On-demand personalisation booms

For many in the world of garment and promotional product decoration, they will have undoubtedly noticed that during the last eight months that on-demand has boomed. In an informative webinar, Andrew Talbot, general manager of Custom Gateway, explained his thoughts behind this growth.

When the global lockdown happened in March, it changed the business landscape as we knew it, forcing many to turn to e-commerce to stay afloat.

At the start of the webinar, Andrew showed data from an IBM Data Analysis report that indicated the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the shift to e-commerce by five years in just one month. The report also suggested that retail stores are expected to decline by over 60% for the full year, while e-commerce business is projected to grow by nearly 20% in 2020. E-commerce is accounting for more and more of customers’ retail spend.

“You kind of feel guilty that our world has been accelerated or improved by COVID-19 when there are so many businesses and people out there that have been so badly affected,” Andrew said. He added that for many of Custom Gateway’s customers every month during the last six to eight months has been like the run up to Christmas. “It’s fair to say we were already at a tipping point and COVID has just focused minds.”

Driving factors

The closure of physical stores was one driving factor behind the rise in e-commerce sales. Coupled with a nervousness from some consumers about entering a shop during the pandemic, it is easy to see why online shopping increased.

This explains the drive towards online shopping, but it does not explain why on-demand products in particular have seen a boom. Andrew provided three reasons for this.

The first being that during the pandemic, most people had more time on their hands and when people have more time on their hands, they tend to get creative. Personalised or customised products are currently experiencing double digit sales growth. “Photo uploads accounts for 40% of the market. People are more creative now. It’s moved much further than creating your own phone case or mug. The creativity in this space has grown exponentially during the lockdown. It was already a trend, but it has become a bigger and bigger trend,” said Andrew.

Secondly, with football stadiums and such like closed, fans have been unable to show support for their teams by attending matches, so this has intensified the demand for merchandise. Fans have continued to show their allegiance by purchasing customised merchandise. The same applies to other sectors such as the music industry. Andrew said this has led to more than 50% growth in some product areas.

And thirdly, the gifting sector has seen a massive boom. With family and friends unable to see each other during lockdown, they naturally wanted to send a gift to show they are thinking of the recipient. On-demand products enable people to create more personalised and thoughtful gifts. Not only this, but during the lockdown companies sought to boost morale among their homeworkers and did so by sending gifts. If you do not currently supply personalised gifts, on-demand allows you to quickly pivot within days to meet this demand.

A lifeline

The on-demand business model has proved to be a lifeline for many retailers during the pandemic. It helps to solve capacity and supply chain issues, which many retailers experienced during the lockdown, while helping to reduce the risk of investing in physical stock. During the pandemic, many retailers struggled to get stock replenishment so used the on-demand model to backfill. New season ranges have been delivered on-demand because big parts of Asia were closed for business, meaning we are seeing the return of nearshoring. The on-demand model will get used more and more as businesses do not want to risk the investment in stock. “The ability to print as you need it or fulfil as you need it will become more and more desirable,” said Andrew. Andrew sees this area in particular growing substantially over the next six months.

Ultimately, on-demand enables retailers and decorators to find different ways of making money. There are two predominant ways that this has happened in recent months. The first being the ability to add new product lines to websites quickly and easily, with the most obvious being face masks. “All of a sudden the world market for masks has just gone mad and everybody has wanted to sell them. The on-demand supply chain had them available from mid-March for people to be able to customise,” said Andrew. Being able to add new products to your website quickly is something that on-demand is perfectly set-up for. Secondly, on-demand offers businesses the ability to increase available ranges to compensate for lost revenue in other channels.

Andrew concluded the webinar on on-demand by saying: “Although the pandemic has been a tragedy for our world, it has obviously been a tipping point for the world of on-demand products and we can only see it increasing. So, don’t get left behind, don’t get demotivated. Use this opportunity to pivot your business and make some money from on-demand products.”

To watch the webinar in full click here.

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