So, you’re ready to get a piece printed for your business, and now all that’s left to do is pick a printer. This decision can make or break the outcome of your finalized, tangible print piece… no pressure! You need to decide if you’re going to use an online source, or stay local and use a nearby print shop. How do you decide which is best for your project? Weigh the pros and cons with us.

LOCAL PRINT SHOP PERKS:

File Reviews/Proofing

A local printer will usually review your art files, look for errors, and provide you a tangible proof (sometimes included in your final cost). You’re guaranteed to have expert opinions and an extra set (or a few extra sets) of eyes on your projects.

Unparalleled Customer Service

When you work with a local print shop, you’re working with experts. These shops will take you step-by-step through the print process and share their wealth of knowledge on how printing jobs work. Local print shop representatives will also sometimes provide ideas on how to make your project even better, and will point out red flags on designs before printing, to make sure you’re getting the best quality possible. After all, using a local source can be an investment, and good print shops make sure their clients are investing wisely.

Support Your Community

When you work with a local company, you’re supporting your community’s economy. Buying local and sourcing out local businesses is a great way to stay engaged in your community and support your local economy. At Prizum Creative, we like to send clients to print shops in the Pittsburgh area, especially when any of our clients have a complex project or have a specific vision in mind. There are so many beyond qualified print shops in the Pittsburgh area.

LOCAL PRINT SHOP DRAWBACK:

Price

One major drawback to printing locally is higher price points. However, many factors justify the higher prices, including: knowledgeable staff and departments, ability to produce complex projects, state-of-the-art technology, quality ensured products, etc. If you talk to a local shop about your budget, they may be able to provide you with solutions/options that are more affordable.

ONLINE PRINTING PERKS:

As with many other industries, print shops have ventured their way online, and offer a variety of benefits.

24/7 Service

One major advantage of conducting a business online is that customers can reach your business 24/7. Some online sources even have 24/7 customer service representatives available for online chats to answer questions.

Low Prices

The biggest selling point of any online print shop is the unbeatable price. Because the business is run digitally, there are fewer employees to take into consideration when creating price points for jobs, as the customers do most of the work themselves.

Simple Process

The process to order prints online is usually fairly simple. Most sites require that you upload your file, fill out all project information (i.e. paper weight, quantity, billing info, etc.), and the business takes care of the rest.

ONLINE PRINT SHOP DRAWBACKS:

For Your Eyes Only

Online print shops usually provide a digital mockup proof of your project that has not been proofed by anyone else. You’re at sole discretion to give approval on the project (unless you’re behind the computer screen with someone else). The digital mockup proofs are helpful in seeing what your project will probably look like, but do not give the guaranteed confirmation of what your project will look like. However, some sites offer the option to send you a hard copy of the proof in the mail, though it usually comes at an additional cost.

If You’re Not Design-Savvy

If you’re not design-savvy, it may be difficult to detect costly errors, such as incorrect trims and bleeds, CMYK vs RGB photos, correctly sized/proportioned photos, colors, etc. Online shops with extremely hands-on customer service can be rare and hard to find.

Time is Not of the Essence

If you need a turnaround of less than 24 hours, sourcing out an online shop is not going to be your solution. Online shops not only have to factor in print/turnaround time, but also shipping time. For instance, you could live in Washington, D.C. and the print shop might be based in Phoenix, AZ.

WHEN TO USE A LOCAL PRINTER:

Printing your project via a local print shop is ideal in many situations:

Complex Projects

If your project is complex, definitely go with a local shop. The representatives at the shop will be able to discuss your project needs in person, and take you step-by-step through the print process. Complex projects could require multiple proofs, paper testing, color testing, etc. For instance, a brochure that needs specific die cuts, intricate folds, or unique varnishing/embossing would need to be printed through a local source to ensure the brochure gets printed correctly, and at the highest possible quality.

You Know You’ll Be a Repeat Customer

Although online sources offer similar services to reprint jobs, going through a local source may be a safer bet if you’re particular about making sure each print job prints at the same exact quality. With an online printer, you run the risk of reprints not having the same quality for each rerun.

Customer Service and Quality of Final Output is Priority

If you want to ensure your project is in the right hands, and your final product will exceed your expectations, definitely use a local shop. Ask around to see which shops are the best, in terms of customer service and quality work.

You Need Quick Turnaround

For complex projects, it is not recommended to rush through a print job. However, if you’re in a pickle, and need 100 flyers to hand out at an event later that day, or early the next day, definitely call a local print shop. You’ll be able to talk to a person and explain your project needs and deadlines. Usually local print shops can get quick turnarounds for projects, and even deliver to you if needed.

WHEN TO USE AN ONLINE PRINTER:

There are a few cases when you should choose an online printer:

Simple Projects

If you have a very simple order and design, you can source out an online printer. For instance, if you need simple card, letterhead, or resume printed, an online printer may be a good bet for quick, affordable prints that don’t necessarily require a thorough print process.

Your Priority is Getting the Lowest Price Possible

One feature online sources boast about is their competitive prices. If you prioritize price over all other factors, online printing is the way to go. Fair warning, prioritizing cost may take from the quality of your finalized pieces.

So – choosing a print shop isn’t as easy as it seems. There are certainly advantages and disadvantages of both online printing and printing locally. Of course, every job is unique, so it is important to take both options into consideration and weigh all factors accordingly to reach your decision. At Prizum Creative, we have helped many of our clients decide printing methods for their projects. We’ve recommended online sources and local sources (in the Pittsburgh area) that are trus