By Cassandra Balentine
Part 2 of 2
The web is now a critical component of the modern print business. Consumer-focused print providers are faced with a competitive landscape. To effectively support a growing need for frequent, short-run work, web to print (W2P) helps eliminate repetitive tasks and streamline productivity.
Building an ecommerce strategy for a consumer-focused print business requires ease of use, support for a vast array of offerings, and ideally connects with print production workflow systems for advanced productivity.
Steven Antoni, president, Americas, CloudLab, feels business to consumer (B2C) sites offer a wider product range when compared to business to business (B2B), as they appeal to a much broader audience.
Reuben Ben Quesus, director of business development, Racad Tech, states that B2C print needs are broad and most W2P systems cannot handle all of those requests while staying focused on their platform. “We address them by leveraging the open source communities and adopting technologies that are general, while filling in the gaps by focusing on the difficult W2P components.”
Dmitry Sevostyanov, CEO, Customer’s Canvas by Aurigma Inc., says that initially the B2B and B2C ecommerce applications for the printing industry were quite different. “Over time, the boundary between them began to blur. However, there are still significant differences between them.”
For B2C clients, the user interface is crucial. “No one wants to wander through the maze of a cumbersome interface to order a photo on a mug. A user-friendly website, along with rich personalization capabilities, can have a strong impact on the willingness to complete a purchase. Lately, mobile-friendly storefronts have become a major factor to consider,” says Sevostyanov.
Ellen Faith Hurwitch, VP operations, the Americas, RedTie, says the biggest difference between B2B and B2C ecommerce strategies is related to customer acquisition. “B2C is incredibly competitive, very price driven, and customers rarely have any site loyalty. That being said, attracting customers is a well-trodden path. SEO, social media, and a fairly significant online marketing budget are in house—or third party—skills that are vital.”
Ravi Dugal, president, Mediawide, says a B2C print business should include a print ecommerce tool, which the customers can design, edit, and print products before adding them to the shopping cart.
Kelvin Bell, sales director, VPress, points out that most often with B2C, work follows the W2P solution as marketing and product management must meet the needs of a prospective audience.
With B2C, Kelvin Bell, sales director, VPress, points out that marketing is a huge part of the success of the project—they will need to have their website optimized for SEO and have a plan in place for how they will promote and differentiate themselves.
“Broadly speaking, a B2C print provider’s ecommerce strategy must focus on user experience and the ability to handle a large volume of lower value orders,” says Austin Wyman, marketing director, Propago. Success with ecommerce in a B2C print environment depends heavily on how easy it is for a customer to find your site and how little transaction friction there is once they’re there. “Typically, this is type of business is price driven, not necessarily value or service driven,” he shares.
For the B2C space, critical features include a responsive, modern site design that allows for integrations with third-party tools such as LivePerson Chat, SEO plugins, PayPal, etc. “The ability to let users upload, customize, and edit their final product and add specialized paper, covers, or binders online is also a critical element not just because it’s a great way to serve the customer, but also because of the upsell opportunities. Related to this point is a feature that is very much in demand in the B2C space, which is built in abandoned cart strategies such as the ability to send a direct mail piece automatically to a person who has shown interest in selecting a product but hasn’t finalized their purchase,” says Josie Stein, manager, marketing and communications.
Mark Gallucci, manager, technology marketing, Agfa Graphics, says B2C can help expand the reach and customer base, and may be simpler to set up since there are no specific customer-mandated requirements. Profitability of commodity print products may be less than in the B2B model due to price pressure, but the enhanced customer experience will lead to repeat orders. “For printers offering unique or unusual products or finishing capabilities not available from low-priced competitors, there is tremendous opportunity. Success in the B2C space depends on getting the word out, through advertising, SEO, promotional campaigns, and having a user-friendly interface for novice print buyers.”
An effective ecommerce strategy is increasingly important to consumer-facing print businesses. An easy to use W2P portal attracts customers and keeps them on the site long enough to place an order. Fast turnaround and quality work keep them coming back.
Sep2019, DPS Magazine