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Commercial Printer Vs Online Printer – Which One Is Better?

Commercial Printer Vs Online Printer – Which One Is Better?

The aim of this article is to explore the difference in service you can expect to get from an online print company versus a commercial print company that operates in a bricks & mortar environment.

There is no right or wrong option – only the option which will be right for you at a particular time. Armed with this information, you will be able to make an informed decision for your next print job.

Push print button printing printer symbol blue computer keyboard

The questions you need to ask yourself before deciding whether to go online or with a commercial print company are as follows:

  • Is price the only consideration and is my budget really tight?
  • Am I confident I know exactly what I am doing, or will I need some hand holding?
  • Am I comfortable with progressing the order online or would I prefer to speak with someone?
  • Are my requirements straightforward or is my print job slightly unusual?
  • Do I want to explore additional options I may not considered?
  • Do I need additional services such as design, artwork amends and mailing?
  • Would I like to support my local business community and build a relationship with my printer?

Once you have arrived at the answers to those questions you are now ready to decide whether to go online or to contact your local commercial printer to have a more in-depth discussion. We explore the merits of both options below.

Is Price The Only Consideration?

There is no doubt that online print companies have extremely competitive prices compared to commercial printers. This is because their processes are highly automated with very little human intervention and their product offering is standard. If you have a very straightforward print job, your artwork is in perfect print-ready format, and you need the cheapest price then an online printer is a good option.

Do I Know What I Am Doing?

If you are a seasoned pro at ordering print and have done it several times before, or your print job is straightforward, then you may be comfortable with submitting your order online. Your order is then processed through an automated system and will hopefully be delivered on time and to a reasonable quality.

However, if you are ordering print for the first time, or you need the quality to be very exacting, or you have some unusual requirements, then you many be better off dealing with a commercial printer who can offer you help and advice along the way.

Prefer To Deal With A Real Person?

No matter how experienced you are in buying print, you may just prefer doing business with real people and the comfort that comes with having a friendly voice at the end of the phone. In this case, a commercial printing company is the way to go as you will be dealing with experts who will keep you updated each step of the way.

Having said that, online printing companies have very good systems of automated alerts that let you know when your job is being printed and delivered.

Have An Unusual Job?

If your print job has some unusual features such as a non-standard size, some unusual paper, or some extra finishing requirements such as die-cutting or gold-foiling, a commercial printer is most certainly the way to go. Most online printers have a very finite range of products that will not include these bespoke options.

Need Some Creative Ideas?

An online printer has a very discrete set of products which is fine if they meet your requirements, and you don’t want to explore other options.

If you want to bounce your ideas off the printer to sanity-check your specification will deliver the desired outcome, then commercial printers are very good at this consultation process and may suggest some alternatives you hadn’t considered.

Need Additional Services?

Along with your printing requirements, you may need some additional services such as logo design, artworking or mailing. Commercial printers have these services in-house or have very good relationships with specialists who provide these services.

If you aren’t able to source these services yourself, or prefer to keep everything under one roof so you don’t have to deal with multiple suppliers, a commercial printer will be able to assist with this.

Do You Want To Shop Local?

Online printers, by the very fact they are on the Internet, do not need to have a presence that is local to you so they can be based in any part of the country or even overseas. If supporting your local business community is important to you then finding a good, reliable local commercial printer could be a very good symbiotic relationship to cultivate.


Online printing companies have extremely competitive prices, highly automated processes and can be great for fulfilling standard print jobs that do not need any interaction with the print team.

If, however, you are new to printing and need someone to walk you through the process, or have very specific requirements that an online printer can’t meet, or you simply prefer to shop local to support your business community, a commercial printing company you can develop a relationship with could be the way to go.

It really is horses for courses and there some excellent printing companies both online as well as in the commercial print sector. Hopefully this article has help you decide which will be the best option for your next print job.

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Our team are dedicated to helping you in any way they can