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Bottom Line Up Front: Growth in 2021 is possible. With this web-to-print digital tool behind you, you’ll reach more, engage more, & sell more — expanding your customer base and your profitability in one go.

In 2020, we saw things we never expected to see. From a human perspective, yes, but also from a business perspective: forced innovation, compulsory operational shifts, and a leaning-in to e-commerce that happened at such scale that no-one — not economic predictors, not technology-obsessed observers — could’ve seen it coming.

We were faced with tragedy. And so, we adapted.

Globally, we saw e-commerce growth of almost 30%; looking towards the rest of 2021, that growth is expected to increase once again — this time, by 14.3%.

Consumers are reshaping industries with their new needs and their new behaviors, and retailers big and small are meeting them where they are, with new innovations and new capabilities. We have groceries delivering bulk orders to apartments, we have bars and pubs delivering pre-made cocktails to homes, and we have the world of retail going above and beyond to engage, excite, and sustain their consumers from wherever they are.

So where does the decorated apparel industry fall into all of this? Right square in the middle. Like your colleagues in food & beverage and retail, your consumers were no longer able to step foot in your brick and mortar shops en masse. You couldn’t pitch sales presentations in-person, and you had a hard time recommending your classic orders to customers whose operations looked nothing like they classically would have.

You’ve had to think on your feet. You’ve had to adjust here, tweak there, and send your brain into innovation overdrive at every checkpoint.

But hey — you made it. You’re in 2021 now, and you’re still competing — albeit in a market that looks totally different. Because your consumers’ new needs? Their new expectations, and their new buying behaviors? They’re not going anywhere.

And the only way to make sure you’re keeping a tight hold on their interest — the only way to guarantee that you’re doing enough to impress them, engage them, and keep them coming back — is by continuing to think outside of the box.

Continuing to embrace capabilities that differentiate you, strategies that authenticate you, and technology that sets you miles ahead.

The Online Designer is your triple-hitter. It markets, it pitches, and it sells; it excites, it empowers, and it impacts. It’s familiar enough to be comfortable and fresh enough to inspire participation, and it’s your one method — your one assured tactic — of selling big in a year where selling at all is reason to celebrate.

Selling big.

Not for one week. Not for one campaign. But consistently and persistently, for the duration of the year. And beyond.

InkSoft’s web-to-print Online Designer brings that power to you, so you can stop scrunching your face and rubbing your temples as you try to muster out one more differentiator. It makes competing in 2021 easy. Our breakdown — complete with market strategies, tips & tricks, and a complimentary marketing kit — will show you how.

Online Designer: What It Does

If you know anything about InkSoft’s Online Designer already, you know that it’s a web-to-print software that’s perfect for print, apparel, and promotional products alike.

But that’s a big claim — so we’re going to back it up. Let’s take a look at some of the solutions our Online Designer brings to the table. (And when we say solutions, you better believe that we mean solutions for both you and your customers.)

First, there are the solutions for your business:

Excite Your Customers

Your customers were likely caught just as off guard as you were by all of the whip-fast changes of 2020. Whether their events aren’t going on as planned, their offices and classrooms sit vacant, or their typical tournaments can’t play out with live audiences — or at all — their custom apparel needs have changed. But that doesn’t mean they’ve disappeared.

Maybe they need apparel and products with Covid-relevant messaging, instead of just with their usual basic logo. Maybe they need custom Work-From-Home-esque casual wear instead of their usual uniforms. Or maybe they need spirit wear that emphasizes unity, instead of their traditional spirit wear (or even jerseys).

The point is: there are new needs and new products on the table, and your customers can’t exactly walk into your store and discuss them in-person. They might not even know what they want — let alone be able to ask for mock-ups or ideas that make sense for their new goals. With the Online Designer, they’re free to explore. From wherever they are.

They can play around with new types of apparel and promotional products they’ve never previously sought out. They can try on different messaging for size, and they can integrate different versions of their own artwork into as many designs as they’d like.

To put it simply: the Online Designer gives your customers a way to have some control over something — maybe for the first time in quite some time. They can take charge of their new idea, their new products, and their new goals — and they can do it all from the comfort of their home office. (Or, let’s be honest: their couch.)

Reach New Consumers:

So we’ve considered your existing customers, but what about the people outside of your typical audience? The consumers who want to place smaller (or individual) orders, who are interested in Amazon-fast order fulfillment, and who are obsessed with the notion of personalization?

In today’s world, those consumers are everywhere. They want what they want when they want it, and they’re willing to invest in the right buying experience to get it. And that’s where the Online Designer helps you leave a mighty impact.

We go into why short run-length orders are so advantageous for decorators this year in more detail here, but what we’ll say about being poised and ready to catch every sales opportunity that comes your way now is this: those smaller orders add up. And they might even add up to replace a good chunk of the earnings you would’ve, in normal times, expected from your longtime customers.

The differentiating power of the Online Designer is huge — because it speaks directly to these end-consumers’ desire to customize their entire buying experience. They get to test out different products, add different design elements, and be told — in real-time — what the delivery process will look like. It’s empowerment, it’s personalization, and it’s transparency: their three favorite things.

Expedite Your Sales

Beyond the merits of attracting consumers, the Online Designer also gives a sizable helping of rejuvenation to your backend operations — namely, your sales cycle. Think about it like this: you’re giving your audience the ability to design their own product — whenever they want, however they want, and as many times as they want. And as soon as they do design an option they like, your team gets notified.

That means you’re not spending hours on the phone, explaining different product options and design capabilities. That means you’re not wasting your mornings responding to delivery queries or ultra-vague mock-up requests. And it means your sales team doesn’t have to actively convince the consumers who are reaching out — because their self-made design has already done the convincing for them.

The Online Designer enables you to skip the winding, tedious phase of getting to the root of what the buyer is after — and then convincing them you’re the right decorator to execute it. With this tool, by the time you’re talking to your buyers — they already know what they’re after. They already know how it’ll look, how much it’ll cost, and when it can be delivered. And they’re interested in making the purchase.

Plus, even if the design they create isn’t something they’re entirely sure about for their order, you’ve still saved time. How? By getting them to produce the first go at it. They can tell you what they like, what they don’t like, and what they’d like to add — and you can give them your expert opinions and suggestions, based on the concrete mock-up in front of the both of you. That ensures you’re both on the same page, that you’re both confident about the final vision, and that you’re both ready to take next steps.

The Online Designer makes getting that sale less labor-intensive, less time-intensive, and less frustrating. It’s revolutionizing how print shops and decorators can sell today — and it’s resulting in major profitability increases as a result.

Increase Your Value

Impressing an expanded audience and boosting the productivity of your sales cycle are surely enough to hook you on their own — but get this: implementing the Online Designer in your Online Store has the power to actually increase your average order value too. Don’t believe us? We’ll break it down:

First, picture a customer that doesn’t really know what they’re looking for. They know they need their brand logo on a t-shirt, and they know the color options they like — but the details? Forget it.

When they hear their printing and add-on options from you — over the phone or via email — they can’t really picture what those elements will look like on the finished product. Will they be able to tell the difference between a more expensive printing option and its cheaper counterpart? Will the eco-friendly blanks be a worthwhile investment?

Odds are, if they’re hearing or reading their options as a bystander, their focus is going to be on the cost. And that means that every thought they have will be punctured by a cost-benefit analysis. But, but, if they’re the ones designing their own product? If they’re the ones incorporating the artwork here and the messaging there? They become a whole lot more invested in the product itself. They’ve seen their vision — and they’re all the more willing to call on the capabilities necessary to execute it perfectly.

Using their design as reference, you can then explain, with your expert insight, exactly why the higher-priced printing method is more conducive to their design, and why the material of the eco-friendly blank provides a better canvas. And because they can see that you’re trying to execute on their vision, they’ll be ready to listen.

In addition to their own investment in the design, having the Online Designer easily accessible gives you a seamless way to bring up additional assets. When you’re speaking to them about their first design, you have free rein to bring up other products that will correlate nicely; if you’re discussing a sports league’s branded water bottles, why not bring up implementing that same design on gym bags or car decals? Or moving things over to spirit wear, with hats, windbreakers, and hoodies?

With the ease-of-use of the Online Designer, you can even mock up those new offerings yourself — and have them ready to show your prospect before you get on the phone. We bet your consumers will jump at the chance to embrace new assets (with their design!) into their existing library. Especially when the whole process is as transparent — and straightforward — as this. Ta-da: average order value, increased.

Ready for a few more solutions? Let’s look at all that the Online Designer brings your customers:

  • Empowered to Design: Consumers might just be as surprised — and frustrated — by the new norms of shopping as you are. Whether they’re a corporate customer or an individual end-consumer who’s looking for a t-shirt or two, it’s easy to understand how excluded they can feel from the buying process. With e-commerce, they can’t touch the material or see the finished product (or something similar) right in front of them; they’re trusting that the information they’re given virtually is the truth. They’re trusting that the seller is giving them what they want.

    With InkSoft’s Online Designer, you’re removing the fear of choosing wrong by including them in the design process. They’re no longer expected to blindly trust — now, they can test out different options themselves, integrate different messaging and artwork, and amend as needed. They can work autonomously, with no risk or obligation. And that type of power, that type of control, isn’t something they can just find anywhere.

    Being required to turn to e-commerce as the new way of doing things has no doubt left many buyers feeling uncertain, ill-equipped, or otherwise apprehensive. But digital tools like the Online Designer give them a new way to feel involved — a way that wouldn’t have been possible without the turn to digital. It’s a silver lining, and it’s a hell of a differentiator. Your customers (and prospects who’ve just stumbled upon your Online Store) will respond to it.
  • Empowered to Know: While lengthy pitching and order-finalizing processes might be tedious for your team, the time spent from your customers’ end is no small feat either. If only there were a way to expedite the back-and-forth — or even automate it. Well, with the Online Designer, there is.

    It’s as simple as this: your customer engages the Online Designer on your site, producing the design for the product they’d like. Once they’re ready, they can click to get an immediate quote — and have it be as accurate as it is convenient. No more needless phone calls, endless email chains, or unnecessary back-and-forth. They’ve gotten what they came for, and you haven’t had to lift a finger.

    Particularly for your individual end-consumers, this automated quote capability means that their entire buying experience can happen quickly — with them at the wheel the whole time. Plus, if you enable one-stop online ordering, they can check-out themselves and finish the whole process independently. No speaking to sales reps required.

    That means you have a store that’s open for business 24/7, where your consumers can glean information, secure the design they want, and place their order. In 2021, efficiency is king. So give your customers the convenience they’re after with the Online Designer.
  • Empowered to Receive: Like we said — efficiency is king, and this digital tool helps to ramp up the speed of your entire fulfillment process. Both from your consumers’ perspective and from your own. Here’s how it works: with the Online Designer and the Online Stores platform working together, as soon as your prospect saves their design and inputs their information (shipping, payment, and add-on info), it gets saved to the platform.

    And not just saved, but organized. That order (and its related information) is added to your production pipeline, ensuring you have eyes on it the second their payment goes through. Without needing to speak to your buyer, you know what needs to be made, where it needs to be shipped, and when they’re expecting it to arrive. That gives you the insight you need to execute without delay — and it gets your customer the goods they asked for in a completely hands-off way.

    Plus, with the power of digital tracking, consumers are able to see where their order is in the production cycle and get shipping updates as needed. They’re kept in the loop, aware of any changes, and confident that their expectations are being met every step of the way.

    InkSoft’s Online Designer fuels a seamless end-to-end fulfillment process, because it sets up your consumers to be involved from the very beginning — without requiring any legwork. They call the shots, and then they let you deal with the rest — until the order arrives on their doorstep, exactly when they were expecting it.
  • Empowered to Personalize: It’s already clear that your buyers have the power to customize their designs, but with the Online Designer, they’re also able to personalize their entire buying experience. Think about it like this: they decide when they visit your Online Store, since it’s open 100% of the time. They decide when they engage with the Online Designer, since it’s always ready to go.

    They decide when they like a design enough to save it, they decide whether they’d like to try out different products or stick with the one, and they decide whether they’d like to add on premiums.

    There are no timelines. There are no emails that require urgent responses or sales reps that are pushing them to make a decision before they’re ready. The experience is, from every angle, theirs. And that’s something they won’t just appreciate, but flock to — especially when they see that the quality of the end-product matches the quality of the experience that led it to them.

The web-to-print Online Designer clearly comes with a whole host of solutions. Solutions your customers will benefit from as much as your team will. We’re convinced that this digital tool is your answer to achieving stability — and yes, even growth — in 2021, because we’ve seen it happen for decorators like you time and time again.

They catch more sales opportunities. They reach more consumers. And they bring something to the table that no-one else in their vicinity is bringing.

In fact, we’re so sure that our Online Designer will be your secret to enhanced profitability this year that we’ve compiled a few of our favorite tips for implementing it — to ensure you’re capturing every morsel of selling potential available to you. Here they are:

  1. Market, Market, Market: In today’s world of selling, no digital tool or sales strategy can work optimally until you’re putting the right digital marketing effort in. It’s the only way for you to let your audience know what you’re up to and how your offerings have changed, for you to reach new people, and for you to spread brand awareness — and the validity that comes with it.

    So, with the Online Designer, you’re going to want to execute some specific campaigns. But if the word campaign leaves you feeling overwhelmed or stressed — that’s why we’re here. To give you the digital marketing know-how you need to make a splash.

    Whether you’re producing an Online Designer-specific landing page that excites prospects about the merits of the tool or you’re sending out an email to your existing customer base with a few lines describing what it does, the key is that you’re coupling information with enthusiasm. Because that leads to intrigue, and where there’s intrigue, there’s engagement.

    In our marketing kit (that you can access below free of charge!), we’re giving you the email copy, site copy, and social media copy you need to take advantage of your core digital marketing outlets. Whether you personalize them extensively or keep them more or less the same, whether you throw in a discount code or just use the copy to generate awareness — it’s all up to you.

    The most important thing is that you do something. Get the word out. Enlighten your audience. And we promise: results will follow.
  1. Better the Experience: While the value of the Online Designer is true no matter how the tool is presented, we guarantee that when you focus on how it’s being presented, your consumers will want to interact with it even more.

    Just like why they visit any Online Store, your consumers are coming to your store for a reason. Maybe they’ve worked with you before and trust your professionalism. Maybe they’ve seen your posts on social media and want to check out your offerings. Or maybe a Google search took them to you, and they simply want to learn who your brand is.

    However they got there, they’re looking to find a united front when it comes to your branding. They want the essence of your brand to shine through clearly on every page, allowing them to feel confident in the business they could be potentially buying from. So? Don’t just throw the Online Designer onto your site and call it a day.

    Make its page, or its spot on a primary page, fun. Make it lively. Make it shine with the personality of your brand, and make it an experience site visitors will want to partake in.

    Call attention to its innovation, show off examples of past projects executed successfully with the tool, and include a short, punchy testimonial or two to get social proof on your side. And then watch as participants roll in. Because, when you put effort into presenting your capabilities with the same care that you present your products with, your audience will notice. And respond in kind.
  2. Get Your Team Involved: You’re your own best example — because you know your stuff. And if a decorated apparel expert is tweaking their production process to go to bat for this new digital tool, then isn’t it clearly worth something special?

    Get your team involved. Teach everyone the ins and outs of using the Online Designer like a pro, so they can help consumers who have questions or — better yet — uplevel their own mock-up prowess, without any art training needed. Not only will this help you get art ideas and product presentations out faster (and alleviate the weight of the load on your artists’ shoulders), but it’ll also help your audience understand the value of the tool: if it’s good enough for them to use in-house, it’s good enough for me to design on.

When in-store shopping becomes common again, integrate Online Designer workstations (with tablets or laptops) into your store. Have your staff introduce customers to the technology, encourage them to try it out, and get them excited about what’s possible — that they can do themselves.

Whether it’s a sales rep who’s empowered to mock up a product in real-time during a virtual pitch or a shop owner who’s walking a new prospect through the Online Designer process and watching their excitement grow, the power of an enthusiastic team is limitless.

Consumers can tell when their sellers believe in an offering. And it makes a boatload of difference.

The Wrap Up

In 2021, everyone’s trying to grow their e-commerce presence. Everyone’s trying to be more efficient, more relevant, and more special. InkSoft’s web-to-print Online Designer is the one digital tool that can actually take your e-commerce business to the heights you want it to go.

It’s no longer just a sophisticated add-on; it’s a necessity for competing in today’s digital-focused market. Purpose-built, mobile-responsive tools are the only strategy you can confidently rely on for engaging buyers sustainably in modern times.

Unrivaled customization power. Impossible simplicity. And the type of buying experience your consumers — of every demographic — will go crazy for.

The Online Designer makes it all possible. So, if you’re ready to capitalize on its capabilities, click on through to the marketing kit we’ve compiled just for you. It includes all of the copy you could ever need for your Online Designer-specific digital marketing campaigns, website messaging, and social media posts — so all you have to do is personalize. A lot or a little, it’s up to you.

We believe in the power of the Online Designer so earnestly that we’re 100% dedicated to helping you harness it. From our tips & tricks to our free marketing kit, we’re here to help you grow. And if you haven’t yet added the Online Designer to your arsenal, we recommend you — at the very least — take a proper tour of it here.

You never know: it just might change everything for your business this year. In fact, we bet it will.

Get the FREE Online Designer Marketing Kit!

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