Go to the print shop or order online?
Every printing company is unique, with its advantages and disadvantages. Traditional and online printers offer very different services, and we have listed these differences to help you make the right choice, depending on your needs.
Online printing services
Online printers are often cheaper due to their higher production capacities and automated printing process. Their prices are more economical.
Ideally, if you have flexible deadlines, you should wait for promotions or special offers to place your order, as they often offer these.
Freedom and flexibility
Many online printing services advertise their speed and ease of ordering advantages.
You can generally request quotes, place orders, and pay on their website. The fact that everything is done online saves a lot of time. However, the site must be well-designed, understandable and easy to use.
These print shops are self-service, meaning you can order from them 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, from your home or workplace.
The advantage is that you are not dependent on opening hours as you may be when you have to go through a local printer.
Most sites offer you the option of arranging delivery by choosing, at your convenience, where and when you want to receive your print products. But delivery options depend on the printing company.
As far as product quality is concerned
If you are demanding and looking for a specific, original or luxury product, going through a traditional printing company may be better. In general, online services have a higher production capacity, but the attention to product quality is not the same as that offered by a physical print shop.
This makes sense; remember that processes are automated, and production is often done in large warehouses with professional machinery.
For example, your products may be printed on the same machine and sheet as other products with different colour curves to make the most of the space on the sheet. This can have an impact on their colours. Colours are essential to your visual communication and brand image, and you don’t want them to be altered.
Online printers are ideal for printing standard products without breaking the bank. But you get the quality you pay for. The range of products is also more limited. Generally, online printers only offer the most standard media, size and weight options. They are not your best option if you are looking for originality.
If you don’t know much about design, it’s best to have your files checked by a graphic designer before sending them to print online. The files should be prepared to avoid mistakes as much as possible and ensure you get the expected result.
About the customer relationship
You don’t get the same customer service as in a physical print shop, but if you have a problem, you can sometimes contact customer service by email, chat or phone, depending on the print shop and its website.
You can ask for as many quotes as you like without feeling cumbersome. However, this would not be necessary with a traditional print shop as the staff listen to you and guide you to the most appropriate solution for your project and needs.
With online services, order preparation time is fixed. If you have a rush order, you won’t have the opportunity to specify it so that it can be processed more quickly. In addition, once your files have been confirmed, you cannot cancel the order.
Many online services guarantee the best quality. This is an important argument, as it is well known that the risk of having a bad print is a major concern for the customer. Your files will be printed exactly as you send them, and design errors will not be corrected, so it is better to master the creation of print files.
Online payment has the advantage of being fast and secure. Most websites offer you the option of using a secure payment platform such as PayPal.
However, as with most online services, you have to pay when you place your order, there is no other choice. This is annoying because if the job is messed up, you have to make a claim and the processing times are often long, whether it’s a refund or a reprint of your order.
Going to a local printing company will make your customer experience completely different.
These printers usually offer personal guidance and advice to customers.
They are also more available and easy to reach for information and reassurance when you have doubts or questions about your project. Their trained staff can make suggestions you might not have thought of, to improve the quality of your products and give you the best printing results.
Safety and comfort
They offer a complete service and can take care of everything from file creation to delivery if you wish.
For example, let’s say your design knowledge is limited, you don’t know how to add bleeds and trim lines, and your files are not ready for printing: your local print shop will systematically check your files, something online services simply cannot offer.
In addition, you can have a “physical” proof so you know exactly what your products will look like and won’t be surprised at the time of delivery.
A service tailored to your needs
Most physical printers offer a variety of payment options to give you a choice, such as payment in instalments or payment on delivery, so you can see your products before you pay.
They also offer better control over production and delivery times. If you need your order by a specific date and time and your print shop says it can do it, you can be sure that it will meet the deadline.
Physical printers are staffed by trained professionals who offer you their expertise. They know the products and techniques that are available.
Their passion for the world of graphic arts and their years of experience are a plus.
If you are looking for a specific or original product, the printers will be able to advise you because it is their job. They know what is available on the market and are aware of the latest developments.
In addition, they have already encountered the most common printing or design problems and can solve them.
In a local print shop, you will have more choices in terms of media, sizes and printing techniques.
Often if they don’t have the technology for a particular printing process, they will use their network of suppliers. They will know who to contact for the best price or quality. So you don’t have to waste time looking for new suppliers; you have one contact person who takes care of everything.
Careful workmanship comes at a price. Printers can advise you, but this advice takes time, which explains the higher management costs.
Printers have higher commercial rental costs and higher wage costs. This is why their prices can sometimes be higher than those of online services. But this depends on the order and the products.
For example, they are sometimes a more expensive solution for small quantities, since the cost of preparation and handling work represents a large part of the final amount.
How to choose?
Are you unsure whether to order from your local printer or an online printer? Your choice will depend on the type of product you are looking for, the size of your business, your knowledge of design and technology, the quality of customer service you want and your geographical proximity to a print shop. Also customer reviews are important.
Consider getting information online. Visit the printers’ websites, and you can see the range of products they offer and judge their expertise by reading their blog posts.
Sometimes they also have a presence on social media, where you can see if they post product photos and read about their news to get an idea of their services.
Also, consider the reputation of the printing company and the final cost. Read customer reviews and don’t hesitate to ask for quotes to compare prices.
Be aware that there are “hybrid” services between physical and online printing.
For example, small print shops have an online printing service where they only offer their most standard products. Or online printers that offer the same customer relationship as you would get in a local print shop.
At Doxzoo, we specialise in digital printing, offset printing, large format printing, last-minute printing, and the design and production of eco-friendly cardboard furniture.