What to Look for When Selecting an Online, On-Demand Print Vendor

Online, on-demand business printing is as convenient as ordering an Uber to take you to the airport. However, since your business documents are more complex than entering a delivery address, selecting the right printer requires more due diligence before choosing your vendor. 

That is why we recommend you get on the phone with an online, on-demand business printer to ask them these 10 questions.

1. Do they specialise in printing personal or professional documents?

spiral bound business documents

The first thing you want to know is what kind of printing is in their wheelhouse. If you are looking to print wedding invitations, you don’t want a printer who specialises in RFP responses, and vice versa. Ask them what kind of documents they most commonly print, and ask how many customers they have who print projects similar to the one you are shopping around for.

Don’t forget to check out TrustPilot or the case studies section on their website to understand who their customers are and what they like about the business printer. Also, remember that, for 9 out of 10 people, online reviews on websites such as TrustPilot are like personal recommendations. You should definitely take these reviews into consideration when choosing a print vendor for your company.

2. How do you submit and organise your files?

Woman organizing Mimeo print on-demand content library

Next, you want to focus on what the print process will be like. Every printer chooses to handle this differently. For example, some online printing services have one giant folder where all clients upload files, and then you will need to call them to finalise your specifications. Others offer a temporary library unique to you, where you can upload and organise your files, but don’t store that information long-term. (Then there are vendors, like Mimeo, who keep any file you upload in your personal print library. We even offer folder structure so you can organise your files the same way you do on your desktop.)

3. What kind of proofing experience do they provide?

woman browsing 3 ring binder

Speaking of the print process, make sure you understand how your potential business printing services offer proofs. In traditional printing, after preparing the press for your project, the printer would produce a sample for you to review and approve. When using on-demand technology, set-up isn’t as intensive, so the proof process looks different depending on your printer. Some print on-demand companies still use courier services to deliver a proof for your review, but this adds several hours, if not a full day to your project time. Other on-demand printers offer a PDF preview that uses red or dotted lines to show you where your document will be cropped. At Mimeo, we patented virtual proof technology, which provides a computer rendering of what your document will look like for you to flip through, zoom in, and adjust as necessary.

4. What kind of customisations do they offer?

half size booklet customization

If you are printing a complex business document, you probably have a lot of customisations to make. Before selecting your print on-demand vendor, make sure you know what they can and cannot handle. Sometimes your customisations will require machines they don’t have or personal attention they cannot provide.

Mimeo offers 1,000+ customisation options, so you can print your business documents exactly the way you want. Add 10 tabs to your spiral-bound notebook, make the last page perforated, print the cover only in full-bleed color, and much more. The possibilities for your print are nearly endless. Schedule a print consultation to learn more about customisations.

5. What is the minimum and maximum number of copies you can order?

large stack of printed business papers

Print on-demand technology makes it as cost-effective to print one copy as one hundred. So, you usually have no minimum order requirements and don’t have to print in bulk. This can save you the nearly 20% that hidden warehousing fees add to the total cost of print. Plus, you will eliminate document waste. Approximately, 10-20% of all business documents are discarded without ever being used.

You probably won’t find volume-based discounts with print on-demand vendors. Still, it is worth verifying whether they have volume thresholds. For example, if you want to print two thousand copies of a magazine, on-demand print is not going to be the right choice, and your on-demand printer should tell you that before accepting the project.

6. Where do they print?

Now, it is time to get into the logistics of business printing. Before submitting the project, make sure you know where in the world they do the actual printing. About 75% of printing is done in the US, China, Japan, Germany, and the UK. However, in addition to their location, you should also ask:

• Are their machines located in the back of a retail location?

• Do they have dedicated print facilities?

• Are they an independent location or a national network that maintains their machines (like Mimeo)?

All of these factors can impact how your printer gets your job done, so it is worth finding out before selecting your vendor. (We created a video so you can virtually visit Mimeo’s US facilities.)

7. How flexible is their turnaround time?

woman signing for overnight package delivery

The beauty of print on-demand technology is that it requires virtually no set-up to print your project. That means that turnaround time is determined by how many projects your printer can handle, not by the labor it takes to change out the press. Ask your printer how quickly they can print and deliver your project, as well as how they prioritise projects if they get multiple last-minute requests at once. For the record, Mimeo accepts projects as late as 10 pm ET for delivery as early as 8:30 am local time the next day

8. How do they handle shipping and delivery?

The final part of logistics is to find out how the printer gets your document from their presses to wherever you need it. Retail printers often require you to pick up the job in-store. Some printers only deliver locally or to one location. Others will ship at retail rates to your destination. Larger online printing services, like Mimeo, have established relationships with international shippers to accommodate delivery anywhere, to as many addresses as you need. Be sure to ask about shipping before submitting your project. Bonus points if the vendor provides you with real-time tracking! (Mimeo provides real-time order tracking, all on one page. No tracking numbers are required.)

9. What kind of customer support can you expect?

cheerful man providing excellent customer service

Whatever you are printing, you will have questions, concerns, or even errors that need to be corrected. Be sure to ask your printer what kind of customer support they provide.

• Some online printing services embrace online-only, meaning you will have to interact with a chatbot in order to get questions answered.

• Others are retail-based, so you will have to go into the store to get help.

• If you are going to be printing multiple projects per year, make sure you find a print on-demand vendor who has a dedicated customer support team available via phone or chat.

Mimeo has an award-winning, 24-hour customer service team that is always ready to help – even when you realise you submitted the wrong files at the eleventh hour. 

10. Do they offer any competitive pricing for your project or for repeat customers?

man looking at savings from swtiching to print on-demand

Don’t forget to ask about the cost of your project! On-demand print generally doesn’t offer volume-based discounts, since it is the same cost to print one copy as it is one hundred. Still, that doesn’t mean your printer can’t offer you discounts. Ask about pricing specials for your first project, or – if you plan on being a long-term print customer – ask to set up an account at a price that will accommodate all your projects. You may even be able to get a rebate if you commit to spending a certain amount annually.

When done correctly, online printing on-demand is quick, easy, and convenient. However, not all on-demand printers are alike. Be sure you get answers to all your questions before selecting the print vendor who will meet your needs best. Schedule a call to start interrogating Mimeo now!

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