Within two weeks, the world proverbially pivoted on its axis, as 1.5 billion people stay home, hoping to halt COVID-19’s lightning spread.
For now—a mere “moment in our time” as several state governors and experts have said—brick-and-mortar businesses across the nation have shut their doors, switched to remote work or slimmed operations down to just essential personnel.
As CEO of your decorated-apparel business, your production’s probably been heavily impacted. Like hundreds of thousands of other entrepreneurs, you might not be sleeping well, wondering how your bottom line will fare as life inevitably returns to normal.
Or, a new normal.
There’s no doubt that the way we live, work and do business will change after the COVID-19 outbreak.
We’re betting more B2B and B2C buyers will continue to use the internet to browse and buy decorated apparel and other branded merch.
During a time when we’re doing a lot of extended social distancing, you should take a hard look at your current shop technology—and see where you can fill existing and new gaps.
Don’t worry, our team’s here to help you along the way.
The Clock’s Ticking on Technology
Here’s the biggest question you should ask right now: Does my existing technology also help me generate sales?
If you’ve already invested in “shop-management software,” there’s a really good chance it won’t meet your new business needs.
Your ERP tool should combine digital marketing, eCommerce sales tools and production management for the winningest tech combo.
That’s why we’ve worked hard over the last 10 years at InkSoft to develop a suite of tools that moves at the speed of now, what your customers expect and should get from you.
It’s a fact: Technology-enabled decorating shops will thrive in the post-coronavirus economy.
Let’s dive into four key areas where you might need to bolster your tech (and soon).
1. Online stores aren’t a wish-list item. They’re a must.
We’re probably on the brink of saving a lot more trees, as paper order forms (which were going the way of the dinosaur anyway) officially go extinct.
Because of the availability of online products, buyers can rapidly review a broad selection of products and compare pricing.
With the possibility of more buyers getting used to (and loving) online shopping, at the very least your shop needs an easy-to-use eCommerce store.
Plus, as a smart build-out plan, pitch online stores to your existing customers and prospects contending with the same issues—whether they’re small businesses, larger corporations, organizations, schools, athletic teams, clubs and more.
Quick Solution: InkSoft has focused on making it fast and easy to set up custom online Stores for retailing and any group-selling opportunity.
InkSoft also recently integrated with Polyconcept, one of the industry’s largest promo products suppliers. Now, you can access and sell a huge range of brand-new products, in addition to apparel.
So as events get rescheduled and companies create “welcome back” kits for their employees and customers, your one-stop online shop should be their first cyber-destination.
This is a great opportunity to spread the word about your eCommerce site via social media, online ads, and your e-newsletters.
2. Your customers want to custom-create branded merch.
Online shoppers (like you, too) love to play, customizing the exact products they want with their logo or artwork. Millennials, especially, prefer to research the best solutions for their needs.
An online designer tool that lets them experiment to their heart’s content? An absolute must, as a powerful sales generator.
Quick Solution: InkSoft’s Designer allows people to take their time and get creative. Browers can add their logo or artwork to apparel and hard goods products on your website or your client’s online Store.
You can customize our online Designer to your brand, and either host it on a custom domain or embed it on your site (and it’s mobile-friendly, too).
3. Selling “in person” will look a little (or a lot) different.
The last few weeks, salespeople who planned to visit clients in person scrambled to rearrange their schedules. Some pushed appointments post-COVID-19 or canceled them altogether. Others turned face-to-face meetings into phone calls or video chats.
When you’re selling decorated apparel or products, how effective is a phone call or video meeting?
Probably not as effective as you’d like, since customers prefer to get a closer look at the branded products you’re proposing.
What if you could create personalized online proposals that include full-color product samples, all with your client’s logo or artwork on them?
Give us a resounding “heck, yes,” since 56% of online shoppers are more likely to respond positively to a list of recommended products.
Quick Solution: With InkSoft Proposals, you’ll quickly create winning proposals with custom virtual samples of both apparel and promo products.
“So many of us have taken comfort in her unique combination of deep thinking, careful decision-making, and generosity of spirit… I have such deep admiration and profound gratitude.”
Because Dr. Hinshaw affected Van Rosendaal’s life, she turned gratitude into action — affecting the lives of many more.
Your customer can browse your product recommendations from the comfort of their home or office, on their laptop or smart device. They’ll also enjoy up-to-the-minute pricing from our supplier partners.
Even better, a buyer can approve artwork, send you additional notes and pay—all from your beautifully designed proposal.
4. Your production flow must be perfectly on point.
As a larger and larger portion of decorated-product orders progressively move to online transactions, your production scheduling needs to be totally aligned with buyer expectations at the point of purchase.
For example, your customers want to know exactly when they can expect to receive their goods. Creating this awareness when the transaction occurs sets the right expectations for both your customer and your team.
Here’s the new normal: Every customer interaction and touchpoint needs to be branded and frictionless.
That’s why we optimize all customer-facing touchpoints via InkSoft tools from a user experience perspective.
Quick Solution: Lots of shops stumble once the order is in the door, with bottlenecks and inefficiencies along the way resulting in delays, and frustration all around.
Using InkSoft Jobs to manage your production helps you stay on track for success with one system. When a buyer places and pays for an order via your Store, the job immediately goes into the queue with complete information for total visibility.
Plus, we facilitate clear communication between decorators and their customers. The result? Less of an opportunity to miss important information that could influence a successful job and happy customers.
Yes, E-commerce Is Here to Stay
E-commerce will dominate even more in our new normal.
The share of wallet and volume of online transactions will continue to grow steadily over traditional retail channels.
If you haven’t put a digital marketing and advertising plan in place, you’re not reaching new buyers.
Similarly, if you’re tapping into digital marketing efforts, but can’t close the sales loop on the eCommerce side, you aren’t converting marketing efforts to revenue.
The reality? The greatest economic lever available to you is digital marketing hooked into e-commerce.
When your technology tools provide the best possible customer experience, the best backend organization, and the best sales support, you’re in a competitive position.
The result? You’ll attract and convert buyers, over and over.
See How InkSoft Can Transform Your Business
At its core, InkSoft is a sales platform that allows decorators to sell online.
Plus, our tools allow you to harness any traditional or digital marketing efforts to convert your prospects to e-commerce buyers.
Interested in learning how InkSoft can bring this level of success to your business?
Let’s start the conversation.