The future of printing is driven by technology, the sooner the realization by this traditional industry, the better the chances of tap the new market opportunities. Wide format printing is one such technology that has seen rise in past few years accounting to the increase in trend of mass customization for bespoke packages, custom fabric designs, signage, calendars, photobooks or celebratory posters and the other opportunities for new forms of expression. This article outlines the industry outlook, rising opportunity and how web to print can enable digital innovations
Introduction to the wide format printing
The wide format printing usually applies to print manufacturers that support maximum print width from 18” to 100”. It is also known as large format printing or sheetfed or roll-fed printing. The wide format printing can be used to print posters, tradeshow graphics, wallpaper, murals, backlit film, vehicle wraps, architectural drawings, construction plans, backdrops for theatrical or TV media sets and much more. Wide format is prevalent for inkjet-based or toner-based projects because of cost efficiency for short-run projects depending on print size, length and type of substrate.
As per the UK-based market research form Smithers Pira, the wide format printing industry is fast-moving and dynamic with digital technologies and has reached a maturity stage with few leading strong players. The industry players are having diverse interests with number of integral players and a smaller number of start-ups. Wide-format screen printing has been one of the dominant printing technologies, but it is losing grounds accounting to the leading digital innovations. Web to print is an enabler for digital innovations in wide format printing industry and here are the features that you should look for to get the right technology that scale your business to the next level –
Robust backend administration panel – Wide format printers are catering to mass customization requests for shorter runs. This requires complete control on managing complete business processes right from managing multiple stores, order management, catalog management, PDF templates, analytics and reporting, multi-lingual and multi-currency support, marketing promotions and tools, managing clipart, font, images and other design elements that can be customized as per the business requirements.
Other features that are very important for administration panel are managing printable colors, able to configure and change global settings that will enable store owner to configure desired output file type, enable/disable watermark for downloaded files, design studio CSS, API keys for social media integration, side names labels and features for managing corporate accounts and customer service features.
Web to print also enables store admin owners to provide customers with the design features that helps customers to design their own artworks. These features are also required to be controlled from back end giving customers a delightful experience in designing their designs and placing orders. We will talk about design studio features in more detail in this post later. The features that are absolute must to be regulated are global design templates, configuring product personalization, product settings, control color process, 3D preview configuration and control object editing. These features give unparallel advantage in terms of reaching customers 24 by 7, providing them with one stop solution and exceptional customer service.
Design Studio Features – Customer requirements are dynamic and keep on changing with lighting speed. With social media and other digital channels, brands need to keep in mind the recent trends and keep on their messaging to the point to connect to the audience. This require printers to think ahead of times and instead of providing email and telephonic support, switch to mode where customer can design their artwork or store their designs or brand elements in their accounts to design banners, hoardings as and when they wanted.
The design tool interface will allow customers to create artwork within designated areas and enable printers to save time on going forth and back to adjust margins or bleeding. The design studio comes with features that allow users to update editable fields like text and photo uploads in design template as well as new elements like text, images, clipart, QR codes and shapes. Advanced web to print design studios come with easy object editing panel that is mobile compatible to control artwork look and feel and printers save time as the print ready files and all are preconfigured for them to print.
Marketing and promotional tools – These features are my favourite ones and are very important to create a market and brand awareness among customers to shop more from you. Features like desktop and mobile notifications, adding discount and offers banners, offer customer loyalty programs are sure shot ways to increase bottom line and create word of mouth marketing. Though wide format printers are mostly dealing with business customers but they also like discounts on repeat purchases or discounted contract for a year or long.
The opportunity ahead
Getting online is no more a choice but a necessity for wide format printers, when we say online we mean more than just a plain website. Printers need to adopt web to print technologies and undergo business transformation to make their business process digital as customers. Web to print has benefitted many companies that have adopted them full-fledged and been a game turner for most of them.
Web to print software companies also act as consultant to provide you an end to end guidance about building your store, exploring new business models and even marketing ideas that can help you in getting new customers and retaining current ones. The second very interesting trend is that though ecommerce, IT businesses etc are seeing lots of start-ups mushrooming, print ecommerce is still nor very prevalent among start up community for reasons of lack of understanding of printing equipment , sourcing of materials, printing methods, margins, costs etc giving advantage to already existing businesses to adopt web to print that accelerates their wide format printing businesses.