Web-to-Print E-commerce in 2023 (& Beyond)

All you need and want to know on how to use design automation as a competitive advantage.

What is e-commerce?

Everyone loves to shop online, and with recent global events shifting more purchases and buying habits into the digital space, businesses are seeing the real benefits of setting up shop online. Moving away from traditional brick-and-mortar takes away the cost of running a physical store – however, shifting your premises to the digital space brings its own set of challenges.

Customers want the best and most fulfilling user experience when it comes to buying online. That means businesses often need to be agile, creating shopfronts that adapt to the needs and wants of their customer base while standing out from the crowd in a busy online marketplace.

Are you considering transforming your e-commerce dreams into a retail reality? The tips you need to succeed are now at your fingertips:

  • What kind of digital printing software do you need?
  • How to set up your new web2print portal?
  • Picking the right tools to support & optimize your portal
  • How to get the right project proposal for your web2print setup of choice
  • What are the costs involved with online design software?

What kind of digital printing software do I need to embrace the world of design automation?

To stand out in the web-to-print e-commerce scene, you need to differentiate yourself from the pack. To do this you need the right infrastructure in place to make your online selling portal memorable, intuitive and rewarding to use.

Having the infrastructure in mind is not enough to turn digital commerce dreams into money-making realities. Design automation within your web2print will make the real impact.

When it comes to layout software and online design software packages, there’s a lot of choice out there. From small and medium-sized businesses to enterprise organizations, these solutions each come with their own set of enhancements and limitations.

Most will share some key traits, including a monthly or ongoing subscription (we have something like this in place: CHILI publisher Online) that enables a user to operate an online store – with support for catalog updates, stock management functionality, advertising support and more. But this is just the basic foundations. A web2print e-commerce service needs to do more than check off the fundamentals.

Making your web2print portal stand apart from the rest requires all manner of technical and commercial plates that need to be spun, as well as the need to sift through myriad service providers out there offering their own web2print packages.

How to set up your new web2print portal?

You want to get your own web2print portal up and running. So, where do you start? By deciding how you want to build and support your new online shopping extravaganza. Which of the following routes do you take?

  • DIY - Do It Yourself
  • DFY - Done For You

Each of these choices comes with its own challenges and will define what kind of variable data printing and digital printing software you’ll end up utilizing to make your web2print goals achievable. It’ll also make a real impact on the amount of work you’ll need to do and the overall cost of your web-to-print business model.

Let’s explore them in a little more detail, shall we?

DIY – Building your own web-to-print shop front

There are so many companies out there with their own web2print portals. You don’t want to get lost in the mediocre mix and fall into the same pitfalls and outdated procedures that are holding them back. You also want to make this happen yourself and that DIY attitude will enable you to accurately define the customer path you’ve envisioned and fully integrate the web2print solution you’ve settled on.

It’s certainly a bold decision, but it’s also the most challenging as you’re taking on every problem and issue that might crop up along the way. That’s why it’s vitally important to weigh up the benefits and challenges of Doing It Yourself.

  • You’re 100% involved in the web2print process
  • The solution is tailored to your exact vision
  • Complete and consistent overview
  • Upgradeable whenever required
  • Full oversight over each component
  • Greater flexibility and freedom
  • Every cost will come at your expense
  • It’s a very time-consuming process
  • Balancing benefits with both short- and long-term costs
  • Limited access to design and web development knowledge (depending on your experience)
  • Here are a few entrepreneurs who took the plunge into the DIY world: MyCreativeShop, Tadaaz & Pacsome – to name but a few.

DFY - Assemble the best web-to-print components to create a head-turning e-commerce experience

Customers don’t just want a basic shopping experience. They want every bell and whistle. They want an immersive e-commerce journey that empowers their buying habits and connects them to the products they want (and the ones they didn’t realise they needed) with subtle speed.

By passing on the considerable challenge of building an integrated workflow to a specialist, you can watch your new web2print portal come to life with best-of-breed components and the latest developments in layout software and design automation.

  • Customized to fit your budget and requirements
  • Ready-made and carefully calibrated components
  • Rapid platform deployment
  • No need to learn web development and e-commerce tools
  • A simpler and less-stressful way to step into the web2print world
  • May not be fully tailored
  • No custom interface in place
  • No specific experience to utilize
  • A very successful strategy that’s unlikely to fail
  • The right connector is all you need to go from concept to fully operational

Define your very own web2print Strategy for 2023 (and beyond)

Download our free business report and discover how you can support your growing online business.

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Picking the right tools to support & optimize your portal

If you want to go down the Done For You route – and we don’t blame you, there’s just so much to consider when you want to DIY – you need to consider the different tools, applications and platforms you’ll require to get your web2print experience off the ground and into the digital selling space.

Here are some of the components you’ll need when chosing DIY:

  1. Selling platforms
  2. Design tools
  3. Integration partners
1. Choosing the right selling platforms is key

You need an online platform that will help facilitate your digital print transactions, so you should opt for a trusted and well-established tool. Be sure to shop around, but we’d suggest the following as a good place to start:

2. Unleash the creativity with a powerful design tool

Now you have the skeleton of your selling platform in place, now you need to put some creative flesh on its bones. You’ll need a platform that will effectively represent your branding and the products or services you’re hoping to reach customers with. The Smart Templates of CHILI publisher enables users to control the design of their web2print output with speed and accuracy.

3. Getting connected with the right integration partners

Building the right solution for your web2print business comes down to selecting the right integration partners for your size, industry and consumer base. Define who needs to do, what and where. Remember, much of this will be determined by your location. Here are some of the most beneficial strategic partners based on key regions around the world:


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

So you put in the legwork, did your research, think you know what you want. Now it’s time to get what you need.

How to get the right project proposal for your web2print setup of choice

Define the use case for your POC! Getting the right POC (Proof of Concept) in place always starts with defining your key goals and objectives. So, if you’re considering reaching out to vendors – be they layout software specialists or pioneers in digital printing software to determine your best web2print route, you’ll need to take a moment and ask yourself these questions (and see if our answers align with your thinking).

Here’s what you need to know.
1. What is the main purpose of your project?

Define the clear guidelines of your project by making sure you know the key objectives and goals you want to meet. Who are your customers? What web2print documents are they going to need? These elements will help inform your decision.

2. Which elements of your project are most important? Which key points should be included in the POC?

Determine the core aspects of your web2print business and the kind of functionality you want to support. CHILI publish can help align your capabilities with the expectations of your customers.

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

We’re here to understand the needs and requirements of your printing ecosystem, so we can determine the right environment for your business. We may even suggest more appropriate partners to help build the right solution for you.

4. What are the functional requirements of your web2print project? And who are the different user profiles going to be?

We’ll determine the most suitable referential use cases so you can see a similar web2print solution in effect elsewhere.

5. Which channels do you want to export/connect the document to?

There are all sorts of combinations when it comes to exporting and connecting documents including export to print, PDF/IDLM exports, HTML export for digital use and more. We’ll find the right balance between the two to suit your unique needs.

6. What about data mapping my records to ensure easy application when printing?

A DFY solution from CHILI publish enables you to data map all your customer records, dynamically implementing into a digital solution – such as a Smart Template - so you design and print with real agility. We’ll walk you through the process to make sure you see the real benefits.

7. What about clarifying your budget?

Knowing your budget is incredibly important, since it determines how much capital you must spend on your chosen partners, the scale of your web2print operation and the kind of artwork software you can afford to leverage.

What are the costs involved with online design software?

Whether you go DIY or DFY, creating a variable data printing platform will require a certain amount of investment. How much that costs, is entirely based on your circumstances, the scale of your operation and depth of your ambitions.

So, let’s take a little look at the elements involved in either option.

Option #1: Going autonomous with DIY

As we revealed above, the costs of going it alone can be significantly higher – mainly because you’re taking on the cost of sourcing and building your web2print platform, including any hiccups that might occur along the way.

It’s a good idea to consider the general costs of building a web2print solution yourself as this will go some way to determining the investment you’ll need to make to get something a) that works as intended and b) offers a service that’s strong enough to draw customers in and keep them loyal to your brand.

You'll need to choose and set up your:

  • E-commerce platform
  • Web developer/agency
  • Suitable designer/agency
  • Marketing strategy
  • Need for potential extra support staff (such as a project/platform manager)
Option #2: Assembling a team of heroes with DFY

With any business expenditure, you want to make sure you get a significant ROI (Return Of Investment), and with a DFY solution you’re much more likely to get an affordable web2print solution for your money.

You’ve already established your plan, now you need to analyze whether your budget will fit your ambitions within the timescales you want to meet. Thankfully, with a web2print solution fueled with the power of design automation, you can save both time and money by ordering to meet demand rather than filling your inventory with print stock you don’t necessarily need.

So, what’s next?

Taking that next step towards the power of a rewarding Web2print Strategy. Download our business report below to dig a little deeper and make it work for your setup. Or contact us ASAP to get started on that digital printing software platform that’s built for purpose.

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