GRAPHICS PRO

June '20

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G R A P H I C S - P R O. C O M 2 0 2 0 J U N E G R A P H I C S P R O 5 7 "Is the customer looking to promote a one-time event on a budget, are they look- ing for a fashionable shirt that they can wear at social activities with friends, or could they be looking for a durable shirt to wear at work?" Davis poses. "These usage oc- casions could require different blends and price-point Ts." SOURCING AND INVENTORY Just like sign supplies, inkjet inks, or cutter blades, shops must make sure they're sourc- ing T-shirts from reliable suppliers so there aren't any hiccups between the order-taking and production process. Bostwick suggests producers start first with manufacturers who offer direct shipping options since the pricing will often be better. Depending on the company, some apparel manufacturers may have regional distribution centers that shops can source from and potentially take advantage of that company's pricing struc- ture. In other instances, it may make more sense for a shop to source from a third-party distributor. This approach enables a shop to choose from different brand lines and styles from a single source, instead of hav- ing to keep track of shipping orders from multiple garment companies and facilities. Shops should also consult with the suppli- ers they already order from, since many of those companies may carry garment blanks in addition to other substrates like banner materials and awards supplies. Aside from multiline variety, Edwards rec- ommends shops look for suppliers who offer competitive shipping rates and turnarounds that meet a business's needs. Knowing how fast a distributor can ship an order, and at what price point they offer free shipping, can help a shop make quicker purchasing decisions. And, much like any other sup- plier relationship, finding one with a solid customer service reputation is vital. "Let's face it, in any business sometimes things happen," states Edwards, stressing that the important thing is how quickly a supplier addresses the situation and how they resolve it. Depending on a shop's goals with T-shirt decoration, they may opt to keep an inven- tory of blanks on-hand. But sources agree that this isn't mandatory, especially if a pro- ducer has lined up an agreement with a sup- plier that can send them supplies quickly. For those offering quick-turn services, hav- ing some garments in-house is beneficial, while other shops can maintain order vol- ume by ordering as-needed. "If your services require more compli- cated art development, then only ordering product(s) for each order as needed may be the best approach," says Davis. "Most wholesalers and distributors deliver within a few days of placing an order. This gives you time to prepare any artwork and have it approved by the customer before beginning the order." If a shop doesn't want to tie up money in a large backstock of shirts, they can also keep a small inventory of core shirts in stan- dard colors like black and white. If an order comes in that surpasses in-house quantities, they can start the jobs with the on-hand inventory and order additional shirts from their supplier. Sources agree that ultimately, the end goal is similar to selling other graphics-embel- lished products to clients: recommending a product that will resonate with the end-user. "You want to help your customers choose T-shirts that their customers will want to wear, and with so many available op- tions, today's consumers are demanding," Edwards says, pointing to retail-inspired trends in promotional apparel. "Remind your customers to channel the end-wearer and their expectations. Can you picture them wearing this T-shirt more than once? If the answer is yes, then it's worth the in- vestment." GP MIKE CLARK is the editor-at-large for GRAPHICS PRO magazine and parent company NBM. He previ- ously served as the associate editor for Printwear and Sign & Digital Graphics magazines. Contact him at mclark@nbm.com. WHATEVER YOUR NEEDS, WE'RE READY TO SUPPORT YOU. www.augustasportswear.com CS-4030 Printwear FreeStyle Polo Ad - May.indd 1 4/13/20 2:19 PM

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