But, when choosing a printing contractor, there are now two options available: local print shops and online printing services. Everyone knows print shops. You may easily find lots of them in the big cities, but what about online printing?
Online printers are basically print shops that operate and interact with their customers using the Internet. Just like regular shops, they can print business cards, flyers, brochures, posters, catalogues and even banners on various kinds of paper and with different finishes.
The procedure consists of uploading your files, choosing the amount, paper type and other features and a delivery method. Just like print shops, online printers may also provide design assistance, from templates and interactive design tools to advice from their graphic designers.
So, how do you know what to choose? Each option has its ups and downs that you should consider when making a decisions.
Advantages of Online Printing Services
- Lower prices are, probably, the most noticeable advantage of online printing. This is because online printers have lower expenses than physically-based ones and can afford charging you less for a certain job.
- Flexibility is much higher in online printing. Online printing companies service a much larger area and have more customers than local shops. This means they can afford investing in higher performing equipment, thus being able to offer a wider range of options. They also have access to more paper and ink types and may support larger design teams.
- Customer service is often better and interaction is enhanced by online communication means.
- Templates. If you wish to design marketing materials, like flyers, or brochures, the actual task of setting them up might be a bit difficult. This is why the templates online printers provide usually prove useful. Not to mention other means of design assistance such contractors offer.
Advantages of Local Print Shops
- Proofing. For more complex printing tasks, seeing a proof before starting the actual printing always proves useful. This is because something that looks good on the computer screen might not be so impressive on hard paper. Proofing is, obviously, easier in local shops. Nevertheless, many online printers also offer such an option and are willing to send you a hard copy before starting to print the whole order. But this service is not always free and it takes some time.
- No shipping costs. While the cost-per-unit is lower if hiring online printers, for small orders you might not save money at all, due to the shipping costs. Local print shops, obviously, have no such costs. So, before making a decision, try to calculate the overall price offers, with all fees included.
- Using hard copy template. If you have a hard template of what your material should look like, go to local contractors. They can copy them or scan them to make any modifications you want. This is much harder with an online printing company.
- No strict need for computer skills. While working with a print shop, having some computer skills is, without doubt, a good thing. Bringing your files on a USB stick is much better than bringing hard copies. However, since not all customers have such skills, local shops might as well do it the old way. For online printers, computer interaction is compulsory.
- Face-to-face interaction. Even if online printers offer a good customer interaction, some clients find that face-to-face discussion is much better, especially when it comes to design assistance. In this case, local shops are the best option.