Web-to-print, also known as Web2Print.
Remote publishing or print e-commerce is a broad term that refers to the practice of doing print business using web sites. Companies and software solutions that deal in web-to-print often bleed into more standard e-commerce and online services like hosting, website design, and cross medial marketing.
The growing popularity of the internet and the world wide web has opened up opportunities for commercial printers to communicate with their partners and customers to do things like submit print jobs, do online prepress reviews/previews, design things like postcards directly on a website using rich user interfaces, direct cross media marketing and offer services such as variable data printing, photo printing, booklets, marketing campaigns, etc.
Web-to-print sites are available for commercial users or to the general public. A common offering from print houses is public or private online storefronts or catalogues.
Web-to-print increasingly calls for a Portable Document Format (PDF) workflow environment with output provided by digital printing; although there is certainly no requirement that fulfillment be accomplished using digital production equipment; web-to-print is also used today by printers with both offset and digital production facilities.
Prepress reviews can be done online, allowing a print house, a client, and possibly a graphic designer to create, edit, and approve computer-based online artwork. Some web-to-print sites offer online print products that replace editing tools like Adobe InDesign where buyers can author work and alter the typeface, copy, images, and layout. These products often include a library of templates for product types, such as post cards, posters, flyers etc.
It is frequently possible for clients to upload their own unique content for automated print production. This may be termed Ad Hoc printing. When a digital press is used for the final output, the template usually is transformed into a PDF file that serves as the ‘master plate’ for the digital press. In more traditional printing processes, like offset printing, the template is used to create a plate or plates that are used to produce the final printed product.
Web-to-print sites often provide approval mechanism so that managers can approve print requests by their employees.
Materials produced by a web-to-print process include business cards, brochures, and stationery, among other printed matter, that can be printed in full color or in black and white on various papers and on various presses.
Web-to-print systems are also expanding to handle personalization and distribution of other marketing materials such as presentations, seminars, logo items, and even email and other electronic media. This change is driven by enterprise clients seeking a single repository/tool to manage all marketing efforts including print.