Web-to-Print E-commerce in 2020

Do It Yourself or Done For You?

Time waits for no man, and no one has to time to waste in brick-and-mortar stores complying with the time-consuming no-touch policies the COVID-19 measures impose.

The rising e-commerce trend is forcing entrepreneurs to prep their online stores sooner and better than they anticipated. On-demand, ad hoc, personalization - the imagination of the consumer knows no boundaries. That calls for a web-to-print setup that’s up to par and suits your business now and well into the future.

The pros and cons of any web2print route by a POC expert

Our pre-sales manager, Sylvain Westerloppe, laid out your options for you. Luckily, others have done the groundwork for you and mapped out an ecosystem of options. DIY or DFY – how will you roll?


As in, do your research.

Many web2print solutions come in package deals, making it easy for small and medium-sized businesses to create online stores. Each solution comes with its advantages and particularities. All in your benefit, but equally challenging your decision-making process.

The basis is pretty standard. Each merchant or entrepreneur will work with an administration interface to keep his shop alive - product catalog updates, stock management, you name it. And most platforms will operate on a monthly subscription system. (We have the same in place for CHILI publisher Online.) That is a setup they all have in common.

But to make your web2print genuinely stand out, please understand there is a multitude of technical and commercial concepts to be grasped, and decisions to be made, on top of wading your way through the proliferation of service providers. Ludovic Martin, the renowned web2print expert, lined up some of the most common pitfalls.

For now, let’s assume you’re all set. You did your homework; you know what you want and how you want it.

The question remains – how will you create your e-commerce site?

Depending on your project outlines and budget available, you’ll have numerous platforms and providers to choose from. But only two routes to go:

  1. DIY - Do It Yourself
  2. DFY - Done For You

Let’s explore, shall we?

DIY - Create your own web-to-print setup

This is your best bet to differentiate yourself from the competition, especially from the classic and well-known web2print portals on the market. DIY will allow you to define the customer path you envisioned and fully integrate your web2print solution into your existing portal or match with the company flow.

A bold move for the eager and skilled entrepreneur who wants to do things his/her way, not blindly following the norms and standards the market dictates.

  • Complete involvement on your end
  • A fully tailored solution to your business vision
  • Total overview always
  • Non-stop upgradeable
  • Full control over all components
  • Bigger flexibility
  • Costs are all at your own expense
  • Time-consuming
  • Short-/long-term costs/benefits waging exercise
  • In-house knowledge and expertise - developer meets designer meets entrepreneur meets?

DFY - Assemble your integrated web-to-print portal with best-of-breed components

Advanced B2C-style user experiences have become the norm, and today's customers are more demanding than ever. The answer resides in neither building nor buying a complete solution.

Assembling an integrated workflow with best-of-breed components will let you move forward quickly, without burning much budget.

  • Lower building cost
  • Ready-made, user-endorsed components
  • Quick platform launch
  • No in-depth knowledge required
  • Easy first steps in the web2print world
  • Not fully tailored
  • No custom interface
  • No specific experience
  • A successful no-fail strategy for most
  • The right connector is all you need to go fully operational

Define your Web-To-Print Strategy for 2020

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So, you know your route. If you’re not a developer/designer/entrepreneur like Jason Frueh at MyCreativeShop (and even that was no walk in the park) or if your overall budget comes with limitations, you’ll most likely go DFY. Rest assured, you’re in good company.

The majority of our customers went DFY and pretty successfully, too, if I might add. Over my nine years of POC-ing, I picked up on a few things I think we can all learn from.

The five most common questions companies have on web2print

1. I would like to extend my web2print portal with a personalization capability. How can I integrate CHILI publisher into my existing web2print portal? How will CHILI publisher communicate with my E-commerce solution?

If you don’t have a developer profile in house, might I suggest you check out the CHILI e-commerce plug-ins available on the market? And even if you have a developer, ask them to analyze the e-commerce plug-ins out there. They’ll be surprised when comparing the plug-in cost to the time it will take to develop and integrate CHILI publisher into an e-commerce platform.

2. I’m a printer, and I'm not in IT. How easy/hard will it be to start a project?

The easy way is to explore your options within a standard e-commerce platform like Magento, Shopify, Woo-commerce, or others. If you selected your platform of choice, check out the CHILI e-commerce plug-in that comes with. If it matches what you had in mind, you’ll have yourself a jump-off.

3. What customization possibilities does CHILI publisher offer?

How far does your imagination stretch? I would recommend you slowly grow your user experience. Start with something simple to expand customization possibilities later on. Like a business card they can personalize through a form first to creating a full VDP batch in a later stage.

4. Do I need DTP skills to work with CHILI publisher, or is it accessible for everyone?

Not everyone is a designer, so we crafted our workspace concept to create a basic and oriented interface for the non-professional on your team, alongside a complete interface for a designer profile, all within the same document.

5. Does CHILI publisher work in any web browser?

It sure does. The software relies on an HTML canvas component that frees us up from any web browser compatibility issues.

How to move forward based on your size?

Every story is different, but there are some common denominators, of course. Here’s my general advice depending on your size:

If you’re a small company
  • Start with a small project in plug&play mode.
  • Use existing components (e-commerce, connector...)
  • Get a marketing budget
If you’re a medium company
  • Set up a project method and define your milestones
  • Define your ecosystem according to a preset budget envelope.
  • Assess different e-commerce solutions, MIS, connectors
If you’re a large company
  • Define the ecosystem according to a preset budget envelope.
  • Study several e-commerce solutions, MIS, connectors
  • Have a full-time project manager to steer the project properly so you can meet commitments

Web2print word to the wise?

Choose your partners wisely. They'll be the components of a web2print that lives and breathes your DNA.

Avoid transplant rejections; match your ingredients. Mind you. Size doesn't matter unless you have to prepare a setup tailored to your size & ambition. And location. Every business has its DNA, but I have spotted some regional similarities. In my experience, these are the most common partnerships in:


Operating worldwide? We’ll have to talk, that calls for an in-depth analysis.

Your best web2print connection bid for your e-commerce bet?

Take your pick – there are few e-commerce platforms we don’t have a connector with or can’t find an easy way for to integrate CHILI publisher. In the end, we always find an e-commerce connector for any web2print challenge thrown our way. Here are some of the standard tools we worked with on the market:

  • Big commerce
  • Intershop
  • Magento
  • NOP Commerce
  • Prestashop
  • Shopify
  • Woo Commerce
  • And more…

If you want to minimize project costs, enable a quick market launch, and benefit from existing web2print experiences, we recommend you assemble and turn to one of these connectors. Proven expertise guaranteed.

Mind you; we're not opposing DIY here.

We have a robust REST API that will enable you to create your integration with CHILI publisher and your E-commerce tool, to generate a specific customer path. Just a heads-up that this will be much more demanding in terms of resources, competence, cost, and time. (We’ll have your back nonetheless, though.) Maybe some of our integration partners can help you out!

How to get the perfect POC?

If you're considering reaching out to vendors to help you design your best web2print route, you'll need to provide them with some guidance and the essential information to get off on the right foot.

If you're looking to get the best POC for your business, here’s what we need to know.

1. What's the aim and purpose of your project?

What business process should it reflect? Clear guidelines help to adapt to the POC's nature and bring in the little extras that could make the difference in the final selection.

2. What are your dealmakers? What are the key points that should be included?

We want to be aligned with your customer’s expectations.

3. What are the specifics for the framework application CHILI publisher would be integrated into?

Help us understand your ecosystem so we can find the proper environment for you; we might even suggest appropriate partners.

4. What are the different user profiles? What are their functional requirements?

We’ll define referential use cases.

5. Which channels (digital or print) do you want to export/connect the document to?

Export to print, calls for a PDF or IDML export, digital calls for an HTML export. A mix of both? Yes, we can. Good agreements make for better proposals.


Got your ducks in a row, and all of the above is nothing new for you? Good for you, frontrunning your way in e-commerce.

If you already are doing it right, you might still be interested in doing one better, right? Check out this business report on your Web-To-Print Strategy with some optimization recommendations.

Whether you’re starting, growing, or maturing, there’s always something we can learn from one another.

Send me your feedback on the above? I’d love to POCket some new ideas for blogs.

Sylvain Westerloppe - Pre-sales Manager at CHILI publish
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