We evaluated numerous print shop management software based on key features, pricing, and integrations. Using our review methodology, we’ve named our top choices that effectively handle print orders, manage inventory, and offer real-time reporting and workflow optimization.
1 shopVOX - Best Overall
Why we chose it: shopVOX is our top pick thanks to its combined job management, customer relationship, and point of sale capabilities. Other features like online proofing, version history, and production scheduling streamline the operational processes. In particular, we liked shopVOX’s ability to upload files for centralized access, automate status updates, and provide notifications on changing production schedules.
In addition to shop management, shopVOX has business intelligence features, including customizable reports, sales commission management, and comprehensive dashboards. These offer shop owners valuable insights for strategic decision-making.
2 InfoFlo Print - Best MIS Features
Why we chose it: We think InfoFlo Print’s MIS stands out for its ability to consolidate various aspects of a print shop’s operations into a centralized platform. As a cloud-hosted and web-based solution, InfoFlo Print offers end-to-end business process automation. This intuitive software integrates multiple functionalities, including order management, estimates, invoicing, B2B portals, and reorder processes, within a unified interface.
InfoFlo software efficiently gathers data from different systems such as QuickBooks for financial information and Shippo for shipping processes. The software’s MIS also excels in information analysis, adeptly handling complex analytics related to sales and customer relationship management.
3 ePS Pace - Best for Mid-Size Companies
Why we chose it: We found eProductivity Software Pace best for mid-sized companies because it’s a browser-based, scalable solution. Mid-sized companies experience growth phases that require software grows with them without frequent overhauls.
Pace also has a comprehensive feature set, including estimating, scheduling, production, inventory management, accounting, and reporting. These broad functions cater to the diverse needs of mid-sized companies without being overwhelming or overly complex.
4 ePRO Print - Most User-Friendly
Why we chose it: We found ePRO Print MIS best overall because it’s a user-friendly management information system, catering specifically to various types of printing companies including digital printers, print brokers, offset litho printers, and marketing agencies.
These organizations rely on ePRO to streamline critical tasks such as print estimating, job tracking, purchase order generation, inventory management, invoicing, and more. By eliminating the need for cumbersome Excel spreadsheets or disjointed systems, ePRO empowers printing companies to operate seamlessly and maximize their efficiency.
5 PrintVis - Best Microsoft Integrations
Why we chose it: We think PrintVis is notable because it’s a complete business solution built on and certified for Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central. This means users get a seamless integration between PrintVis and one of the world’s leading ERP platforms, ensuring they have all the tools they need for both general business management and specialized print shop operations.
The platform provides a comprehensive financial management system that allows users to add fields, tables, and user-specific menus, set up business rules, and more. With the integration of Dynamics 365 Business Central, users can effortlessly handle legal requirements, currency issues, and international trade factors. The software’s ability to provide pre-defined reports or allow for customized company-specific reports showcases the depth and flexibility of this integration.
6 Easy Cut Studio - Vinyl Cutting Capabilities
Why we chose it: Easy Cut Studio is our top pick for vinyl cutting capabilities because it’s an all-in-one design, print, and cut solution. It allows users to leverage their own fonts, import custom artwork, and draw personal shapes. The mention of capabilities such as creating and cutting welded words, adding outlines and shadows with a single click, and text serialization and image tracing indicates that the software is well-equipped to handle intricate design tasks that are crucial for vinyl cutting.
It supports drivers for over 500 vinyl cutter models. This is a testament to its focus on vinyl cutting and ensures that users have the flexibility to work with a variety of hardware without compatibility issues.
7 Printavo - Best for Growth
Why we chose it: Printavo is a cloud-hosted software solution designed primarily for print shops and related businesses. It offers a range of tools to assist with daily operations, including purchase processing, task management, shipment, and remittances. The software is known for its user-friendly interface and simplified order management processes.
With a Lite plan, which is limited to 2 users, Printavo is good for small businesses that are just starting to grow. The Standard plan allows 5 users and the Premium plan allows up to 20, plus additional users for $19 extra per month.
Methodology to Choose the Best Print Shop Management Software
The first criterion we consider is the core features of the print shop management software. Here are the key functionalities we think every product should have:
- Work Order Management: Track and manage print orders end-to-end, and oversee assets like maintenance, condition monitoring, parts, and warranty tracking.
- Inventory Control: Manage supplies like paper, ink, and toner with real-time reports on inventory levels, usage, and costs.
- Web-to-print (W2P): Enable customers to submit orders online and provide tools for staff to manage daily production.
- Print MIS: Handle management processes including quoting, ordering, and procurement while getting a comprehensive view of operations to streamline workflow.
- Customizability: Fits your business by supporting custom modules, workflows, and reports and integrating third-party tools.
We then weigh products based on their financial flexibility:
- Pricing Model: Align with various business needs and budgets. May be priced on a per-user basis, a per-feature basis, or a subscription basis.
- Scalability: Grow with companies as their needs change without incurring steep costs.
To round off our methodology, we prioritize print shop management software that integrates seamlessly with:
- Accounting Software: Streamline invoicing, billing, and payments; examples include Xero and Quickbooks.
- CRM Software: Handle customer interactions and data; examples include Hubspot and Salesforce.
- W2P Software: Facilitate online order submissions; examples include PrintPLANR and Print Shop Pro.
- Equipment Maintenance Software: Track asset maintenance tasks; examples include eMaint and Fiix.
- Inventory Management Software: Manage supplies and materials; examples include Fishbowl Inventory and TradeGecko.
- Marketing Automation Software: Automate marketing tasks; examples include Marketo and Pardot.
What is Print Shop Management Software?
Print shop management software helps businesses automate printing tasks. These systems are used by all types of businesses, like sign makers, graphic designers, and apparel retailers.
Commercial printing software applications help mitigate the challenges of price competition in some novel ways. While comprehensive coverage can be the result of multiple programs or a single end-to-end system, a fully realized IT approach should at minimum provide support for finance, sales and marketing, operations, and human resources management processes.
A few of the most important tools are:
- Online portals and document management tools to make it easier for customers to share content with printers
- Customer relationship management modules to more accurately anticipate and meet customer demands, while capturing key data-points about buying behavior
- Financial and operations management software to drive more efficient workflows, leading to cost savings and reduced cycle times for both production and accounting tasks
What Does Print Shop Management Software Do?
Work Order Management
Work order management modules provide the baseline capabilities to capture and communicate order instructions. A typical printing work order will define the information needed to process each order, including: quantity needed, material requirements (ink, paper, binding), content, packaging, and layout. Work order management systems generally include status tracking capabilities to define how far along in the printing process each order is.
These modules pick up where a work order system leaves off–in the sense that they are utilized to translate work order instructions into the overall scheduling of equipment and labor. A production planning module can help optimize resource utilization to reduce process bottlenecks, minimize material waste, and lead to quicker turnaround times on print jobs.
The most comprehensive and advanced approach to operations management in the printing environment is material requirements planning (MRP). MRP tackles basic work order management and production planning tasks, but broadens the scope to also optimize the provisioning of materials needed for production.
The costs associated with individual printing work can vary significantly on an order by order basis. An estimating module can help handle the complex calculations related to predicting material, machine, and labor costs. Accurate front-end estimating is critical to ensure job-by-job profitability.
A job cost module provides order by order cost tracking capabilities. Job cost modules allow costs to be assigned to particular categories to provide more granular insight into what expenses are driving overall job costs. By tracking profitability back to different job types or attributes, executives can identify the most profitable types of work to pursue.
Printing companies by necessity invest heavily in equipment assets. Equipment management software is used to track preventative maintenance and other asset management tasks, such as condition monitoring, parts tracking, and warranty tracking.
The inventory control demands on printing companies are significant. Baseline inventory capabilities of course help printers identify how much of what materials are on-hand. But printers have some more advanced, specialized inventory tracking needs, such as the ability to perform unit of measure conversions (roll to square foot, for instance) and lot/batch tracking.
What Are the Benefits of Print Shop Management Software?
The ability to turn a one-run customer into a longstanding client is one of the most critical challenges for printing businesses. Sales and marketing-related software modules, while addressing different features and functionality, are all designed to help improve customer relationships toward the end goal of driving more orders, more often.
Other benefits of print shop management software include:
- Quoting. Like any company that performs contract work, the ability for printers to provide customers price quotes is a key business activity. The quoting software module expedites the customer bid process by automatically converting estimates and streamlining document formatting. Quotes can also be stored in a database to serve as templates for future similar jobs.
- Order entry. This module provides the basic functionality to turn customer purchase orders into a sales order. Sales orders often begin as customer quotations. Most integrated systems will provide automatic capabilities to convert quotes into sales orders. Further along in the document flow, sales orders can be converted to work orders for the production team and invoices for customer billing.
- Customer relationship management (CRM). CRM tools provide tracking, monitoring, and managing of existing customers and new prospects. CRM modules not only track basic customer information but all interactions with clients.
- Point of sale (POS). For retail-focused copy shops, POS software is a must. A point-of-sale system provides a reliable means of capturing order information at the register, processing payment, and providing a detailed record of the sale, both for customer receipts and to update core financial records.
- e-Commerce. One of the ways commercial printing businesses are looking to differentiate themselves from the competition is by making it easier for customers to engage over the internet. Online portals that allow quick order quoting and placement are becoming increasingly important technology assets in the printing industry.
Better Financial Management
As the role of financial info is expanding to fuel data-driven decision making, executives are simultaneously looking for opportunities to reduce administrative costs by leveraging efficiencies across a variety of accounting modules.
Commercial printing businesses generally require fairly robust purchasing software capabilities, as materials often need to be sourced quickly to meet specific order demands. A complete purchasing system will automate much of the workflow and communication process related to purchase requisitions and approvals management. Vendor management capabilities help printers intelligently choose suppliers with the most favorable terms or based on their ability to source materials quickly.
What Is the Future of Managed Print Services?
While the traditional print industry does face challenges from the rise in digital content distribution, recent economic indicators identify that the market is stabilizing and actually showing a small measure of growth, with the industry’s estimated worth now being $17.5 billion in 2023. Nevertheless, with a smaller pie to go around, there is increased price competition between the remaining market players.
Fundamentally, successful commercial printing companies are dealing with the increased price competition in the same way that savvy businesses always have–by creating new value adds, improving sales and marketing effectiveness, and reducing operational costs to lower prices without sacrificing profitability.