Do You Need Customer’s Canvas?

There is a wide range of benefits for printers of any size when implementing web-to-print, yet some may be apprehensive about the possible technical challenges involved. A key element that must work well for any web-to-print solution is the online editor.

One of the hottest topics being discussed today in print shops large and small across the country is web-to-print. Should you adopt or not? It’s the multimillion-dollar question. There is a wide range of benefits for printers of any size when implementing web-to-print, yet some may be apprehensive about the possible technical challenges involved. A key element that must work well for any web-to-print solution is the online editor. Customer’s Canvas by Aurigma is an online editor that streamlines the creation of personalized print products. The goals of this post are to educate printers on the benefits of web-to-print and demonstrate how Customer’s Canvas easily overcomes some of the most difficult obstacles that prevent some printers from integrating web-to-print technology into their businesses.

Customer’s Canvas: The Definitive Online Design Editor for Printers

Today’s print customer increasingly values two things:

  1. The ability to purchase products from the comfort of their own home. This is no longer an obstacle for businesses as there are several e-commerce solutions already on the market, and it is not difficult to equip almost any website with an online store.
  2. The freedom to personalize their products with their own designs. And it can still be quite a challenge because it requires support from advanced web and printing technologies.

Customer’s Canvas was developed to put the power back into your customers’ hands with a powerful online editor capable of building workflows for print designs of virtually any complexity while also providing a user friendly experience for personalizing any sort of print product you can think:

  • Business Printing: business cards, flyers, letterheads, notepads, envelopes, etc.
  • Promotional Products: pens, mugs, coasters, key chains, etc.
  • Photo Products: post cards, invitations, photo books, calendars, etc.
  • Custom Apparel: t-shirts, polo shirts, caps, etc.
  • Signage: yard signs, labels, posters, banners, etc.
  • Wall Decorations: canvases, wall prints, etc.

Even highly specialized items that can be challenging to create a workflow for on other platforms are possible with Customer’s Canvas. With so many options, it’s never been easier for any print shop to create their own version of Amazon for printed products. Your shop can now stay open after your employees have all gone home and your client base is no longer limited only to your local area. Anyone with an Internet connection is a potential customer!

Not only printers can benefit from this technology. Customer’s Canvas positions itself as a solution for three major customer segments:

  • Print service providers: printers, graphic design firms, marketing agencies, mail marketing providers, etc.
  • Software vendors specializing in solutions for print service providers: MIS, web-to-print platforms, marketing platforms, etc.
  • Other software vendors with solutions enabling users to create personalized designs: brand management platforms, email marketing providers, etc.

All of these types of businesses share a common need for a powerful personalization engine for their customers’ projects. They can meet this need by integrating a web-to-print technology such as Customer’s Canvas into their custom web applications and enable their customers to access an online store for personalized products or services at their convenience.

Integrate Customer’s Canvas into any system or website

Seamlessly integrate Customer's Canvas into your web-to-print solution

It can be very challenging to integrate a web-to-print component into a custom web application, especially if it’s an existing site that needs to be updated. Customer’s Canvas is the exception to the rule. With its open architecture and robust public API, Customer’s Canvas can integrate into any system regardless if it was developed completely as an in-house project or if it was backed by a commercial or open-source e-commerce platform. Adding the editor to your website is as easy as injecting some HTML into your website’s code. This ease of integration makes Customer’s Canvas a great choice for updating existing websites. Especially if a print shop’s original website relied on outdated platforms like Adobe Flash, now is the perfect time to update it with an online editor based in HTML5. Customers don’t do all of their shopping from a desktop nowadays – mobile conversions are up and continuing to rise. For this reason, Customer’s Canvas was built to seamlessly integrate into mobile platforms just as easily as desktop. Implementing web-to-print technology and managing it across all platforms and devices has never been this simple.

Support for predesigned Adobe Photoshop templates

Perhaps you’ve used a web-to-print solution before and wanted to make some templates for your customers that can be personalized with their own designs. If so, then you know how painful and time-consuming it can be to create such templates within a clunky and unfamiliar interface or by building them with XML commands. If this rings any bells, then your last web-to-print solution probably did not support advanced predesigned templates. In fact, almost none of them do. Other than a few cost-prohibitive exceptions, Customer’s Canvas is the only web-to-print editor that supports predesigned Adobe Photoshop templates. Yes, you read that correctly. Instead of wasting all of your time rebuilding templates in a format that your web-to-print technology can understand, you can use the language everyone in the industry already understands: Adobe Photoshop.

Easy printing templates management with PSD files support

Customer’s Canvas supports multilayered Photoshop templates with text, images, shapes, and smart objects. Layer effects and blending modes must be flattened, but otherwise entire templates can be imported and then customized by the end-user within the online editor. Each layer will appear on the left side of the user interface and can be selected and changed by your customers. Additionally, you can control user permissions if you don’t want an end-user to change certain layers.

Customer’s Canvas vs. Complete Web-to-Print Platforms

In a complete web-to-print system, the online editor is only a single module out of the full package. The intention behind Customer’s Canvas is to take this module, perfect it, and make it flexible enough to fit into any custom web-to-print system. This flexibility makes it a better fit for the IT-savvy printers out there who want their web-to-print solution to set them apart from the competition. Where complete W2P platforms may work well in some situations, they can also be rigid and prevent the customizability that many printers want. This lack of customization is the main shortfall of “canned” web-to-print solutions because, ultimately, printers end up with the same features on websites that look more or less the same. This is completely counterproductive to the goal of using web-to-print to explore new marketing channels because it places companies in the same box as their competition, making it difficult for potential customers to see the difference between the two. Customer’s Canvas provides an opportunity for printers to stand out from the crowd and give their customers a more unique and intuitive experience.

Integrating into existing systems is painless

Embed Customer's Canvas into your website

Many complete web-to-print systems force printers with existing websites to move to a new platform in order to use the technology. This is far from ideal, considering all of the hard work that can go into a business’s website. A good website requires a lot of investment in both time and money, including but not limited to effective design that achieves an optimal level of conversions, SEO campaigns for increasing search engine rankings, and unique content for driving traffic. Especially when it comes to SEO, changing websites means you start from scratch in Google and other search engines, which would be unacceptable for the majority of business that have dedicated a lot of hard work to get to where they are. Switching platforms for a canned solution erases all of this progress, whereas simply adding Customer’s Canvas as a module to a custom web-to-print system will keep all of that effort intact.

Perfect for custom solutions

Another failing of complete web-to-print systems is their inability to support ordering workflows for niche, highly customized products. For example, say a printing company has found themselves as the go-to firm for producing customized hockey masks. It is highly unlikely that a canned W2P solution will support an ordering workflow for this or similar 3D surfaces. In this situation, investing in a custom solution is the only answer. Customer’s Canvas can support nearly limitless ordering workflows for almost any category of printed product, and can easily fit into the sort of custom solution that would be necessary in this case. Instead of being limited to only the products that a complete W2P system can support, using Customer’s Canvas with a custom system opens businesses up to new possibilities and allows them to experiment with products they may not otherwise be able to offer to their customers.

Let’s take a look at a real life example in which a client found Customer’s Canvas to be the optimal solution for their unique needs. Mike runs a long-established business that his father built in the UK. His shop specializes in gift personalization and labeling, so custom jobs are the norm for him. He needed a robust solution that could help his customers create their own designs that could also be effectively integrated into his existing workflow. Customer’s Canvas accomplished this and handled any integration issues he did have promptly and affordably. While other vendors could have provided a similar solution for him, he found that they were prohibitively expensive and less personable than his experience with Customer’s Canvas. Now, he has expanded his market share and is more competitive than ever.

In-house solutions require flexibility

In a similar vein, there are many printing companies in the industry that have the capital and know-how to build their own in-house web-to-print solution. During the process of piecing this solution together, the time will naturally arrive when an online editor is required. Customer’s Canvas is a powerful editor that can fit into these custom builds perfectly because it was created with the intention of doing exactly that – being the best editor possible for custom solutions instead of an average one-size-fits-all solution. Usually, the reason some printing companies build an in-house web-to-print solution in the first place is due to the scope of their projects falling outside the limits of canned solution. Customer’s Canvas can help fill this role where more rigid solutions fall short.

Limitless Workflows for Personalized Print Products

E-commerce is the new normal across all age demographics in America, so much so that many people now visit brick and mortar stores to “test drive” a product before going home to buy it on Amazon. The printing industry needs to adapt while also understanding that this is a major opportunity for growth. Unfortunately, making an online storefront for printed products is not quite as simple as other online stores. For example, if you buy a new shirt online you will simply choose the size, color, and add it to your cart. The ordering workflow is relatively the same for other products. On the other hand, printed products have several different ordering workflows unique to a particular product, and each involves some level of personalization from the customer within the browser before the product is actually added to the cart. Ordering some business cards will be very different from ordering a personalized photo book. Customer’s Canvas’s flexible architecture accommodates these workflows and many more for just about any printed product you can think of.

Beyond Printing Applications

Customer’s Canvas is mostly used as an online editor for a web-to-print system, but it can also be beneficial outside of the printing context. Other types of vendors can utilize Customer’s Canvas as a personalization engine within their own software applications. Brand management platforms are a great example of this. By integrating Customer’s Canvas into these applications, certain limitations can be applied to how branded materials can be edited by end-users. This is accomplished by using the system of markers in Photoshop templates mentioned earlier. By adding a small string of text to a specific layer in a PSD template, end-users are effectively “locked out” of that layer in the online editor. This is an easy way to prevent time consuming and expensive mistakes when customers are handling sensitive branding materials that need to be consistent. You can be as flexible as you like when using markers, restricting permissions when necessary or allowing more freedom for your more design-savvy customers.

Beating the Challenges of Implementing W2P

Introducing new W2P technology to your current mix is always a challenge, even for flexible third-party options like Customer’s Canvas. Even if your business has IT personnel, it could be beneficial to seek help from professionals with expertise in the web-to-print field who can implement the technology effectively and customize the solution to fit your unique project requirements. Aurigma’s team has extensive knowledge and years of experience in building software components that can integrate into third-party applications. We take pride in ensuring our customers that implementation goes as smoothly as possible with minimal risks. Other printers are not so lucky when they take a chance on canned solutions that they must struggle to wrangle into their system with little help from the vendor when things go wrong. Our market research team found that many customers were taken aback by Aurigma’s dedication to effective integration compared to other vendors.

Aurigma is not an average vendor; we consider ourselves technology partners in our customers’ ventures and share a vested interest in reducing risks and project costs wherever possible. Our integration team knows Customer’s Canvas inside and out and has experienced just about every use case there is for web-to-print implementation. Of course, every situation is different and our team may have limited or extensive involvement depending on a customer’s needs. Some of our clients may only need assistance building personalization workflows whereas others require a complete web-to-print solution. We have even pre-made Customer’s Canvas implementations into popular e-commerce platforms that can be used as a basis for new projects, saving money and reducing time to market for our customers. Whatever your business’s needs are, we are happy to make sure that you get the solution you need for a seamless web-to-print workflow and, ultimately, greater profitability.

Less Headaches and More Value

The easy answer to the title question is that all printers can reap the benefits of a web-to-print solution. It just has to be the right web-to-print solution for your business. Aurigma have developed Customer’s Canvas to be an equal opportunity editor. Printers large and small can incorporate it into their platforms with ease. Web-to-print software with Photoshop template integration is no longer reserved for printers with deep pockets. Your business no longer has to struggle to make a canned solution work because Customer’s Canvas was made to work for your business’s unique project requirements with minimal risk and effort. Customer’s Canvas comes packaged with us – the Aurigma team – and we’re ready to work together to bring your business to new heights.

If you wonder, what web-to-print solution will fit your business, take a chance to meet our team at Print17 in Chicago. Request a meeting and learn about opportunities that Customer’s Canvas opens for your business.