Creating Web-to-Print Portals for Your Customers

Setting up web-to-print portals for your best customers can be a smart way to reduce the amount of time the employees of your printing business or sign shop spend on estimating and order management.

Whether your customers order reprints of previous print jobs or upload uncomplicated new jobs, a web-to-print portal can be a time-saver for everyone. When clients can create estimates and place orders themselves, your staff is free to work on projects other than repeatedly answering basic questions about prices or the status of jobs in progress.

With a properly set up online storefront, new jobs should flow error free into the Print MIS system your shop users to create estimates, process orders, and coordinate approvals, production, shipping, and invoicing.

The success of the web-to-print portal will depend on how well you plan and manage the set-up process. Here are some questions to guide you.

What types of issues could cause this project to fail?
In her book “Make Great Software Decisions,” Jennifer Matt of Web2Print Experts recommends holding a “pre-mortem” session in which you try to imagine all of the ways your software implementation project could fail.

In other words, don’t wait for the project’s “post-mortem” meeting in which everyone looks back and identifies things they could have done better. Try to anticipate beforehand where the project might get sidetracked.

What types of products will you allow your customers to order online?
Will customers simply be able to order reprints or variations of past jobs? Or can they use the portal to create their own estimates for brand new projects? What types of jobs will always require custom estimates?

Who will take the lead in managing the implementation?
While it seems more natural to appoint an employee with a technical background to lead a storefront development project, you also need a senior manager to get involved and inspire enthusiasm..

Without strong leadership, setting up a web-to-print portal can become one of those projects that never quite gets finished. The leader should help team members understand the goal of the project and how success will be evaluated and measured.

How many products will be available when the site opens for business?
You could start with a few, relatively easy products first and see how the system works. Then plan to add more during a second or third phase of the storefront building process.

Who will be responsible for maintaining the site?
Like all websites, a web-to-print storefront will require ongoing maintenance. Product offerings can be added or modified throughout the year, and prices may need to updated to reflect changes in material costs.

Who should customers contact if they have trouble placing an order through the site?
Include the name of the contact at your company on the portal. Or, set up an online chat feature. Make sure the employees you choose as your client contact are trained to quickly resolve issues with your software provider.

Before launch, who will evaluate the usability of the website?
During the design phase, try to look at it from a new user’s point of view. Is it simple enough so that anyone from the client company can place an order? Are the order approval, payment methods, and proofing methods clearly explained? If customers are required to use branded templates, are the templates easily accessible? Are instructions for formatting projects simple and clear? It is also important to clarify how the functionality of the web-to-print portal will be tested before it opens for use by your customers.

Who will take the lead in encouraging customers to fully use the site?
To maximize the benefits of the project, it’s important that many employees at your client company are encouraged to use the portal to place orders for printing or signs. Who will demonstrate the features and benefits of the site to your clients? Who will check in with the client periodically to see what improvements need to be made?

Ease of Integration Matters

To set up a self-service ordering system for your best customers, start with a web-to-print module provided by the same software developer that provides your Print MIS program for estimating and order management..

For example, the web-to-print module available with Ordant’s order management system is designed for speed, ease of use, and flexibility. It also integrates seamlessly with Ordant’s estimating, order entry, job approval, invoicing, and shipping tools. You don’t have to worry that valuable details about the job or the customer will fall through the cracks..

With Ordant, you can set up web-to-print portals for the full range of products and services your printing firm or sign shop offers. Your customers can easily use past estimates and order histories to re-order products, upload files for new projects, and track the status of jobs in progress.

As you gain experience operating a web-to-print portal for your business customers, you may decide to set up an online storefront to sell digitally printed merchandise directly to consumers. Ordant’s fast, powerful cloud-based software can handle those types of e-commerce sites too.

For a demo of Ordant software, including the web-to-print module, visit

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