If you wake up in the middle of the night with a great new marketing idea that must be tested right away, online printing services offer small print runs at low prices.
Online printing services — also called print-on-demand, e-printing, digital printing or expedited printing — offer a wide variety of print options that are easy to navigate even for those who do not have a background in printing or design. You can usually purchase pre-designed templates provided on the site or customize them by uploading your own images, logos or designs.
These services deliver fast turnarounds. You can get free introductory cards (excluding shipping) at extremely reasonable rates.
Our sister site, TopTenREVIEWS, has a thorough review of online printing services.
"Several online printing services are quite flexible with delivery options," according to the review. "You may be able to get your documents rush delivered, or even shipped overnight or the same day."
No. 1 on the TopTenREVIEWS list is UPrinting, because, "They have the perfect combination of easy online design tools, affordable prices, and simplified shipping." A close second is FedEx Office (previously FedEx Kinko’s) and Next Day Flyers was rated third, noted for being one of the quickest of all.
Online printing convenience
While online services can be quick and inexpensive, there are reasons to consider whether they are right for you.
Susan Frederick, managing director of New Jersey-based MarketTrain, a business consultancy, has found that there is not a big price gap between local printers and online print services.
“In general, I've found quality and pricing to be pretty similar especially once you factor in shipping costs,” she said.
The cost of online printers can be lower because they offer you the option of printing smaller batches. While a traditional printer may require a minimum of 500 cards, an online printer will let you print as few as 25 or 50. Prices for 500 cards, can be anywhere from $10 to $50 and up depending on paper quality, whether you’re printing on one or both sides, colors, special shapes, and special lettering.
Frederick thinks the biggest perk of using is convenience. “The biggest pro of using an online printer is that they are open 24/7,”she told BusinessNewsDaily.
On the other hand, Frederick said, a face-to-face meeting with a live person might help you best view options you never knew you had. “The biggest pro for using a local printer is getting expert advice, especially if you don't know what you are doing,” she said.
“A local printer can show you similarly printed physical samples, let you see and feel different paper types and weights and lend their expertise to help make the final choice,” she said.
A print shop might be a better choice in certain situations, like when color accuracy is a non-negotiable. Imagine the importance of color accuracy to someone who owns a cosmetics line, for example, with products like eye shadows and facial foundations. “Ink colors in an online proof and online samples are not the true colors once printed, Frederick said.
“You need to have confidence in the vendor and the graphic designer providing the file if you won’t see physical proofs. Certainly, you don’t save any money if the outcome is not what you expected.”
Business coach Andy Birol, owner of Pennsylvania-based Birol Growth Consulting, said that getting a good design should be more important than anything else including speed, convenience and cheap prices.