A quick Google search will reveal the many business benefits of web-to-print services. Most of them are valid, but what they typically don’t convey is when and where web-to-print makes sense for businesses, writes Gerhard van Rooyen, business development manager at Remata Cross Media.

Essentially, the prototypical web-to-print service consists of a server, a web interface and a database, and it allows people to preview a design, edit the design and send the job for printing.
Web-to-print is essentially a means of generating print-ready files online, being able to modify them and send them for printing. A hypothetical situation may have a business user, such as a salesperson, log in to a website set up by an agency specifically for their business.
The salesperson, by identifying themselves through the login process, gains access only to those parts of the process which they are allowed to see – in this case their business card.
They enter their name, title, cellphone number and e-mail address, which updates their details to the server, then select how many cards they would like printed. The cards are then sent to the company’s marketing manager for approval before they are printed and couriered to the salesperson.
The agency has already done what it’s good at – designing the business card – and uploaded the file to the server. The system then overlays each user’s details on the cards before printing them. Or it can be done by batch upload, whichever the client prefers.
The salient point here is that the designer designs once and doesn’t have to update the business cards for each and every single person in the client’s business.
The benefits it delivers are numerous; a quick list includes:
* Marketing material is centralised.
* Editing, proofing and ordering is online and quick.
* Brand consistency is maintained across multiple printers and materials, while still allowing people to customise specific items.
* Design time is reduced through templates.
* Costs are reduced as people print on demand.
* Businesses can assign user-based access to material and features
This list, however, doesn’t specify which businesses should use web-to-print and how. Web-to-print is ideal for businesses that need many reprints, over a period of time, without making major changes to the design on each and every occasion.
Straightforward examples of applications are brochures, business cards, flyers, and business stationery.
Web-to-print also demonstrates major benefits for businesses seeking to centralise their corporate communication process, standardise their collateral and stationery, and ensure brand consistency.
At the end of the day, any decent web-to-print solution is going to give businesses better quality control and savings, while reducing the time it takes to produce material – highly valuable assets for many organisations.