What to Look for In an Online, On Demand Print Vendor

Find out 10 key questions you should ask when trying to select among online, on-demand business printing services.

Published on 12 April, 2021 | Last modified on 27 March, 2023
Woman organizing Mimeo print on-demand content library

Online, on demand business printing is as convenient as ordering an Uber to take you to the airport. However, since your business documents are more complex than entering a delivery address, selecting the right printer requires more due diligence before choosing your on demand print vendor. 

That is why we recommend you get on the phone with an online, on demand business printer to ask them these 10 questions.

1. Do they specialize in printing personal or professional documents?

The first thing you want to know is what kind of printing is in their wheelhouse. If you are looking to print wedding invitations, you don’t want a printer who specializes in RFP responses, and vice versa. Ask them what kind of documents they most commonly print, and ask how many customers they have who print projects similar to the one you are shopping around for.

Don’t forget to check out TrustPilot or the case studies section on their website to understand who their customers are and what they like about the business printer. Also, remember that, for 9 out of 10 people, online reviews on websites such as TrustPilot are like personal recommendations. You should definitely take these reviews into consideration when choosing a print vendor for your company.

spiral bound business documents

2. How do you submit and organize your files?

Woman organizing Mimeo print on-demand content library

Next, you want to focus on what the print process will be like. Every printer chooses to handle this differently. For example, some online printing services have one giant folder where all clients upload files, and then you will need to call them to finalize your specifications. Others offer a temporary library unique to you, where you can upload and organize your files, but don’t store that information long-term. (Then there are vendors, like Mimeo, who keep any file you upload in your personal print library. We even offer folder structure so you can organize your files the same way you do on your desktop.)

3. What kind of proofing experience do on demand print vendors provide?

woman browsing 3 ring binder, on demand print vendor

Speaking of the print process, make sure you understand how your potential business printing services offer proofs. In traditional printing, after preparing the press for your project, the printer would produce a sample for you to review and approve. When using on demand technology, set-up isn’t as intensive, so the proof process looks different depending on your printer.

Some print on demand companies still use courier services to deliver a proof for your review, but this adds several hours, if not a full day to your project time. Other on demand printers offer a PDF preview that uses red or dotted lines to show you where your document will be cropped. At Mimeo, we patented virtual proof technology, which provides a computer rendering of what your document will look like for you to flip through, zoom in, and adjust as necessary.

4. What kind of customizations do they offer?

half size booklet customization

If you are printing a complex business document, you probably have a lot of customizations to make. Before selecting your on demand print vendor, make sure you know what they can and cannot handle. Sometimes your customizations will require machines they don’t have or personal attention they cannot provide.

Mimeo offers 1,000+ customization options, so you can print your business documents exactly the way you want. Add 10 tabs to your spiral-bound notebook, make the last page perforated, print the cover only in full-bleed color, and much more. The possibilities for your print are nearly endless. Schedule a print consultation to learn more about customizations.

5. What is the minimum and maximum number of copies you can order?

Print on demand technology makes it as cost-effective to print one copy as one hundred. So, you usually have no minimum order requirements and don’t have to print in bulk. This can save you the nearly 20% that hidden warehousing fees add to the total cost of print. Plus, you will eliminate document waste. Approximately, 10-20% of all business documents are discarded without ever being used.

You probably won’t find volume-based discounts with on demand print vendors. Still, it is worth verifying whether they have volume thresholds. For example, if you want to print two thousand copies of a magazine, on demand print is not going to be the right choice, and your on demand printer should tell you that before accepting the project.

large stack of printed business papers

6. Where do on demand print vendors print?

Now, it is time to get into the logistics of business printing. Before submitting the project, make sure you know where in the world they do the actual printing. About 75% of printing is done in the US, China, Japan, Germany, and the UK. However, in addition to their location, you should also ask:

• Are their machines located in the back of a retail location?

• Do they have dedicated print facilities?

• Are they an independent location or a national network that maintains their machines (like Mimeo)?

All of these factors can impact how your printer gets your job done, so it is worth finding out before selecting your vendor. (We created a video so you can virtually visit Mimeo’s US facilities.)

7. How flexible is their turnaround time?

woman signing for overnight package delivery

The beauty of print on demand technology is that it requires virtually no set-up to print your project. That means that turnaround time is determined by how many projects your printer can handle, not by the labor it takes to change out the press. Ask your on demand print vendor how quickly they can print and deliver your project, as well as how they prioritize projects if they get multiple last-minute requests at once. For the record, Mimeo accepts projects as late as 10 pm ET for delivery as early as 8:30 am local time the next day

8. How do they handle shipping and delivery?

The final part of logistics is to find out how the printer gets your document from their presses to wherever you need it. Retail printers often require you to pick up the job in-store. Some printers only deliver locally or to one location. Others will ship at retail rates to your destination.

Larger online printing services, like Mimeo, have established relationships with international shippers to accommodate delivery anywhere, to as many addresses as you need. Be sure to ask about shipping before submitting your project. Bonus points if the on demand print vendor provides you with real-time tracking! (Mimeo provides real-time order tracking, all on one page. No tracking numbers are required.)

9. What kind of customer support can you expect?

Whatever you are printing, you will have questions, concerns, or even errors that need to be corrected. Be sure to ask your printer what kind of customer support they provide.

• Some online printing services embrace online-only, meaning you will have to interact with a chatbot in order to get questions answered.

• Others are retail-based, so you will have to go into the store to get help.

• If you are going to be printing multiple projects per year, make sure you find a print on demand vendor who has a dedicated customer support team available via phone or chat.

Mimeo has an award-winning, 24-hour customer service team that is always ready to help – even when you realize you submitted the wrong files at the eleventh hour. 

cheerful man providing excellent customer service

10. Do they offer any competitive pricing for your project or for repeat customers?

man looking at savings from swtiching to print on-demand

Don’t forget to ask about the cost of your project! On demand print generally doesn’t offer volume-based discounts, since it is the same cost to print one copy as it is one hundred. Still, that doesn’t mean your printer can’t offer you discounts. Ask about pricing specials for your first project, or – if you plan on being a long-term print customer – ask to set up an account at a price that will accommodate all your projects. You may even be able to get a rebate if you commit to spending a certain amount annually.

When done correctly, online printing on demand is quick, easy, and convenient. However, not all on demand printers are alike. Be sure you get answers to all your questions before selecting the print vendor who will meet your needs best. Schedule a call to start interrogating Mimeo now!

mimeo author image

Mimeo Marketing Team

Mimeo is a global online print provider with a mission to give customers back their time. By combining front and back-end technology with a lean production model, Mimeo is the only company in the industry to guarantee your late-night print order will be produced, shipped, and delivered by 8 am the next morning. For more information, visit mimeo.com and see how Mimeo’s solutions can help you save time today.

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