Get Your Shop Online
To keep business from going to quick printers, in-plants need Web-based ordering capabilities. Here's how one in-plant went online and some leads on how you can, too.
by CAROLINE MILLER
THREE YEARS ago, the University of Colorado at Boulder's printing and copying services department realized it needed to hone its competitive edge to remain viable against local competitors such as Kinko's.
The $3.2 million operation's core business—course packs, stationery, business cards and flyers—could easily be sent to outside shops, since the university does not mandate the use of the in-plant.
"It was very easy for people to go off campus," admits Newell Fogelberg, director of Printing and Copying Services. To stem the off-campus flow, the in-plant came up with a homegrown online ordering and file submission system called e-print. Though the system enabled clients to send attachments and order online, it was still very limited.
There were the usual problems with native files, and clients had to be technically savvy to use the system appropriately. Also, the university did not have a secure server, so customers were forced to phone their credit card information into the printing and copying center or send an invoice through campus mail, which slowed down the ordering process.
The e-print system required the in-plant to typeset the information again when it came into the shop. And clients had no way of proofing their submissions once the print shop received the project.
"People really liked the service, but we were very limited in what we could do," reports Fogelberg.
A change was in order.
"In a campus environment, people are used to sending things online all the time; they expect to be able to do so with us, as well. We needed to do this to compete with commercial printers around town that did offer similar services," explains Fogelberg.