I‘ve been firmly entrenched in the world of online print e-commerce solutions for years. And my current job at Westamerica Communications is to manage our online storefront, which we call “StōrFront”. It’s hosted by a service, and we can brand it to match or mimic our client’s websites. We offer static items, pick items, versioned and variable product.
I am often asked what is the difference or definition of these types of products. So, let’s take a moment and review each. Now, I will say that every online storefront may have their own nomenclature as to this products, so I will cover the name, as well as some of the other names and descriptions.
Static items, or what some might call “generic”, pretty much are explained by the name. A static item could be a letterhead that is printed when ordered, but is not customizable. Or it could be a downloadable PDF. There is no inventory on a static item.
Also inventory items, are items that are pre-printed in large quantities to get the benefit of the longer run, and therefore, the lower per-unit cost. But pick items could also be giveaways, branded apparel, or even supplies like hotel room toiletries. Basically, anything that is being held in inventory and will be pulled and shipped to the field.
Versioned is not to be confused with variable, because versioned means that it is customizable, but you’re running a single version over a specific quantity. A good example of this is business cards, where you can customize the name and title, phone numbers and all, but you’re running 500 of a single person’s card.
This type of product is where you are providing data, such as multiple addresses and contacts, and then uploading that list for printing postcards, or personalize product. Direct mail is the biggest arena of variable print, and data is the key.
Printers that offer an online storefront have the advantage of providing existing clients with a new way to print and distribute their marketing collateral, stationery items, and even branded giveaways, in addition to being able to produce and control their brand appearance on their printed materials. For prospective clients, finding a single source to produce and distribute their marketing, sales or training materials cuts down the hours required to manage multiple vendors: they have a single contact. With many companies paring down their marketing staff, having this option is a advantageous tool in their quiver.