There are many different approaches depending on your current infrastructure, types of products and levels of customization. The web interface is only the tip of the iceberg, as you'll need to control your production workflow, fulfillment and supply chain (especially if you are doing anything more than a "hobby" volume).
I've worked with a number of companies who have attempted to build their own solution and, unless you do not find a very compelling reason to, I would recommend not doing that :-)
Disclaimer: we have our own web-to-print solution and production management system that I can tell you about, but I know the market quite well and would be happy to learn about your specific infrastructure, type of print products and production capabilities to point you in the right direction. For instance, there are plugins for e-commerce platforms that are simple, cheap and could get you to market quickly. Or you can hire an agency to make sure all of your brand objectives are represented by your print platform. Or any number of choices in between. Feel free to schedule a call to discuss. Happy to help.
After launching a few thousand printer websites, here are the top 10 things to look out for:
1. Figure out if you are going after SMB or B2B market. The design online environment is different for both.
2. Figure out what kind of file you want system to produce
3. Figure out if you want an open designer (allows for most customer mistakes but opens the funnel wider) or more of a controlled designer (least amount of mistakes meaning more profit per job)
4. Figure out if you want to own the designer or if you are ok to rent it/subscribe to it
5. Figure out if you want to do your own templates or if you want the system to come with readymade templates
6. Figure out what shopping cart style you want, open source shopping cart, or a custom tailored shopping cart… what payment methods you would like to accept.
7. Figure out the scalability… what happens if the site is too busy, can your servers or your vendor servers keep up?
8. Figure out what product mix will work best, as every vendor has their own flavor from photobooks to signs to stationery items.
9. Figure out how the reporting will work. Do you want the system to talk to your MIS or email you the data or to have administrative dashboards of its own?
10. And finally figure out the marketing aspect. No matter how great the engine is… if you don’t market it, no one will find it. So if you want to look into top 10 marketing online channels for printers, connect with me offline.
Slava Apel, CEO Amazing Print Tech.