During Covid-19, the importance of eCommerce has become more evident than ever.
Is it time for Web2Print vendors to offer more to their customers by way of managed services? Should customers be left to figure things out for themselves, post-sale? Are the existing training services currently on offer actually fit for purpose? Or should it be expanded to include more hands-on deployment services.
For example – should Web2Print vendors help customers build out stores for their end clients? Should they provide training for sales teams?
I would argue that Web2Print vendors definitely need to provide far more than the ‘flat pack’ services currently on offer.
One Size Fits All or GTFO
At present, should you wish to venture forth and purchase your own Web2Print platform, you will be greeted with a system that makes a great deal of assumptions about you and your print business. Irrespective of which vendor you choose, this is the way things are: you either fit into the narrow band of intended target, or…
What happens to the printers that fit into the “Or” category? The printers who don’t already have a handy, in-house team that’s large enough to handle the setup and the ongoing maintenance and the other demands of a fully-functional, customer-facing, live Web2Print platform.
The printers who have no idea how to begin selling or pitching.
The printers who have no idea how to even deploy the thing.
Their vendor told them it was simple. Easy. Straightforward. And if you run a code house, sure, it is. But printers already have a specialist function and it is not software development. Asking them to immediately adopt another speciality is unreasonable, short-sighted, and tantamount to abandoning them altogether, once the cheque has been received. This isn’t by design, per se, but is it how the customer ends up feeling.
It is a blank slate, a new Web2Print platform. It requires a deft touch by someone who knows what they’re doing, has the experience, isn’t afraid to go elbow-deep to coax the best performance possible from the guts of this flat-packed system. It is hard work and expecting every printer to be able to hit the ground running is an excessive expectation.
When has one size ever fit all?
Cars. Clothes. Food. Accommodation. Employment. Shoes. The one-size-fits-all model callously overlooks and omits even the most marginally deviant subject from a baseline calculated by fits of imagination and convenience – but whose convenience?
Certainly not the customer’s.
This has to change.
Making Better, Better.
The industry as a whole must become more proactive with their direct dealings with customers. Most other industries set about adding value as part and parcel of their proposal but the Web2Print industry has been letting these basic customer service opportunities pass them by, for years, and it is no longer acceptable.
Everyone sells the product. No one sells the service. And it’s the service that the customers need.
For too long, Web2Print vendors and providers have been capitalising upon their customers’ naïveté, cutting service corners by providing lacklustre follow-up and virtually zero in the form of post-sales assistance. It’s not good enough.
Customers need deployment assistance – what is required, who must provide it, what will the costs be, what are the options or variations? – simply to get started. They need an individual, or a team, to help customise and rebrand their platform. A DBA is also useful for maintaining the products lists and so forth.
Their sales teams need coaching and training on how to pitch and present Web2Print to their customers. After all, of what point is a new system without a return on that investment?
Their marketing teams need advice on how best to position this new service so that their own customers are not left in the dark, or abandoned, as the printer has been by their Web2Print vendor.
Yet, additional value-added services are not offered because vendors and providers are fearful of losing the entire deal, as costs would be perceived as higher.
This is fallacious and misleading thinking and I urge readers to please stop thinking in this way. It is simply another method of outsourcing – something that all businesses turn to, sooner or later, because of the complexity or difficulty in maintaining something that exceeds one’s normal professional function or purview. We cannot all be a specialist on every subject, ever.
Well, no more.
Web2Print providers need to position themselves to be able to advise customers about everything, from which Web2Print platform would suit them best, to deploying, customising, publicising and maintaining that beast once it’s bought.
Web2Print vendors need to be able to work with internal sales teams and train them on your own Web2Print systems, so that when they hop into a customer meeting, they can demo it with supreme confidence.
Vendors need to talk to customers’ marketing teams about what collateral to provide to their sales teams and they need to talk to front-line printers about how to make sure the system is properly integrated with existing workflows.
What I’ve shared in this blog are the words printers have said to me, themselves, without any prompting or expectations. They are desperate for help.
They know a good idea – Web2Print – when they see one. Now they need help in vendors and manufacturers need step up to the challenge, and provide a more inclusive service to customers.
One size does not fit all.