Web2Print: Should You Charge Customers To Use Your Platform?
I get asked this question a lot from my clients. They come from a variety of backgrounds, cater to a variety of different end users and cover a number of diverse verticals, yet they all have the same concerns. Should I be charging my client to use this platform, or is it enough to merely handle the printing throughout? Will that cover my losses? Will it be enough?
Short answer: Yes, but…
Long answer: read on!
Taming The Overheads Jungle
One thing that many new-comers to the Web2Print industry often overlook is the fact that while it’s a fantastic opportunity to save on operating and labour costs in general, it can mean an unexpected increase in overheads.
Hardware and infrastructure costs are suddenly all-important, whereas before you may have been able to get away with using an old P3. Similarly, you may find employment costs also rising as you may have to hire on new IT magicians to make everything work properly, stably and consistently.
You may find yourself looking at an unexpectedly high hosting bill if you are unused to dealing with that sort of thing, and as for customisation for your high-end clients, this kind of labour time does not come cheap. Everything may soon be automated, but it does require some foundations to be laid, first.
In my experience, if you’re flexible, adaptable and open to change, this won’t be as huge a chore as I might be making it sound.
But what does this have to do with charging your end users to use your Web2Print system, though?
A lot of companies may perceive that their overheads have risen quite surprisingly and in order to meet this challenge, they’ve set a price tag to access their Web2Print platform. A careful cost benefit analysis, however, is required as frequently the increased overhead costs can be offset by the increased efficiencies Web2Print brings – for example, jobs no longer need to be booked manually. Clients are less likely to request quotes via phone or e-mail. The time-savings through utilising Web2Print can be significant.
An increase in overheads does not necessarily mean that you must now charge a subscription fee. With careful oversight, you may find that all you need do is slightly raise the price of one or two of your offerings by no more than a few pence and that will suffice to plug that cash hole.
The Price and the Value
The important thing to remember is that each customer is different and will entirely differ from your next customer. Failure to keep this in mind could mean you end up isolating all of them. You can alienate your end users with poor price-planning and then you will lose them to a competitor.
What you must remember to ask yourself is, “How secure is my client? Can a competitor offer a platform for free, which adds such tremendous value that my client will jump ship” Some companies have experienced good results by charging their larger enterprise users a certain amount every month on a subscription-basis.
Others have experienced excellent client retention rates by only charging for the initial setups and letting the customers perform the extra development themselves, internally.
There is a third camp and they sound unspeakably terrifying to the previous two groups: those who do not charge even a penny for the use of their Web2Print system: not for customisation, not for setup, nothing. For these brave souls, they have met their overheads and production costs by simply inserting a proviso into their terms and conditions which state that this end user must push through more than a certain amount of business per year. If this proviso is not met, then their client is billed a subscription for the relevant time period. I fall under this camp. To expect an ROI from a Web2Print platform in my view, is naïve. The focus should be adding value to your customers, making the print ordering process seamless and ensuring no competitor has a better offering than you.
The best advice I can give for those planning on entering the Web2Print market is Plan, Plan, Plan! Ask yourself these key questions:
- What will it cost to set up the system?
- What revenue will it generate?
- How long will it take to build the system?
- How long will it take to create the templates?
- How long will customer personalisation/rebranding take?
- What is the customer worth to me, and what would I lose if they jump ship?
If your revenue does not meet the expense of these activities, then consider placing a monthly maintenance charge for your customer. If you know your customer will be pushing a lot of regular business through the system, however, then consider only charging should they fall below their monthly ordering threshold.
The general attitude in this business is, if it’s customised, then charge for it. If it’s not, then don’t charge for it. So, you may want to take a middle ground where you have some initial setup costs but then, based on the expected client revenue, you only charge a maintenance fee should the client fail to make use of the work you have completed on their behalf.