What Web to Print isn’t!
In recent articles we’ve touched on some of the fundamentals of Web2print (there really seems little point in standardising on a name for it as there are so many variants), but before we get too far ahead of ourselves we thought that it might be useful to take a small step back and check that we’re comfortable with the difference between Web to Print and e-commerce, which will inevitably take us into the realms of those wonderful acronyms B2C and B2B.
B2C and B2B
This is straightforward and everyone is probably aware of the difference between them, namely “Business to Consumer” and “Business to Business”. We don’t need to add anything further, except to say that the difference between the two is key to understanding the difference between a simple e-commerce site and a full-blown Web to Print site.
e-commerce – what is it?
Essentially, it’s the buying and selling of goods and services, and/or the transmitting of funds or data, over a digital network (primarily the Internet).
Most if not all of us will have shopped on-line, as consumers. We log into a site, browse the items available to buy (which everyone can see), select the ones that we want to purchase, enter our personal and payment details (which may already be stored if we’re a registered user of course), press BUY – and Hey Presto we’ve completed an e-commerce transaction in the B2C world!
The benefits of e-commerce include its 24/7 availability, the speed of access, the wide range of products and services available to buy, and the fact that generally you can access the products from a variety of devices (the better ones will have developed a “mobile friendly” version of their site i.e. one specifically written for mobiles and tablets etc.).
Before we move on, let’s not skip over the implications of buying something on-line. You’re providing your card information over the internet, so above all else the transaction needs to be secure. This is where a technology such as SSL (“Secure Sockets Layer”) comes in, which authenticates and encrypts the sensitive data being transmitted to ensure the security, privacy and effectiveness of the transaction. We’ll return to this in more detail in a future article, but let’s leave it there for now.
So how does Web2Print differ?
In two fundamental ways, because the service is designed for B2B transactions not B2C.
First, there will be a private “area” of the site only available to a particular organisation. Think about it, you wouldn’t want prices and products negotiated with a particular business customer to be viewable by other business customers.
Secondly, there will be pre-agreed and company branded “templates” stored in this private area, to facilitate ordering while maintaining brand integrity.
Collectively this is what’s known as a “storefront”, a term you’ll hear time and time again and to which we will frequently refer.
Is it really that simple?
Well, we’ve made a few generalisations and simplified things a bit, but yes it really is that simple!
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