Web-to-print
Ricoh USA Inc. today announced the release of Introduction to Graphic Communication, Second Edition, a textbook that also includes interactive content, such as videos and online discussion.
A range of technology suppliers were asked to provide up to two of their newest Web to Print tools, which can include either a new platform or updates to an existing product. The following technologies provide some of the strongest tools available to drive a range of business to digital and offset printing presses.

Radatech Web to Print Shop
Web to Print Shop bundles Radatech’sW2P tools into modules as plug-ins that can be applied to any Wordpress/Woocommerce Website. These tools are well suited for companies that have a modest level of fluency in managing their Website and wish to manage their own data.  They can leverage the general open source aspects of their Website that are publicly available, while the Web to Print Shop plug-ins will fill in the gaps and handle harder issues like sophisticated product options and pricing, variable data templates, the uDRAW HTML5 designer plug-in, PDF based templates, file upload detection, file data and job routing. The system allows users to choose from several user interfaces and to create their own. W2P Shop can also be connected to the W2P CLOUD system and have all orders funnel into one production dashboard for streamlined management and reporting.

Infigo MegaEdit 3D preview
The MegaEdit 3D preview module was updated in March 2017 to include finishing features, such as embossing, spot varnish and foiling, and photo-realistic 360-degree product previews. The original 3D preview tool was launched last year. Infigo explains the MegaEdit 3D preview module gives users the closest online experience to try before they buy, which is particularly useful for the personalized gifting space. The HTML 5 MegaEdit module is cloud-based so there are no time-consuming downloads, and it’s compatible for any device, so clients and end users can access it anywhere.

The 3D preview module has also been integrated with Esko so it can deliver a 3D visual of the product and automate the output of the Esko CAD profiles in a print-ready format, delivering an automated workflow that enables on-demand printing for packaging suppliers.

Amazing Print eCardBuilder Version 5.2
eCardBuilder Version 5.2 is to be released at Print 17 in September 2017 and will have a multi-lingual interface with more products. Amazing Print explains the new version of the web-to-print design engine eCardBuilder 5.2 will feature 100 new products and thousands of additional templates as a free upgrade to current users. Some of the new upgrades include new template creation functionality, new language support for multilingual w+Websites, new image editing capability and image cropping and resizing improvements. The tool’s improved mobile optimized interface will allow ordering and designing on any cell phone or tablet device, while desktop users will benefit from increased speed and better aesthetics.

A new version of APIs will allow deeper connectivity in popular shopping carts and Websites. eCardBuilder users can additionally upgrade to a PosterDesignerPlus+ web to print poster designer and ordering interface based on eCardBuilder framework directly from Canon Canada.

EFI SmartCanvas
SmartCanvas, powered by DirectSmile is a new, Web-based product design tool launched with the new version 9.2 of EFI’s Digital StoreFront Web-to-print and eCommerce software. With SmartCanvas, users can create templates for a variety of products such as greeting cards, flyers, business cards, brochures, stationery, and banners. SmartCanvas is 100 percent HTML5 compatible, ensuring it works across a range of browsers for printer clients to submit customized orders online. Clients can use the design tools to personalize products by selecting images from galleries and adding their own text, images, QR codes, and shapes, while retaining the original branding control of the template. SmartCanvas supports: Multiple levels of undo (and redo); Keyboard shortcuts; Right-click context menus; Layers; Data tools – form fields, variables, and switches; Custom-defined spot colours and official Pantone spot colour definitions, including metallic and fluorescent colours); Real-time preview of product customization.

Infigo MegaEdit Mobile
A mobile optimized version of Infigo’s MegaEdit design tool was launched in March 2017 to enhance the user experience on mobile devices, which requires an intuitive mobile experience.  With consumers storing photos on their mobile device more so than their computer, Infigo explains this development is key to deliver a great experience for photo gifting businesses, and personalized product online retailers.  The latest developments, explains Infigo, make it easy for end users to personalize their order. The MegaEdit mobile interface has been developed to make image upload and editing variable fields simple on a mobile phone. MegaEdit is built in HTML 5 and is cloud-based, so is easy access on most any device.

Agfa StoreFront 4.0
In April, Agfa Graphics released the next generation of its StoreFront, version 4.0 software, which now features what Agfa describes as responsive stores for optimal ease of use, new estimating functionality for pricing information, and new packaging algorithms for cost-effective shipping. The new StoreFront version is optimized to be viewed on smaller screens and large desktop monitors, as store pages automatically adapt to any device.

Another addition to StoreFront 4.0 is the ‘save for quote’ functionality. It allows resellers and agencies to get instant pricing information for an entire product bundle, including shipping costs. In StoreFront 4.0, the shipping module is completely reworked with new packaging algorithms for the grouping of order items and for calculating the optimal number of boxes needed for shipping. Also a new packaging type has been introduced for posters, banners and similar types of signage. These products can now be combined on a single packaging roll.

Radatech Web to Print Cloud
Web to Print Cloud is powered by EPOWER, which specializes in online ordering portals for corporate brands and in-plant operations. The software has the ability to modify the skin to accommodate any look and feel. The system utilizes multiple file formats for variable data – HTML5 design application, PDFLib and InDesign files with XMPie.  The system offers editable workflow stations (as many as you want). The company explains there are no limits to the type of products that users can publish on the system. It also accommodates multiple administrative privileges, multi-billing and shipping options. The reporting can also be customized to generate reports with any piece of data in a few seconds and no coding is necessary.

Print Science wp2print
wp2print is an e-commerce solution for printing companies built on top of WordPress. wp2print brings these important functions to the Website: Complete purchase process including: quotes, purchase and payment; pricing calculators that can handle all the different products type printers require including saddle-stitched catalogues, perfect-bound books, wide format products, signs and more; design-online; both public storefronts and private storefronts for large accounts; and file uploads with no limitations on file size or type.

Because it is built with WordPress, the company explains wp2print is easy to manage to create an attractive and responsive Website by using thousands of available WordPress themes. Print Science explains it is also easy to extend functionality by adding Wordpress or WooCommerce plugins; and to translate to any language. wp2print is available for purchase or by subscription (SaaS). Subscription prices start at US$100 per month. Subscriptions include Website hosting, training and technical support.
Software developer Avanti Computer Systems of Toronto has integrated its Avanti Slingshot Print MIS solution with the Catfish Web-to-print platform from Infigo Software Limited. The first user of the newly integrated solutions is the Print & Imaging Lab at Arizona State University, the in-house print provider at one of the largest universities in the United States.

“Automation is the single most important element in keeping a print provider operating in the black today,” said Cathy Skoglund, Director of ASU’s print operation. The newly integrated solution, according to Avanti, allows customers of imaging lab, whether internal or external, to use the SaaS-based Infigo e-commerce platform to submit a print-ready file or compose the entire piece online.

By integrating Catfish with Slingshot, Avanti explains it is possible to automate every aspect of the print job into a single workflow, eliminating the need for human intervention. This includes functions like job specification and submission, reporting, estimating, imposition, inventory management, scheduling, shipping and billing. “By integrating Avanti Slingshot with Infigo Catfish, our customers have easy access to a new set of unique and powerful e-commerce and job submission capabilities,” said Patrick Bolan, President and CEO, Avanti.

More heavily used in the U.K. and Europe, Infigo Catfish is a Web-to-print platform for printing companies operating in both B2B and B2C environments. It is an HTML5-based (SaaS) solution that can be customized and configured for use by print buyers. Infigo explains it is now in the midst of an aggressive campaign to market its software in North America. Catfish, with tools like MegaEdit, provides online functions for customer acquisition, retention, improvement of the order process and reducing customers support costs.
Propago, a cloud-based Marketing Asset Management software firm headquartered in Austin, Texas, has released native cXML PunchOut support for eProcurement connection capabilities. The cXML PunchOut protocol, explains the company, is the most commonly used method of connecting a procurement application to a supplier’s Web-based shopping cart.

“By adding full-cycle cXML PunchOut support, our clients can extend their reach by offering enterprise level integrations to anyone,” said Rick Aberle, CEO of Propago. “By adding native cXML support directly in Propago our clients won’t need to incur outside expenses from either software purchases or consulting fees to support their largest opportunities.”

The Propago platform’s support for cXML enables trusted supply chain partners (commercial printers, promotional, and apparel companies) to leverage Propago’s marketing asset management platform through a company’s eProcurement system, such as Ariba, Verian, Coupa, SAP, and Oracle.

End users can utilize Propago’s personalization engine, browse the full marketing catalogue and order while remaining in compliance with enterprise procurement processes.

Propago was started within a large commercial printing conglomerate as an internal application to serve clients and support backend operations for those clients. In 2015, the team responsible for building and maintaining the Propago platform was given the opportunity to spin the technology away from the parent company and form a completely stand-alone organization.
Propago has introduced Version 6 of its cloud-based Web-to-print platform designed specifically for the printing industry. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, Propago was started within a large commercial printing conglomerate as an internal application to serve clients and support backend operations for those clients. In 2015, the team responsible for building and maintaining the Propago platform was given the opportunity to spin the technology away from the parent company and form a completely standalone organization.

“We take great pride in listening to the industry and our customers to help them continue their growth and increase their profitability,” said Rick Aberle, CEO of Propago. “With the introduction of version 6, we have rebuilt and modernized our front-end portal so that is more intuitive, faster and powerful.”

“We continue our push to lead the market with a flagship product that stands alone and above the rest of the web-to-print solutions on the market. With over 16 years of experience in the industry, we have developed an easier and more efficient system that allows producers to offer a comprehensive platform to manage, distribute, and produce the marketing assets of their clients.”

Propago version 6, supported by more than 16 years of experience in the industry, is based on a completely new architecture, including new features like a redesigned user interface and additional methods to personalize print materials.

The company points to other new features of version 6 like reinforced compliance enforcement for end marketers, enhanced relevance-based searching capabilities, flexible themes and landing pages for a personalized experience, responsive design to support any device, and expanded support for Propago First-Render technology to streamline end-users’ orders.

Propago explains its Marketing Asset Management Platform allows a printer to offer customers a platform to have complete control over their brands, budgets, and inventory, while sharing and distributing marketing assets to sales teams, affiliates, franchisees, channel partners or any authorized users.

Users can access branded marketing assets and order what they need through intuitive cloud-based marketing portals. It includes a set of Web-to-print, production, procurement, warehousing and fulfillment tools. Propago’s portals handle a variety of assets from printable assets, digital files, promotional products, and apparel to more complex personalized brochures and kits. Granular settings, explains the company, allow administrators to configure branding controls, spending limits, user rights, and reporting, enabling end users easy access to all branded materials from anywhere in the world.
Agfa Graphics updated its Cloud-based Web-to-print Storefront software to Version 3.0 to focus on what the company describes as simpler online creation and management. StoreFront 3.0 is designed for integrating with Apogee (commercial printing) and Asanti (display and signage) software.

“At the moment our largest StoreFront account is a print service provider who is running 51 B2B stores for different clientele,” said Andy Grant, Head of Software, Agfa Graphics. “Today StoreFront serves more than 1,000,000 pages per month, a number that very well illustrates the potential of this market."

One of the new StoreFront 3.0 features is designed for the use of animated carousel banners and custom footer function on store pages. This provides the capability for shop owners to leverage the technology for marketing, providing information to shoppers or promote specific products or services. Agfa explains the HTML5 banners are easy to set up and properly display on mobile devices. The footer function can be used to add contact data or payment and shipping information on store pages.

StoreFront 3.0 now also supports price rounding either per item or for the total order value. With the updated software, Agfa explains business customers with stores aimed at international visitors have better control over international value-added taxes (VAT). In countries where it is customary to add a surcharge for credit card payments, such fees can now be added to the order total.

“From the start, our StoreFront solution was developed with automation in mind,” continued Grant. “The tight integration with the Apogee or Asanti workflow is extremely powerful and saves printers a lot of time because incoming orders are automatically processed."

The new StoreFlow Cloud (released July 2015) form XMpie, a division of Xerox, is subscription-based, SaaS technology for creating Web-to-print portals. The company explains StoreFlow Cloud is designed for needing little or no IT investment (subscription plans start at $799 per month), lowering the barriers to entry for deploying Web-to-print.

StoreFlow Cloud is compatible with XMPie’s suite of tools for personalization and multichannel communications, and it opens doors to the world of higher-value services, such as creating and managing marketing portals.

“As an entry level Cloud-based solution, StoreFlow Cloud gives Print and Marketing service providers a convenient way to participate in a fast growing segment of services,” said Jacob Aizikowitz, President of XMPie.  “At the same time, customers of StoreFlow Cloud will be able to jumpstart their journey towards transforming their businesses to become full-fledged, high-value multichannel service providers.”

StoreFlow Cloud allows visitors to upload their documents, or select a template from a catalogue and customize/personalize it, price the job, and submit it for processing and handling. StoreFlow Cloud leverages Xerox FreeFlow Core technology to streamline and automate prepress functions and other print fulfillment workflows.

Key features of StoreFlow Cloud include having an unlimited number of static, customizable and variable documents; Adobe workflow for InDesign template creation and editing; Automated predefined prepress workflows powered by Xerox FreeFlow Core; customizable, mobile-friendly storefronts with intuitive shopping experience; and integration with common payment gateways and shipping providers.


Google Print Cloud, a technology which allows users of Google's phone, tablet devices, as well as PC users, to print remotely, has just added an update which allows users to send jobs directly to FedEx Office (formerly FedEx Kinko's).

The technology, launched in 2010, originally allowed users to print remotely, whether it is a printer at work or at home. Now users can send jobs to FedEx Office locations around North America, to be retrieved with a generated code.

Google's Print Cloud technology is also implemented into a line of consumer-level devices from Canon, Epson, HP and Kodak.

In 2007, Adobe and FedEx Kinko's drew the ire of the printing industry when the two companies partnered to offer a direct printing path from Adobe Acrobat and Acrobat Reader to FedEx Kinko's locations. Adobe quickly stepped back from the effort after printers threatened to boycott its products.


Lulu.com, the Rahleigh, NC-based self publishing company, has expanded its offerings north to better serve Canadians. Lulu's products ordered by Canadians will be manufactured in Canada, leading to upwards of 45 percent savings in shipping while reaching customers faster.

“This investment is simply to serve the growing demand from Canadian authors and publishers, given the current publishing climate in Canada,” says Bob Young, Canadian Founder and CEO of Lulu.com. “Expanding our global print network to include Canada is just one more way we’re making Lulu the most cost-effective and convenient option available for creators to sell more books to more readers both in Canada and around the world.”

One of Lulu's partners is Toronto-based Astley Gilbert, which has 10 locations across Southern Ontario. According to Lulu, the company has seen a 44 percent growth in Canadian creators last year with authors making upwards of $165,000.

Founded in 2002, Lulu claims to have become the largest self-publishing portal in North America. It sources print vendors from all across North America. People looking to self-publish keep 80 percent of the revenues derived from each sale.



Less than a month after acquiring Nimblefish Technologies, to expand its multi-channel marketing capabilities, R. R. Donnelley (RRD) has now purchased 8touches. RRD describes 8touches as an online provider of tools that allow real-estate sales associates, brokers, Multiple Listing Service (MLS) associations and other marketers to create customized communications materials such as direct mail, flyers and brochures.



"This acquisition expands our portfolio of proprietary Internet-based solutions," stated Thomas J. Quinlan III, CEO of RRD. "8touches brings to RR Donnelley a proven solution that will benefit from our larger scale in software development and distribution. It will also accelerate our ability to create targeted applications for additional industries and vertical segments."


8touches portal provides access to more than 1,000 customizable templates, which users can populate with profiles, MLS data and pictures for selected real-estate listings. Templates are available for residential, farm and ranch, commercial and new construction marketing programs. The 8touches portal also includes mapping tools to obtain surrounding address information, as well as access to demographics that can better target direct mailings.

Often describes as the world’s largest printing company, Chicago-based RRD claims it now works with over 60,000 customers.



Transcontinental Media today announced the launch of Dealstreet.ca, which the company describes as an online flyer portal that delivers tailored retail offers to consumers. Dealstreet.ca lets users browse current retail offers and promotions online, and it creates personalized results based on postal code, as well as by specific search categories.

These search categories are grouped by product or service, brand, or retailer, and can include more specific local, retail topics like "home improvement" or "babies and toddlers." According to Transcontinental, users can further personalize their search and build shopping lists, print coupons, and elect to receive notification of future offers from retailers.
 
The site also features complementary content from Transcontinental publications like Canadian Living, Style at Home and Homemakers.

"Dealstreet.ca builds on the strength of retail flyers, which have traditionally played a significant role in the shopping habits of Canadians," stated Alain Courville, General Manager, Transcontinental Media.  "A recent industry survey showed that a large number of Canadian consumers want to use the Internet to research information before heading to the stores. Dealstreet.ca delivers information about special offers, new product information, and even inspiration for the weekly family menu from wherever the Internet is available."

Dealstreet.ca was developed in partnership with Conversys, a Transcontinental company which provides services for retailers to extend their print flyer content online. The coupon application is an extension of the Transcontinental Media Clip n' Save group.




unitedprint.com SE, with client-facing Websites active in 19 European countries, announced yesterday that it is entering the Canadian printing market through its print24 brand and a partnership with a Calgary company.  

Based in the United Kingdom, unitedprint.com has more than 400 employees, working through 24-hour shifts, within a print production area of around 10,000 square metres (see link below to view a live cam of the company’s production floor).

Claiming itself as Europe's “leader in the field of web2print,” unitedprint.com focuses its services into world-class cites, including Berlin, London, Paris, Milan, Madrid, Vienna, Zurich, Amsterdam, Brussels, Dublin, Luxembourg, Warsaw, Prague, Copenhagen, Oslo, Stockholm, Helsinki, Lisbon and Athens.

In addition to its Calgary printing partnership, the company has established another print24 partnership with a company in Seattle to help it cover the North American market, which until now has been clearly dominated by VistaPrint and its Windsor, Ontario, production facility.

print24 lists the following core printing applications: address labels, sticker, letterheads, envelopes, brochures, flyers, wall year planners, calendars, compliment slips, mousepads, posters, postcards, presentation folders, notepads, desk pads, rubber stamps and business cards.

Live webcam of unitedprint.com’s production floor.



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