Online portal for customer to place orders?

Freelancer since 2006. Picked up a great client in 2007, and have had them ever since. This client is 80% of my work. They have 35 locations and are growing, and they want to streamline the collateral ordering process (business cards, forms, banners, rack cards, etc) and get it out of their marketing department. Up to this point, someone in marketing orders collateral from me and I order from any of several printers I use. I’d like to build a web portal where my client’s employees can place reorders for marketing collateral (with management approval). Anyone doing this already? Got any recs for customizable portals already in place that I can make seamless for my company?

Depends where in the world you are.

There are plenty of Web-Print portals that are ready to plugin and get going.

Personally, I’ve used ROI360 - and I’d steer clear of them - the technology is antiquated and they don’t own the platform it runs on they sub license it and it has gone under, so they have an unupgradable platform.

One I did research and wanted to go with was this https://www.vpress.com/web2print-guide/
But ultimately upper management voted elsewhere (ROI360 which was not user friendly).

You need to look into Web to Print Ecommerce Storefront

@Smurf2 hit the nail on the head. Location matters. That and there are quite a few places that will do this sort of thing. I’m not saying either of these options is right but for a while at work we had a small subset of our company who needed to easily order and reorder materials so we worked with FedEx to have them build out a web portal. It was a little higher up the foodchain than I am, so I’m not sure what it cost. It was over-priced per print and the print outs were passable, and they had systems built int to require approvals before printing. The benefit is at least here in the US they had a lot of locations to pick up the materials (they also couriered them for free if you were within a certain radius of one of their locations). We also have an ordering portal set up for letterhead, business cards, etc. with a local vendor as well as some simple two sided flyers. It’s not super fancy, but it gets the job done. That and because it is a local vendor we have a relationship with them and they work to accommodate us.

Bottom line is depending on where you are, I would ask around to local vendors and see if it is something they can help you with. Especially if you have a good relationship with any vendors already.

Thanks so much, Smurf2 and Craig B. I’m looking for a web portal where I can control who prints each project. So, everything ordered through the portal would come through me, and I would pass the order on to my printer of choice. I have several printers I used regularly, but no one printer can print all the different projects (ie, my sheet fed guy doesn’t want to do t-shirts). Just wondering if there’s an option out there for the middle man (me) that’s user-friendly for my client.

I’ll look into vpress. And thanks for the “Web to Print Ecommerce Storefront” term. I didn’t even know where to start.

That’s exactly what vpress do.

It can be setup white label. Your logo, your branding… Or even better each individual company can log in and see their own branding.

You setup templates that they can fill out. Like a business card. So they put in their own details on the card and order.

It’s then automated all the way from pricing to straight to print and delivery and you don’t need to touch anything.

More complex templates can be set up.
Phone numbers, for example, can be restricted to a format etc.

You can also have static templates. Once they pick the template, it can generate a rfq from your print vendors all in the background. White label. Customer sees cheapest price with your markup applied.

It’s very good.

You can even have templates setup so images can be swapped. Pre agreed images, resolution controlled. Or they can upload their own images, with resolution boundaries etc.

That sounds EXACTLY like what I’m looking for. Thanks so much, Smurf2.

Thank you for this as well Smurf2!! Been searching for one for quite a while I just hope it can also be integrated with my sales automation platform to streamline our process since we’re a small team, we use a tool called Hyperise for emails. If you need some deets on how it works this guide The Ultimate Guide to Sales Automation in 2021 - HYPERISE might come in handy and if you also need to integrate it with yours.

Thanks, gdismypassion. I’ll check it out. The only issue with vpress is the customer support hours. I’m in the U.S.

Of course - so you’ll need to find a similar one to you in the US.

There’s a list here

Take some hard-earned advice—there’s a big red flag here. Never let any one client be more than 25% of your income. I made this mistake years ago, with a client who represented 65% of my income. They said they would never leave me as long as I did not take on any competitors in their product category simultaneously. I agreed, had a great relationship with the client for many years, then—PooooFFF!!!—a new CEO came in and I was given the old heave-ho in seconds flat! … It took me over two years to recover from that mistake and it almost put me out of the business I love.

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That’s good advice but often difficult to implement in the short term.

I’ll also add that violating that rule of thumb is likely the biggest cause of ad agencies laying off employees or, even worse, going out of business. I’ve witnessed plenty of agencies scale up in a big hurry to meet the needs of a new client that tripled their business, then having to lay off all those employees two years later when the contract ended and the client decided to go elsewhere.

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