We have been involved in web-to-print for twelve years. Our first site was probably the most difficult one we ever built. It was a custom coded on-demand book portal for a great customer and consistently generated between $40,000 and $100,000 per month in revenue for over four years.
The future of web-to-print is much different from our perspective. While I would love to be able to build and run a company’s website it is just not realistic in the future. While the site above was one of our successes we have had more than our share of failures. Sites we didn’t scope right, to the “we will build it for free and generate so much business” we have probably made most possible mistakes. Successes are more fun. Many in our industry are aware of our success with Frecklebox.com which is built in-house, but we use some of the technologies listed in the companies below.
The future of web-to-print is integration. I have worked with many great web-to-print providers including Printable, PageDNA, Presswise, Pageflex, and Pixfizz. Three of these I am still using and am considering adding at least one more. Some might call me a web-to-print hussy. I love this stuff and while most of the programs have flaws all seem to be supported by companies that really want you to succeed. All have tried to be good partners.
However the future is different. The future is about your ability to plug in your specialty within another company’s websites. We have developed Progressive Punch Out (PPO). It is designed as a personalization engine with an open API (REST) that can plug into existing e-commerce systems. This is important. Whether you are B2C, B2B, or B2B2C you are probably fatigued at the idea of adding another system with another user database, another login folks have to remember, another check out process people have to go through, etc.
PPO is built from the ground up to be plugged into another website. We use it in our Frecklebox.com platform. Our current partners use it within their sites, which are totally different technologies. It isn’t cheap but it can serve thousands of simultaneous users and is sideways scalable. It is straightforward to integrate into an existing site. A recent integration, where the customer had one programmer assigned to it, went from start of development to production in less than 4 calendar weeks.
If you would like to know more please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Even if you are competitor I am happy to discuss it (without giving away the secret sauce). If you want to offer web-to-print and haven’t thought about doing this you better start planning this for your future in the web-to-print world.