Everything You Need To Know About On-Demand Print Portals

Do you ever find yourself spending your valuable time collecting quantities and addresses to send the latest packet of materials out? Do you ever get tied up in editing lines of contact information in a file before it can be distributed? If this is you, then you will benefit from having an on-demand print portal at your disposal.

What is an on-demand print portal?

On-demand print portals are also called web-to-print systems. They allow end users to access a public or private online printing website that features a catalog of available print products. On this website, users can add necessary personalized information, such as name, email and phone, to a pre-determined pre-press template. These predetermined pre-press templates, allow marketing departments and graphics designers to still control the brand standards while stepping out of the personalization and fulfillment process. The user can view and approve an immediate proof without having to interact with the printer internal contacts for approval. Once they have approved the online proof and finalize their order, the information is sent directly to the print house for production and fulfillment. Orders are typically printed and shipped within 48 hours, making the portal not only cost effective but also providing an all-around increase in productivity.

Why do you need an on-demand print portal?


  • To provide one place for all your brand compliant marketing assets, making them centralized and consolidated;

  • To provide and easy to use and easy to share web page that can be accessed 24/7 across your entire company;

  • To provide order management from creation to monitoring spending to tracking your shipment;

  • To provide efficient and cost effective solutions to personalized, custom collateral needs.


How does an on-demand print portal work?

The front-end of the web-to-print system (portal) begins with individuals or graphic designers using desktop publishing software to create pre-defined templates for any printed item such as business cards, brochures, post cards, even banners, signage and other large format products. These templates are then posted online with rules as to what users can customize. Features like font, font size, location and text color can all be locked in by the designer, allowing the end user to only set specific information. The portal then bypasses the use of traditional design tools, going straight to an online proofing page where users can view exactly how the item will look once printed.

Portal applications can include both print on demand pieces and materials that have been printed in bulk that are pulled from inventory for each online order placed. Print on demand is a printing technology and business process in which print pieces do not print until the print house receives an order, allowing runs of singular or small quantities. Print on demand has other business benefits such as reducing storage, handling costs and obsolete inventory waste.

An on-demand printing portal can also control what users can access which items. This is especially helpful for multiple levels of users on the same portal. An item that should only be ordered and distributed at an upper level, a specific location or region or for specific departments, will only be visible to those individuals upon logging in to the portal.

Spending can be further controlled on the back in with features that can control where the order ships, the shipping method used, and the method of payment used. The portal has the ability then route the order, upon completion, to an internal contact or manager who can review and approve print requests before the order is sent to the print house for production.

Who should you use for my on-demand print portal provider?

Several providers in today’s market offer web-to-print systems, or printing portals. All too common is the print broker, who acts as a middle-man, offering the web software and server system but not actually producing any of the printed materials themselves, losing control of how the finished product looks. When looking for a provider, make sure the company not only hosts the portal but also fulfills the orders.

Look for a provider that has a wide range of capabilities; someone that not only can print your brochures, post cards and business cards but also your event signage, office graphics and specialty items will help make your job easier and provide brand consistency across any substrate.

Any print company can handle the simple print materials. However, a good print portal provider should act as your partner and provide guidance where needed. A good partner will tell you up front if your design will not yield the final product you have in mind and will help you steer clear of those elements. Further, they should provide insight as to what capabilities are available so you can create those eye-catching, one-off pieces when needed.

Your portal should be a valuable new tool for your entire company to utilize. As with any new solution, adoption rate is key. A good web-to-print provider will make it their main goal to ensure the solution is utilized to its full potential. The best providers will even offer suggestions, content and even collateral such how-to handbooks, emails, mail pieces, brochures and website graphics that you can utilize to help spread the word to your associates.

Last but certainly not least, look for a provider with a proven record of excellent service. The fact is, no matter how easy the software is to use, there will be customer-service related issues that need to be addressed. How your partner handles those issues can reflect on your company’s reputation as well. Your partner should understand this completely and provide customer service that is supportive, responsive and effective.

Cockrell Enovation has over 50 years in the printing business and offers dedicated account managers to help with all your needs. For more information on Cockrell Enovation and the On-Demand Printing Portal we offer, please watch the video below!