Business to business (B2B) or e-biz is an economical exchange of products or services by a company to another. A good example is printing ecommerce which refers to a print business that uses websites to deliver goods and services. Companies and software solutions combine to deliver web-to-print solutions. So, instead of the usual business to customer relationship, a connection is built between two companies.
The transaction becomes wholesale since the orders are often in bulk. This can be any resource that is used in production. Instead of buying it in retail, business directly goes to the supplier to get everything that is needed.
Print services are one of the many industries that take advantage of ecommerce. They reach out to clients who search for customised designs online and let them order their designs for printing. Instead of the typical online shopping, they get to tailor the design of the product as they please. Although a stable industry, business-to-business print commerce still encounters hitches and obstacles on the road. Like any other business venture, these problems can affect your own, minimally or drastically. Either way, you still need to find a way around these hiccups in the business.
One way to find the right course of action to take is by knowing what the problems are. Acknowledging that the problem exists will help you put them into proper perspectives. It will make you see past the problem and, eventually, you then can come up with the appropriate solution. That being said, here are a few challenges in b2b print commerce and some solutions you can take to overcome it.
Variety in Design
While you want to give customers the freedom to choose the designs they want, you still have to give them definitive options of what they can choose from. For B2B print commerce, your targeted customers are most likely to send you a specific design rather than use what is displayed or on offer on your webpage. Given that one business is unique from another, it can be costly to start over on one design time and time again. But, there are ways to go around this particular concern.
Solution? Prepare a set of templates that you can give to them. It doesn’t have to be a final design, but a sample blocking of what goes on which parts of the shirt, mug, or any other chosen material to be printed on. This gives the clients an idea on what they can and cannot do with their design.
Of course, if you offer customisation, variety in design for every client would not be an issue.
Like any other business, operational cost is one of the many things to worry about. In print services, you might not need to maintain the cost of a physical store but you still need to pay for web hosting. You also have to find good print shop management software to integrate into your site so clients can customise the designs they want printed. Initial spending for both is feasible but it might cause a major setback in the long run if what you earn cannot cover both aspects, which also translates to lack of profit.
Solution? Think wisely on what you spend for. Invest in the right software for web2print ecommerce to ensure the best services for both you and your clients. Make sure customers are able to use the platform with ease, or they will leave and look for something more user-friendly. Also, choose an application that runs on multiple devices and across different platforms to make it accessible to anyone. This way, you get to knocking on many doors and not just online desktop users. Consider software that comes ready with customer management.
Bad Quality Prints
The one thing you would want to do is to retain as many customers as you can. Since you are doing a business-to-business print shop ecommerce, one transaction alone can mean a bulk quantity of prints, which could translate to risks that usually come with mass production, such as low printing quality.
Bad prints are not good for business since it leaves a bad impression on clients. Unfortunately, this can result from the paint or ink used, or perhaps the machine used to transfer papers, not necessarily the printing process. Regardless, you need to make sure that this is taken care of.
Solution? Finding your way around this is easy. Standard protocol dictates that you check every printed material before sending it out to clients. Bad prints should be replaced, but best to be avoided and minimised in the first place. It is also crucial to check the quality of the design before production starts to ensure that the pixels are not distorted or any aspect of the design can cause smudges or distorted printouts. Sometimes, the problem is on the design itself. Taking necessary precautions would help you avoid any costly mistakes in the future.
Another common problem in all businesses is mismanagement. Print commerce B2B needs someone who can keep tabs on everything – designs, customer orders, delivery service, and more. This is to ensure that the right prints are given to the correct client at the specific date it is needed. Problems may also arise from accepting too many order requests, causing resources to be stretched too thinly. This can result to bad service delivery and business loss.
Solution? Look for someone to manage your store admin page if you cannot focus on it solely. Hiring someone to oversee every aspect of the printing process, from taking orders to product delivery, will work to your advantage. Sure, you are paying someone else, which is added expense. But if you can’t focus on this particular aspect in print commerce, delegate.
This way, you can focus on the web-to-print admin page which is mostly composed of settings for number of colours to be used, size of the print, and the minimum or maximum quality of each batch to be ordered by clients. Also, this lets you setup the price and other little, yet significant, details of your business.
These are only a few of the common challenges in B2B print commerce. Know and understand these problems so you can develop your own solution in addition to the suggestions above. Apply these in your business and be progressive as you move onwards.