June '16

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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44 || P R I N T W E A R J U N E 2 0 1 6 C orporate apparel takes many dif- ferent forms, and in the mod- ern workplace, proper attire has evolved into a diverse mix of of- ferings. Whether it's the hospitality indus- try, the medical field, or the business world, each sector has a set of characteristics that dictate a certain apparel style to meet the demands of daily work tasks. In addition to meeting the demands of the workplace en- vironment, corporate apparel also needs to be comfortable and contemporary enough that employees will actually want to wear it. Employee stores have long been a popu- lar way to offer acceptable clothing choic- es, perk apparel, and branded gifts. But, with an ever-changing shift in culture to accommodate multiple styles and markets, the question of how to offer corporate ap- parel has also changed. More and more often, companies are looking to the digi- tal realm to streamline the tasks of order fulfillment, employee incentives, and in- ventory management. Online stores tackle many of these challenges that in earlier de- cades would have required extra time and resources. IN-HOUSE OR OUTSOURCE? "I think the key challenge for most com- panies is having to facilitate the delivery of all these goods," notes InkSoft's JP Hunt. "That's the value of an online store. It doesn't become a burden to the employer and doesn't take up resources." Building and offering an online corporate apparel store is similar to deciding what kind of apparel to choose for your com- pany: there isn't a one-stop solution for all businesses. There are multiple consider- ations for building an online store, includ- ing what kind of store, and how to manage the e-commerce component once that store is up and running. In some instances, it may make sense for a company to run its own online store while other scenarios could be better served by outsourcing components like web hosting and product inventory. "The kinds of customers that are best served by their own company stores are those who have a large number of em- ployees and/or some amount of turnover, multiple locations, and either a strong cor- porate identity and culture, or a prescribed uniform/apparel guideline," explains Erich Campbell, Black Duck Screen Printing and Embroidery. Campbell elaborates that companies of this size should be able to order from any location, take deliveries wherever neces- sary, and have a built-in incentive for their employees to purchase. This, in turn, ben- efits the company from having their own branded stores and having the numbers and demand to drive them. Whether or not a business should run its own apparel store varies greatly depending on what's important to the company. There are two major differences between self-run and outsourced online stores. For one, in running your own storefront you maintain full control and independence. However, this approach also puts the burden of all other logistical tasks on the shoulders of the company. For a smaller business, this is where outside web management can be useful. Taraynn Lloyd, Edwards Garment, notes that partner programs for distributors are a streamlined way to cut down on in- house web maintenance so owners can fo- cus on their customers. Beyond the Breakroom Building Company Culture with an Employee Store B Y M I K E C L A R K

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