Magento Web2Print Reviewed
A common challenge for many Magento store owners who use Magento to sell Digital Printing services online is receiving and handling customer artwork. The challenge is actually multi-tiered as there are many different ways for customers to order digital print products online. For example, some products only allow “print-ready” graphics to be uploaded to the product prior to checkout, other products allow the customer to upload an image or artwork source-files after checkout with the option of having a proof sent back prior to production, while other products are completely customizable online in the web-browser – these are the true Web to Print Magento products – and customers can dynamically configure size, text and colors, insert clipart or upload their own images, etc. to create completely unique print-ready graphics online.
To overcome the various complexities mentioned above, we have created several web-to-print modules for Magento – ranging from incremental extension solutions to complete Magento web2print packages. The following article briefly summarizes several tools that we think will change the way Digital and Offset Printing companies use Magento to drive new business online.
Smart Front-end File Uploaders: Flash, Silverlight, HTML4 and HTML5
Our latest file uploader for Magento – Mico Upload Ultimate – is the best front-end upload tool for Magento yet. It comes loaded with features that every Digital print shop needs to successfully capture and manage customer file uploads. Some features include:
Smart Runtime Detection
The new line of Mico Upload extensions use smart browser detection to serve up the best uploader runtime available based on the capabilities of the customer’s bowsers. This means if the customer’s browser does not have flash, a HTML4, HTML5, or Silverlight runtime is served to them instead, and the module has graceful degradation so it will keep trying runtimes in a selected order until it can find one that the browser can use. It is fully supported on most android mobile platforms and we are even working on iPhone/iPod touch/iPad compatibility for a future release.
Dynamic Image and Image Source-File Previews
The Mico Upload Pro and Ultimate version take advantage of industry standard PHP libraries to enable real-time image and source file thumb creation to let the customer know “visually” what file they just uploaded to the server. This feature greatly enhances the customer experience factor and helps ensure the wrong files don’t get uploaded to the customer’s order.
Custom File Handling – Post Checkout Server File Management
A huge task that often gets overlooked prior to launch is the default file handling of Magento for customer uploaded files. The default filing structure in Magento (behind the scenes) for uploaded files can be rather cumbersome for the pre-production team as it organizes the files into several directories based on the state of the order and actual filename, putting files in a structure like:
And then into two more child directories based on the first two letters of the actual file-name. So in the end, customer file uploads with the names like Image_012.jpg and Source_ART_FINAL.psd end up in the Magento file structure like this:
/media/custom_options/orders/i/m/filename.jpg (or hex number for filename)
/media/custom_options/orders/s/o/filename.jpg (or hex number for filename)
This default method makes it almost impossible for any Magento store owner to access the server via FTP to download all files related to an order. Our solution to this problem was to provide a way for the store owners to override the storage location for completed orders to make it easier to follow and manage. A common file structure most clients prefer is: /orders/ordernumber/filename1.jpg ...
Along with changing the file save location for completed order, our new uploader allows for filename manipulate as well. The store owner can add product details directly to the filename so that they can instantly tell how to use the file just by looking at its name. Options like sku, quantity, option-title, etc can be inserted directly into the filename to make it is easier for pre-production and other pre-press scripts to set up files respectively. Click here to learn more about the new Mico Upload Ultimate file uploader for Magento
Pre-press and Image Proof Integration Directly in Magento
A vital and much needed integrated feature for all Magento-driven Print stores is the ability to engage with the customer directly from the Magento back-end/Admin area. By default Magento provides a method for store owners to offer comments and status updates related to an order but it currently does not allow the customer to comment back or upload files, and especially not approve or decline proofs associated with orders. As a result we have developed an extension called Advanced Proof Systems (APS) for Magento.
Magento Proof System with Customer Comments and Approval Actions
When installed, the Advanced Proof System allows Magento store managers to submit proofs directly to an order with comments and with a way for the customer to approve or decline the proof, comment back, and even upload a new file if necessary. This extension takes advantage of the built-in comments stream on the front-end of Magento in the customer dashboard area so all comments and proof details related to an order can be visible to the customer at any time. The APS extension also has the ability to change an orders status based on approval or decline, and even the ability for the Magento store to email a specific manager address when a customer uploads a new file for a proof or approves or declines a current proof. With this module, the workflow from order capture to production is significantly improved as all details are contained and managed from within Magento. Full details on the APS are coming soon. The module is completed but the documentation and public sandbox examples are currently being built.
Complicated Magento Pricing Made Simple with XLS and CSV Spreadsheet Price Solutions
By far one of the most challenging hurdles for any print store in Magento is the pricing structure. So many products, so many discount tiers, so many variations and algorithms for materials, inks and other production tasks to consider. Our solution for this challenge is a spreadsheet strategy. Everything from custom price tiers based on quantity and square footage or both, to variable product based add-ons, to dynamic weight based on size. Our goal is to allow Print shop owners to configure and manage their pricing in the same fashion they normally do, in a spreadsheet.
CSV Pricing per Product or Group of products
Some clients prefer to set price sheets for each product in their store. We offer modules that use industry standard commas separated value (CSV) to set the pricing for products with all their variations. CSV price sheets can be uploaded individually to each product or uploaded globally and then assigned to one product or a group of products.
XLS Pricing for All Products in One File
Other clients prefer to have one complete Excel file that encapsulates all the products they offer in the store. The advantage to this is simply all data for pricing is in one locate, one file. Each product can be its own sheet within the Excel file and options and variation for the products can be set differently per sheet. When prices or variations need to be changed, the store owner simply opens the Excel sheet, makes the needed changes, and then re-uploads the file to the Magento store and the updates go into effect immediately.
Turnkey Web to Print (W2P) Extension for Magento
Lastly, our capstone product for Magento is our new Mico Web to Print (W2P) extension. This module is the most advanced module we have created yet. It allows customers to customize text, fonts, colors, sizes, and graphics directly online and then saves the design in a print-ready format that can go straight to pre-press for review and production. Store owners can upload templates to each product that can be used as the base design for customers to start out with. They can be layered and have images and text. The module will prepare a PDF proof for the customer and also a print-ready design file for the store owner available in the order review area in the backend or via FTP in an organized file structure.
The advantage of the Mico Web to Print extension is that it does not require any third-party processing server, images are processed on the same server as your Magento server. There are some minimum RAM requirements and Linux module requirements necessary for use but they are usually met on 90% of the hosted platforms available. More information and formal documentation on the Web 2 Print module will be available soon. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more details or to request a demo.