How to Choose an Online Print Service for Your Business

For business owners, it’s helpful to have an online print service that you can rely on in order to print things like books, brochures, calendars, catalogs, and other useful materials. But with so many different companies to choose from, it’s important that you know what to look for in a partner.

Benefits of Using an Online Print Service

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In the online age of social media, blogging, SEO, and internet marketing, it’s easy to get so caught up with digital content that you lose perspective on the importance of print marketing and advertising. And while the digital component is certainly an important ingredient, pretending that it’s the end-all-be-all is a mistake.

Twenty years ago, digital content was a point of differentiation. Only the most advanced businesses and cutting-edge brands were going hard after digital. Today, nearly 100 percent of brands are fully invested in online marketing, advertising, and digital promotion. The script has flipped and print is now an emblem of differentiation.

The act of producing something tangible – an item that you can hold in your hands or reach out and touch – sets a brand apart from the competition. It adds a degree of credibility that otherwise takes time to establish online. We’re not advocating that you skip out on digital marketing, but rather that you view print as a complementary component of a larger strategy.

Ironically enough, the best way to approach print marketing is by aligning with an online print service. When compared to local print shops, these online service provide a wealth of perks and benefits, such as:

  • Convenience: The convenience factor is one of the biggest advantages of working with an online print service. You don’t have to get on the phone, visit the shop in person, or jump through a bunch of time-consuming hurdles just to get an order processed. Simply log on to the website, load the appropriate files, and you’re ready to go.
  • Lower cost: Online print services generally offer more cost-effective options. This is a result of their lower overhead and ability to accept bulk projects. They’re generally much more profitable than traditional printing services, which allows them to pass some of the savings on to customers.
  • Order from anywhere: With an online printing service, you don’t have to worry about visiting in person, reviewing physical proofs, or any of that. You can place an order from your office, your home, the airport, or even while you’re out of the country on vacation.
  • Scalability: Most online printing services are flexible with orders. Whether you need just a handful of prints, or you have a project that requires thousands of units, online printers typically have a broader range of equipment and larger inventory of paper. This allows them to accommodate any project size.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with local print shops or brick-and-mortar services. (They can be useful when you’re in a bind.) However, an online print service offers too many advantages to ignore. By partnering with the right service, you can improve processes and output across the board.

Choosing an Online Printing Partner: 4 Factors to Consider

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A quick search of online printing services will reveal a wealth of options. Some of them are average, others are good, and a select few are great. Your objective is to identify the great ones, which will allow you to forge a profitable partnership that assists in growing your brand through print marketing, advertising, and promotions.

Here are a few factors to consider when selecting an online print service for your business:

1. Reputation

The beauty of the internet is that it gives you, the customer, the ability to do your own research. If you want to know more about an online printing service, try a little internet sleuthing.

The best way to evaluate a company’s reputation is not by visiting their website, but by checking out independent, third-party sources. Anyone can make bold claims on their website and/or filter out the good feedback from the bad. But on an independent website, you get the real truth (good, bad, and ugly).

As a general rule of thumb, discount the glowing and the glaring. When it comes to reviews, the extremes can be misleading. The truth is usually in the masses. If you see a consistent thread in most of the feedback, this is usually indicative of what’s actually happening.

2. Flexibility

Flexibility is one of the most important elements. While you might partner with a company with the impression that you’ll only need one type of service, consider the fact that needs evolve over time. A good printing partner is able to print a variety of products, including calendars, books, booklets, catalogs, brochures, etc.

It’s also helpful to consider capability. Companies like have printers capable of doing both short-run prints (10 to 500) and bulk offset (500 to 20,000), which makes for a more cost-effective end result. You might not have a need for bulk offset at the moment, but it’s something you may need in the future.

3. Speed

How quickly can you expect an order to show up at your door? Speed is dependent on each order (type, quantity, etc.), but some printing services are much faster than others. Consider turnaround time, shipping costs, shipping partners, and all relevant factors.

4. Cost

Finally, you can’t forget about cost. While most online printing services are going to be cheaper than traditional print shops, there’s still a wide spectrum of pricing. By evaluating several different options, you’ll get a feel for what the going rate is. Contrast this against the aforementioned factors and make a decision that fits into your budget.


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One important aspect to consider during the due diligence process is the printing company’s catalogs. The catalogs showcase the range of products and services that the company offers, which can give you an idea of whether they can cater to your specific printing needs.

Catalogs can also provide valuable information on the quality of the company’s printing materials, as well as their turnaround time and pricing. This can help you make an informed decision on which company to choose.

It’s also worth noting that some printing companies may have online catalogs, while others may provide physical copies upon request. Either way, taking the time to review these catalogs can give you a better understanding of what a printing company can offer, and whether they align with your goals and objectives.

Making the Right Decision

At first glance, all online printing companies might look the same. But upon further investigation, you’ll realize they all offer slightly different services and value. And the company that’s the best fit for another brand may not be the best fit for you (and vice versa). Thus, it’s important that you go through the proper due diligence process to identify the right service for your needs. A thorough vetting process will increase your odds of making the right decision.