Last month I spent the better part of five hours over the course of two weeks helping a Gold Edition user set up his digital pricing. It could have taken less but the user was trying to learn Morning Flight without benefit of practice in the art of using a computer. "That paper item we just entered has got to show up in your picklist, Joe, there can't be only twelve items there and what do you mean 'what's a scrollbar'?!"
Joe was eager to learn, incredibly patient, and fun to chat with. In the end it was time well spent on both sides of the line. Joe got to solo and I came away with two valuable lessons. First, pricing digital effectively is not nearly as formula-friendly as we'd like it to be. Second, when we write help systems or create video tutorials for Morning Flight, from now on we're going to start with ground school.
Unitac International Inc.
Bending the Digital Price Curve
I'm no fan of Cost-Plus pricing but over time I've learned to live with it. After all, even Morning Flight uses Cost-Plus derived from budgeted hourly press rates. Budgeted rates is how offset is priced by and large, and with the cost of equipment, salaries, and utilities generally in line with what competitors pay, it tends to put you into the same ballpark. Keep in mind that "budgeted" means projected. The real rate is calculated long after the fact and is based on how many hours a press was running that month.
That's offset. For digital the game changes and so do the rules. Here the lion's share of what you're invoicing is made up of paper costs and click charges - real costs charged by your vendors, not budgeted rates your accountant can fiddle with. And those real costs come with the handicap of a real difference: If you're a small shop with sales of less than five million, you're unlikely to be paying the same sugar-coated click rates and rock-bottom paper prices enjoyed by Vistaprint. Not even close.
Before you get too discouraged, there is a bright spot. Look at the graph where we compare out-of-the-box Morning Flight prices for an 11x17 color poster with the prices charged by Day2Day Printing, a Los Angeles shop with an exceptionally well-done eCommerce site. Note that Day2Day offers lower prices for 1,000 posters and up, but charges substantially more than Morning Flight for 250 and 500.
Lower prices for higher quantities are easily explained. Day2Day looks to be a large enough operation to benefit from more favorable paper costs and click rates. Less transparent is why they charge so much more at the lower end. My guess is the company front-loads their prices with something every digital shop should want to get paid for - the cost of processing the order and prepping the file.
So here is our Tip of the Month: Create a custom prepress item for "File Makeready." Include it routinely with every low dollar digital quote and order. Chances are, you'll earn it.
Arrivals and Departures
Shopify. Last week we closed our Shopify demo store. The harder we tried to configure the program for our upcoming SkyMall, the quicker we realized it wasn't going to happen. For T-Shirts, this shopping cart is impressive. But you need more than size and color and maybe a logo for web2print. It was the three option limit that killed it.
WooCommerce. Just in time to replace Shopify we discovered WooCommerce (captured above). Get past the funny name and this cart is a winner. We loaded a demo store with the same products you'll find at our BigCommerce demo, but we need to clean the site up a bit before it's ready for visitors. WooCommerce is built on top of WordPress and, like WordPress, has no pricetag. You only pay your ISP for hosting.
New FlyBy Format. Have you noticed that we redesigned our newsletter? More people now open their e-mails on smartphones or iPads than they do on computers. If you're among them, you'll find the new format easier to read.
Newsletter Archives. Remember reading about something, a tip of the month maybe, but don't have time to browse through the Morning Flight library? Use the search box in the new FlyBy Archives. Not there? Try our archived Forum.