More and more print shops are exploring web-to-print and e-commerce options to broaden their customer base, expedite turn time, and implement automation. For BPI Media Group in Boaz, Alabama, making the move to a web-to-print program customized for each client has gone a long way in cutting costs and generally simplifying processes from order to shipment – for both the customer and the PSP.
Like so many print service providers, BPI Media Group started in the world of offset printing. About eight years ago, BPI purchased Pageflex software to help drive sales on a digital platform through customized “storefronts” for each client to place orders on their own branded page, bypassing a traditional ordering process via email or phone call. Though initially used for the ordering and printing of marketing collateral such as brochures, wide-format digital printing services were rolled into the system as BPI entered that segment six years ago. One of their largest clients has a storefront portal with 2000 wide-format products. So, how does it work?
BPI’s customers are mostly big franchise-based corporations or manufacturers with a large distribution network and a lot of marketing or display needs. For example, a company with franchised retail locations throughout the country could have a personalized storefront including all of their branded signage, displays, or other printed items. An individual franchisee could log in to what looks like a typical e-commerce shopping site (with relevant costs and shipping details) and order what they need for their locations. The print order is sent to BPI; the client receives an order (and, later, shipping) confirmation via email; artwork and any associated color profiles for that customer are pulled from the server and dropped into the appropriate department files where it enters a queue for the press operator. The entire process is automated up until the operator sends the project to the appropriate printer. The order continues to be tracked in the system until the graphics arrive at their destination.
“It’s a huge benefit to us as we can accept orders 24/7,” says Alan Davis, BPI Media Group president. “We took out six hand touches for files through use of the storefront – in turn, that allows us to do things cheaper.”
For customers, the program streamlines ordering. A client reported to BPI that use of the custom storefront cut internal administrative costs by 25 percent and eliminated 75 percent of emails related to their print items. Analytics provided by the system can also aid clients in tracking all orders across the company.
“It’s not so much about what software you use; it’s more about what personnel you have,” Davis says. “We have four people – our programmers/IT/software gurus – who keep things up and running and innovate what we do.”Advertisement
With 30 clients utilizing a customized storefront portal, BPI is working on the next step in automation. Within the next 18 months, the PSP will enable an order placed at midnight to be automatically printed before the facility opens at 6:30 that morning.
The storefront portals and push toward further automation help BPI differentiate the business from competitors.
“We are not in a major market, so for us to be competitive with the large corporations we have to have something that’s more beneficial to them than just ink on substrate,” Davis says.
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