It’s a term that’s bandied around quite a lot these days, but it’s not always totally clear exactly what Web to Print actually means. If you ask ten different printers or graphic designers ‘What is web to print?’, you’re likely to get ten slightly different answers.

A Brief History

Printers have been selling online for far longer than the term “web to print” has been in existence.  No-one knows the exact origin of the term, but it was certainly used in an online article on Desk Top Publishing by a guy called Jim Frew as long ago as 1999!

The term ‘web to print’ is now no longer just associated with the process of using web driven technology to produce printed materials. Many companies who offer web to print as a service have made it ubiquitous, picking up on the term to name software or certain departments that specialise in it.

The Terminology

First of all, it’s worth pointing out that people can’t even agree completely on the terminology “web to print”.  To some it’s web-to-print (note the hyphens), to others it’s web 2 print, and sometimes it’s condensed to web2print or even abbreviated to W2P.

More terminology that’s associated with web to print is B2C – business to consumer, and B2B – business to business, these are the markets that web to print can operate in.

Lastly, before understanding the full meaning of web to print we need to understand a key solution it provides. eCommerce is essentially the process of buying and selling goods and service online. It also encompasses the transmitting of funds or data in the sales process. If you visit a website to research a product and then eventually enter your details and payment information in order to buy, that’s eCommerce.

All the definitions description above are a bit narrow on their own. In reality it isn’t quite that straightforward, and there’s a fair degree of overlap.  Similarly, this type of segmentation masks not only the types of websites that are required but the ways in which they would be promoted and how customer relationships would be managed.  Quite simply, it just doesn’t fit the way that print is sold online.

Web to Print – The Flex4 Definition

Traditionally for many printers web to print is the process of using customisable templates to generate print ready PDFs, and this has certainly continued to be an important feature. However, thanks to the continued growth in both businesses and consumers expecting to source products online, the definition has been broadened to encompass all web technology a print business needs to sell print online, reduce costs, and improve customer service.

Today many printers who are sourcing web to print technology are in fact looking for a complete print eCommerce solution. This allows them to both advertise print products online and increase revenues with 24 hour ordering. Both can be achieved through a public eCommerce website and private client storefronts.

Flex4 have over 15 years’ experience in the w2p market, we would define web to print as the following:


Web. The displaying of print products online so customers can order them easily.


Print. Print product orders are automated so that the printer can access a print ready formatted file.

What goes into a Web to Print eCommerce Solution?

Whilst it’s nice to have a pure definition of web2print, the reality is that many companies will only offer the basics. There is so much more that is achievable with a comprehensive web to print system.

As a printer you’ll almost certainly be providing eCommerce – i.e. straightforward selling online.  This frequently includes the option for your clients to upload their own artwork, or you may offer your own graphic design service for them. We might call this an online print store or print eCommerce.

You may also offer your clients a library of customisable “templates” covering products like business cards, letterheads, and so on.  Consumers and businesses alike will be able to view everything on offer and select and customise according to their needs, and a print ready PDF will be generated which could go straight to the press without any human involvement.

But there’s a further level, which is where you provide a private client area or “storefront”, accessed by logging in securely. This would not only contain pre-approved client specific templates, but prices and commercial terms too.  This would be a fully fledged web to print solution, although as we’ve seen there’s an understandable degree of overlap between the definitions.

The Online Print Solution (OPS) offers both print eCommerce and private branded storefronts –aka client portals – that offer much more than basic functionality.

From online templates and artwork upload for customers’ use; to integrations with a vast array of different types of software that minimise double-keying for printers and save you time and money; Flex4’s OPS is an accomplished web2print software solution that excels in comparison to the competition.

How Do I Know If Web To Print Is For Me?

Flex4 are experts at bespoke development and as well as our pre-defined packages, we also offer modular add-ons to ensure that you get exactly the solution you need without unnecessary bells and whistles. We often find that the best way to get a feel for the extent of the features that are available on OPS is to book an online demo so that you can see the back office of the software and discuss your business’ needs.

Is Flex4’s OPS Affordable?

We understand that different businesses manage their cash flow in different ways. Flex4 offer monthly payment plans on most of their web2print software packages and we are happy to provide pricing for prospective clients upon request.

Why Choose OPS?

Powerful – OPS is a powerful system that has been designed for the print industry.

Flexible – OPS is a flexible software solution and Flex4 are expert at bespoke design.

Affordable – OPS can be paid for upfront or by using our new monthly payment plans.

About us

Flex4 have over 15 years’ experience in designing, developing and supporting web to print solutions and services for print businesses in both the UK and overseas.

We have an experienced eCommerce team with skills and experience in business development, marketing, project management, software development, website management, and digital marketing.

Our raison d’être is to help your business to grow by increasing your print revenues and reducing your administration costs. The result is a better ordering experience for your customers and a better margin and more efficient process for you.

If you’d like more information on OPS please contact us via our website or call us directly on 020 7952 8160, we will be delighted to help you.