What is an online Storefront, and how can it transform the way you manage your printed marketing materials?
Your company’s printed assets, in the eye of the beholder, are a direct reflection of the quality of its services. That’s why marketing materials should be eye-catching, in-sync with your company’s brand, and, of course, informationally-accurate. Yet, if you have multiple office locations and lines of business – all with slightly different needs at different times – procuring your printed assets can spiral into a never-ending game of phone tag.
If the above sounds familiar, then you’ve got room for improvement in your ordering workflows. The solution? An online Storefront to alleviate some of the pain points in the process. What’s more, it could also free you up to better leverage the power of your printed assets – a winning combination.
But what is Storefront, and how is it right for your business?
In a metaphorical sense, Storefront is the ever-elusive ‘Easy’ button you’ve been searching for to manage your company’s printed assets. Technically speaking, it’s an inventory management and print on-demand tool that helps you deliver customized marketing materials across all channels of your business. From one centralized online portal, Storefront allows you to track inventory and place orders anytime, from anywhere, and ship to your various office locations. That means you can order items like:
- Business stationary (business cards, envelopes, forms) at midnight from your bathtub
- Marketing materials (brochures, folders, postcards) from the couch (PJs optional)
- Posters and banners (POP and trade show displays) from your airport gate – just don’t miss your flight!
- Promotional items (apparel, pens and water bottles) while you peruse the zoo. Grrrr.
Managing your printed assets via Storefront comes with a few other perks too. For one, it allows you to significantly reduce (or cut out completely) back and forth communication with your printer. Storefront can also reduce your overall production and storage costs, decrease necessary lead times, and provide quicker turnaround.
Each Storefront is custom-built to include your company’s branding and customized user access settings. Aside from visual and security configurations, the actual items and fulfillment options available on your Storefront catalog can vary greatly. Knowing your options, and the unique benefits of each, will help steer you in the right direction during the initial set up.
What kinds of orders can Storefront handle?
The items in your Storefront catalog typically fall into one of four categories – although all four can be (and often are) combined in a single portal.
1. Fulfillment-Based Orders for Savings and Speed
Fulfillment-based orders include pre-produced items sourced from stored inventory in Thysse’s warehouse. This category has a myriad of benefits for businesses including shorter turnarounds (because the items are produced ahead of time), and cost savings (because producing larger quantities in advance incurs bulk printing discounts). Additionally, utilizing your printer’s warehouse for storage frees up valuable office space, which typically comes with a premium price tag – something we explore in detail here.
For instance, say you’re a business that regularly gives out branded promo gear to ‘woo’ new hires or clients. If the trend continues in 2022, promo gear requires significant lead times thanks to nationwide shipping debacles and supply chain issues. With fulfillment-based Storefront orders, branded water bottles, pens, mugs and notebooks can be produced in bulk ahead of time, and stored on site to be at-the-ready when you need them.
2. Print On-Demand Orders for Reduced Obsolete Inventory
Unlike fulfillment-based orders where items are pre-produced, on-demand orders involve items that are produced after an order is placed. While these orders may have longer turnarounds and require more lead time, on-demand orders interest businesses who don’t want to risk the possibility of ending up with obsolete inventory.
Companies who anticipate a rebrand in the near future, for example, or those who are just plain old uncertain of the quantities of an item they might need, may prefer the on-demand print option. Keep in mind that some printed items also don’t store well long-term – such as envelopes – which can lose their adhesive quality over long periods in storage.
3. Kitted Orders for Unrivaled Efficiency
This category involves multiple printed items that are assembled together, or ‘kitted’, and shipped as a bundle. Individual items included in the kits can be printed on-demand, fulfilled from stored inventory, or a combination of both depending on your needs. Kits are listed as a single item on your portal for efficiency.
An insurance company is a great example of a business that might benefit from having kitted order options on their Storefront. Each new client receives the same welcome folder that includes individual items like brochures, provider options, and a summary of benefits. Thysse can print on-demand (or fulfill from stored inventory) each of the individual printed pieces, order them neatly in pre-produced folders, and ship them out in a tidy bundle with little more than a click.
4. Direct Mail Orders for Click and Ship Ease
Direct mail storefront items allow you print and ship customized mail pieces to a specified list of recipients. Choose from preloaded templates/artwork for your piece, attach a mail list, and view postage costs before adding your order to the cart. Thysse can even perform list maintenance before finalizing your order to ensure you only pay for the necessary quantities.
Take a lawn care company, for example. The user can pull up their online portal, select a postcard template, choose from snow plow artwork or lawn mower artwork, attach the desired list of recipients, select the quantity, add to cart, and voila! Custom direct mailers on doorsteps – without so much as leaving the desk.
If you’ve made it this far – congrats! However, if you like what you see but still have a few questions about how this whole Storefront concept fits in with your business’s needs, that’s where we come in. Thysse helps our clients work through Storefront setups and configurations every day, and we’re happy to answer any questions regarding different Storefront options, set up, or any others that come to mind. If you’re more the research-on-your-own type, swing on over to the additional resources here. If you’re really hoping to see our Technical Services Director nerd out for 30 minutes, you can always give us a shout to schedule a live Storefront demo.