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It’s not a trick!
Amazon, the ecommerce giant recently received an approval on a patent for On-Demand Clothing Manufacturing Warehouse. This news has been doing the rounds on the internet recently. For those who are unaware, Amazon will come up with an ecommerce automation system that enables personalized end-to-end printing and warehousing operations. You can read one of these news pieces if you want to know about the numerous ways in which it is going to benefit its customer base.
We did not share this news just for the sake of it. There was an intent behind sharing it. Or perhaps, a shout out to ecommerce store owners who rejoice merely upon having a web-to-print software solution. The ways in which ecommerce industries are advancing, it seems that just having a web-to-print facility will not suffice. You need to have automation solution that helps you to channel incoming orders from your online storefront directly into production workflows.
Also known as print shop workflow software, it is a perfect way to boost your profit margins and address the pain points that hinder your print production cycle. So, what are the ways in which a print shop workflow software can benefit your business? We will shed some light on that today.
1. Easy Inventory Management
As an ecommerce store owner, it is quite likely that you are selling numerous products. You also might have different warehouses at different locations. Now, you cannot be omnipotent and get real time updates/control over inventory. You need a system that helps you streamline your supply chain management. So, what if you had a system that keeps all the information about your vendors and inventory at a centralized location? Would work great! Wouldn’t it?! Once implemented, it will help your sales team to generate purchase orders and send them to the vendors from the system per se.
This will benefit in three ways. One, it will lessen your manual efforts. Two, it will make you efficient. And three, it will keep your customers satisfied and happy. Think about it.
2. Management of Print Files
The journey from designing to ordering is way more complicated than you think it is. An ideal print production cycle is usually like the one mentioned below:
Outwardly, it might seem like a six-step process. But if you think about it, so many things can go wrong. Let us say the final design had a typo and you need to send it back to the customer. Or, the red cartridge got over. Or, the material needed for printing was not available. If you do not address theses issues, things can go terribly wrong with the final production. print shop workflow software help you get over these problems by notifying you about them on time.
3. Streamlined Shipping Management
Shipping management can get stressful. Especially if you deal with different shipping companies at once. A print shop workflow software provides you with the facility to manage a lot of shipping features. Using it, you can create rules for calculating the delivery costs according to the weight of the parcel. You can also define the rules based on different delivery types that your business supports. So, whether you are dealing with FedEx, UPS, USPS, or DHL; your shipping task becomes extremely easy and stress-free.
Most of these systems work on Odoo technology. If you lack the technical knowhow as to how the shipping module works in an ERP, you can conduct R&D or speak with the professionals that are providing one of these solutions to you.
4. Enhanced Sales Management
Let us say you want to offer discount to certain loyal customers. In such a scenario, would you send individual emails to all of them? Of course, you can. But when you are handling a large-scale business, it is not feasible to spend a lot of time and efforts over such things. With a help of an automation system, you can just select the number of customers you want to send the discount offer to, create a common message, and click “send.” They will immediately receive an email about the offer you have made. Sounds great doesn’t it?!
Also, an ERP does not just work on the above-mentioned function. You can get it customized based on your sales management cycle. But before that, you must have a clarity on your requirements.
But, how does this work?
Well, it works like every other automation system does. All you need to do is define its flow from the backend. Once you’ve set the rules, it takes care of the entire web-to-print process. You can also edit and make changes in the flow as and when you want.
We hope this brings much clarity about print ERPs, their functioning, and benefits; before you start looking for an ERP for printing industry. If you are a large ecommerce enterprise, you should not wait for long before investing into one of these products. Cheers!
Reports from Tractica suggest that a huge surge of $58.37 billion in annual revenue from AI-based products and services is to be expected by 2025.
Before we talk about how big AI is getting and how it’s making its way through every industry, let’s take a look at its history.
In 1956, Prof. John McCarthy coined the term Artificial Intelligence during a conference held in Dartmouth, US. The aim was to explore ways to craft a machine that could improve, think, solve problems, and interact like a human. A small example of this is: today, we are leveraging AI-powered algorithms in voice-based assistants which interact with us based on our commands.
While AI is rapidly making its place in industries like finance, search marketing, healthcare, there are major corporations focusing on developing AI applications for the printing industry.
Let’s understand how printing industry can take advantage of AI.
Most of the printing organizations are turning to predictive maintenance because of one reason, efficiency. Almost all devices like printers, multi function printers have embedded sensor technology which enables data collecting and analyzing. Based on that data, it can predict possible loopholes your system can face in the near future. But there is no control over the volume of that data and its monitoring. In this case, AI can make it work better.
– Printers can use advanced AI-based algorithms to fetch real-time data which they can embed into their devices.
– Based on the data, they can develop techniques to collect and analyze data for insightful and cost-friendly maintenance procedures.
Even with the digital advancement taking place at an astonishing rate, there are still some businesses who use outdated operation methods. They are performing tasks like data entry, information validation, QA, data migration and such for the daily operations. To automate this process, RPA (Robotic process automation), a class of software that operates the way humans will be useful. It builds a virtual workforce that can work 24 hours without any errors.
This virtual workforce is not able to predict any anomalies or loopholes, but when integrated with AI, it could be a powerful combination. This technology uses algorithms to collect complex data and then educate the workforce to take precautions against future mishaps. You can handle manual jobs like printing, order processing, invoice creation, quality check (especially 3D designs), etc. with this method.
Let’s say you have almost 20,000 copies to print. You have all the things in place, but if there’s a problem in the printing software, it may create faulty results .i.e errors in print copies, inaccurate number of copies and so on. To avoid such issues. there are manufacturers who offer downloadable patches for specific operating systems and machines. But, AI, in this case, can render real-time alerts. This means, that you can identify the problem before it occurs. It will activate a protocol for a rapid, effective response to avoid breaches in the printing system.
The pain area for the printers is to install printer drivers for every single device they want to connect it with. That means, that they have been needing individual drivers for desktop and mobile devices. It makes overall process a bit slow and dependent. By enabling AI, printers can aid computers and mobile devices to detect it. AI-driven printers will enable mobile users to print directly from their devices without any hurdles with simple configurations.
Protection Against Security Threats
With an increasing number of printing shops letting their customers connect devices to the printers, cyber attacks through malware is a great threat. Detecting the source of that malware can be difficult with such a huge customer base. In such scenarios, AI would help manufacturers by providing network-level behavior analytics and real-time anomaly detection. Hence, the device-level security patches, commonly used to curb such issues, will be a rare thing in the near future.
So, if there is a security breach in the system, it can effectively give feedback using machine learning in combination with an advanced analytics engine.
And here’s how AI is already picking up the pace in the industry:
– Print management software integrates smart algorithms to recommend layouts to reduce paper waste.
– Using the AI-driven customer behavioral data, industry leaders are sending customized direct mail, catalogs, etc according to their individual preferences.
– Sensor enabled printers communicate with algorithms which results in a focused and streamlined process.
– Online product designer shops are leveraging numerous printing methods like screen printing, Direct to Garment (DTG), Sublimation, from one centralized system. It enables business owners to offer a variety of products to users which help them expand their businesses.
– Online product designer owners manage multiple production units through connected printers optimized using AI algorithms. It reduces human errors with increased print shop efficiency.
Summing it up…
The print industry is already experiencing a digital wave, and we can consider the adoption of AI as the new big thing. While there are tools like a custom product design software in the market, print vendors can invest in technology that keeps their services and devices relevant.
To start any type of business, firstly, you require two things:
If you have decided upon starting an online photo book business, then start by studying the industry. It will help you draft a well-equipped business model with its future scope, opportunities, threats, and upcoming trends.
Online Photo Printing industry is experiencing notable innovations. From old school photo negatives to HD photographs, people never stopped capturing their precious moments. A study by Market Research Future states that global photo printing market was valued at $13,125.4 Million in 2017. It is expected to reach $26,113 million valuations by 2023.
Building a business in such a growing industry comes with a range of benefits:
– Influence of tourism and event sectors is boosting the growth of Online Photo Printing.
– You can start with a low-risk option of Print on demand for better margins.
– In 2018, more than 1 trillion digital photos were taken. After removing unnecessary pictures, even if you get to cater ¼ th of the users, it can be extremely profitable for you.
– You can make the right use of customers’ creativity by offering them personalized photo albums and books.
To join the bandwagon here’s all that you will need to do:
1) Create A Well-Researched Business Idea
After deciding to start a business, people jump into creating a website, adding photo books (their products), market it, and then wait for the sales. But on the contrary, as I stated in the beginning, start with planning.
Here’s what a well-researched business plan should include:
Before jumping into any business, it is important to study the market thoroughly.
Study the market leaders and their product offerings. Are they concentrated on a single product or do their flagship products cover a whole range of products?
After the product research comes the cost. You might end up finding a product which is available online for $500, but when you find it through resellers you might get it in $50. Dig further, find out its manufacturers. You will gte it in even cheaper prices.
Study the market size, industry growth rate, trends, profitability rate, etc. All these things combined will lay a solid foundation for your business.
Other decisions and research included in Market Analysis:
-> Identification of Customer Base:
Customers are at the core of any business. It is important to define your targeted audience to have clarity on the products, sales funnel, digital presence, user-interface of website, and more.
– Determine whether you will be selling it to wholesalers, end customers, or both.
– What will be the demographics of your customers?
– Which needs of your customers will you be fulfilling?
-> Don’t forget the Competition:
Not to copy what your competitors are up to. But to make sure that you are not missing out on what is trending currently in the market. From their website, products, marketing, social presence everything should be a part of your research to design a plan for your own business.
-> Make your Financial Strategy:
To deliver quality results, you will need better resources. And that leads to business investment. But, without panicking about it, here is how you can manage it:
– Anticipated + run-time expenses
– Funds for the investments
– Records of monthly, quarterly, and yearly turnover.
– Monthly Loss, profit margins
– Monthly product return margins
– Annual growth margins
-> The Infrastructure:
After the research comes the decision making. Once you know the market, it’s time to decide the infrastructure. Will it be completely online or offline? Or do you want to go with the hybrid plan? While making this decision, here is what you need to consider:
– Offline Business:
– You will require a bigger budget to rent/buy a physical space.
– Lease negotiations
– Common area maintenance
– Online Business:
– Relatively lower budget to buy the online space.
– Set up a website, and good to go!
2) Choose Your Products
While deciding on products to sell, it is important to consider products which are trending and widely preferred by the customers. But picking only those products which are currently in trend will also lead you nowhere. Your decision of choosing the product should be based on market price, cost, profit margins, availability, storage requirements, market demand, popularity.
For an online photo book printing business, there are three main types:
– Flipbook: A soft, magazine type book.
– Hardcover Photo Book: It has two different cover types. Linen and printed cover.
– Layflat Photo Book: Here, each page opens completely flat allowing for full-page layouts.
Along with the type of photo Books, choose the types of paper you would want to offer:
– Matte: These are non-glossy pages.
– Glossy: Glossy prints give your page a soft and shiner touch.
– Linen: These pages contain embossed texture with a crosshatch pattern that is reminiscent of a fine linen tablecloth.
– Pearl: A pearl-like finish with a bit of shine.
3) Pick your Supplier Wisely
After you can visualize the final product, it’s time to set up the operations. Select a supplier who is consistent with quality finished products. Because you also don’t want to end up having a shortage of products or with bad quality while actually getting a good number of orders.
You will need a lot of detailed products including, photo book pages, covers, spiral, recyclable material (if you are an environment enthusiast), and whatnot. I prefer Alibaba for all your needs. They offer competitive market rates and sources. There are other resources like India mart, Made in China and like.
4) Choose an eCommerce Platform
Your ecommerce platform is the most prominent aspect of your business. It is not a simple decision to make. Just like running a retail store, you need to apply the same level of strategic thinking and planning before starting your eCommerce journey.
The first decision here will be choosing an eCommerce platform. We’ve listed major platforms:
– Your Own: You find an external resource and develop your own platform exclusive for the store. Choosing this option can be helpful when you have a business with a niche market and you have a specific set of requirements.
– Traditional Platforms: These include Kentico, Hybris, IBM digital commerce and such platforms. You can purchase a license by paying a fee upfront. Which you will have to renew it annually., Your IT team will customize this platform according to your business logic and install either on-premise or cloud-based.
– Open Source platforms: The development procedure is similar to traditional platforms. But you will not have to pay the upfront license costs. You still need to pay charges for implementation, ongoing development, customization, etc. The best among open-source platforms is Magento.
– Cloud Platforms: Cloud platforms means traditional open-source platforms upgraded with a hosting system. It includes Magento enterprise cloud, Demandware, Salesforce Commerce, and Volusion.
– SaaS Platforms: SaaS platforms are hosted and built with a single code base. You will have to pay a fixed monthly fee that covers server use, maintenance, security, and upgrades.
How to Pick the Right One?
While deciding the one that suits your needs, keep below factors in mind:
– Hidden costs: Maintenance costs, New features or improvements, Upgrades, UX changes.
– Support: Effective support for an eCommerce platform is crucial as it plays a major role in lead generation.
– Mobile Friendliness: We have read more than enough articles online on how important it is to have a mobile-friendly store. Assure you have this necessity fulfilled.
– SEO Friendliness: Your presence on Google vital when operating an online business. Make sure your platform supports it.
– Security Updates: Your e-store will have regular monetary transactions. Hence, it is important that your platform has regular security upgrades.
5) Product Designer Tool – The Unique Factor
It is always a good idea to adopt market trends to be consistent & relevant. Customized products are making the headlines currently.
Photo Album Product designer tool integrates with your e-store and lets customers design and craft their own photo albums. You can make your online store stand out by integrating this tool.
You can buy a web-to-print tool and integrate with your ecommerce store from several vendors. If you have issues during configuration, some companies also provide services by setting up an entire store.
Here are some essential features to look for:
– Pre-defined templates, clipart, images, text, fonts, libraries.
– Should provide options for visual effects, filters, masking effects, and more.
– Preview of each and every side.
– They should be able to save their design and edit it whenever they want to.
– SEO friendly.
And before installing this tool, here’s what you need to ask yourself:
– Do I want to offer all the e-store products in customizations?
– Which areas of the products will be design areas?
– On how many sides customers can design?
– Do I need to provide 2D or 3D preview?
– Are the current features on the tools are enough to provide an ultimate experience?
6) Printing Method
All the efforts would pay off once you have the final printed product. Therefore, it is important to choose a printing method for your web-to-print store which delivers the outputs just the way you have imagined. We recommend you to go with Digital printing as opposed to screen, flexography, and the like.
An ideal method for Photo books printing. Here the digital images are reproduced on papers. You can use as many color combinations you wish using a web to print software. It is important to keep the resolution of image 300dpi for high-quality prints.
7) Operations & Infrastructure
Here’s how to go:
Sending out for print: Going for the print-on-demand business model, you can find an appropriate printer. Make sure that they are well-equipped and can provide fine-edge prints to you.
Setting up your infrastructure: If you already have a Printing business set up, then you can invest in upgrading offices, hiring professionals, latest equipment, etc.
How you manage your delivery commitments play a major role behind creating an image of your brand. During the initial days, you can manage product deliveries on your own. But once you start getting consistent orders, collaborate with a delivery company who can take care of your orders.
8) Launch and Market
After all this hustle and bustle, it’s time to launch. I would suggest that prior to launch, start marketing about the launch. This way, people will get to know about it which will create some curiosity.
After the launch, don’t forget the marketing budget. It’s crucial to market your products the right way.
Here’s how to get started.
– Optimize the website content for SEO and Google rankings.
– Start blogging. Write How-to Guides.
– Make YouTube videos or vlogs (less capital intensive)
– Start with paid ads marketing (if you have a surplus budget on hand)
– Make referral programs.
– Influencer marketing
– Social Media Presence
– Offline Marketing
There are a plethora of marketing channels available but you should choose the one keeping your customer base in mind.
That’s all from our end.
What’s your Plan?
We have tried to cover almost all the things you will be needing to make your store a success story.
And everything kept aside, the bottom line is to keep trying and providing your customers with what they deserve for the price you ask.
We are halfway 2019 and we have been experiencing some of the greatest shifts in the global market. The transformation wave is hitting all types of industries in the market, and they are welcoming the ‘change’.
For instance, customers are more likely to go for taxi services or online food ordering than to buy a new car or go to restaurants. And on the other hand, millennials are breaking the wheel by considering their own startups instead of private or government jobs.
Similarly, with the printing industry, it is no longer just about normal prints and dies. People are adopting modern techniques and opportunities to expand their business capabilities.
To understand the printing industry in 2019 and the convergence of print and digital, here are 9 print industry trends currently ruling the industry.
According to one report, 93% of printers believed that expansion is happening in their industry. By that means, they are adopting new technologies to cope with the competitive market. With the adoption of IoT, the printing industry would experience more advanced devices resulting in the easier overall workflow. You can expect the multifunction printing machine market to grow with the booming demand of an all-in-one machine. Even technology leaders are looking to add more functions to such devices.
Industries including health care and education are investing in technology that requires ID scanning to collect classified documents. This is because client security is one of the major factors taking a front seat in many organizations.
As businesses look for ways to improve efficiency with remote work, technology integration will be a key aspect within the new printing market which would allow quicker and more secured printing.
In order to serve the trend, the development of inkjet solutions has taken place. It serves the commercial print, packaging and label markets. These are cost-effective, delivers speed, and quality that the market needs to capitalize on this expansion trend and to grow their businesses. In the coming months, we would be experiencing more of these solutions fulfilling greater expansion needs.
Printing devices are adopting the new document capture feature. It allows users to digitize their documents and store data smoothly in a secured way. With the digitized stored document, it becomes easy to send, share, find information. Automated workflow processes which can link customers to the systems would also grow as these allow users to work remotely and continue printing through whichever device they need.
Transformation in Design
Gone are the days when we wanted traditional prints filled with elements. Nowadays people are preferring a simple clear image with an elegant look and feel over a complicated and highly graphical image. Also, use maximum white space and choose a layout which is simple, clean, and serve the purpose. But the clients would still need something which can be a bit stylish and iconic in their designs. Make sure you fulfill that demands without losing the track with minimalistic and trendy designs.
Adoption of Cloud MPS
The other prominent move that’s happening in the printing industry is the adoption of cloud-delivered MPS. A few of the market leaders including Lexmark, Xerox, and Ricoh have already adopted this technology. This adoption of cloud-delivered MPS will reduce the complications of on-premise printing management. All the print jobs will be submitted to a virtual print server. This way, it would eliminate the need for on-premises servers.
Involvement of IT
According to a study by Quocirca, Global Print 2025, businesses will favor IT service providers more than the traditional print suppliers by 2025. In order to achieve expertise, channel partners must expand their IT experience for a broader product portfolio. For example, manufacturers of large channel organizations can effectively acquire IT providers to gain specialized sales and support expertise. Leaders like Kyocera, Konica have already made the shift by expanding their managed IT service capabilities through acquisitions.
Adopting Personalizing Prints for the Clients
It is important to go one step further rather than leveraging the old version. And with print, you always have one open stop which is personalization. This way, you open doors for your customers and provide the required modern touch. Techniques like custom poster printing, personalized flyers, product designer tools will give your print marketing that supposed edge. What about providing them freedom and an open canvas with which they can create a whole new version of your products? This freedom can be provided with the use of a proper product designer tool which can easily integrate with your e-store.
And Enters: AI
In the coming months of 2019, printing leaders will start leveraging AI technology. As 2019 experienced some amazing voice recognition capabilities for smart printers and MFPs, we can expect to see some further improvements in that. HP and Xerox have already expanded their capabilities in this section.
These are the emerging trends in the printing industry which can provide with the proper picture of where this industry is heading.
Mr. Pratik Shah is the Creative Head of Brush Your Ideas, a Web-to-Print technology solution offering consisting of magento product designer extension and readymade Web-to-Print Storefront. He is a tech enthusiast and an avid blogger and writes about ecommerce and web-to-print industry.