COMPARE & SAVE: ONLINE PRINTING COMPANIES
Online printers are convenient when you need to print documents, images and webpages off the Internet. They are used most often by writers who like to see the written page. Recipes are handy when printed using these devices. Receipts that are online can be printed out easily using these devices.
Online printers create a good way to have physical copies of webpages, receipts, recipes and other documents. Online printing makes it easier to print out what is needed and leave the rest online.
What criteria will you use when deciding which online printing companies should get your order? Comparison shopping isn’t all about price, although that is a major sticking point for consumers. In some cases other criteria, like quality or the speed of delivery, are more important than price.
The problem with trying to compare one bulk printing service to another when they’re online is that sometimes you can’t tell what you’re getting via pictures alone. Yet, you can’t walk into a brick-and-mortar store to figure out the look and feel of those wedding invitations you need to get printed out pronto. What do you do to make sure that you are comparing online services on criteria that is real?
There are a number of ways you can do your comparison shopping to make sure you are pleased with the printer you choose, no matter what factors are most important to you.
Figure Out What Comparison Criteria Is Important to You
Before you even check out any online printers by name, decide what the most important selection criteria is to you. It will differ depending on your schedule, your funds, and even, sometimes, the event. Here are few different criteria to get you thinking. Once you have a few in mind, prioritize them based on your own specific needs. Consider the following criteria for choosing a bulk printing service:
Minimum Order Count
Depending on the type of project, you may have different minimum order counts. If they have no minimum, you can order one copy to see the actual quality before making a massive bulk printing order. Otherwise, you may be stuck making a large order sight unseen. Every printer has a different minimum order policy so check around for one that fits your needs.
File Formats and Sizes
You will need to provide the printer with your file with the design for them to use, if you are designing your own printed material. They will have to take the file formats and sizes that you have or you will have to convert them into a format that they can take. If you convert them, odds are, they may not convert perfectly and produce the quality image you had in another format. So, it’s important to figure out what file formats are accepted and whether you can upload a file of the size you want to the printer. Most online printers have an upload facility for this purpose.
Are you going to need help with the design? For example, people creating wedding invitations may desire help from someone knowledgeable in the wedding industry. You will need to check out what credentials the designers have and how they can help you make a decision on the design to choose for your printed materials. How many other wedding invitations have they helped with? What is their printing expertise?
Do they have a process for proofing a design to make sure it is exactly what you want before you make a bulk order? How much will they charge you for a proof? How will you see the design in its final format for approval? How close will the final product be to the image you receive? How long will the proofing process take, if they have one?
You don’t just want to rely on the website to give you all this information. Check out reviews when you are comparing online printers with each other. You can do this by simply putting in the name of the company in question and typing the word review in the search engine as well. It will look for reviews that you can read.
Type of Printers In-House
What type of printers are they using? Digital printers may be sufficient for business cards and flyers, but traditional printers are needed for fancy embossed designs with special features or even just a letterhead. Are these in-house or is the online printer going to send your item out to be done at a third-party site? This tells you a lot about whether they have the experience necessary to do tricky bulk orders with lots of different feature and high quality stock cards. It’s best to get one that does all its work in-house.
There are all sorts of special features one can expect to be available in a brick-and-mortar shop that may or may not be available with an online printer. You need to check to see if they have die-cutting, special bindings, special finishes, coatings, or any other extra you want with your order. What type of card stock do they use? Can you upgrade the quality of an order or are you stuck with their standard offerings?
Time to Delivery
What is the typical time to delivery and is the price included? It can depend on the amount you order, but it can also vary with different online printers. If you are hoping to get things quickly, you will need to make sure the company has the resources to deliver your product in a time frame that suits your needs.
You may even want to pay extra for really fast delivery, like overnight. Online printers can have numerous delivery options available for an additional cost, but then it will depend on if they can also deliver your goods in a reasonable time frame. If it takes two weeks to complete the order, overnight shipping isn’t going to make that part of your project any faster. However, if you are in desperate need for a quick turn-around, it can be nice to know it is available in a crunch.
The last criteria is cost. It should never be the first criteria alone. There are plenty of printers who can give you a steal of a deal, but you have to be happy with the final product in order to be worth your while. So, while you do want to compare costs, don’t forget to make sure you compare what each printer offers to each other to make sure you get the best product for the right price and not the cheapest option out there, just to save money. It may turn out you won’t be happy with the quality.
Do you know anyone personally who has used the online service who can tell you about their experience? Sometimes, you can get that sort of information on your social networking profile. You don’t have to have a relative or close friend who used the service, even a friend of a friend might give you some insight on whether it is right for you or not.
Be Scientific In Your Appraisal
Once you have the criteria listed in order of importance, you can assign a rating to each printer that you are evaluating to see how they compare. This grid of information can be invaluable in making a decision. It will certainly increase the chances that you will be happy with your choice. Then, if you still have reservations, go slowly.
Order a small order, even just one from each of your finalists, if possible. Compare the quality of each once you receive them in hand. This is the most definitive way to test different online printers. Once you see the final product possible from each service, you can make your choice with confidence that the bulk order will meet with your approval too.
Look for Discounts Before You Order
As a final step, once you ascertain the quality, you can still save money if you look for introductory coupons or discounts for larger orders. Sometimes, you can get 10 to 20 percent off for a first order for a specific printer. Other times, signing up for a newsletter and registering for a site will cause them to send you a discount coupon to spur a sale. Also, check online at coupon sites to see if you can get a checkout coupon for free delivery or additional perks. These can be put into the cart before checkout for additional savings. In this way, you get the savings you want without sacrificing any of the quality either.