February '21

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3 4 T E A M S A L E S R E P O R T 2 0 2 1 G R A P H I C S - P R O. C O M found its typical demand upended, with demand suddenly com- ing in the form of personal protective equipment, especially face masks. Using digital direct-to-garment (DTG) print technology, they were able to reorganize their operations for that purpose quickly. While few disruptions will ever impact the market to the extent COVID-19 has, being able to shift with the times is an invalu- able capability in the eCommerce age. Thanks to Amazon, buyers now expect to have any need fulfilled almost instantaneously, and if your operation is ill-prepared to meet those expectations, the uphill climb only gets steeper from there. If you're providing uniforms for community sports teams, that market will soon return with a vengeance, and your competitors, each of whom has encountered real consequences of the economic downturn, will be hungrier than ever to win those contracts. If you're providing fan gear, you need to be ready to fill those orders when the arenas and stadiums are again flooded with their long-deprived audience. Not to mention, the game they're return- ing to will have changed, and those changes require new gear—as any fan with a closet full of Washington Redskins- or Cleveland Indians-branded apparel knows all too well. Whichever team you serve, the key to weathering these changes and thriving in this new environment is the strength of your on- demand production. For several reasons, DTG printing is your most valuable player in this regard. PUSH-BUTTON START With DTG printing, there is no process for building screens, no mixing of plastisol inks or hazardous dyes, and no need for time-consuming sampling processes. If you can upload an image digitally, you can imprint it on any number of fabrics, cure the I f nothing else, 2020 and its COVID-ravaged marketplace demonstrated the paramount importance of understanding "demand." Meeting customer demand is a good business model. Anticipating it is a better business model. Being able to shift gears and completely change your production model in the face of sudden, drastic disruptions to your market—well, that could be the difference between thriving and vanishing. KEY PLAYER Most print businesses producing gear for local sports teams and organizations saw their bread and butter contracts go stale as so- cial distancing curtailed (and sometimes eliminated) such events across the board. Both the pandemic and its impact on consumer demand were felt worldwide. "Our sector has been significantly reduced because we are very oriented to the world of advertising rather than fashion, and there are no parties or events—sports or otherwise," says Sergio Alfaro Lloret of Rafa's Textiles, an imprinted apparel provider based in Valencia, Spain. New York-based Mendez Printing, which had built its business on providing customized apparel for community organizations, DTG IS YOUR MVP FOR ON-DEMAND TEAM APPAREL HOW DTG PRINTING KEEPS YOUR TEAM SPORTS BUSINESS ON TRACK B Y R O B E R T Z O C H If you provide uniforms for commu- nity sports teams, that market will soon return with a vengeance. You need to be ready to fill those orders when the stadiums are again flooded with their long-deprived audience. (Image courtesy Kornit Digital)

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