Outsourced printing is one of the biggest trends we’re seeing in the print industry today. Many printers are expanding beyond shop walls and using outsourced vendors, allowing them to offer a broader range of products to their customers or expand their geographical footprint. 

While print outsourcing offers tons of advantages to printers, it can also make managing print more complicated. That’s where PageDNA comes in. 

What Is Outsourced Printing?

Outsourced printing is a strategy print shops use to offer a wider range of services to their customers. Typically, a print shop will pay another vendor to complete certain print jobs instead of taking them on in-house.

One of the most popular examples of outsourced printing that we see is for unique items or items that require specialized manufacturing equipment, such as embroidered apparel. A medium-sized commercial printer or internal print shop can normally handle traditional printed materials like business cards, brochures, and name badges. However, if their customer wants to order uniforms with a company logo, the print shop may not have the in-house equipment to do that.

If that printer doesn’t find a way to solve this problem, they may hurt the customer experience by not being able to act as a “one stop shop”. On the other hand, if that vendor outsources the apparel to an external vendor, the printer fulfills the order, makes the buying experience easier for the customer, and earns more of the customer’s business. 

Why Is Outsourcing Print Services So Popular?

Customers have been demanding an easier shopping experience for years – and it’s no different with print. In fact, we’re expecting more and more print shops to begin outsourcing print services in the future. Here are a few reasons why:

  • A single invoice. If the popularity of big box stores and websites like Amazon has shown us anything, it’s that customers want a one-stop shop where they can find and purchase multiple products quickly. By outsourcing print, you give your customers everything they need in one invoice – with PageDNA handling the job routing to outside vendors. 
  • Broader product selection. When a print shop can offer more products, they become more valuable to their customers. A good example of this is commercial printers using PageDNA to route very large orders to trade vendors with lithography presses, while they use their own digital presses for the more common, short-run work.
  • Expanded geographical footprint. If you’re looking to provide services beyond shop walls, print outsourcing can help. For example, one of our commercial printers has a client who works across North and South America. They’ve contracted with external vendors in South America to be able to provide services internationally.
  • Better pricing. Putting more orders through a single vendor means customers and sellers see better prices (and bigger benefits) thanks to volume discounts.

Print Outsourcing: Common Challenges and Their Solutions

By now, you might be thinking that print outsourcing sounds like a dream come true, and it almost is. So why aren’t more print shops taking advantage of this opportunity? 

Despite its several benefits, print production teams often hesitate to outsource printing because of the challenges that come with external vendor management – which is where PageDNA steps in.

Our web to print software helps printers give their customers a unified experience no matter the number of external vendors processing orders. We provide the tools to solve the challenges of outsource printing, allowing you to expand your business.

Job Routing

The Challenge: Ensuring each job goes to the right vendor

The Solution: Dynamic job routing

The most complicated piece of outsourcing print is managing job routing to different external vendors. Depending on the material a customer orders, the job may go in-house or externally.   Trying to manually manage this process can quickly become overwhelming. 

PageDNA’s web to print software provides dynamic job routing that automatically routes different jobs to different vendors (or in-house) depending on the product a customer orders or the location of the customer. Hypothetically, this means a customer could order five different products fulfilled by different vendors, but they’ll still only see a single invoice. 

Within the PageDNA system, every product is connected to a vendor or manufacturer, and they can choose how to receive orders. Vendors only see the items assigned to them. We also offer Hold for Quote technology, which allows you to withhold a cost estimate until you’ve priced out the outsourced product, letting you pick a vendor AFTER a request comes in.

Billing and Accounting

The Challenge: Calculating and tracking both wholesale “buy” cost AND retail “sell” price

The Solution:  Automated tracking of buy/sell pricing

Understanding the best way to price outsourced products often turns print shops away from using external vendors. But with PageDNA, this process is easy. Our software supports tracking internal costs against external revenue. You’ll know what your customer owes you and what you owe a trade vendor once they do complete a job. 

Service Level Agreements

The Challenge: Maintaining SLAs

The Solution: Built-in vendor accountability

Many print shops have service level agreements (SLAs) that require them to meet a certain quality of service. When you’re working with an external vendor, it introduces some risk to service quality because you don’t know if the vendor will meet certain agreements, such as shipping items within a specified time frame. 

That’s why PageDNA has automated tools to ensure vendors aren’t late. You can require your external vendors to confirm an order upon receiving it and get an alert if they don’t acknowledge an order within 24 hours. Our Reports feature also notifies you and your vendor if items haven’t shipped on time – ideally, giving time to fix this issue before customers notice.

Customer Relationships

The Challenge: Providing clarity in a complex customer service landscape

The Solution: Unified User Interface

One misconception of web to print software and outsourcing printing is that they will degrade the customer service experience by removing the human touch. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. Strategies like these, when implemented correctly, often lead to more personalized experiences for customers. You can learn more about this in our blogs about multi-tenancy for Commercial Print and Internal Print shops.

At PageDNA, our Unified User Interface provides one place for your customers, vendors, and sales team to go. It’s the one-stop shop where job routing, tracking, and ordering come together to provide an easy, user-friendly experience. 

Outsource Printing With PageDNA

Outsourcing some aspects of your manufacturing process can lead to more business and better customer relations at your print shop. Even so, managing outsourced print and external vendors can be overwhelming, especially if you don’t have a web to print software that can make the process easier.

At PageDNA, we provide automated 360° support for outsourcing print jobs by automatically routing jobs to vendors, tracking costs and sales, ensuring standards of work, and providing a user-friendly unified interface. 

If you’re ready to learn more, we’re ready to help. Send an email to sales@PageDNA.com to talk to a member of our team today, or schedule a demo.

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