Bottom Line Up Front: 2020 has been a remarkable year for many reasons. Join us as we look back at the new tools, new innovations, & new practices we developed together — proving that, when we stand as one community, we can tackle anything.

What a year it’s been. 

From the nationwide stress of an invisible attack on our public health to the resilience of small businesses, refusing to get trampled without a fight. From the persistent fear of not knowing what the next weeks, months, or years will bring to the persistent grit of not stopping the hustle anyway. 

From the uncertainty to the faith. From the losses to the innovations.

What a year it’s been.

Throughout all of the highs and lows, throughout all of the chaos and moments for reflection, we at InkSoft have known one thing to be true: without the determination of our peers, and without the passion of our community, we would be in a very different place.

So this holiday season, we want to show all of you — the businesses we work with, the individuals we learn from, and the teams we watch grow — just how much we appreciate you. 

The thing is, in a regular year InkSoft operates with a team mentality. The core focus of our business is helping your business succeed, so we approach every problem, every service, and every interaction with the mindset that you’re our teammate. How can we best set you up for success? How can we best prepare you for what we know is coming?

But this year was not a regular year. 

We quickly realized that our typical mentality — our usual approach — had to be stronger. We had to be more proactive, more creative, and more diverse. If we wanted to help you, our teammates, succeed at every turn, we had to think bigger than just a few products and services. 

We had to give you support from every angle. We had to give you tools for every step.

So, like you, we faced our challenge head-on. We couldn’t let our teammers — our community — fall by the wayside, so we put on our thinking caps and got to thinking. We brainstormed with you. We tried new things with you. And we took charge of our year — with you — against all odds.

The point we’re making is that this industry, this community, is a team sport. When we work together to reach higher, to grow bigger, to sing louder — we succeed. And at InkSoft, there’s nothing we’re more grateful for than getting to triumph together.

We’re so proud to have you as part of our family, and as we look to 2021, know that there are more big things coming. More opportunities for innovation, and more opportunities for growth.

But before we get there, let’s give a look back to the ways we’ve worked together to achieve the difficult — or, you know, the impossible — this year. (Something about the holidays makes us reflective, okay?) 

Without further ado, here’s 2020. From the InkSoft community vantage point.

Better Tech, Together

When the first signs of shutdown started popping up across the country, our industry — like just about every other industry out there — watched with mouths hanging open. 

How would our businesses be able to sell without face-to-face interaction?

How would our businesses pitch, design, and produce without everyone coming into work, as usual?

A week passed. Then a month. At InkSoft, we’ve always believed in the power of technology — but when it became clear that the pandemic had us in a chokehold and wouldn’t be letting us (or our normal working operations) go anytime soon, we knew we had to up-level what we were bringing to the table.

So we reached out to you. Our customers. Our community.

We asked what you wished our technology — ranging from our Online Stores to our Online Designer to our all-in-one offline order system, Proposals — would look like down the road. 

What new features would you add? What new uses would you make possible? 

We asked you where the holes were. We asked you to let your suggestions flow. Freely.

And you did. You gave us your feedback, your ideas, and your urgent needs. You trusted us with your insight — and that made all the difference.

Let’s take a look at some of the new features we developed in 2020, only made possible because of all of you: 

  1. Custom Pages: One of the biggest features to hit InkSoft’s Online Stores platform this year, Custom Pages enables you to add as many, well, custom pages as you’d like to your custom site. About Us pages, targeted landing pages, or even a seasonal campaign — whatever you want your site to include, it can. With total control given to you. Choose your page title and URL, copy existing pages for speedy new-page production, and publish immediately, save for later, or unpublish as your heart desires. It’s all possible. (Find more on this feature here.)
  2. Saved Design Notification: When it comes to InkSoft’s Online Designer, attracting customers to use it is effortless. But what about using it to boost your sales cycle’s productivity? You talked, we listened. The Saved Design Notification was developed as a feature to Designer in 2020 to let you know as soon as a prospect saves a design they created. Why? Because if they like it enough to save it, that means they’re ready to take the next step — and an immediate email notification to your inbox allows you to check out their design, make your own edits, and reach out to them about it. It leads to a more efficient selling cycle and more natural lead generation. A win-win, if you ask us. (Learn more here.)
  3. Default Tax Rate: Taxes aren’t everyone’s favorite topic of discussion — but finding ways to increase efficiency around taxation processes? That’s always a winner. We created the Default Tax Rate feature in 2020 to help decorators and print shops speed up their invoicing, mitigate their chance of human error, and rest assured that their process is consistent — and stable. The feature can be found in InkSoft’s Proposals, where automated (and customizable!) invoicing reigns free. (Find out more about the Default Tax Rate feature here.)
  4. Custom Line Items: The truth is, in your line of work, you’re first and foremost selling your power to customize. The Custom Line Items feature allows you to up that power when it comes to your pitching proposals — in other words, it lets you show off just what you can do in your very first contact with prospects. It was designed to give you even more control when building personalized presentations through InkSoft’s Proposals, and boy does it deliver. Add individual line items with different mockup designs, categorize them by size, style, or price, and give your prospect a bird’s eye view of everything that’s on the table. It’s quick, it’s easy, and it offers organization on a whole new level. (Get all of the details here.) 

So there you have it. New features for the marketing process, for the design process, for the pitching process, and for the selling process — because if you ask us, there’s always room to grow. And what better time to grow than 2020?

But it wasn’t just new features that you collaborated with us on. It was also new ideas for learning. Let’s get into those now.

Embracing Innovation, Together

E-commerce has had a big year. And with the rise of online selling, the road was paved for online marketing to take off too. 

Look: before 2020, they were both important pieces to the modern business puzzle. But if you didn’t have a solid grasp on them, it wasn’t the end of the world. You could continue on with your brick and mortar selling, with your more traditional marketing, and still feel comfortable that you’d be hitting the profits you needed to hit.

But then the shutdowns started, and in-person buying was no more. That meant that in-person selling, and traditional pursuits of marketing, had all but evaporated too. 

Those who hadn’t already explored the worlds of digital selling and promotion were left to figure out the wild, overwhelming tundra of online business alone — and fast. There were no alternatives. It was either get with the program, or watch helplessly as your customers turned to the competition.

The sudden shift caused an earthquake of fear, doubt, and stress to ripple through our industry. As a technology company, we felt it from prospects who were just learning about us the same as we felt it from long-time customers.

If you hadn’t invested in the technology before, you were terrified that you were too late. If you had invested in the technology, you were terrified that you hadn’t invested in it — or your understanding of it — enough.

We know better than anyone that there’s a learning curve. E-commerce and digital marketing aren’t just skills we grow up with; we have to work to get over the entry barrier, and we have to work to sharpen our skills. You asked us to help you learn — to help you understand the ins and outs, to help you tackle problems with creative solutions, and to help you implement the strategies and techniques you’ve seen around you. So, we listened. 

We carved out room for education. We put our best practices together and published them. And we gave you the insight, the tools, and the tips and tricks you needed to grab the pivot into online business by the horns. Let’s take a look at how we did it.

  1. E-Commerce & Digital Marketing Webinars: Over the course of 2020, the InkSoft team released tens of Webinars — many of which were linked to series with topics like Online Fundraising, The Basics of Digital Marketing, and Sales & Marketing Strategies for Apparel Decorators. With some Webinars touching on general strategies (like how to effectively use Google ads) and others diving deep into specific use-cases, like selling your own Corporate Gift Giving Program, there was something for every decorator. (And that doesn’t even include the special discounts, real-time Q&A’s, and gifts those in attendance got access to.) The InkSoft Webinar schedule continues into 2021, so if you haven’t benefited from one yet — there’s still time. Check it out here.
  2. Industry Blog: InkSoft’s blog has always been a sacred place for our team to share product news, industry insight, and most-loved techniques for achieving better results. But in 2020, it reached a whole new level. We saw the demand for more information, more tips & tricks, and more advice from big industry players — so we set out to meet it. We released article series that informed (like New Product Announcements), customer showcase series that inspired (like Customer Success Stories), and actionable step series that made implementation easy (like Tip Of The Day). With new blogs coming out so frequently, you had the ability to read, to learn, and to bookmark for later — so you could keep returning to the ones that really spoke to you. Next up? We’re getting ready for 2021 — where more blogs featuring more strategies, more inspiration, and more advice from industry talent is coming your way. (Check in on the latest articles here.)  
  1. Comprehensive Marketing Kits: It’s one thing to learn, it’s quite another to be able to put your learnings into practice — quickly, and with the confidence that they’re hitting the nail on the head. That’s where our Marketing Kits come in: with fully executed templates for email, social, and site copy, they make starting new campaigns and selling new products simple. And the best part? They’re absolutely free to deploy — however you’d like. Whether you simply add in your business’s name to the existing templates or whether you use the templates as inspiration for your own copy, you’re free to do with the Marketing Kits as you wish. From Employee Swag Subscription Programs to Selling Spirit Wear Campaigns, there’s a kit for every need — so go ahead, get digging. (And yes, more are on their way for 2021.) Find the Kits here

We’re big believers in education — and growth — being a life-long pursuit. The world of e-commerce, of digital marketing, of technology as a whole, is constantly changing. 

The only way we can keep up is if we work together to share what we know, inspire those around us to try out their own path, and ultimately keep pushing each other forward.

That’s our vow to you: we’ll always keep pushing you forward. Towards new insight, new innovation, and new creativity. Because we know that our industry — and your businesses — will be better for it.

The Wrap Up: Holiday Edition

We don’t know about you, but walking through all of those new features, and all of those new educational tools, has left us stymied by just how fast 2020 has flown by. Sure, some moments felt like they spanned years, and some weeks felt like they were never going to end. But as a whole — looking at it from the other side — we’re blown away by how quickly it came and went.

And we’re blown away by how all of you, whether you can see it or not, rose to the challenge. How you did your very best to persevere, and how you pushed yourself and your team to adopt new practices, to learn new strategies, and to come out the other end stronger.

Because that’s what you are: stronger.

If there was ever any doubt in your mind that you could do the hardest things, that you could make it through any of life’s most finicky hurdles — well, it’s gone now. 

We’re proud to know you. We’re proud to watch you grow. And we’re proud to have you in our community. 

Next year is coming up fast, and we’re poised to give you the same degree of support, the same degree of educational opportunities, and the same degree of forward momentum. So you can capitalize on whatever comes your way, and so you can set your operations up for success.

From our family to yours, Happy Holidays. We can’t wait to enter the new year together, and we know that more growth awaits.