We love this customer success story: Yellow Springer Tees & Promotions co-owners Mark Heise and Morgan Heise launched five online client Stores in five weeks (using the InkSoft Stores platform) over the 2019 holiday season””and doubled their sales.
Five years ago, while Mark was working at his full-time job as a global human resources webmaster for one of the world’s oldest and largest publishers, he also volunteered for the Five Rivers MetroParks system. “I ordered printed shirts for our crew from a big online site, and the quality just wasn’t there,” he says. “Since I had done a lot of silk screening in high school, I already had experience in this area and knew I could do it better. I jokingly told my wife I was going to spend $20,000 on a DTG printer. That was my retirement plan.”
And, his plan worked. Mark started decorating on the side from his basement, and as the Yellow Spring, OH-based business grew to include sublimation, embroidery and heat-press printing, he finally retired from his full-time job 18 months ago. “Despite the fact that we live in a little village, we get a lot of tourist traffic in the warmer months,” Mark says.
Since he saw such growth potential, Mark opened a retail storefront, and his daughter Morgan joined him as a business partner. The decorating shop now offers custom printing options for clothing, along with popular promo products like mugs and keychains. “We also have a mobile printer and heat press we take to locations and events to print onsite,” he says.
Slaying the Ecommerce Dragon
The Heises had tried different online order-processing solutions, from PayPal to Square to bigger e-commerce options””but they never felt any really met all of their needs for their own site and to build stores for clients. Then, everything changed in July 2019, when they “met” the InkSoft Stores platform at any industry trade show.
It was good timing too since Yellow Springer started doing all the merchandising for the Buckeye Trail Association. (Fun fact: The Buckeye is a 1,444-mile-long hiking trail that loops around Ohio.) “There are so many hikers and volunteers,” Mark says. “We were doing everything from decorated apparel to maps to books.” Things rolled on from there for Yellow Springer, as the Finger Lakes Trail Conference and local schools hopped on the shop’s client train. “All of a sudden, right then, e-commerce got really expansive for us,” Mark says.
Again, it was more good timing, since the summer tourist season had come to an end, and the Heises wanted to increase their businesses in other areas. In just four weeks, from mid-October to mid-November, Mark and Morgan launched five complete InkSoft Stores for their clients. “Over Christmas and into January and February, we saw our sales double,” Mark says. “During that time of year, we don’t have many walk-in sales in our retail store, but we’ve had thousands of dollars come through online via the InkSoft platform.”
“˜InkSoft Had an Amazing Effect on Our Business’
The Heises use the InkSoft platform for Yellow Springer’s site as well and have seen quick success. “Morgan put up a new design last week, and we’ve already sold $1,500 worth of merch with that artwork on it,” Mark says.
Mark believes that InkSoft Stores offers him lots of features that his previous tools didn’t. Unlike the Heises’ previous e-commerce solution where they had to log in and out of each store separately, they love the ease of logging into InkSoft Stores and having everything””access to client stores, complete order information including artwork, and more””all in one place. “It’s so agile when I need to do something quickly,” Mark says.
Mark also loves the fact that Stores plugs directly into apparel suppliers’ real-time inventory. “That means a customer can’t buy a popular color like Heather Gray from a vendor if it’s no longer in stock,” he says. “With my previous platform, I’d be issuing refunds all day long as people bought stock that had already been purchased.”
With InkSoft Stores, Mark can highlight four to eight products on a Store’s homepage slideshow. “I can show some popular volleyball styles there, and then include a “See More” button that links through to all 20 products,” he says. “Our customers tell us that ordering custom products is so easy, and we get everything we need on the back end to fulfill the orders quickly and cleanly.”
Yellow Springer’s clients are thrilled that their stores can stay open year-round””and Mark and Morgan switch out their products and artwork, depending on seasonal needs. “Our school clients cycle their sports seasons, like basketball and volleyball, through their Store,” Mark says. “We can do that easily, adding new apparel and graphics with the tool.”
Even better, the Heises know they can scale comfortably with the Stores platform. “As we add new client Stores to our lineup, it’s affordable for us to do it,” Mark says. “InkSoft has had an amazing effect on our business.”
A Clear Profit Path Forward
Three days before Thanksgiving, a school came to the Yellow Springer and asked them to launch a store by the holiday. “We launched the store in two days, including uploading all the artwork,” Mark says. “The Stores platform allows for rapid deployment. That school client said that I had saved them from a world of hurt by getting their Store up so fast. The parents and entire school system were happy.”
Yellow Springer’s flagship client, a nature organization, already is seeing thousands of dollars a month in sales via its online Store, so the Heises have another great case study to share, and the Heises can’t wait to get the word out.
Now that the Heises are comfortable with the Stores platform, they plan to promote the service to all their existing and new customers, like schools, clubs, associations, and organizations. “The learning curve was so short with the Stores platform, and the onboarding process was amazing,” Mark says. “I can’t wait to see where things go from here.”
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