I asked a printer recently what they wanted to do online. In particular what products did they want to offer to their current customers and prospective customers in a self service manner over the web?
They returned a rather long list, half of which was somewhat based on the kind of work they did today and the other was what I would consider a wish list of terms they had heard in the industry that they should be doing. For example: VDP, pURLS, e-mail marketing, fulfillment, digital products, etc…
We live in a society that says – more is better right? Quantity = value right? We’re learning that this math doesn’t work in many areas, I would say the two that are most obvious to me are 1) food 2) software.
Food – more is not better, more is the problem. Our entire food industry has been focused on more as the only value. The more value has gone completely off the rails and we’re producing the worst quality, over-processed, and in some cases poisonous (recent egg recall) food we’ve ever produced all in the name of more is better.
Software – more features, more functionality is not better. In fact more frequently means unusable. Microsoft Word is seeing incredible pressure from Google Docs because they didn’t bother with about 80% of the functionality and just made it easy to use for 80% of the users. The iPhone by itself doesn’t have a ton of features; Apple’s brilliance was the App Store which allows each individual customer the ability to make the phone more complicated without burdening the beginning user with all the complexity for the sake of the tech geek.
Web to print software – our approach up until now was to look at software at the feature level, more features the better. This means the value of more is still playing a huge part in our buying decision. Do you want the software provider that does everything but may do nothing very well? Or do you want a software provider that does a few things so well that it allows you to execute today and grow with them tomorrow?
Remember software is constantly moving so deciding what you want to do online today and what your vision is should be aligned with the fact that you make a purchase decision at a point in time. You’re strategy is going to continue to evolve, your web to print vendor’s product and strategy are going to continue to evolve. Pick a web to print provider based on their team and the quality and ease of use of their software, because if you just go by features you might have just picked the winner of the feature war – whose software might be overcomplicated and of poor quality. They win the war of the features which turns into a huge set of features that are never actually used.