How do you choose a Web-to-Print partner?

Print Technology whether it is pre-press software, photo book software, web-to-print solution, Print MIS software etc; they have one thing in common – they are constantly evolving. This is the biggest pain area in any purchasing decision that a print buyer has to take. Sometimes you purchase software because your competitor has bought it or just because it is cheap. As a buyer, you must be confident with the purchasing decision that you have taken & be rest assured that your software should be ever-evolving.

Sometimes things turn awful. The company that you chose suddenly has a change in management & the friendly Peter with whom you were interacting is suddenly replaced by someone to whom you need to explain everything over & over again. Sometimes owing to lack of profitability, the focus of your service providing company changes from your domain and you are left wanting for the upgrades that had been promised to you.

So this purchasing decision is not just about the technology. It is about the service providing company, their culture and the team that you have closely interacted with. The team that has built the software, they know the software from A to Z, and they have supported the software and have a long-term vision. When you as a print buyer understand that you are choosing a long term business partner and not a specific technology that will be replaced over the years, you are sailing in the right direction.

Of course, it is pretty easier said than done. The real question still remains. How do you assess your web-to-print or photo book partner in this manner?

As a manager, when you hire a candidate, you evaluate their past experience, their skills, educational qualifications etc. Similarly, a web-to-print solution also needs to be constant state of change simply to help their clients maintain their edge in the fiercely competitive printing space. One of the key factors for evaluation is the ‘product roadmap’ when we see the history of the software in accordance to the upgrades released. Some of the common factors that are helpful in judging a good software vendor are as follows:

1. A good web-to-print or photo book solution provider will have timely release of their upgrades.

2. They will have a proper software release process.

3. Do they offer a choice to their customers when there is a new release so that they don’t necessarily need to upgrade it instantly?

4. A good vendor will provide proper release notes & training upon each release.

To keep on reassessing the vision of the product, good software companies have a product roadmap which is (more importantly) followed diligently. The most critical trends in the online printing software ecosystem are the increasing domination of mobiles & tablets and its integration with the system. So while choosing a web-to-print partner, check for their software ability and support on portable devices. It cannot just be a one-time development. There have to be incremental improvements on that front with almost every release addressing it. A good software vendor will have affirmative answers to the following questions:

1. They have a vision and a roadmap to support the growing mobile internet trends.

2. They have a diligent roadmap that is always being followed and they have a documented API and knowledgebase to specify how the software components interact during integration.

3. Even if they may have restricted products according to their pricing plans, their solution will have the ability to configure various types of products with ease.

As a print house with a vision, you ought to know that technology is the key on the way forward. With ever-evolving technology that keeps on your toes, you need to assess your partner on the basis of their technology evolution and vision.

Of course, you need to assess the current version and ensure that it fits your requirements and budget, but you need to set your goals to establish a long-term partnership that will mutually benefit both of you to make profits. It is always a symbiotic relationship – the vendor needs your business and feedback for product evolvement & you need their technology to stay ahead in the competition.

With an ever-evolving solution like Pixopa that is built on HTML5 on the Magento platform, we have always evolved ourselves so that we are ahead in terms of technology 24×7. We understand that business requirements are different and so are the budgets. With diversified offerings to suit different web-to-print requirements, Pixopa Web-to-Print Storefront deserves a look.