In our last blog, Print Personalization in Action, we demonstrated the designer-led data-driven print workflow whereby personalization is achieved by a designer connecting the data to a design template in InDesign to produce many different versions.
But there is another option – also using InDesign – that simplifies the production process and puts the customer in the driving seat. This workflow lets them connect the data to a ready-made design template and send the personalized file automatically to the digital printing press.
This way, since the task of connecting the data has been taken from the designer, and put into the hands of the customer, your designer is free to focus on higher-value creative work that will contribute to the business’s overall profitability and revenue.
In this post, I’ll show you how it’s done.
To get the most out of this post, please make sure to read Part One first.
Web-to-Print Technology from XMPie
Just as your local supermarket is installing more self-serve checkouts to serve their customers better, print providers are doing the same by launching self-service online stores with Web-to-print technology. These online stores have become integral to maintaining a satisfied customer base as customers can browse and order from a wide range of print and non-print products at their convenience.
Not only do online print stores improve customer satisfaction, but they offer benefits behind-the-scenes in your print shop by automating many of the slow manual processes that are making it harder for you to grow your business.
A web-to-print store typically sells print products, but with XMPie StoreFlow software, you can sell anything from hats and shirts, static print items, fully personalized items, on-the-fly document submission, labels, packaging, or even complete multi-touchpoint omnichannel marketing campaigns.
More on that later, but for now, we’ll focus on how a customer can create a batch of personalized documents from a storefront powered by XMPie StoreFlow software.
Ordering a Data-Driven Postcard from a Web-to-Print Store
We’ll use the same ready-made template as in our last demonstration and see how to personalize it via a web-to-print store and send it to be printed and distributed to a list of 2,000 recipients.
The store administrator will add the template for the customer to access on the store, but every other step is taken by the customer directly; the customer will use the template to personalize their documents. No other intervention is needed.
And the best part is that the customer will have no idea about all the logic and complexity going on behind the scenes to produce the ready-made template and set it to generate random variability. Since everything is locked down already and protected, the customer only needs to add the required data. In other situations, more customizations could be allowed, such as uploading images to the template or personalizing the messaging.
Firstly, the customer will select the template from the store catalogue, before uploading a list of recipient data, (in this case with a .csv file) to connect to the design. Once uploaded, the customer can view and check the data, perhaps even choosing to remove or edit certain records if desired.
The proofing stage comes next for the customer to double-check that everything is looking as it should, before the job is added to the cart. Additional products could also be added to the cart, or even kits with multiple products – selected as a single unit – all personalized at once to match the same dataset. And because XMPie uses the complete InDesign workflow from set-up through to preview and composition, the customer is assured that the quality of the design will be retained in the final printed documents.
Sending the Job to the Digital Press
Once the customer completes the order, checks-out and pays, the job is generated and sent automatically into the production workflow (FreeFlow Core, XMF etc.). Like in the designer-led workflow we described in the last post, the storefront template was generated with InDesign software. But in this case, instead of using the InDesign application on a designer’s desktop, we’re using an InDesign production server to generate the personalized files and deliver them into the production workflow.
StoreFlow can be used with any digital printer or digital production press and can also be used to submit non-printed products. During the Covid-19 pandemic, many companies have responded by pivoting their business to stay competitive. Some turned their hand to making and selling PPE equipment, some to selling COVID posters and signage. A mix of static or personalized materials along with non-printed products – all supplied through the same platform – is easy with XMPie StoreFlow.
Going Beyond Web-to-Print
Web-to-print is a disruptive technology with a level of automation that helps you work smarter, not harder and there are many more features to shout about including enterprise integrations, theme development, 3D packaging preview and pre-press automation.
The feature that I’m most excited to share though, is its omnichannel capabilities, and if you want to know about that – you’ll have to wait till the final blog in this series. I promise it will be worth the wait!