Many of our clients weigh the pros and cons of using an online printer. How do you know if it’s right for you?
A slew of online printing companies have gained significant ground in the last few years. With seriously competitive pricing and quick turnaround times, they offer a highly compelling option for businesses looking for ease-of-ordering and cost trimming.
But what’s the true cost of this option? To get a better sense, you need to understand how these printers operate and decide if the corners they cut are ones you can live with (or without).
Online printers are almost always significantly cheaper than traditional options. That’s because they’re all about volume. They run multiple print jobs on one large sheet of paper, often 30” to 40.” This means that your 4”x9” rack card will be printed with a variety of other print projects: postcards, folded cards, and business cards, to name a few. Sheets are rushed quickly through the press one after another, using methods that allow the highest level of efficiency, and presses are calibrated to just one type and weight of paper, so there’s little fuss. Using this type of printing, you’ll take advantage of quantity discounts usually reserved for high-volume orders, but here’s the rub: you’ll most likely sacrifice in the areas of choice and quality control.
As for choice, you’re quite limited with online printers, as they offer few options for the size of your printed piece, the paper it’s printed on, and the finish (coating) it gets. You’re often stuck with one paper color and weight, and forget custom inks, textured papers, or specialized printing techniques.
If you’re focused on quality and consistency, you’re likely to be disappointed with online printing. Colors and print quality tend to vary from one print run to the next, so you’ll need to be aware that the logo and brand graphics on your stationery package, for instance, may not look perfectly consistent from letterhead to business card to brochure. In addition, the CMYK (full color) printing by online vendors is created with a relatively low line screen compared to high-end local printers. This can cause photos to appear somewhat coarse, and fine lines, light text, and intricate graphics often appear less crisp or solid.
But other times they’re just fine. If you’re flexible on some factors, online printing may be a reasonable solution. We’ve saved our clients a lot of money using online print vendors, and our sophisticated design work often makes up for the lower quality of budget printing. Your timeline may also be a deciding factor in choosing online printing. With some of these vendors offering 24-hour processing, we’ve made many tight deadlines that were not possible using a local printer.
Besides making tight deadlines, online printers offer a convenient interface for creating, saving, and duplicating orders. With online printers, you can often save all of your designs and past orders in your online account, and re-order items like business cards with just a couple of clicks.
So, if you’re fastidious about details and need your printed materials to reflect the quality of your business, allow for a bit more money and time and opt for a local offset printer. If budget or timing is more important, give online printing a try. For best results, let Stride handle your print management— we’ll do all we can to ensure the best results for your print needs, no matter which vendor you choose.
Contact Stride today about your next print job – and let us handle the rest!