Bottom Line Up Front: This small-town print shop was tired of the inefficiencies & indifference of generic e-commerce providers, so they switched to InkSoft. And the results that followed were great enough to impact the whole community.

By now, you probably know that we love sharing the success stories of our customers. You probably know that we love highlighting new types of innovation, and that we’re suckers for a company that doesn’t just intend to earn more — but intends to impact more. 

And that’s what our customer story is about today.

Mark Heise, a resident of Yellow Springs, Ohio, wasn’t satisfied with the printing industry. He wasn’t satisfied with the Big Box custom businesses and the lack of quality they offered, and he wasn’t satisfied with the limitations would-be customers faced if they wanted to fulfill a smaller order.

He saw the problems — and he realized that they weren’t just gaps and pitfalls. They were opportunities. So, five years ago, Mark set out to solve them. 

Yellow Springer Tees & Promotions, Mark’s family-owned, small-town-oriented print shop, entered the scene. Its mission? To provide custom, affordable apparel printing options — without minimums or set-up fees. 

“If you can dream it, let us put it on a t-shirt for you,” its “˜About’ section reads on social media — and it’s that commitment to customer experience, and that dedication to customization, that’s made Yellow Springer such a favorite of the community.

But wide reach and powerful traction wasn’t always the case for Mark and his team. In the first few years of Yellow Springer, they ran into issues with inventory and vendors, and the technology they were choosing to deploy just wasn’t hitting the mark. 

Eager to find something new — hungry to develop his print shop into the bustling business he knew it could be — Mark started attending industry trade-shows. He’d see what was new and exciting in the industry, he’d talk to vendors and other apparel decorators, and he’d familiarize himself with the trends — in technology and beyond — that were taking the world of printing by storm.

And that’s where he first got acquainted with InkSoft. 

The Big Change

Before, Mark had attempted to work with BigCommerce: a SaaS provider targeting e-commerce sellers. But since he has multiple online stores, it just wasn’t meeting his needs. The costs were too exorbitant, the organization requirements too complex, and the time needed to orchestrate everything so it was running smoothly too expansive.

So, when Mark laid his eyes on InkSoft, he was ready for something new. He was ready for a software that was designed with decorators like him in mind. He was ready for a system that could manage more than one store from one central platform. And he was ready for an e-commerce framework that was as intuitive as it was feature-heavy.

Mark integrated InkSoft’s Online Stores into his business model, and he immediately saw a difference. His organization improved drastically, his customer experience became more seamless and impressive, and his sales — which he now had more time to nurture — grew exponentially.

Mark and his team were so impressed by InkSoft’s solutions that they dropped us a note to outline the four stand-out results they’ve seen since adopting the technology. And we wanted to share those results with you.

  • No Limitations: At the moment, Mark and his team have eight Online Stores, in addition to their primary Yellow Springer Online Store. With past technology, managing nine different stores wasn’t just cumbersome — it was problematic. No central system meant that there wasn’t just one place for customer information and order information, which made organizing production cycles and keeping track of selling history a multifaceted, time-consuming gig. And that meant that less time was going to the important stuff — like, say, running the company.

    For Mark, having the freedom to create new stores without subjecting his or his team’s time to cross-checking, organizing, and tracking was the dream. But before InkSoft, it just didn’t seem plausible. Until… it did. InkSoft’s Online Stores have given Yellow Springer Tees & Promotions a way to centralize all information, data, and activity — without costing an arm and a leg in time. (Or really, anything at all.) With the automation, accessibility, and seamless capabilities, every step of the order process — for every online store — can live in one place. Exhale.
  • No Inventory Headaches: One of Mark’s biggest frustrations in the early years of Yellow Springer was having to refund customers who’d ordered a specific product, after determining the blanks required weren’t available for him to get in stock. Not only did this result in lost sales for his business, but it also resulted in dissatisfied customers who might choose to never return to Yellow Springer for future orders.

    Mark didn’t want his business model to have to rely on inconsistent blank suppliers — but there didn’t seem to be a way around that dependency, given his relatively small print shop. (Since he wasn’t filling massive corporate-sized orders, he wasn’t able to secure a top priority spot in the eyes of his suppliers.)

    Until InkSoft came into the picture. With our deep ties to blank suppliers across the country, Mark and his team were able to secure the products they needed — right when they needed them. They were no longer restricted because of their business size, and they were no longer forced to disappoint the customers who came to them, wanting something special. 

When Mark embraced InkSoft’s solutions, he expected to be receiving the benefits that came with the technology. But receiving inventory-related benefits too? That came as a  very much welcome surprise.

  • No Corporate Indifference: As a small business operating in a small town, Mark was drawn to — and accustomed to — the genuineness of familiarity. His customers weren’t just blank-faced buyers; they were neighbors. His vendors weren’t just anonymous experts; they were people he’d grown up with, seen around town, or been connected to by someone in his network. Mark prided his business on being about more than just business, and he knew that’s what his customers liked most.

    So when he was engaging the services of businesses like BigCommerce, he expected for that same degree of care — and of personalization — to be offered. He expected to be treated as a person before a business, and he expected to speak with people, rather than untethered voices, in kind. Unfortunately, that wasn’t on the table. Mark was faced with the apathy of a big business, and the depersonalization of a non-specific platform. His questions were given generic answers, his problems were met with generic solutions, and he was left to feel like his business — and his business — didn’t really matter.

    He knew the problem was the size and lack of specificity. So, Mark went in the other direction. He found InkSoft — an industry-specific solution platform that puts the uniqueness of its customers first. From our well-trained support team to our highly customizable technology, InkSoft gave Mark the experience he was looking for: one of warmth, thoughtfulness, and tailor-made assistance.

    No longer enduring the endless chats with support agents who don’t get it, the one-size-fits-all approach to handling issues, and the general indifference that comes from a massive technology platform, Mark was able to take his technology backbone to the next level. And the best part? He spent less time doing it.
  • No Wasted Earnings: Because the InkSoft platform provides an e-commerce framework developed specifically for apparel decorators and print shops, every backend process and customer-facing feature was designed with ease, efficiency, and industry needs in mind. And that means that there are no bottlenecks when it comes to using the technology.

    Increased efficiency. Streamlined productivity. Not needing to exert time, effort, or manpower to set up a new online store, or update an existing one. With InkSoft behind him, Mark and his team were able to leverage the full power of a digital system — without the drawbacks that had (up until InkSoft’s adoption) been commonplace.

    The bottom line? Mark was able to hold onto his profits, rather than spending them on technological upkeep — including allocating his staff’s time to problem-solve, repeat tedious tasks for multiple stores, and keep track of orders manually. Time is money, and with the streamlined solutions of InkSoft’s Online Stores, Yellow Springer Tees & Promotions were holding onto both. And using their fast-growing stockpile to contribute to even more sales.

Obviously, possessing a smoother operational flow and a boom in selling power is huge. It would be for any business. But for Mark and his team at Yellow Springer, it was about more than just the increase in profitability. 

It was about being able to harness those earnings to help their community.

In his town of 5,000, Mark was able to generate enough sales (and awareness) through his Here For Good campaign to leave a hefty impact on the community foundation. By empowering local businesses to send in their own designs for a t-shirt — and then paying them $10 for each sale of the shirt — the Yellow Springer team was already giving support to the community. But Mark furthered that support by sending some of the shop’s earnings to the foundation, too.

Why? Because, like we said earlier, Mark’s business is about more than just his business. It’s about the place it calls home — and the people it’s proud to support. That’s why he doles out free COVID tests for nearby restaurants, and it’s why his Yellow Springer Online Store promotes wearing facemasks and prioritizing health. (In fact, if you click onto the home page, you’ll see face masks and neck gaiters front and center.)

Mark and his team are doing what they can to help their community through this challenging time. And because he knows what it means to give support, he can recognize the businesses and tools that are purpose-built to offer their own. 

His team was moved by InkSoft technology, and so he took it upon himself to write in and share his story. And our team? We’re honored to be a part of the Yellow Springer journey, and we’re humbled to have helped a small-town business find their footing in a bizarre time.

If you’re interested in gleaning all of the Online Stores benefits for your own team, then do yourself a favor and get to know our offerings now. It won’t just give your customers a better buying experience — it’ll actually revolutionize the way you sell. You heard it here first: free time is waiting.