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Time To Switch Gears With Web To Print

June 11th, 2014 - Posted by Ellen Hurwitch, Director of Operations - The Americas


The other day I was having lunch with a friend who has recently changed jobs, this
means that he is now commuting by car rather than public transport. He was lamenting about having to drive a stick shift in rush hour traffic and how it was slow, cumbersome and frustrating. He was going to have to buy a car that was an automatic.
And then I thought to myself, slow, cumbersome and frustrating, where have I heard those words before? The bulb lit up in my head – we are all looking for ways to automate and reduce unnecessary manual processes. We hear this almost every day in the print industry and many of us are working on ways to alleviate the frustration of manual touch points.
Over the years we have seen many different products that have helped automate the print production process. Computer to plate (CTP) was an early entry into the world of automation that eliminated the need for making films, which was itself a multi step process. So, in essence, CTP helped to eliminate many manual steps. Then came the automation of preflighting which removed the need to perform manual checks and ensure all files were present, valid and correctly formatted for print. These two developments alone saved at least two or three days in the workflow process and as the infrastructure improved, files were easily transmitted online thus eliminating the need for overnight delivery, back and forth.
Over 10 years ago, RedTie entered the web to print marketplace as one of the first SaaS (software as a service) models. It was, and still is, a way to order print online while maintaining the brand business rules. This allowed print buyers to order template products 24/7 and approve their variable data right online. No longer did they have to wait to place an order, get a confirmation back from the print sales person, who in turn would enter the order into the print shop via the customer service person and send back hard copies of print proofs. So we too are engaged in the process of removing frustration and helping smooth over the print journey.
But what about the one-offs, or custom items, that a print buyer may need? Do these still create too many manual processes and clog up the gears of automation? In the past a lot of these were considered the domain of a print estimator, meaning time lost for both the printer and the waiting client. Estimators could spend hours trying to calculate costs and it would again mean more waiting days for the print buyer.
With RTT Plus, the wait time has been eliminated. The end user simply describes the project using configurable questions and drop down menus, i.e. number of pages, colors, format, finishing, etc., and a pre-configured (by the print estimator) calculator intelligently updates the price instantly according to the business rules in place.
Everybody is always in a rush – and in the print world it is no different, however with automation a lot of the bottlenecks and frustrations are eliminated. I wished my friend lots of luck with his newly purchased automatic car but rush hour traffic still persists, and I wonder when that whole concept will be automated so he can enjoy, along with the print world, smooth sailing ahead!