Tech guide: MIS and web-to-print

MIS

PRINTIQ MIS

PrintIQ is a new breed of print management system that looks to stand out from the traditional MIS products on the market. It is a web-based product, which by definition means that everyone accesses the application from an internet browser.  Production-staff manage the factory, while customers quote, order and track, all from anywhere in same application.  With no software to install, no separate web portal or online ordering system to add on, its developers say printIQ represents a quantum shift from what most printers are doing right now.

And printIQ is one of the few print management systems produced locally.  It was created by IQ which has development and support staff in both Australia and New Zealand.  Being local and working alongside customers has produced a competitive advantage for IQ, and their openness and ability to customise for their customers has certainly helped them convert a veritable who’s who of local printers to their MIS.

The printIQ MIS supports many segments of the industry from offset and digital printers, through to wide format and signage companies, with each segment having an option tailor-made for their industry. The new additions of mail house and design are now creating quite a stir in the industry.

It also enhances its offering with a range of additional modules. The IQconnect Enfocus Switch module allows printIQ users to utilise the automated workflow, encompassing Enfocus Switch, Pitstop, and Impostrip from Ultimate. PrintIQ Customers can now have a lights-out process to take an order from the web and push it through to the press without operator intervention.

 

 

EFI PACE

EFI Pace is a browser-based print shop management programme designed for sheetfed, digital and wide format printers. Pace is also a key part of EFI’s integrated workflow solution, which includes web-to-print, MIS and lights-out prepress using EFI Metrix and seamless integration to Fiery and Prinergy for output.

Pace is comprised of a complete suite of software modules. Plus Pace offers the flexibility to choose the entire suite or just the modules that best meet current needs and the option to add supplementary modules as those needs change.

Pace offers users modules such as PaceStation, an easy-to-use query tool that sorts, manages, edits and views large sets of data in real time. Users can build custom views to track jobs, view cost centre production plans, or monitor collection efforts based on user-defined criteria, giving a real-time view of the business for timely, informed decision making.

The Pace system also includes a complete accounting package that is fully integrated into the application for turnkey implementation. The Pace accounting package is an easy way to gain control over spending and track detailed information on job costing, billing, accounts receivable, accounts payable and payroll, as well as inventory reporting and integrated purchase orders with estimates.

Pace production solutions offers a fully integrated hub for all job activities. Printers can manage job planning and scheduling, collect costs and shop floor data, and track purchasing, inventory and shipments.

With JDF and JMF Modules, Pace can connect to systems handling imposition planning, prepress workflow, press and finishing operations, and exchange information, for a fully automated system.

For advanced users, EFI provides a variety of modules to allow them to customise the system to meet specific needs. The Pace API provides dynamic interaction with the Pace system, simultaneously maintaining critical business rules for data integrity.

 

MYPRINTCLOUD INFINITY

MyPrintCloud automates most key business processes and manages the job lifecycle from the time the customer starts the buying process, through quoting and estimating, ordering, production, distribution to invoicing and shipping.

This MIS solution delivers real-time data across business processes associated with the production of a printed product.

At any time, managers can obtain accurate analytical statistics about various jobs, costs, customers and inventory, to increase efficiency, reduce overheads and improve margins and profitability for the business.

MyPrintCloud offers complete automation, creates complex estimates, advances estimates to orders, schedules those orders in production and progresses to an invoice and dispatch. Its MIS Infinity integrates with web-to-print stores.

Once the customer’s order has been acquired through the web to print interface or manually entered, the data flows to Print MIS for business processing such as quoting, estimating, ordering, distribution and invoicing for final print production.

MyPrintCloud’s print MIS system has been designed for small-to-medium sized litho printers, commercial printers, digital printers and copy shops to simplify the key administrative tasks of a print job from estimating to invoicing.

MyPrintCloud’s Print MIS system can analyse the real cost of jobs with accurate estimates and quotes; view requirements of jobs and combine similar jobs with a scheduling system; manage the flow of materials throughout the shop with an inventory system; generate up-to-date reports with built-in reporting capability; access general ledgers for real time data on sales, receivables and payables; and control up-front integration costs and ongoing maintenance expenses.

 

OPTIMUS DASH

In 2014 flexibility and the management of change within Optimus dash MIS is an essential part of the company’s solution.

Optimus has updated its dash MIS to ensure that no matter what is produced – packaging, outdoor media, t-shirt printing or point of sale – Optimus dash can manage any product and process. Optimus customers range from two to 200 users in all sectors of the graphic arts industry.

Optimus fully embraces a lean manufacturing philosophy within its software to ensure the eradication of wasteful processes and duplication. Optimus dash manages all aspects of a modern print business, from estimate to job bag, stock, purchasing, despatch and invoicing.

A key extension to Optimus dash is Optimus Cloud Mobile. Many print buyers still expect personal visits from their print provider’s salespeople, but every administration task and piece of paperwork completed by a sales representative is time wasted in exploring more sales opportunities. Cloud Mobile gives sales reps the tools to be able to capture instant buying decisions while in front of their customer – quotes, orders, stock orders and customer view. All activity completed in Cloud Mobile automatically appears in Optimus dash MIS back at the office, giving full transparency and maximum efficiencies.

 

PENT NET QUOTE MANAGER

Pent Net’s online quoting module combines all the functionality of the company’s products into a centralised online quoting facility, transferring information to and from disparate systems.

Quote Manager can use either a printer’s own price lists if the quotes relate to digital machines, or connect to various MIS systems to obtain complex price information for offset.

The advantage of Quote Manager is that a customer can request a quote for multiple quantities and options and then receives a quote immediately listing the various prices for the multiple options requested. The quote can be valid for a specific timeframe of the printer’s choosing. The customer can then call up the quote at any time and immediately place an order on one of the options they requested.

Quote Manager is also available on iPads and phones, making it easy for quotes and orders to be placed at any time. Peter Ludwig, Pent Net managing director, says, “Our customers love Quote Manager. It is so simple and easy to use, yet so powerful and helpful in getting more business.

“Some of our customers use it when their salespeople visit their customers. The salespeople can then do a quote on the spot, usually on an iPad or PC. The quote letter is emailed immediately in real time to the customer and the salesperson. Often this can be converted to an order straight away.

“The salesperson can also track the quote history and follow up with the customer to make sure the quote is converted to an order. This has worked incredibly well for many of our customers whether they are large listed printers, large and medium printer businesses as well as the smaller print shops.”

Pent Net is an Australian software developer and technology provider specialising in the printing and packaging industries. It has been established for 12 years and focuses on amplifying efficiencies, saving money and increasing business for printers. Pent Net also offers financing options to customers.

 

DOLPHINWORXS PRINTWORXS

PrintWorxs is a fully online hosted MIS solution sold on a subscription basis by DolphinWorxs. The product’s integrated and built in CRM has had several feature updates, including a number of client requested features.

The software seamlessly manages work and assigned tasks for employees with three different optional reminder settings, which individual employees can subscribe or unsubscribe to at will. Company overrides can be set to manage this as well.

Overall tracking and management of tasks at admin and manager level is also available, and easy to set up. Repeating tasks are easy to create.

When viewing client details, the software lists the documents and notes for that client, and also all emails, phone calls and tasks associated with the client.

The company has also launched a standalone smartphone app in 2014, for iDevices and Android phones. The contact manager app shows all active companies, contacts and prospects on the phone, and captures, edits and manages the details in real time directly to a database. Users can also call and email out of the app.

Client data can be imported into PrintWorxs in two ways – using a manual CSV import as well as using the Xero integration feature to pull in client details from Xero accounting software. The Xero integration feature also sets up the GL accounts and tax codes as per the settings in Xero so that invoices can be exported with minimal hassle.

Standard reports included with the software are client lists with various grouping options and leads reporting. Data can be exported in nine different formats for custom reporting.

The system also has a number of automated processes that can be enabled or disabled by the system’s administration, including processes to create tasks for activities such as following up on quotes after a set period of time and following up on unpaid invoices after a specified time period.

The product is proving attractive to smaller printers whose biggest barrier to entry in the software market is the massive upfront fees normally associated with high-end MIS and workflow solutions.

All development and support is entirely inhouse and handled by the Melbourne based staff.

 

QUOTE & PRINT MIS/ERP SYSTEM

Quote & Print is an Australian company with software designed and developed for the printing industry in Australia, New Zealand and Asia. It has 33 years’ experience supplying print industry management information solutions.

Q&P is able to provide a one-stop solution for all print MIS/ERP needs, working with more than 600 printing companies, with solutions for any size, budget or type of printer.

Q&P’s integrated MIS solution captures the customer and quote information once and reuses that data many times throughout the system to improve data quality and staff efficiency. This single data entry goes from customer and quote to a job ticket, through tracking the job, delivery dockets and labels, invoicing and auto updating the debtors module.

With the fully integrated accounts option this integration can also flow automatically right through to the general ledger and cashbooks.

Q&P can assist printers to move into new business areas such as e-marketing and personalised communications using integrated solutions.

New and extended capabilities for these areas include new digital and one-screen quoting power for quicker quoting. Q&P also provides MIS workflow and barcode integration to keep track of activities across the business.

For web-to-print orders the company offers two-way integration with its MIS so that printers can have single data capture without rekeying.

Q&P recently partnered with leading web-to-print solution Aleyant’s Pressero and eDocBuilder.

 

THARSTERN PRIMO

After 30 years of development, the Tharstern Primo MIS is well used across a broad range of environments, from small to large printers (two to more than 200 staff), and addresses the needs of label, digital, offset and wide format environments equally well.

Primo is an over-arching technology with an international customer base. The company says it aims for radical and cumulative long term improvements at customer sites, with initial goal-setting and installation of the MIS just the tip of the relationship iceberg.

Tharstern says its MIS estimating module enables printers to price up almost any type of job quickly, simply and with precision, giving estimators the tools and structure to build quotes, even with the most basic job requirements.

Its Print and Outwork management facility allows the user to compare and rate suppliers and prices, create attributes and submit tenders.

Primo’s ganging facility means users can gang together products or sections of a job, for the same or different customers, and with common materials or colours, on to one production job, even if their finishing processes are different.

Primo offers multi-user and multi-site support which enables each department or site to share production responsibility by prioritising and managing its own workloads.

Users can also streamline communications with suppliers who use a more recent version of Tharstern MIS, enabling submitted tender requests to be

 

W2P

ALEYANT PRESSERO WEB-TO-PRINT

Aleyant’s Pressero web-to-print solution is a complete, full-featured e-commerce solution that enables businesses to sell all types of products, including static, print-on-demand and inventoried items to consumers, businesses and organisations.

More than just a website, Pressero can field an online salesforce of public (B2C) and private (B2B) storefronts catering to different markets, segments, needs and customer groups. Businesses can complement one or more retail stores with as many private stores as they need with their own web address, branding, products, pricing and page layout.

Aleyant is now partnering with Quote & Print to provide an easy-to-use integrated W2P and MIS solution.

The integrated Design-on-Demand solution, Aleyant’s eDocBuilder, allows users of websites to quickly customise, proof and approve documents directly from the web browser. Text and image editing, barcodes, number sequencing, imposition and even variable data printing are supported as standard.

Printers have complete control over how a user interacts with a given product; using the InDesign plugin, taking a static product from InDesign to an interactive product on a webpage is no longer a challenge.

Businesses can open a high-end retail storefront allowing customers to browse, obtain pricing, add items to a shopping cart, customise and design products, upload files, order custom printing, select shipping and payment methods.

Aleyant provides an integrated workflow with options for shipping, pre-flight and colour correction, imposition, production management, real-time report generation, outside vendor and broker support, and many other features as standard.

Aleyant’s integration with Quote & Print’s MIS solution provides for greater efficiency and control. Quote & Print’s Connect integration solution includes the ability to automatically transfer customer order information from Pressero to Quote & Print’s database MIS and automatically creates a quote and a job record in Quote & Print.

This avoids double handling and re-keying of internet orders and improves the quality of the information in the MIS for processing, reporting and analysis.

 

CMYKHUB WEB2PRINT

CMYKhub found some of its customers (printers) were feeling the impact of online-only retail printers or other trade printers who also run retail print websites. The company felt that unless it could provide a simple way for resellers to operate a web-to-print store, both CMYKhub and resellers could lose some market share.

CMYKhub’s solution was to develop its own web-to-print system for its resellers, Web2Print, which essentially enables any printer to have its own fully functioning web-to-print system – for free.

The printer that is reselling CMYKhub products simply drops its own skin over the top of the CMYKhub Web2Print and to all intents and purposes has its own website to attract new sales and to manage existing ones.

The printer’s customer can go to the website to choose from a large range of print products.

The Web2Print solution offers some 10,000 price points with automated margins. This means that the printer reseller can stipulate an across the board margin or a per product margin. If CMYKhub adjusts the price, for example if paper prices go up or down, the reseller’s website auto adjusts to maintain the same margin.

Web2Print now also incorporates D4P, or design for print, a template based user enabled design system, which lets the reseller’s customers either upload their own artwork or use some of the 10,000 design templates inside D4P.

CMYKhub has found that jobs of lower value are sold more easily than higher value jobs online. This prompted investment in a B2 Indigo digital press. W2P is a great way for a reseller to develop another sales stream with reduced transaction costs. D4P focuses on a set range of products in specific vertical markets suited to selling print online, with what CMYKhub says is the most user friendly design experience in the world.

CMYKhub offers one-on-one demonstrations of D4P, as well as the entire free software range provided by CMYKhub.


DMMI IDMS

Direct Mail & Marketing International (DMMi) has launched its award winning Integrated Direct Marketing Solution (IDMS) as a Software as a Service (SaaS) solution for the trade.

This new service will be of interest to printers of all sizes in digital, offset or wide format looking to enter the online world, with a tailored system built to their needs and their clients’ needs, without the cost of setting up and maintaining hardware and software.

DMMi’s process, which is patented in 140 countries worldwide, is fully automated from end to end and provides the following services as bespoke systems built to clients’ needs, with a number of additional modules able to be added into any IDMS system build at any time.

It includes customer order taking via a web storefront, with automated personalisation on products where applicable, payment via EFT, credit card or account.

If paying via EFT, the system will automatically suspend the job until payment is received. If payment is via credit card, the funds will be directly deposited into an account via the Payflow gateway. If payment is through an account, an automated, itemised billing report will be produced at the end of the month and sent to clients for payment.

If a job is to be produced by an external third party supplier, IDMS will recognise this on a product by product basis, generate a purchase order and send an email automatically to order the product with that particular supplier.

DMMi can provide a fully managed service to its clients, or integrate with existing storefront systems.

 

EFI DIGITAL STOREFRONT

Digital StoreFront (DSF) is the award winning web-to-print and cross media marketing solution from EFI. It offers scalable e-commerce software, unlimited customisable StoreFronts, streamlined job submission, automated workflow, deployment flexibility and personalised marketing.

Digital StoreFront provides an end-to-end workflow solution for job submission and tracking, including the tools necessary for fast, accurate submission and processing of new jobs. DSF is one of the few products on the market capable of ad hoc job submission. Visual Product Builder allows customers to upload their files, select print options, preview their selections and receive a quote all on one page – making online ordering easy.

With Digital StoreFront customers can manage quotes, submit jobs, check production status, pay invoices and re-order via a customised website designed to make the acquisition of business graphics and related products fast, easy and economical.

With scalability, Digital StoreFront is designed for today’s requirements and to evolve with the business. The programme is designed to scale in transaction volume from hundreds to millions of orders per month.

With customers ranging from small commercial printers (with one location) to retail organisations (more than 1500 locations) to in-plants (more than 190 facilities), Digital StoreFront has the architecture to adapt to the scale of any company. The architecture allows you to expand your footprint with award-winning EFI solutions such as MIS products as well as Fiery servers and controllers.

The latest version of Digital StoreFront takes personalised marketing to the next level with its campaign generation and management tools. Users can combine the reach of VDP marketing with the precision of web and email communication to create powerful marketing campaigns.

 

MYPRINTCLOUD WEB-TO-PRINT

MyPrintCloud’s web-to-print includes an integrated MIS, making it easy to incorporate W2P and the day to day requirements of a graphic arts business.

For retail storefronts (B2C), MyPrintCloud ships with thousands of preloaded template designs from business cards to brochures, t-shirt designs to personalised calendars. The printer sets the prices and discounts on offer and allows visitors to start customising designs and selecting optional extras. They can add their own products and templates to match.

Products and designs are saved in a customer’s shopping cart ready for checkout and payment. Confirmed orders appear in the order processing module (MIS) ready for imposition, scheduling and production. Invoices, despatch notes and shipping instructions can be printed during the production and fulfilment stages.

Visitors can track the progress of orders and shipping online and even re-order items previously printed from their online account. Payment gateways are included for online order processing.

MyPrintCloud also gives corporate and SME (B2B) clients a log-in area where they see only their product lines and where registered users can safely modify designs and place orders within their corporate guidelines and brand identity.

Complete CSS controls and independent stores use HTML5 editor with sophisticated rules around populating templates, like using a CRM to populate the user’s data.

MyPrintCloud is available with unlimited stores with MIS automation for less than $10,000.


OPTIMUS CLOUD

Optimus Cloud is a self-hosted web application that provides a seamless approach to simplifying and automating print purchasing while having instant access to relevant information.

Optimus Cloud lets printers provide the complete online solution for their customers; offering more than web-to-print. Users can obtain instant quotes, access historical data and status information about planned tasks and orders, and order static products through one interface.

Once an order is placed all tasks, requisitions, checks and balances are automated for print production in Optimus dash MIS to start the work straight away. Cloud is modular, so the solution can grow with the printer’s customers’ demands.

Optimus Cloud is a logical extension of Optimus dash MIS with no more guesswork, handling errors or double entry, profits can be easily restored and increased without throwing people at the problem.

Optimus recognises that many print providers already have their own successful web ordering systems. It can provide web service infrastructure to enable the integration of existing web ordering systems into Optimus dash MIS.

 

PENT NET WEB-TO-PRINT

Pent Net says its Online StoreFront facilitates true automation for printers, with features for online ordering.

The Australian software developer specialises in connecting its Online StoreFront to customers’ various MIS, workflow, Fiery, rip, flight checking, imposition software and printers such as HP Indigo, Xerox, Ricoh, Konica and Canon. In this way a printer can reduce touchpoints and start to automate from order through to production and delivery.

Online StoreFront is Pent Net’s most popular module. Features include online ordering, catalogue management, shopping cart, order history, repeat orders, unlimited portals, unlimited clients, products and orders, variable data, approvals and order tracking.

Many of Pent Net’s customers use Online StoreFront for corporate customers who have multiple branches or outlets, franchises and large corporates such as airlines, education institutions, hotels and FMCGs.

Customers can order promotional material to their own design standards, and then incorporate their own contact details.

Customers often use Pent Net’s Online StoreFront to win new business by skinning the software to look like their customers’ websites. Pent Net’s customers have found this to be a huge advantage, and have won substantial business due to this effective new feature.

Peter Ludwig, managing director of Pent Net, says, “Printers have often asked us to demonstrate our software in conjunction with them to potential clients, and this has certainly helped our printer customers win quite a lot of new business.”

He says, “Online StoreFront appeals to printers of all sizes, as our basic module can connect to MYOB, Xero and digital printers.

“For larger printers and printer groups we can scale up the automation and connect to most of the MIS systems and other workflow, imposition and flight checking software, as well as most digital and offset presses.”

 

PrintIQ W2P

The developers of printIQ say a new breed of print management system.  As a web based solution, printIQ has web-to-print functionality incorporated directly into the product alongside the MIS.  There’s no separate bolt-on or third party software, it’s simply part of the base product, everyone can accesses it.

The company says the main differentiator between printIQ and other W2P solutions is that printIQ is more than just a shopping cart.  It combines the power of the printIQ pricing engine with an integrated online ordering process to give customers an online experience specifically designed for the complexities of print.

The combination also removes the need to integrate the online order with the MIS.  With printIQ, the online order hits production as soon as the order is confirmed by the customer.  The company says this a smart move given that integration is rated as one of the biggest frustrations with IT systems.

This point of difference has seen printIQ rapidly become one of the main players in the industry.  The now familiar Powered by printIQ icon is featured on many of the ProPrint Power 50 online portals and their ‘Australian made’ status sees them as a popular choice for many readers.

The printIQ completes its W2P offering with an integrated variable data option.  With Chili Publish being recognised as the market leader in the world of variable data and document editing, the move to deliver Chili as part of the monthly subscription now opens up the once cost prohibitive Chili option to all printIQ customers.

 

THARSTERN WEB-TO-PRINT

Tharstern has its own e-commerce solution, e4printPro, which works with Chili Publish embedded with web-to-print, and has been successful with a large number of sites in both Australia and New Zealand since PacPrint last year.

However the company says e4printPro forms just part of the overall functionality requirement at many sites and will often work alongside and seamlessly with other solutions.

Tharstern has recently completed stage one of a phased project for integration to XMPie, and intends to progress this as a preferred complementary product in future.

The company provides cross-grade discounts to printers who have been left with an unsupported MIS. It also has relationships with several finance companies who have looked after a number of new customers in the past few years, sometimes just for its MIS, and occasionally bundled in with other items like hardware, tablets for shop floor data capture or kit for plants.

Generally first discussions centre on how Tharstern and a customer can jointly make a payment plan work around the lifespan of the implementation. It says many sites will pay for the system out of cashflow without incurring any additional fees.

 

WHIRLWIND W3P

Whirlwind Print has introduced a global all-in-one web-to-print solution, W3P, which will enable print businesses to design and print online, provide custom branded print management websites, create multiple web shops, tap into a broader client base by offering thousands of template options, access built in online proofing, order and produce print easily.

The company says W3P is an established product, developed in the UK with a tried and tested market, and costs little to set up and grow. Developers based in Silicon Valley are continually developing the software, ensuring it advances with the market and remains at the leading edge of web-to-print software.

There are thousands of products already set up which can be ordered instantly, and secure payment gateways allow printers to process orders easily.

W3P is a global, all-encompassing system which gives businesses access to Whirlwind’s Template Cloud with millions of images and tens of thousands of designs professionally created by designers. Printers can earn additional funds each time their clients use a design from Template Cloud, and save significant time, design costs and money.

In addition to print the system can house merchandise as well as other non-print items.

The W3P solution has an easy to use ‘back office’ which enables printers to personalise their website offering as well as build and manage product templates, all to their own specifications.

Fully integrated back-end technology links directly to printers’ own system, or

to specified suppliers, from web to order. It is an integrated MIS and website platform in one, all controlled by the printer.

The system is fully supported by Whirlwind and continually developed to keep abreast of market changes. Launch offers are available to allow printers to trial the system, risk free, in demonstrations

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