June '16

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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24 || P R I N T W E A R J U N E 2 0 1 6 Jennifer Cox is the president and co-founder of the National Network of Embroidery Professionals (NNEP), a professional organization for apparel decoration busi- ness owners. NNEP supports the success of NNEP mem- bers with best practices, ideas, sources, solutions, vol- ume-buying benefits, and services. Cox was recognized as a Top 50 Small Business Influencer and Community Choice Leader by Small Biz Trends in 2013, is recognized as one of the industry's "Most Creative Thinkers," and repeatedly ranks in the top 40 on the industry's "Power List." Reach her at or go to STITCH SOLUTIONS B Y J E N N I F E R C O X G rocery stores know how much profit they make on ev- ery single product in their stores, down to the penny. They also know people. How we think, how we make decisions, and most importantly, how to influence the amount of money we will spend while we are in their store. The food industry knows that we will buy milk, eggs, and other staples, so they put these products at the very back of the store. We have to walk through rows of products to get to the things we need. The odds of us placing other things in our shopping cart in- crease the farther we have to go and the more products we have to walk through. In most stores, the milk and eggs are not even near each other. They are on opposite ends of the refrigerated sections, making us take a longer path through the store. They do not work hard to sell us the milk and eggs. There are no splashy displays in the store about milk or eggs. There are no sales on milk or eggs. They just sit there in the refrigerated displays, supremely confident that they will be purchased. If your customers think of you as the "T-shirt shop," or the "place we get hats," that is on you. You are creating that impres- sion somehow. It could be in how you talk about your business, how it looks when your customers walk in, or even the impression you create with your business card or sign. I do not think of the grocery store as the "milk and eggs place." Do you? The food industry has spent gobs of money researching gro- cery store buyer behavior. They know where we will go, what we need, and then how to entice us to put other products into that shopping cart. The decorated apparel industry does not have all that research on how to influence buyer behavior, but that does not mean there are no lessons here for us as apparel decoration profes- sionals. LESSON 1 Stop "selling" milk and eggs. In our industry, there are products that our customers will order without us having to do much to sell them. These products are the equivalent of milk and eggs for the grocery store owner. Our milk and eggs are hats and T-shirts. If we never mention hats to our customers again, we will still sell hats because our customers will ask us about them. The same thing applies to T-shirts. They sell themselves. They will always be in demand. They will always be a product that our customers need. LESSON 2 Design your space to influence your customers. Customers are more likely to buy what they see. If you A page from the grocery store Stop Selling Milk and Eggs Create timely displays in your shop to illustrate everything that you can offer and decorate. (Image cour- tesy The Needles Nest)

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