Tag: apparel

Adding a POD Service Might Add Dollars to Your Bottom Line

It’s not a coincidence that we started talking about print on demand a lot more during the pandemic. When lots of shops joined the Here for Good movement with online stores and direct-to-customer fulfillment to support local businesses, POD went hand-in-hand.

Now, more decorators are evaluating whether adding (or expanding) a POD revenue stream to their shops makes good business sense. Print-on-demand has definitely been a major topic of discussion over the last year,” says JP Hunt, co-founder of InkSoft. “We’ve seen big adoption of POD printing capabilities to harness the marketing conditions and benefits of adapting to quick turnaround times, replenishment, and short-run length orders.” 

If POD solves a problem for your customer, offering this service makes a lot of business sense for your shop. “POD can alleviate a pain point for businesses like corporations, restaurants or schools that maintain online stores and don’t want to deal with inventory,” says Marshall Atkinson, business consultant at Atkinson Consulting and Shirt Lab Tribe. “Imagine the economic engine for you if one corporate store serves 5,000 employees and each gets a $100 credit to order from the store, fees that you bill to the main client.”

We do a dive into what you need to know about adding or growing your POD service, whether you’re a startup or established shop. Here are four overarching questions to review as you consider how print on demand fits into your business plan.

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Tales From the (Unprecedented) Trenches: These Shops Survived and Thrived

Last spring during the middle of COVID-19, a lightning strike hit Say It In Stitches in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Unfortunately, the bolt from the blue took out the contract embroidery shop’s commercial surge protector and two of its four 15-head machines. “This happened just as our state was opening up and customer demand was firming up,” says Alex Fernandez, president of Say It In Stitches.

The shop’s domestic machine parts supplier sent Fernandez a long list of parts, like circuit boards, encoders, servo motors and more, so they could identify and fix the problems. “It took us two months, along with a team of local and remote technical experts, to isolate the issues on each machine and to source the hard-to-find replacement parts,” Fernandez says. “We even had to go as far as South America to get a needed part from a used machine.”

In the meantime, the Say It In Stitches team didn’t miss a beat. Fernandez’s staff turned out jobs intended for 15-head machines on four-heads and even single-heads. “They worked all kinds of crazy overtime hours and weekends so our clients wouldn’t be affected by this event,” he says. “This is a testimonial to the lengths we’ll go not to let our clients down, especially during a pandemic.”

If the post-pandemic’s here and now has got your head spinning, you’re not alone. That’s why we asked embroidery and print shops that survived and thrived during the past year to share their success stories. 

You’re about to be inspired by their lessons learned around ecommerce, switching niches, online selling print on demand, and more—and how you can use these strategies and tactics to be more successful this year.

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Everything You Need to Know to Rock Out Events This Year

An example of Z Shirts’ tented booth at a two-day Morristown Derby Days event in Morristown, IN, with lots of decorated pieces, along with a Riley Jr. 4/1 press, Riley Jr. 6/4 press (with three arms removed) and Vastex D100 conveyor dryer, and lots of blanks for printing.

Back in spring 2020, right before the virtually overnight pandemic shutdowns, the Specialty Materials team was at a trade show like normal. “After being there just one full day, that night a county judge banned any large gatherings of more than 500 people,” says Liz Hood, marketing manager of the Tulsa, OK-based shop. The next morning, all the exhibitors, including us, had to pack up our booths and get everything out by noon that same day. That was pretty surreal.”

Fast-forward to December of that year, The Decorated Apparel Expo (DAX) hosted a live event that Hood and her team participated in. “This went really well, and we felt we reached people  we might not have talked to during an in-person event. We got our message out to a wider range of people.”

Lots of decorators and distributors participated in online events and trade shows during the pandemic to stay ahead of the networking curve. “Companies that stayed in front of their customers virtually, either appearing in virtual trade shows or on supplier webinars did the best during the pandemic,” says Kristine Shreve, director of marketing and outreach Applique Getaway. “Online educational offerings had a heck of a ramp-up during the pandemic and there were opportunities everywhere to appear on camera. The trick was to plan and try to offer the most professional session possible. As time went on, the tolerance for poorly planned or poorly done online efforts declined sharply.”  

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