Compare and Contrast the Best Online Printing Services
Online printing services will take your order online, send you an email with your PDF proof (or mail you a hardcopy proof, if you prefer), and ship your products to you. Additionally, if you choose from one of the best online printing services, you have the option to do some cost comparison to make sure that you are getting the best online printing services, cheap printing services, and 5-star customer service!
Table of Contents
The Difference Between PrintingCenterUSA and other Top-Ranking Online Printing Services
How It Works
Choosing the Right Online Printer
Quick Printing History
Printing as a whole has been around since 1439 when the German businessman Johannes Gutenberg created the printing press that allowed for the mass production of books. But it was in 1993 that the world’s first digital color printing press changed the game. This printing press was called Indigo and it allowed for customers to be able to create short-run, personalized, and high-quality print products straight from their computer. Since then, the market for digital printing has continued to grow steadily. Chris Baker, former vice-president of HP and Indigo stated that, “Digital print will be everywhere in the future. Digital printing will not just be used for commercial printing; it will be used for publishing and packaging.” Nowadays there are printing services online that also specialize in photo printing services, book printing services, art printing services, and more!
Benefits of Online Printing Services
Generally, all online printing services do a very similar job. Customers or clients submit their files online, go through a review process where they may receive a digital or hard copy proof, approve their design, and the printing service creates their product. If a digital press is used for creating the product, the art file is saved as a PDF that serves as the “master plate” for the digital press. If the professional printing services is using a traditional printing process, like offset printing, the file is used to create a plate that is used to produce the final printed product. See more about offset printing here.
These services are available for commercial users as well as the general public and many printing services online also have local printing services locations so that customers and clients can find “printing services near me” or “printing shops near me” where they can physically pick up their products.
The benefit of choosing online printing, as opposed to a local printing service, is that every step of the process can be done from the comfort of your own home. You don’t have to take a special trip to the store every time you want to submit an order, approve your proof, or pick up your products.
The Difference Between PrintingCenterUSA and other Top-Ranking Online Printing Services
We at PrintingCenterUSA are proud to be the number one recommended online printing company for many print resources. We have accomplished this by offering cheap printing services at a superior quality, compared to the competition. PrintingCenterUSA specializes in printing solutions like book printing services, art printing services, online photo printing services, poster printing services, card printing services, and more! We can create products like booklets, calendars, catalogs, brochures, etc. and offer more than 40 different print products for our customers to choose from. If you are looking at creating some print products for your business, PrintingCenterUSA is the printing shop to choose. However, currently, PrintingCenterUSA does not offer items like shirts, stickers, or pens. If you are looking for promotional marketing materials such as these, we would recommend VistaPrint or UPrinting. They offer over 50 products to choose from.
PrintingCenterUSA has over 30 FREE downloadable templates available for our customers to use on Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, InDesign, or Adobe so that it’s easy to create a compatible file for printing with us. If you don’t have access to any design software, don’t worry! We have four different online design tools that you can use to create your product. See our complete list of templates and online design tools here. Providing customers with a variety of free downloadable templates is fairly standard for the best printing services. It’s an important resource for customers to ensure that their file is going to be quickly approved with as little edits as possible. Some online printing services also offer in-house designers that are available to provide edits or to work with you in your design. Got Print and Office Depot printing services, offer design services packages that customers can purchase to assist them with their printing vision. For instance, for $269 on GotPrint, you can get 3-4 images or logos and basic copy with up to 6 revisions for your design. This is especially helpful if you are looking at a printing service that does not offer an online design tool. However, the most cost-effective solution is to design your product yourself with a downloadable template or an online printing service that has free online design tools.
Let’s be honest with each other: you want a high-quality product for the lowest price possible. You want cheap printing services and the best online printing services; it’s what everyone is looking for. Depending on whether you are looking to order a couple of products or a large quantity of products will affect your price since, usually, if you order more products, the price per item will decrease substantially.
Let’s say that you are trying to put in an order for 100 booklets. Here are the specifications that you are looking at: saddle stitch binding, 8.5 x 11 size, 8 pages, full color cover and insides, 100# gloss text cover and insides, an electronic proof, and you are wanting to choose the cheapest option for production time. At PrintingCenterUSA, your price per booklet (as of writing this article) would be about $1.42. The next closest price to these same specifications would be GotPrint for $2.50 each, with the most expensive online printing service being VistaPrint with $4.09 each.
But what if you are looking to order in bulk? Keeping the rest of the specifications the same, let’s increase the quantity to 1,000 booklets. At PrintingCenterUSA, the price per booklet has gone down to $0.48 each. The next closest price would now be PrintRunner for $0.64 each, with the most expensive bulk order being with OfficeMax for $3.35 each.
Quantity will also affect the online printing service that you choose because some printing services have minimum order sizes or fixed quantities that you have to order. So, if you want to order 127 booklets, this may limit your choices since only 2 out of the 6 printing services that we are comparing offer custom quantities: PrintingCenterUSA and Office Depot printing services. At PrintingCenterUSA you can order any quantity between 10 to 50,000 and at Office Depot you can order any quantity between 1 and 99,999 (Based on booklets as an example. Quantity min and max may depend on product).
Does your online printing service or local printing service provide you with a lot of resources to answer all of your questions and try to make you the most educated consumer you can be? Or do they just refer you to their customer service number. Customer resources can help you to create the best product possible, so the best online printing services should be actively investing in their customer’s education of their products. See if the printing center has an active blog. What was the date of their last post? This can show a lot to where the online printing service’s priorities are. At PrintingCenterUSA we make it a priority to publish new content about our processes and products so that our customers are always kept in the loop. Additionally, we highlight some recent works from our customers in Case Studies, so that you can see how printing with PrintingCenterUSA affects our customers’ business.
How It Works
Creating Print-Ready Files
Once you’ve chosen which printing service you want to use to print your products with, you’ll get to go through the printing process. The online printing service that you chose will influence the type of file they are able to accept for printing. For example, at PrintingCenterUSA, although we encourage our customers to utilize whatever resource they need to create their product, we ask that our customers submit their files as PDFs. Other printing services online accept Illustrator files, Photoshop, JPEG, or even GIF files. VistaPrint has the largest amount of files they accept for products.
When you are submitting your order, you are able to choose what kind of proof you would like to receive. Across the board, it is the most cost-effective option to choose a PDF proof since it’s free because this will just be emailed for you to review (except for PrintRunner, which asks that you pay for a PDF proof). If you would like, you can choose to get a hardcopy proof mailed to you to review and approve. However, if you choose to do this, you will pay a fee, which will vary based on how quickly you would like to receive the proof. Either way you choose to receive your proof, it is important to review it very closely and either submit your edits or approve your proof in a timely fashion so that you can receive your product as soon as possible.
Once you have approved your proof, it will take time for the online printing service to create your products. Please note that once you approve your proof, for most professional printing services, it is no longer possible to submit edits because the production process has already started and your product is in the middle of being printed. For some online printing services, you can choose to quicken the production time for a fee so that you can get your products faster. The production time of your order will also depend on the quantity of your order in some cases. For PrintingCenterUSA, our production time (depending on whether you would like to pay a fee) ranges from 2-7 business days for both short run printing and bulk orders.
*When an Office Depot printing services customer service representative was called, they informed us that the production time would not change based on the quantity that was ordered. However, the author of this article has a hard time believing that an order of 99,999 booklets would be able to be printed within 2-3 business days.
If the printing center offers in-store pickup, you will have the option to select this when placing your order. This can cause you to save some money on shipping costs, if you are close to a location the offers in-store pickup. However, if you are working with an online printing service, the likelihood is that you will have your products shipped to you. This is why it’s very important to know how your products are going to be shipped to you. Half of the online printing services that we are comparing use UPS to ship their orders, including PrintingCenterUSA, VistaPrint, and PrintRunner. For two of the printing services that we are comparing, OfficeDepot and GotPrint, you will have to call customer service to get more information on the way that they ship their products, as this information was not available on their website.
We would all love to assume that your order is going to go perfectly, and you won’t require any edits to your proof and you’ll love your product. But sometimes, it doesn’t go that way. Which is why you need to choose a printing center that has your best interests in mind when issues arise. The two most common errors are problems with the proof and problem with the final product.
Can I revise a Proof Before Going to Press?
Since some of the online printing services that we are comparing have vague or no information on their proofing process, we cannot make assumptions as to their process if you are not completely satisfied with your proof. PrintingCenterUSA allows for proofs to be edited but makes it clear that there may be an additional charge for each updated proof or new file submissions. This is to cover the cost of the time that workers have already spent on your project with your original files. GotPrint has a similar policy, asking customers to submit an updated file if they aren’t happy with their proof and stating that there is a fee for processing the new file and creating a new proof. UPrinting is slightly more vague, stating that they do accept proof corrections, but not mentioning if there is a fee or not. They recommend calling their customer service ((888) 888-4211) to make changes to a proof.
What if I’m Not Satisfied With My Product?
It’s a terrible feeling when you receive your order and find that it is not what you wanted. That’s why it’s so important to know what each online printing services’ policy is for customer satisfaction. The standouts are definitely PrintingCenterUSA and VistaPrint who state, in no uncertain terms, that if you’re not satisfied with your order, for any reason, they’ll make it right. Whether that is reprinting your order, issuing an account credit, or refunding you in full. The majority of the competition states that, if it was any defect in workmanship or materials within the control of the printing service, they will reprint the order.
Choosing the Right Online Printer
Based on Price
If you are looking for the cheapest printing services for the best quality, the clear choice is PrintingCenterUSA. PrintingCenterUSA ranked #1 on short-run pricing and bulk pricing for the experiment that we ran.
The Best Online Printing Center Based on Price ranks are as follows (with #1 being the best):
- Short-Run: $1.42 each
- Bulk: $0.48 each
- Short-Run: $2.50 each
- Bulk: $0.69 each
- Short-Run: $3.57 each
- Bulk: $0.64 each
- Short-Run: $4.15 each
- Bulk: $0.74 each
- Office Depot
- Short-Run: $3.99 each
- Bulk: $3.35 each
Based on Fastest Turnaround
Before we get into which online printing service has the fastest turnaround, we have to clarify a few things:
- What the definition of “Turnaround” is
- The variables that can affect “Turnaround”
For this article, when we refer to turnaround, we are referring to the time it takes from you placing your order to receiving the order in your hand. Some printing services define turnaround as the time from when you place your order to when your order is shipped, but that is not the definition that we are using. We are including shipping time in our turnaround definition.
Secondly, there are many variables that can affect the speed of your turnaround time. These can include the type of shipping you chose, the production speed you chose, how fast you approve your proof, the quantity of your order, etc. Please note that the numbers below are just estimates and are subject to change. That being said, half of the online printing services that we are using in our comparison did not provide a range for their turnaround time and were impossible to calculate because they were vague on their shipping time estimates.
With the definition that we are operating under and the information that we were given, the best online printing service with the fastest advertised turnaround time is PrintingCenterUSA, if you choose 1 Day Shipping.
The Best Online Printing Center Based on Turnaround Time ranks are as follows (with #1 being the best):
- PrintingCenterUSA: 3-18 business days
- VistaPrint: 4-8 business days
- PrintRunner: 7-10 business days
- GotPrint, UPrinting, and Office Depot: Unknown
Based on Product Selection
If you are looking to order a wide array of print, marketing, and promotional products, you should look at VistaPrint and UPrinting. Both of these online printing services have a wide selection of marketing materials, promotional products, and print materials and have over 50 customizable products listed on their website.
The Best Online Printing Center Based on Product Selection (with #1 being the best):
- VistaPrint and UPrinting
- Print Runner
Based on all of the qualities we have looked at, there is a front-runner, especially if you are looking at specifically print products: PrintingCenterUSA. Not only is PrintingCenterUSA the best online printing service on Trustpilot, compared to the competitors, but it offers the cheapest printing services, most customer and design resources, and quickest turnaround time (if you are willing to pay extra for sped-up production). Additionally, PrintingCenterUSA has a team of high-quality customer service representatives unlike any other printing service; it’s really no comparison. They will personally work with you through every step of the process so that you know that your product is going to turn out how you want it. PrintingCenterUSA also gives customers the opportunity to choose a custom quantity for their order and the option to pick-up their order in-store.
The Best Overall rankings are as follows (with #1 being the best):
- Ranked #1: design services, short-run price, bulk pricing, custom quantity options, production time (short run printing), production time (bulk), option to speed up production time, option to pick-up in store, proofing process, customer reviews, proof revisions, customer satisfaction, and customer resources.
- Ranked #1: number of products, design services, minimum quantity, option to speed up production time, turnaround time, types of files accepted, customer satisfaction
- UPrinting and Office Depot
- Ranked #1 (UPrinting): number of products, design services, production time (short run printing), option to speed up production time, option to pick-up in store, proofing process
- Ranked #1 (Office Depot): design services, minimum quantity, custom quantity options, production time (short run printing), production time (bulk), option to pick up in store
- Ranked #: number of products, design services, maximum quantity, proofing process, proof revisions
- Ranked #1 (PrintRunner): number of products, option to speed up production time, option to pick up in store
In summary, printing with PrintingCenterUSA is going to yield some beautiful printed products that are less expensive than the competition. Print with us today!
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