Hitmetrix - User behavior analytics & recording

Power of the portal

Tulsa, OK-based Camille’s Sidewalk Café, a restaurant franchise with more than 100 locations that sell salads, wraps, pizza and panini, supports up to eight limited-time promotions per year with point-of-purchase mate­rial, flyers and direct mail. Without the right technology, ensuring that the entire chain receives corporate-approved marketing materials on time and begins promotions on the same day can be difficult.

However, through the use of the company’s Web-to-print portal, each franchisee can place orders for mate­rials online and customize them for their local branch. “This [technology] has a big effect on the promotions,” says Carolyn Archer, SVP at Beauti­ful Brands International (BBI), which owns Camille’s.

The use of Web-to-print portals, which enable various company out­posts to modify materials based on their needs, has grown significantly over the past few years — thanks to the many ways this technology can simplify brand management.

“Five years ago, there were between six and 10 Web-to-print solutions providers; today there are 60,” says Rich Dunklee, director of product management at Saepio Technologies, a Web-to-print portal provider. As a result, small and midsize customers — especially in the franchise industry, in which the adoption of Web-to-print technology has been high — now choose between solutions based on price, signaling its commodization.

After experimenting for several years with printing in-house and using a fulfillment vendor, BBI switched Camille’s over to a Web-to-print por­tal through provider MyPrint. As a result, the company has reduced its printing costs and removed some of the burden from the corporate office when it comes to working with fran­chisees on print orders such as post­cards and gift certificates.

Web-to-print increases ROI

“With MyPrint, Camille’s can more efficiently roll out marketing materi­als,” says Archer. This is especially important, she continues, as BBI readies aggressive expansion plans for Camille’s (a 10-year-old brand) as well as two other franchise concepts, Coney Beach and Fresh Berry.

“MyPrint will help BBI do more with its marketing funds and be more productive by helping the company reduce costs and get more bang for its buck,” she explains.

However, the adoption rate of Web-to-print technology is still only around 14% of the entire business sector, according to Kent Barkouras, president/CEO of MyPrint Corp. He and others expect that more growth will come from large enterprise business­es and industries where document requirements are more complex.

“We expect the adoption rate of Web-to-print solutions within the next five years to be greater than 50% of industry,” Barkouras continues. One reason for growth is that marketers have seen what Web-to-print portals have done for the franchise industry and want to replicate the success.

Vertis Communications, which also offers a Web-to-print portal, is look­ing to take its success in the franchise arena and translate it for financial, pharmaceutical and healthcare companies, says Michael Maher, director of strategic business develop­ment. However, he says, there are some challenges.

“The printed materials for these types of companies are more complex than in the franchise marketplace,” Maher explains.

Part of the problem is that insur­ance and healthcare companies must deal with different regulatory agen­cies in every state, each with their own requirements for what should be printed on documents. A Web-to-print portal that would automatically address regulatory issues by location could mitigate many of these issues, allowing end-users to use collateral documents without thinking about regulatory issues.

According to Dunklee, there are “two schools of thought” on Web-to-print portals from the marketer’s per­spective. One, such as is with BBI, the corporate attitude is that document management is complex and it is best to have the printing services provider handle as much of it as possible. The other tends toward self-management, and is seen with larger companies.

“If a company has a staff of marketing folks and designers in house, they don’t need to go out and pay another company to manage a Web-to-print site,” Dunklee explains.

For this market, Saepio is currently developing a new product that will let large companies use marketing intel­ligence and connect the dots between local and corporate markets.

More sophisticated portals

There are already signs that Web-to-print portals are getting more so­phisticated in how they manage data files. Much of the data held online by a Web-to-print portal have been document templates and images. Now, there’s a movement towards bringing the entire data file online, including ZIP code information. This will enable marketers to create personalized campaigns targeted to specific local market segments.

For global clients, Saepio’s system lets end-users apply this logic to a marketing document — for example, using a specific image for a target audience with income more than $50,000 — but have them automati­cally presented with culturally appro­priate images and language.

“You’ll always have a vendor printer offering a single-point Web-to-print solution,” says Maher, who adds that this represents the mar­ket reaching maturity at this stage. “The opportunity emerging is with complex enterprises with market­ing communications that need to be personalized.”

Franchises are also looking to Web-to-print to help them get to the next level. BBI, for example, is looking into offering its franchisees the ability to coordinate direct mail campaigns with local ZIP targeting data that would be uploaded to the portal by the corporate office.

“The company wants to use as much of this technology as it can to help grow its business,” Archer says of BBI’s future strategy.

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