As specialists in web to print software, we see much confusion around what a web-to-print storefront is and how to decipher the difference between this and print ecommerce. We get asked “what is web to print?” on a regular basis! To begin with, there is a lot of differing terminology out there. Print portals, W2P and print ecommerce (among many others) are all terms that get banded about, making it confusing for anyone either new to the industry or exploring taking their print online. In this blog, we help simplify what a web to print storefront is and what the difference between this and print ecommerce is.  

OK – so what is a web to print storefront? 

Web to print storefronts, also known as print portals or web to print portals, are online platforms that enable businesses to personalise and order print products from a commercial print shop, through a web interface. A web to print storefront provides the business with a private log in, known only to them, which gains them access to a print store with any print products they choose. These storefronts allow businesses to save and customise all their print products – such as business cards, flyers, and posters by selecting a template, adding their own text and images, and placing an order for print production. They then have the ability to add more items to the store, as the business requires, and edit the existing templates whenever any details need updating or repeat orders are required.  

What does a business need a web to print storefront for? 

A web to print storefront is an asset for any business that has a high demand for repeat orders of print products. Not only do they save time by storing any previously ordered products, but it is also possible to select automated ordering at set dates or when stocks reach a predetermined level. In short, a web to print storefront automates and centralises print ordering, which comes with a host of benefits. 

The benefits of a web-to-print storefront 

There are so many ways a business can profit from investing in a web to print storefront. To give you some idea, we’ve outlined a few of the main ones below. 

  • Increased Efficiency: With web-to-print storefronts, businesses can automate their print ordering processes, reducing the need for manual input and saving time. 
  • Greater Personalisation: Web-to-print storefronts allow businesses to customise print products to their unique specifications, improving brand reinforcement. 
  • Scalability: Web-to-print storefronts can handle a large volume of orders, making it easier for businesses to handle increased demand. 
  • Improved Customer Experience: From the perspective of a print shop, web-to-print storefronts provide customers with an easy and intuitive way to customise and order print products.
  • Cost-Effective: Web-to-print storefronts can reduce costs associated with print ordering and fulfilment by streamlining the process and reducing human error. 

The key features of web-to-print storefronts 

To be effective, web-to-print storefronts should have several key features that improve the customer experience and enable businesses to manage print orders effectively. These features include: 

  • Customisable Templates: Web-to-print storefronts should provide customers with a wide range of customisable templates for various print products, enabling them to create unique designs easily. 
  • Preview Functionality: Web-to-print storefronts should include a preview function that allows customers to see how their custom designs will look before placing an order. 
  • Personalisation Options: Web-to-print storefronts should offer customers a range of personalisation options, including the ability to upload their own images and add text in different fonts and colours. 
  • Order Management: Web-to-print storefronts should include a comprehensive order management system that allows businesses to manage print orders effectively, including tracking orders, managing inventory, and from a print shop perspective, communicating with the customer. 
  • Integration with Printing and Shipping Partners: Web-to-print storefronts should be integrated with printing and shipping partners to enable easy fulfilment and delivery of orders. This is usually by way of Print MIS. 

What’s the difference between a web to print storefront and print ecommerce? 

While the terms “web-to-print storefront” and “print ecommerce” are often used interchangeably, there are some key differences between the two that are worth exploring.  

Web-to-Print Storefronts 

As we’ve already outlined above, a web-to-print storefront is an online platform that enables businesses to order personalised print products through a web interface. Web-to-print storefronts are typically designed for businesses who have a high demand for repeat orders of certain print products. Web to print storefronts are typically offered to high value clients of print shops who want to offer their customers a more convenient and streamlined way to place orders. But they can also be implemented independently by any business who wants to automate and centralise the printing of key products. In particular, franchises or multi location businesses can benefit greatly from a web to print storefront.  

Print Ecommerce 

Print ecommerce, on the other hand, is a more general term that refers to any online platform (or website, to simplify that further) that allows businesses to sell print products. While web-to-print storefronts are private portals with confidential login details for an individual business, print ecommerce platforms may offer a wider range of products, including non-personalised items such as books and magazines.  

Print ecommerce platforms may be designed for businesses that are primarily focused on ecommerce and want to expand their product offerings to include print products. These platforms typically offer features such as online catalogues, shopping carts, and checkout processes. Unlike web-to-print storefronts, print ecommerce platforms may not include features such as customisable templates or personalisation options. Generally, a print ecommerce website is a public shopping platform, and a web to print storefront is a private platform for an individual client. 

Choosing the Right Solution 

When choosing between a web-to-print storefront and print ecommerce, businesses should consider their specific needs and goals. If the business is primarily focused on printing and wants to offer personalised print products, a web-to-print storefront may be the better choice. On the other hand, if the business is primarily focused on ecommerce and wants to offer a range of print products to the public, a print ecommerce platform may be more appropriate. 

Ultimately, the right solution will depend on the business’s specific needs and goals. By understanding the differences between web-to-print storefronts and print ecommerce platforms, businesses can make an informed decision and choose the platform that best meets their needs. 

Flex4 OPS – the Web to Print Experts 

We hope this article has helped clarify what a web to print storefront is and you feel more informed. But if you’re still unsure of what type of web to print solution you may need, contact us today. Our friendly, UK based team are on hand to help guide you through your options and figure out what might be best for your business. With over 15 years’ experience in print software solutions, we can guarantee the best advice.