Online artwork creation tools, also known as ‘web to print’ (W2P), allow a customer to first create artwork templates and then personalise the content on a job-by-job or ad-hoc basis, ready for download as a print-ready PDF at its printing supplier. The application of W2P technology is perhaps most recognisable in the form of business cards and stationery, the greetings card market and templated photo products, but can – and is – used for a wide variety of other customisable printed products, such as labels, leaflets, flyers, booklets and posters.
W2P allows a print job to go straight from an online design interface directly to the printing machine for printing; especially where the machine is a digital printing press with an accessible print queue or the printer has built its digital workflow around an API. Elsewhere, it is more common for the printer to simply download the customer-created artwork and push it manually into its production workflow.
The W2P service itself is often provided directly to customers by its print provider and, in turn, there are a raft of W2P solution providers whose primary target market is the printing companies themselves. As such, the industry is becoming ever more populated by printers offering W2P to its customer base.
The ability to offer W2P is, generally speaking, good for printers. It allows them to forge customer-dependent relationships from which it may be difficult for the customer to extricate themselves; especially once the printer has become the custodian of the customer artwork. Moreover, even though the customer intellectually owns the artwork it has created, it is often stored on the printers own infrastructure or that of its W2P service provider, in the file format of the artwork editing tools the system utilises. This makes the process of removing or relocating the artwork assets inconvenient, at best, and sometimes practically impossible.
More often than not, then, a customer will stick with a single W2P service provider – often its printing supplier – for the sake of logistical and administration simplicity, effectively reducing the opportunity to consider other suppliers where it might otherwise wish to do so. The effect is often described by the W2P vendors as ‘locking in’ a customer, which is great for the printer; but not so good for the customer.
PDQ Sales Hub uniquely offers its customers a ‘one-to-many’ W2P experience. Unlike traditional W2P, where one supplier becomes the effective ‘owner’ and custodian of the customer artwork, PDQ Sales Hub instead provides an environment in which many suppliers are available to receive the artwork and produce the final printed job. Moreover, the customer controls which suppliers get access to its artwork on a job-by-job basis; with no long-term inter-dependencies and no effective ‘lock ins’ with any particular supplier. All customer digital artwork assets are stored in a secure, GDPR compliant, centralised location on PDQ Sales Hub servers, ready to deploy to the supplier of the customer’s choice:
There is little doubt that traditional web to print will continue to have a key role to play in the future of print. Some customers prefer a one-to-one relationship with a printing supplier and the dependency it encourages between them. They often credit this arrangement for helping to deliver better service levels and promote a greater level of trust and loyalty.
Other customers prefer a less dependent approach that offers a greater choice of suppliers and potentially better prices from the wider marketplace; but they still want and expect great service.
Happily, both of these types of relationships can co-exist side by side in PDQ Sales Hub. If a customer wishes to place most, or all, of its work with a single supplier, it can choose to do so and enjoy the benefits of a singular working relationship. This is similar to traditional W2P thinking, but without the supplier dependency. Alternatively, they can create and edit templates then scour the entire marketplace in a few seconds to find the most suitable and cost-effective supplier for the job. Not just any supplier; suppliers who are managed by the system and are routinely monitored for performance, delivery and quality.
So, perhaps the acronym ‘W2P’ will soon come to be redefined. Where once it meant ‘web to print’, in PDQ Sales Hub it has come to represent a much bigger idea: ‘web to printers‘.
And the future of distributed, customisable artwork has arrived. It is called PDQ W2P.