable vendors with an RFI (request for information).
- Produce a product list that would be supported with expected sales growth by product.
- Calculate waste reductions with a LEAN DOWNTIME approach. That is another article.
- Go for it and make your customers happy.