by Steven Enstad, Co-founder, Sales PageDNA, Inc.
If the answer is “no”, you should really stop and get that in order before proceeding. While this is mostly an internal dialogue and can involve some serious soul searching and a candid look at the PSP’s team, capabilities, geography and your marketing budget…. it does benefit the PSP to think about this before beginning the search for W2P.
Let’s look at what I’m talking about here more closely. Speaking broadly, we see three general classes of approaches being used “in the field” by our customers for W2P technology:
B2B – Business to Business
B2-VM – Business to Vertical Market
B2C – Business to Consumer
Many of the basic web to print storefront requirements remain the same across all categories; however, as you go down the above list, other parts of the W2P solution become more or less important. Also, again critically to my point in this posting, the marketing approach and costs change dramatically for the PSP.
Let’s make this a bit more concrete by looking at the these approaches in more detail:
B2B – Business to Business
These involve public or private branded storefronts, often constructed for a specific corporation with their “look and feel” in place as well as their own items, addresses, approval routing, billing rules, budgets, etc.
Traditionally our customers at PageDNA have built storefronts for B2B applications — we have about 1400 print ordering storefront portals live at this moment serving this space.
Items: Catalogs for these applications typically involve template-driven items geared to this customer (business cards, other stationery, marketing) and perhaps additionally pick and pack or so-called “static” items – with or without inventory.
Marketing: These accounts generally originate from an annual contract for a particular firm’s print business. As such, very little “marketing” is done to promote the site other than: ensure customer provides a link to the storefront from within the customer intranet (with or without Single Sign On), and then: perform internal promotions within the storefront to highlight new or featured products (perhaps also doing email blasts selectively)
One last note on B2B: These project often involve extremely quirky requirements – ranging from typography exception needs, to order approval rules and routing, to things like complex budget control needs.
The ability to map these requirements into the storefront for a corporate customer helps lock in that customer and grow the business into other divisions and product categories. We have dozens of success stories to share in this space if you are interested in learning more – and this is the camp we have the most experience with at PageDNA.
B2VM – Business to Vertical Market
We have a number of customers who have succeeded in building print portals that serve a vertical market or channel – in other words, a store not linked to a particular corporate customer but geared to a “niche”. An example would be a Postcard Reminder system for Dentists: any dentist would be able use this portal for their firm to order reminder postcards for their patients.
These solutions often involve what we call a “mega-site” at PageDNA – a multi-tenant storefront where different customers may see different branding, items, prices, and even billing options depending on their firms relationship with the PSP.
Item: Products offered in these B2VM sites usually involve more generalized templates that customers can update with their own logos, colors, fonts and so forth… (compared to the more “canned” approach found in B2B storefronts).
Note: You can also build templates specifically for each firm in PageDNA – so can provide a B2B-esque feel to the site if a particular firm needs something specific for their needs…. this capability making these categories a bit “grey” in some ways, but the broad point becomes clear looking at marketing:
Marketing: In this approach, marketing becomes significantly more important. How are you going to get “eyeballs” to your storefront? Do you have channel partners in the Dental Industry you can use to get low-cost or free marketing? Do you have a Google Adwords budget to drive “walk up” customers? Are you advertising in Dental Journals? Will you be going door to door or cold calling? Using Social Networking like Twitter or Facebook?
Or… are you just HOPING people will find your site? If so, le me stop you there and save you from a long trip down a dead-end.
Metaphorically speaking: standing on the corner with your mouth open will not result in a roasted duck flying in… no matter how hard you “hope”.
Often B2-VM storefronts involve promotions (coupon codes, sales) to help drive ordering around a product category and/or period of time.
B2C – Business to Consumer
Items: In this space, you generally are providing either template driven items that customers can further “design online” — or allowing them to get custom quotes for printed items (we provide full online estimation in PageDNA if you need this – another post will follow on this soon).
Marketing: B2C is an area that is fraught with the highest expense on marketing. Some firms that contact PageDNA wish to become “the next VistaPrint”, but haven’t even begun to realize the costs involved in marketing to a general consumer audience.
Unless you’ve developed an ingenious grassroots marketing strategy, the amount of money that needs to be reserved for marketing will likely dwarf your entire budget outlay for W2P technology both in hard costs and employee time.
As an extreme example, lets say you wish to drive traffic via Google Adwords… well, do some research and you will find that to get on the first page of search results for common keywords can get very expensive… $6-10 a click is not uncommon… and if you have a 10% conversion rate, you are looking at a $60-100 potential cost to acquire that customer! How do you make money on that customer? Future orders?
I bring this up because we have customers who have built nice B2C storefronts without planning the marketing side – it is NOT true that “if you build it, they will come” – you need a solid marketing strategy to even begin to compete in the B2C space, and are going up against some real heavyweights in pursuing this approach – so think it through very carefully.
VistaPrint and others have come up with ingenious marketing approaches – putting their logo on the back of the cards for a discount, aggressive pricing with upcharges for more rapid shipping, affilliate programs… and so forth. If you plan a B2C approach and aren’t thinking along these same lines, you likely will not succeed.
Lastly: customers “shopping” for print products in the B2C space are extremely price sensitive – you are competing in many cases on a commodity basis and need to ensure you can beat the pricing from the “big boys” in this space.