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Jul 1, 2013 12:00 AM

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Think of your web-to-print storefront like an Internet version of a drive-through window


Drive-thoughs were a technological improvement restaurants used to one-up the competition. Signs and advertising focused on the benefits and included images of a happy, smiling family seated in a car while being handed food through an open restaurant window. The illustration implied speed, ease, and happiness.

 Customers did not care about the technical aspects of drive-through windows, or how much they cost, or the increase in sales for the business that installed them. They only cared about what was in it for them, the benefits to them. Once customers experienced how this new ordering feature made THEIR life easier, there was no turning back.

Think of your e-commerce capabilities as your Internet-based “drive-through printing window” or “printing ATM” in terms of speed and convenience. In advertising and sales calls, focus on the benefits to your customers. Answer their unasked question, “What’s in it for me?” Remember, they probably don’t want to hear how it makes your business more efficient and more profitable. Talking about how the automated workflow saves you time and money may not hold much interest. Instead, explain how the web-to-print (W2P)  software benefits them, how it makes their life easier or better.


There are three “don’ts” to using W2P as a selling tool:
1. Don’t talk about you, talk about your customer.
2. Don’t assume your customer is not interested in W2P if they don’t ask for it. They may not know about it nor understand it.
3. Don’t talk about “bits & bytes” technicalities (unless they specifically ask). Focus on the benefits to your customer instead.


The benefits to your customers are many, but can be summarized as speed, convenience, error reduction, control, and consistency.

Let’s take speed first. Many print jobs require files from the buyer. Sure, they could drive them over regardless of weather conditions, time of day, and traffic. But the file transfer built into a W2P system will deliver them faster. The three different file transfer options (attach to a web page order form, send to an FTP account, or upload to a variable data publishing (VDP) template) are all faster than getting in a car, or waiting in traffic, or driving through snow or rain, or waiting for a package pickup. They also happen to be less expensive (no gas, no time lost in traffic, no shipping bill) and more convenient (send from home, office, even a WI-FI hot spot in a store, hotel, etc.). But we are getting ahead of ourselves.

Rather than talking about file transfer, talk about how your customer can send you the files anytime, from anywhere at 186,000 miles per hour. That’s how fast light (and electricity) travels. Most customers would agree that even a tire-smoking, 1960s muscle car would have a hard time matching that for speed.


For customers who have already experienced time-based problems (after hours issues, missing fonts, last minute deadline’s, forgotten or incorrect images or documents, etc.), helping them understand how they can simply send those files using your storefront’s “drive-through window” can make you stand out from the competition. Most customers will see this as providing a superior service that meets their needs. Again, you are not talking about file transfer. You are talking about how to make your customer’s life easier by enabling them to do things in a new, faster way.

Of course the same speed benefit applies to placing orders, reorders, proofing, and running reports. And all are as close as their computer or smart phone.


For your customers, the other main benefit is convenience. People are like water: always seeking the easiest, most convenient path. Seven days a week, 24 hour-a-day availability is very convenient for buyers in any industry. (Regrettably, our programmers say that 25 hours a day availability is just not possible!), Convenience for your customer extends to other areas as well, such as order status updates, an automated approval process (if needed), and an automated proof generator.


Your customer can avoid common errors. On a business card template for example, common mistakes in addresses or formatting of information such as telephone numbers can prevented, protecting the buyer while preventing a costly mistake. The same goes for entering routine information. At checkout, their billing and shipping info can be re-used rather than re-entered. This prevents errors and saves time.


Being able to manage when orders are placed, how they are approved, when they ship, and everything in between provides the print buyer with a positive feeling of control. Everyone likes to be in control. With the Pressero system, you can go as far as your customer (and you) want, including supplying them with a customized, private-branded storefront for their print items. Rolling out the red carpet for qualified customers will give them an unsurpassed, tailor-fit ordering experience.


For B2B customers, the convenience of ordering from their own, private online catalog of items is hard to beat. And like a certain fast food chain, your customer can have it “their way.” Their catalog of products can restrict who can order certain items, display special pricing, show inventory levels, require some orders to be approved, and much more. Customers who desire monthly purchase reports will be interested in the convenience of exporting their own data, plus you can provide reports for them.


Corporate accounts often want to enforce a “house style” on all their printed materials. Whether it’s the font used, the logo size, or the color scheme, many companies desire a consistent “look.” You might rightfully argue that this is another form of “being in control.” But it’s a big enough issue to warrant its own benefit discussion. Your W2P system can deliver brand consistency by controlling the logos, colors and fonts that are used in both stock and personalized print items. Your customer’s marketing staff will appreciate this benefit.


Explaining the benefits is almost always more powerful than selling the feature. Explaining that they can instantly see an exact proof of how their new business card will look is more powerful than listing “proofing” as a feature for example. Few may care that you have a website but many will be interested in how they can do things faster and more conveniently.


Steve Ciesemier is an Account Manager at Aleyant Systems, developer of  the Pressero W2P system. He’d love to hear how you used your Web-to-Print system to land a new account, keep one from leaving, reduce expenses, or increase productivity.