Written by Howie Fenton
Senior Technology Consultant, NAPL

Web to Print

In our latest research, “Web to Print: the Promise, the Potential, and the Reality” sponsored by Xerox, we found vastly different levels of satisfaction among users. On the positive side, more than half of those surveyed said web to print has increased sales and two thirds said it has streamlined their production workflows. However, on the downside, more than 80% reported that it has not met their expectations because it’s falling short in terms of client usage and the numbers of features customers access.

This was not the first time we had asked users about the success of web to print. In our 2012 NAPL Digital Services Survey, when we asked, “has web-to-print increased sales?” we found that 52% reported ‘yes’, 20% said ‘no’ and 28% said they were ‘not sure’ or that it was ‘too early to tell’. When we asked for more details about the challenges people experienced, we heard:

  • The long sales process
  • Web-to-Print is very expensive to create and then the customer may not use it;
  • The tendency to only use a handful of the features – for example while automated job ticket creation, job scheduling, job tracking, shipping, and billing are available they are often unused
  • Upgrades and keeping various software communicating properly
  • It doesn’t integrate with our MIS as promised

In our latest research, we wanted to dig deeper and we got some very positive and negative insights. On the positive side, when asked about sales, 58% said it increased sales, 20% said it did not, and 22% said they were not sure or it’s too soon to tell. In terms of profitability, 56% said it increased productivity 14% it did not increase profitability and 29% said they were not sure or it was too soon to tell.

On the negative side, most people complained about the number of customers using it: 69% reported not enough customers are using it, 58% reported that less than 5% of their customers were using it, and 70% said 10% or less of their customers are using it.

In a recent NAPL NewsTalk Live webinar we talked to two companies who have mastered web to print and asked them how they did it. They talked about the importance of getting the buy-in from both internal staff and external customers and focused on an ongoing commitment to continuously encourage salespeople, customer service staff, and their customers to use the technology. They described some interesting tactics including changing the staff responsible for customer service. But they also acknowledge the challenges in integrating web to print with other software such as print MIS and PDF workflow software.

How satisfied are you with your web to print solution? If you’re struggling or dissatisfied with your web to print solution, you might consider listening to this webinar.


Howie Fenton is a consultant and business advisor at NAPL. Howie advises commercial printers and in-plants on benchmarking performance against industry leaders, increasing productivity, and adding digital and value services through customer research. For more information click here.