I have been speaking to my web guys this week regarding our website and a few alterations I wanted making. After we sorted what I wanted we got to talking about other work that they do, and specifically regarding other printers and designers. While they do quite a bit of work for designers, mostly in the creation of online portfolios, they said they were amazed to note that not many customers were after e-commerce for print. This surprised me – I have always thought that a designer would be interested in supplementing their income by offering, for instance, offering banner printing services into the bargain, even if they are only farming the work out – becoming a print broker, in effect.
What is a print broker? Essentially a print broker is someone who sells print but does not actually own any machinery of their own. They simply have relationships in place with a number of printers (with trade rates) and then pass the printwork onto them as it comes in. The trade printers despatch the goods straight to the customer and everyone is happy. The broker makes a profit on each job, the trade supplier gets regular work, and the end user gets good work at a competitive price. This kind of operation is more common than you think and it made me wonder why more people (especially designers as they are in a position to supplied finished artwork to trade printers for complex jobs like flyers) don’t have a go at it in the for of an e-commerce website. Perhaps people who aren’t already in the trade don’t see the opportunity, and perhaps designers are too busy drinking expensive coffee and fiddling with their Macs so don’t want to get their hands dirty dealing with printers….
If I was going to do it, here’s what I’d do. Firstly I’d need a website. Most web design companies can provide this for you, or you can do it yourself using WordPress with a suitable e-commerce theme such as the ones you can get from Woothemes. You’ll need a web address, related to what you sell. So I’d have a good think and come up with something like ‘banner printing online‘ or similar and buy the .co.uk web address. You’ll need SEO too, so I’d find a good SEO partner and get started there. (Actually, I’d probably start the SEO before the website was even built, so traffic was up by the time it was ready.) So, assuming I’m an advertising banner printing company I’d need a trade printer that offers cheap banners and is happy to give me a trade rate and deliver white label straight to my customer. If i was printing business cards, I’d set the site up to reflect that.
Sounds easy, doesn’t it?