Envision Tees: Growing E-Commerce in Leaps and Bounds

From a 7000- to a 36,000-square-foot facility, Envision Tees CEO attributes success to online sales.

Our conversation with Tom Rauen began something like this:

Screen Printing: How have things been since we last spoke?

Rauen: Pretty good. We’re moving into a new facility – 36,000 square feet, and we’re currently at 7000, so it’s a pretty big jump. We’ve been growing 20 to 30 percent every year since we started.

SP: If you could attribute that growth to one thing, what would it be?

Rauen: It would be our e-commerce.

Perhaps we have a thing or two to learn from the CEO of Envision Tees about what e-commerce can do for a garment decorator. (You may also remember learning a thing or two about sustainable printing from Rauen in our April/May 2018 issue, pg. 27.)

The shop began exploring online sales roughly five years ago as an alternative to the hassle of paper order forms. They’d do a fundraiser with a school and find that half the information on the order forms was indecipherable or incomplete; plus, someone still had to enter every order into a spreadsheet, order the product, and so on. 

They started out using Shopify. A couple of years later, they discovered OrderMyGear, which was a great fit for school spiritwear stores. Another year went by and they came across InkSoft. While OrderMyGear operates with a “cart open” and “cart close” date, Rauen says that InkSoft worked better for Envision’s print-on-demand operations for clients like corporate web stores. Before they knew it, they were operating four e-commerce platforms, including envisiontees.com, which serves primarily as a lead generator.

All told, they’re doing around 20,000 e-commerce orders annually, each consisting of three items on average. That’s been an added bonus of switching over to e-commerce, too, Rauen says: “When you’re online, you start clicking on stuff and you probably buy a few more things than you actually need – just because it’s so easy to do.” Five years ago, Envision’s average order value using paper order forms was roughly $42. Last year, it was $56.28. This year: $60.83.

An increase of almost $5 per order in just one year? That adds up when you’re doing 20,000 of them. Rauen attributes the jump to expanding the variety of their online products, having added items like engraved tumblers and car decals – “just to give someone one or two more things to buy other than a T-shirt.” And how do they handle the hodgepodge of orders coming in from four different platforms? “It’s a damn miracle,” Rauen jokes. “It really takes a lot of hands. One web store is probably touched by seven or eight people in different departments. Once it gets handed off to the next person, they know what their job is.” Certainly, no success story is without its challenges. Rauen says he’d love to be more automated, and there’s the customer expectation of a constantly shrinking turnaround time. Envision is working toward a turn time of three to five days.

Nonetheless, Rauen says, “E-commerce is the fastest and best way to grow your business. Customers are used to it and expecting it.” His advice for anyone getting into the game may sound familiar if you read Envision’s recent sustainability profile: “Just start. It doesn’t have to be perfect.” 

Read more e-commerce profiles or check out the rest of our October/November 2018 issue.

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