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NAPL White Paper Finds Significant Gap Between Web-to-Print Expectations and Results

More than half of printers surveyed say Web-to-print has helped grow sales, but more than 80% express major disappointment in the new technology.

East Rutherford, N.J. (November 12, 2013)—A newly released white paper from the National Association for Printing Leadership (NAPL) Research Center, “Web-to-Print: The Promise, the Potential, and the Reality,” finds printers experienced mixed returns from their Web-to-print initiatives. While more than half of those surveyed say Web-to-print has increased sales and two thirds say it has streamlined workflow, more than 80% report that it has not met their expectations, falling far short in terms of client use and features accessed.

The report is based on an industry survey of Web-to-Print Services that included responses from 70 companies with sales ranging from below $1 million to more than $50 million. Both the survey and white paper are sponsored by Xerox.

“On the surface, the numbers are very encouraging―companies reporting that Web-to-print has increased sales outnumber those reporting that it hasn’t by nearly three to one, over two-thirds report Web-to-print has streamlined workflow, and nearly half report that it has enhanced company image,” state NAPL Senior Vice President and Chief Economist Andrew Paparozzi and Senior Economist Joe Vincenzino, authors of the new white paper.

“But below the surface are serious concerns about the limited number of clients who use Web-to-print, the many clients who use only a few of the features offered, and operational challenges such as integrating Web-to-print and management information systems,” they continue. “The net result: just 19.1%―fewer than one in five―of the companies we surveyed report no major disappointments with their Web-to-print service.”

Among the most significant Web-to-print disappointments cited by printing companies: not enough clients using the service (51.5%) and clients using only a limited number of features (33.8%). While about two-thirds of the study group say their customers are using Web-to-print for job creation, submission, and file transmission, about one third or fewer find customers using it for outputting files directly to the printing queue, job tracking, preflighting files, billing electronically directly to the customer’s payment system, or automated job scheduling.

“What we found in our research on Web-to-print tells two very different stories,” says Paparozzi, “and reminds us why it is so important to consider the realities of offering the service as carefully as the potential. Practically everyone we surveyed has benefitted from offering Web-to-print, with more than two-thirds of the group reporting that it improved automation and reduced touches on a job, 58% reporting that it had increased sales and 56.5% that it had increased profitability.

“Had we ended our study there we would have had one view of Web-to-print,” he continues, “but we went on to ask about Web-to-print challenges and how usage compares with expectations. What we learned was eye-opening: 58% of companies surveyed reported a client utilization rate of 5% or less and 92.8% a rate of 20% or less. The average rate was just 11.3%, or a little better than one in nine clients.”

The white paper also includes an in-depth review of key questions to ask before making a capital investment in a Web-to-print system, as well as detailed insights from NAPL Senior Consultant Howie Fenton on how industry leaders approach training issues related to Web-to-print implementation.

Paparozzi and Fenton will be joined by two guest printer panelists for an hour-long live conversation about the white paper results and their experiences with Web-to-print services―the benefits, challenges, and current client use―in a free NewsTalk Live webinar on Tuesday, Nov. 19, at 11 a.m. E.T. The program is also sponsored by Xerox. For more information or to register, visit http://napl.org/events/ or call (800) 642-6275.

“Web-to-Print: The Promise, the Potential, and the Reality” will soon be made available at no charge to NAPL and NAQP members as a benefit of membership. Non-members may purchase the report for $39.95. For more information, call (800) 642-6275, Ext. 6324, or email joppenheim@napl.org.

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About NAPL

Founded in 1933, NAPL has been a management education and industry research leader at every stage of the industry's growth and transformation, and is well prepared to maintain that leadership position through its unmatched member's services for decades to come.

3 Responses to "NAPL White Paper Finds Significant Gap Between Web-to-Print Expectations and Results"

  • 5 “Simple” Features Every Web to Print Solution Needs | DME Marketing Blog
    February 26, 2014 - 11:54 am Reply

    [...] Recent research shows that the greatest hindrance of successful web to print implementation lies in the adoption rate. The truth is, investing in a web to print platform is just as much about investing in the provider as it is the software. For this reason, 90% of businesses need to change their perspectives and look at web to print as more of a solution, and less of a product. With that in mind, these are some of the qualities and features you should be focused on when trying to choose between the various web to print solutions on the market. [...]

  • John Raithel
    November 19, 2013 - 12:16 pm Reply

    Make no mistake about it…web to print is here to stay and will continue to grow in its usage by the print buying public. “Web-to-Print: The Promise, the Potential, and the Reality” is spot on and paints the picture of how far (or not so far) this technology has been adopted. With all the overwhelming advantages to the printer who successfully implement this type of client interaction and workflow why has it been somewhat of a disappointment to date? Simply…training & management. Web-to-Print does not sell itself and once sold it takes further involvement to assure usage. Printers are not traditionally prepared to sell in this manner.

    Sales training, sales management, client training, the right equipment & workflow and a well written web-to-print application are needed. Not to mention product type as not all printing fits well with web-to-print.

    Great topic and one we need to discuss and understand.

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