Awards & Engraving

January '17

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H aving a thriving direct-to-substrate (D2) business is more viable than ever with new advancements in the technology. New high- end printers built specifically for garment printing or hard substrate applications are more afford- able and easier to operate and maintain, which means less downtime and more reliable production. This reliability is essential to selling products online. One of the biggest advantages to D2 is the ability to create a full-color custom one-off in a matter of minutes. That is the key to success with these print- ers. Let's break down how you can expand your D2 offerings into a webstore and how to sell your products online with little to no overhead. GOING ONLINE Let's start with your website. If you have a D2 business and do not have a website, it's highly recom- mended you make one. Marketing your business online is a large component of diversifying your customer base and expanding your busi- ness. There are numerous web template companies where you can easily customize a website for your business. Some cross over and offer webstores or e-commerce options like Shopify or Squarespace. While viable, these options are expensive and often not versatile enough. If your decoration business is focused on servicing your community and customers paying for custom art volume orders, I suggest an informational and service-driven site first and developing a webstore as a plugin, redirect, or link back. If your business is largely generated by online sales of predesigned custom printed products, going with a web- store-predominant site might seem to make sense. Don't limit this site to selling your product, however. Include a page or two that outlines your ability to do large volume and custom orders. Because D2 is so versatile, you can offer the custom art volume orders, and one-off pre-designed webstore con- cepts. To be most effective, you should have one infor- mational service site and at least one webstore. Multiple linked sites are a huge advantage in getting your product and message out. Have two sites that work together, and better yet, do it for free. PICK A PLATFORM You can jump into expensive monthly options with crazy bells and whistles, but this is one area where you can be very effective starting with little to no expense. A website builder is one such option. Google can increase your SEO ranking, so my first choice in this category is sites. Simply create a Google account for your business and select a template for your free Google website. From here you can pick a domain name, set up email, Google map location, manage your Adwords and Analytics, and much more. It's all very streamlined in one convenient account and location. Wordpress is another option that has been around for a long time. It's easy, free, and can be very customizable and efficient. Some other free options are and To recap, pick your domain and set up your free site. Remember, this is the place where cus- tomers can learn about your custom printing ser- vices, pricing, turnaround, your location, contact info, testimonials, and more. Another option is to start an e- commerce/webstore site. Again, free is good, but there are not as many op- tions with free webstore templates. Wix. com does have a free option, however; and it's very versatile. There are some choices for webstores, and many are great, but they do come at a cost, and you don't neces- sarily want to spend more money than you have to when starting up. Plus, when starting with a free option, you BUILDING A D2 WEBSTORE Harness the internet to increase sales B Y J O H N L E D R E W 22 • THE DIGITAL DIRECT REPORT • 2016

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