Quark has launched QuarkPromote.com (www.quarkpromote.com), a new online web-to-print service that hopes to send online customers to local printers. The special web-to-print service is aimed at small businesses so they can create their own marketing materials that can be picked up at a nearby neighborhood printer or received by mail in just a few days.
Customers go online and use a special online application to create the file. The customer’s order then goes to a commercial printer. Quark is saied to be partnering with franchises such as well as independent printers.
Quark isn't doing the printing and hopes to help printers get more business. The local printers can select to be either a "print by mail" or a "pick up at a neighborhood printer" provider. In both cases, the output provider is determined by the zip code the customer has provided.
According to Quark, if the customer wants the order delivered by mail, the zip code is used behind the scenes to find a prints-by-mail provider in the region. The customer is not provided the opportunity to choose the printer and there is no relationship between the provider and the customer. Packages are shipped blind to the customer.
In the case of neighborhood printing, the zip code is used to display a list of printers near the customer. Matching shops are displayed on a Bing map and in a list. The customer chooses a shop and then completes a typical online ordering process. Prices, included shipping, are set by Quark. The customer also has the option of choosing a printer at a location other than their own if it is more convenient.
Quark offers a webcast for output providers on how the Quark Promote programs work. Send an email request to firstname.lastname@example.org to see the webcast.
Is this a good program for printers? It is if you are a printer who doesn't want to don't want to talk to customers or try to sell anything. Pricing is controlled by Quark and orders by mail is transparent to the customer. The only real selling opportunity will come if the printer elects to pick up the job locally.
The program is still new, but I haven't seen any money being poured into marketing the program to consumers. Until that happens, it will just be a feel-good program to make printers think they are really part of the web2print world.
My advice is for printers to get out and actually talk to customers and be proactive in selling. Don't wait for a customer to go to a website to pick out templates. Get out there and find out the customers' printing needs.
I do recommend that you take advantage of the QuarkAlliance.com program. Former Adobe ASN members can get a free copy of QuarkXpress 8 when they sign up. The offer is good through June 2010.
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