February '18

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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Page 105 of 120

great if you have staff to monitor them, but if there is never someone present, or you can't link a service to SMS and carry it anywhere, it's better not to implement it than to disappoint," he adds. SCALE IT UP Running a shop at scale is something most decorators are familiar with when it comes to walk-in clients, and considering an e-commerce plan follows many similar steps, sources contend. One common mis- conception, however, is that when a busi- ness opens up a shop online, the orders will start piling in. Before a business sees a major influx of online customers, they'll need to make sure the word is getting out. To market their services and goods, shops can use a handful of ad options on Google, Facebook, and other social media chan- nels. One tool sources also recommend is retargeting ads. This is an ad that "follows" potential buyers around after they have browsed a site or looked at a product with the aim of driving that person back to the website to purchase said product or service. Employing this feature is key, Ackerman points out, since so many users browse and shop from their phone and on the go. "People are busy, so getting them to come back to your website is important," he states, adding that an abandoned cart email can also prompt customers to navigate back to your site and make the purchase. Most parties caution that once a busi- ness decides to open the door wider to online customers to make sure that the gears are already in place to handle the influx. Building contingency plans for things that crop up with growth, such as increased order and returns volume and larger customer sup- port demand are crucial. "Those systems include automating as many of the steps as possible with software, and then knowing where your capacity is and being able to outsource any role, including produc- tion," comments Rauen. Some businesses will see merit in adding personnel, while others may have better luck at outsourcing certain parts of pro- duction to keep up with order volume. "As a business owner, it comes down to looking at the time you're spending," adds Ackerman. "If you're spending a lot of time fulfilling orders when you could be paying someone a percentage of what you feel like you're worth, you need to have someone else to go through and pick orders all day." Bowden suggests that regardless of how much a shop hopes to scale up, to build a standard operating procedures manual. With this basic tool, new employees can blend into a decorator's workforce much smoother and ideally grow with the busi- ness. WHAT TO SELL As for what to offer online, most sources contend that the online sphere for apparel decorators should be a means to showcase how much a shop can provide if a cus- tomer reaches out. Since some decora- tion methods require a large amount of detail both from a production and order- ing standpoint, it's a field that's slightly more difficult to tout online than other markets. "Not everything we do as decorators translates perfectly to e-commerce," states Campbell. "It makes more sense to provide the services that can be delivered with the best possible experience rather than trying to replicate your traditional shop one-to-one online." Decorators can showcase their wares with online photo galleries, videos, and short descriptions of what they offer, rather than trying to design online order forms for every service available. Having multimedia content on a website also helps a decorator since it'll improve their search engine score, and ideally help them continued on page 80 2 0 1 8 F E B R U A R Y P R I N T W E A R || 67

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