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Last Updated on: 4th April 2024, 11:52 pm

The decorated apparel and print industry faces production and customer-centric challenges while many product decoration industries offering quick turnarounds. So, why are you behind?

While giants like Amazon provide next-day shipping, local print shops can stand out by adapting to digital needs while providing quality service.

We will cover key areas print shop owners must focus on, including technology, e-commerce capabilities, order and production management, art approvals, staff training, and gathering customer feedback. Optimizing these facets sets up print shops for an efficient, profitable this year.

1. Conduct an Annual Technology Audit:

A robust tech stack strengthens print shop operations in many ways—from capturing more online business to tracking orders efficiently. Conduct an annual technology audit reviewing all software, tools, and systems currently in use.

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Find what’s working optimally, what needs upgrading based on business growth, and what’s no longer needed.

As your offerings expand into areas like branded apparel, relevant tools like online design creators may prove worthwhile. Any tools not providing value should get consolidated or eliminated.

Upgrades should align with operational goals for the coming year.

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2. Invest in a User-Friendly E-Commerce Platform:

An intuitive, mobile-friendly e-commerce platform makes merchandise galleries easily browsable from any device. Customers can visualize products using embedded online designers to mock up concepts. Integrations with production tools then facilitate moving approved designs right into production.

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Between optimized UX and business integrations, the right e-commerce foundation pays dividends through greater online conversion rates and sales.

3. Implement Centralized Order Management:

Efficient order management is critical for print shops to deliver quality products on time and keep customers happy. However, relying on manual methods like spreadsheets or paper records makes it easy for orders to fall through the cracks, resulting in mistakes, delays, and frustrated customers.

Centralized order management software helps solve these problems by allowing print shops to view all jobs in one place and track real-time progress. ImprintNext product automation provides dashboard views that serve as command centers to monitor order statuses from pending all the way to delivery.

Key functionality includes:

  • Automated workflows that standardize the steps for processing each order. Workflows ensure optimal sequences of production tasks to minimize errors.
  • Alerts and notifications when orders risk falling behind schedule. The system flags these orders so staff can quickly resolve bottlenecks.
  • Reporting tools to analyze order history metrics like job throughput times, identifying areas needing improvement.
  • Accounting and billing integration to simplify invoicing customers upon job completion and manage cash flow.
  • With these features, print shop staff and managers gain clarity rather than losing orders in disparate spreadsheets, whiteboards, or paperwork piles. Automation handles rote tasks so employees focus on expert skills like design and production quality assurance.

4. Upgrade the Art Approval Process:

Efficient artwork approval workflows are important for print shops to quickly translate customer ideas into production-ready designs. Relying on inefficient email and chat threads during approvals risks miscommunication that requires additional revision rounds.

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Implementing collaborative proofing software instead provides a shared online space for customers and creative teams. This allows all stakeholders to visually review designs in context and pinpoint feedback using annotation tools.

Key features include:

  • Cloud access that allows sending digital proofs to multiple customer stakeholders
  • Standardized workflows ensuring each approver sees the latest versions
  • Commenting tools to visually indicate edits tied to specific design details
  • Audit trails tracking each round of feedback for clear version control
  • Mobile optimization so approvers can review and approve on smartphones and tablets for faster turnarounds
  • With streamlined approvals, print shops accelerate the design process from initial concepts to production-ready artwork. Because all parties communicate on the same visual page, there is greater clarity ensuring client needs get translated accurately.

The collaborative approval environment enhances project transparency for customers as well while facilitating revisions.

By upgrading beyond scattered email threads and phone calls, print shops drive faster turnarounds from order to delivery by eliminating inefficiencies during the visual review process.

Better approval cycles also improve customer satisfaction through participation and perceived value from visibility.

5. Train Staff on Management Technologies:

Even the most powerful business software proves ineffective without proper training. Provide both structured onboarding and ongoing education so employees utilize technologies to their full potential.

Cover core features plus advanced functions like data reporting, customer support integrations and billing tools. As staff skills improve, reassess processes to leverage technologies for greater efficiency.

Adding more employees with proper management of their skill sets pays better results through increased order volumes without expanding headcount.

SEE ALSO:  How to Start T-shirt Printing Business at Home?

6. Gather Customer Feedback:

While software and systems provide the technical foundations, customers truly gauge shop performance through their first-hand experiences. Online reviews offer some feedback, but proactively collecting input through surveys and conversations better highlights areas needing improvement.

Feedback may cover website usability, order fulfillment times or product selection. Identify recurring pain points along with bright spots appreciated by customers.

Then conduct competitive research while brainstorming innovative solutions. Focus efforts on enhancements customers request most for a higher return on investment through increased loyalty and sales.

Final Words:

The print and decorated apparel industry grows more competitive each year. As large online resellers offer fast turnarounds on commodity products, local print shops must sharpen operations and customer service to stand out.

The good news is print shops don’t need to match the sheer scale of production giants. Strategically optimizing a few key areas can strengthen profitability and longevity enough to grow sustainably.

For example, upgrading core technologies like order management systems and collaborative proofing tools alleviates friction points impacting volume capacity and customer satisfaction. Tighter production workflows minimize delays while transparent communication removes roadblocks during approvals.

Moreover, customers appreciate the high-touch experience visiting a family-owned shop, seeing products firsthand and strategizing branding approaches together. Maintaining a personal in-person element while smoothing out back-end processes delivers the best of both worlds.


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Do you have printers? Are those printers sitting idle?

Become a Print-on-Demand dropshipping app like Printful or Printify. Dropship your merchants' orders.

Know more

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