February '18

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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66 || P R I N T W E A R F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 8 putting the website up isn't going to get the job done." Site build makes a major difference too, sources agree. This means clear company branding across each page, and a respon- sive website that works across multiple devices, including mobile and tablets. "It's extremely important for people to easily shop and pull things up," says Bruce Ack- erman, Printavo, adding that in addition to mobile optimization, shops should pay close attention to the search filters set up on their website. The easier a customer can find a product or service on their website, the more likely that site visit will convert to an actual sale. Although "the Amazon Effect" might have business owners apt to try and meet the same shipping standards as the e-com- merce giant, sources caution businesses not to overpromise. Instead, approaches like scaling pricing so the "free" shipping is al- ready included in the final cost, full trans- parency with customers on turnaround time for an order, and offering a variety of shipping carrier options at checkout are feasible for smaller shops. While this won't replace the speedy, one-click convenience of some online shops, it will still help stream- line the buying process for clients. BELLS AND WHISTLES Shops can also improve customer expe- riences with a few extra improvements digitally and in-house. Hunt recommends maintaining a social media presence since many shoppers use channels like Facebook and Instagram to get a grasp on a business. "They'll do a quick, cursory glance to see how many people follow a company, and what their dialogue is like with customers," Hunt states, adding that a company's gen- eral attitude and tone are a big part of what these browsers will take away. Meanwhile, Rauen and Ackerman sug- gest a combination of real-time support and automated features to keep businesses going around the clock. Using an in-house live- chat system at the checkout stage, Acker- man suggests, helps solidify that confidence a customer may need to hit the purchase button. Since decorated apparel jobs often dictate detailed, complicated questions, he recommends starting this service onsite be- fore considering outsourcing. For auto-re- sponders, tools such as order confirmations, shipping confirmations, and follow-up "Thank You" emails can all be configured within a company's ordering system. Campbell advises, however, if companies do opt in for features like live chat and messaging, that there is staff to support it. "Things like live chat and messaging are E-COMMERCE OPTIONS MAKE IT SIMPLE FOR YOUR CUSTOMERS With the rise of other services at the click of a button like rideshares, grocery delivery, and food apps, keep this convenience factor in mind when building out the digital arm of your business. "People want to pay for convenience," says Farag. "That new convenience-based marketing is now tapping into other industries." LEARN IT BEFORE YOU OFFER IT Regardless of what platforms and software you choose, make sure everyone in-house is well-versed in the programs they're using before you launch them. The last thing you want to do, Farag advises, is use your customers as test subjects. DOMINATE THE LOCAL MARKET Even with a digital presence, keep in mind what makes your shop a key player in your local community. Make sure your shop still offers important perks like local pick- up so that your loyal customers don't fall by the wayside. BE SELECTIVE If your shop offers embroidery, screen printing, and direct-to- garment, begin by focusing on one service and branch out from there once you see a demand in the digital world. "If you try to do everything right away, it's going to eat you up," cautions Farag. LET THE WORK SPEAK FOR ITSELF Make sure to reach back out for testimonials from happy customers, and have a spot on your website showcasing those testimonials. Those repeat clients become brand ambassadors for your work. 5 E- CO M M E RC E T I P S F RO M T H E S H O P F LO O R Since the world of e-commerce gets complicated, Steven Farag, Campus Ink, shares a few tips decorators can use to navigate the basics.

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