Planning Web-to-Print Portals: 8 Questions to Ask

If you think your print shop doesn’t need web-to-print storefronts, maybe it’s time to reconsider. The set-up process doesn’t have to be complicated. But planning web-to-print portals does require some time and clear thinking.

By now, every working-age person in the U.S. has probably purchased some type of printed product online. It might not have been for business. Perhaps it was a photo book. Or business cards for a freelance gig. Or T-shirts for a family reunion. The point is most people know how easy and convenient it can be to order printed products online. Your print shop may seem hopelessly out of touch if you don’t yet offer web-to-print portals.

Consider these 8 questions when planning web-to-print portals:

Do you have an automated workflow in place to manage incoming orders?

Setting up an efficient system for automatically processing all incoming orders is an important first step. Without an order management system, your customer-service team might be unable to keep up with seasonal surges in fast-turnaround orders for different types and sizes of printed materials.

Whether jobs are submitted online, through a sales rep, or by walk-in customers, you can’t afford to let any print job fall through the cracks. Nor can you afford to mess up details such as deadlines and shipping instructions.

What types of online storefronts will you set up?

If your print shop primarily serves business customers (e.g. restaurants, small manufacturers, non-profit groups, schools, or graphic-design studios), each customer will want a private web-to-print portal through which they can easily order the printed products they need most often. Your business customers may want their web-to-print portals to look like their own websites.

To sell a selection of printed products directly to consumers, you can set up a retail web-to-print storefront for your printing business. You can design the portal to match your print shop’s branding. Or, you may design the web-to-print portal to look like an entirely separate e-commerce business.

What types of products will be available?

Start with a small collection of standardized templates for the most popular types of products on a limited range of materials. Many customers won’t want to sort through dozens of options and choices. They will simply want to quickly order a basic brochure, business card, poster, banner, or sign at a pre-set price. You can add products and options once the portal is up and running.

How will the products be displayed and described on the website?

Make sure you have good photographs and illustrations for each product to be sold on the portal. Plus, you will need clear, jargon-free descriptions of each product.

For example, you don’t need technical descriptions about the specific types of banner material that will be used. Simply give customers a choice of ordering economical banners for temporary indoor display or weather-resistant banners for outdoor display.

To avoid repeatedly answer basic questions from new buyers, link to videos or blog posts that answer questions about preparing designs, customizing templates, and submitting files.

How will the orders be proofed and approved?

Customers should be able instantly preview how their customized templates will look and correct any typos or misplaced elements. Make it clear that when they submit the job, they are granting permission for you to print the file.

What payment options will be available?

Payment options will depend on whether you are setting up a private web-to-print portal for an important business customer or a retail storefront open to the public. Before launching the web-to-print service, you will need to test that the payment systems work.

How will orders be confirmed?

When a web-to-print order enters your order-management system, the customer should automatically be notified by email that the order was received. You can also set up the system to notify them when and how the order was shipped. Include details about procedures for returning materials that were printed incorrectly or damaged during shipping.

How will you handle questions and suggestions from users?

Will your customer-service team be available to answer questions from someone who is trying to place an online order?  Will the technical support team from your software vendor be available to resolve operational issues that might arise?

Setting up a web-to-print portal involves managing a lot of details. But it doesn’t have to be technically complicated — especially with the web-to-print module of Ordant’s cloud-based software. Because web-to-print storefronts are tightly integrated into Ordant’s print order management system, you don’t have to worry that crucial details will get lost in translation from one piece of software to another. To schedule a demo of Ordant’s easy-to-use print order management system and web-to-print module, visit

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