February '18

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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2 0 1 8 F E B R U A R Y P R I N T W E A R || 65 comprehensive shipping options are crucial to dealing with what some refer to as "the Amazon effect." "I think the general consumer has be- come a lot more accustomed to making a purchase online and receiving it in a day or two," notes Brett Bowden, Printed Threads. "Because of services like Amazon, other companies have been urgently trying to fol- low suit." In addition to improving the user experi- ence, the way in which businesses market to their customers and advertise services has shifted to meet this new buying culture. With the advent of digital business comes digital marketing, meaning shops now spend more dollars on ads on places like social media and Google. Because so many decorators are now online though, that's also created a much broader selection for buyers to choose from when it comes to de- ciding where to bring their custom apparel jobs. "The consequence is increased compe- tition," explains JP Hunt, InkSoft. "Increas- ingly, decorators and shops are adopting a digital strategy, selling online, and interact- ing online." And while creating things like a website with a shopping cart are pragmatic ways to show people in the digital sphere what your business does, sources tend to agree that there is much more work to be done to be profitable. DIGITAL BUILDING BLOCKS At the core of any decorated apparel busi- ness maintaining a successful e-commerce program are some basic requirements and tools. Any online business will need a Se- cure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate in place. This digital certificate lets buyers know that whatever sensitive information they submit to an online store during the payment pro- cess is secure. "[An SSL] isn't just an option anymore, it's a requirement," adds Hunt. "A payment processor won't even let you pro- cess payment unless a credit card transac- tion is encrypted." In addition to a secure checkout process, sellers can improve that comfort level for customers by ensuring other sections of their website like a homepage or a blog are secured through these certificates. Shops can opt in for a free SSL certificate or pur- chase paid versions that offer features such as a website badge that informs customers how long a site has been secured and when it was last certified. Making sure the technology and person- nel components of a businesses are locked down before going online is also crucial, explains Tom Rauen, Envision Tees. "Hav- ing the backend systems, technology, and staff to support it [are important]," he says. "You have to add a level of customer service, follow up, and marketing. Simply

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