Web to Print Guides - First Customer & Products

Nothing focuses a demo more than making it about a real world customer and their products. As we have pointed out all along, at this stage you are getting a list of requirements together to make sure you get what you need from your Web to Print software supplier.

The good news is that once you have identified the products you want to put online, the challenge of making those work is with the software supplier.

Your First Web to Print Customer

Quick side note in case you are starting your Web to Print path down the B2C route. Before you launch and actually take orders your customer is going to be theoretical and it might actually be better to first look at the products you are going to sell online and then work out who is the most likely person to come to a site and order those products.

For everyone else our advice is to pick a current customer. You may be thinking that you are supposed to be growing your business, not moving current work online. Of course that is the ultimate goal but there are reasons to start with someone you already have (a hopefully good) relationship with.

  1. Dealing with a new customer and new software at the same time is hard work. Whilst some Web to Print solutions can be easy to use there is no point in hiding the fact that it will be a technical bit of software that needs both training and practise to become an expert.

  2. It removes a lot of guesswork from building up your list of requirements if you know what your customer wants.

  3. If you have a good relationship with your chosen customer you can get ongoing feedback as you build the webstore, set up business rules and build products.

  4. Later guides talk about becoming a specialist (in a vertical or products), getting case studies and referrals and learning the business language of your customer as good practice for expanding your online business. A customer that helps with any of these will be of great help for your future success.

Apart from being a customer you have a good relationship with, what else are you looking for? Well one of the goals of your first site is to learn what your system can and can't do, so you are looking for a customer that will use at least the basic features of the system on a regular basis. We will shortly be looking at the first products but start by looking for customers who are multi location or place orders with you by through more than one user. Look for customers where you do a range of their print work so that you can get a feel for the range of what your system of choice will be able to do.

It doesn't have to be all of the above, in fact if you have a big enough team to deal with it then it doesn't even have to be one current customer you are going to launch with. Once you have a customer in mind write down in your demo requirements any features of the software that your chosen customer will need.

Your First Web to Print Products

If you have decided on your first customer then the products should be fairly easy to decide on. The key is to make sure you can ask all the right questions of the software in the demo. So for example in a typical template product you would need to know what is fixed on the product, what the user can change and how they can change it. The last one, how they can change a product, is often the bit that people forget.

Let's take a simple business card as an example. In the demo you explain that the logo, font, layout and colour scheme are all fixed by your customer's brand guidelines. The end user is just going to put in their name, position, email, mobile and direct dial phone number. This is the bread and butter of a web to print template based system, so the person demoing the solution will easily be able to say, "yes, no problem".

However, the end users don't always have mobile numbers and on those business cards you expect the email to move up a bit to keep the layout looking good and also the prefix of "mob:" to be automatically removed. The telephone format also has to be in a specific way, 01604 702075, not 01604702075 for example, no matter what the user enters. The email address has to be always lowercase and your customer has just hired someone with an incredibly long name so some font resizing has to be done automatically

That is the kind of detail that the person doing the demo needs to know, so that when they say "yes, not a problem" you know that it actually meets all your needs, not just the headline requirements. It is another really good reason to go with a customer you know, you will have seen the product variations already and can build those into the list of requirements you need from your Web to Print solution.

Summary

Choosing real world customers and products focuses the demos you have. It is an awful mistake to assume the software will do something and then find that it doesn't when you are in a contract. No matter how long the demo is, it will not cover every available feature and combination of features so it is vital to ask the right questions.


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