By Cassandra Balentine
Workflow is increasingly important to the efficiency of a modern printing environment. This becomes even more true when digital is involved. Web to print (W2P) technologies present print providers with an online arm to serve clients.
Located in Austin, TX, Horizon Printing offers a range of services from business cards to photobooks. With a staff of approximately 45 employees, the company focuses its efforts on commercial printing and mailing applications. Since opening its doors in 1991 with just a few employees, it is now one of the top printers in the Austin area, operating out of a 20,000 square foot facility.
With a mix of traditional and digital technologies, the shop offers a variety of output options. Its equipment list includes a Mitsubishi six-color 40-inch offset press with a UV coater, a Ryobi six-color 20-inch traditional press with coater, a Xerox iGen, a Xerox 700, and a B&W Xerox digital press.
The company’s range of equipment enables the shop to produce work at up to six colors, plus offer aqueous coating. It also features a complete bindery and finishing department, staffed with skilled employees and equipment that binds, booklets, folds, drills, cuts, and packages jobs.
Don Parsley, Web administrator, Horizon Printing, estimates that the company’s digital capabilities currently make up roughly 20 percent of its overall business.
Recognizing the ability to add revenue with an online presence, the company went live with a W2P solution in 2012. Parsley recalls that it took about three months to prepare. “The owner wanted ecommerce capability as another source of revenue, but we still primarily use direct sales,” he says.
After some initial research, Horizon Printing settled on a W2P solution from Quarterhouse Software. Parsley lists a number of reasons for the selection including functionality, price, and the fact that the Quarterhouse Software representative was a previous customer of the shop. “We had history, so it gave us a level of comfort,” he comments.
Quarterhouse Software’s QPrint Pro Suite consists of several integrated modules, which are designed to address the many needs of a modern print shop. It provides an end-to-end ecommerce and job management system that features user-focused Web site workflows designed for both business to business and business to consumer applications, advanced online design and auto proofing technology, a choice of templates or custom solutions, as well as training and support.
The QPrint Storefront module offers a customer-facing Web-based shopping experience. It includes configurable categories, product groups, modifiers and options, and integration with other QPrint modules as well as Quickbooks, Microsoft Dynamics, UPS, FedEx, and major credit card payment gateway services.
The QPrint E-Designer module is a Web-based design environment that provides the ability for customers to create new applications including multipage documents, cards, and posters in a template-driven interface.
The QPrint Quickflight allows customers to proof their own print files on the shop’s Web site, providing the opportunity to easily submit jobs in PDF, TIFF, EPS, or JPEG format.
The QPrint Administrator module is a complete management center for a print provider’s staff to set options globally and for each client as needed.
Quarterhouse’s newest module is the QPrint E-Photobook, a Web-based application that creates photobooks with a Web browser and Flash plug-in.
Ultimately, the solution provided Horizon Printing with everything it needed, and more. “We wanted to simply the order entry and payment process on standard orders, and we also wanted customers to have the ability to design standard products online,” says Parsley. He estimates that the shop currently utilizes maybe ten to 15 percent of the solution’s total abilities. It plans to further integrate the solution into the organization as it grows.
Integrating new technologies into an existing operation is often tedious and challenging. However, by providing enough lead time and working closely with Quarterhouse Software, Parsley describes the launch as fairly straightforward.
Although the implementation of W2P provides Horizon Printing with added visibility on the Internet, it wasn’t meant to completely take over existing ways of business. Since the launch of its W2P portal, the changes to the organization are not too dramatic. Parsley notes that it simply adds another channel.
Additional benefits include the automation of some steps on the simpler orders, which frees up CSRs for the more mundane tasks relative to order entry.
Parsley estimates that approximately 20 percent of its customers will submit jobs through the Web today. “We have regular customers that order lots of business cards and simple flyers through the site,” he explains. “They still order custom jobs, usually more complex work, through the standard, direct channels.”
Many print providers strive to hit a perfect balance of customer interaction and automation. For Horizon Printing, W2P capabilities provide a necessary extension of its core business.
While direct sales are important to the success of the operation, the ability to automate certain jobs enables the company to dedicate more resources to the complex jobs while streamlining straightforward work.
“It’s no magic bullet,” says Parsley. “It’s just another way to be accessible when people go hunting for a print provider. We’ve gotten many leads on new business from the Web site, which is probably its best feature, so far,” he concludes. dps
Mar2014, DPS Magazine