Introduction & Background
Harmony Paper Company is a national producer of high-quality paper in the commercial printing and packaging industry. Powered by a deep understanding of this industry, as well as accessibility to manufacturing and a supply chain, they created a startup company called Life Invited, which focuses on the consumer wedding paper business. Life Invited came to us via a referral from Consumer Crafts (formerly known as Pat Catan’s).
Challenges & Objectives
When Life Invited first approached us, they shared their desire to have a team of I.T. professionals architect, design, develop, iterate, deploy and support an industry leading, highly customizable, print-on-demand digital platform allowing customers to quickly and easily design a wedding invitation suite. Due to a lack of internal I.T. capabilities and resources at Life Invited, we were tasked with providing this solution from scratch. Said solution needed to also allow a customer to feel confident in customizing a suite while selecting from preconfigured designs, colors, and options that enable the customer to create a beautiful and personalized suite. This solution also needed to have the ability, once an order is placed, for print files to automatically generate and download into a print template that would be accessed directly by the manufacturing facility.
In order to recommend the best IT solution possible, we immersed ourselves in learning as much as we could about the commercial printing and packaging industry, as well as supply chain manufacturing, and also how to reduce waste within this industry. That immersion ultimately led to the knowledge that one of our developers and graphic designers needed in order to create an initial prototype, the goal of which was to allow for changing the colors on the fly when designing a wedding card suite. Due to the success of this initial prototype, as well as our agile approach to application development, we began seeing just how far technologically we could take this IT solution.
One of the key aspects of said solution was color washing. On most wedding paper websites, a customer is presented with a card designer and very limited options in terms of what they can see as they design their wedding invitation suite. Most sites will send a proof of what the suite looks like as the only way for a customer to see their design in its entirety. Through our initial prototype we determined that we would be able to allow for a customer to swap any color at any time, and see the results in real time on their screen.
This was a game changer not only for Life Invited, but the entire industry as well, as no other sites had this capability. As the project moved forward, we transitioned the prototype to a web application/website that offered instant and unparalleled customization features, and a best in class customer experience.
Impact of Solution & Results
The ultimate result of our solution allowed administrative users to configure their own designs, text, colors, options and pricing. It also allowed for customers to easily add and remove options, such as decorative edges, backside photos, ribbons, die-cut motifs, and foiled stamped charms. This allowed for the price of the suite to update with every key stroke, keeping the customer up-to-date on price in real time. Upon the order being place, low resolution, customized images generated by the customer are seamlessly translated into high resolution print ready files with bleeds and foil layers. This smart manufacturing technology we developed is then able to select the production template that will maximize production efficiency depending on the mix of suite items that are chosen by the customer. This keeps costs low and productivity high, which was a huge win for Life Invited. As far as how it benefits the end customer overall, they’re left with beautiful, high quality custom wedding stationary that they’re proud to send to their wedding guests.