Ready to take the plunge? Make sure this transition is right for you.
Not everyone who dabbles in DTG technology succeeds with it, as a cursory check of used equipment for sale on eBay and other classified sites will quickly show. Here are some ways to get the most from your investment in DTG.
Have a Plan
All of the hype surrounding DTG and the advancements in technology can lead shop owners into thinking they have to add inkjet capabilities just to keep up. Usually, this is a mistake. Without a fundamental understanding of how DTG differs from screen printing or how to sell it, the unit will likely be underutilized. Understand whether your current customers may have an untapped demand for personalized goods and other short runs. Take the time to build a sales and marketing plan for how you would promote such capabilities to buyers who do.
“There’s more to it than you think,” says consultant Charlie Taublieb. “So many of those who have been playing with it are now bailing on it because it doesn’t make sense for what they [currently] do.”
Identify Skills You May Not Have
Many printers pride themselves on being able to find print solutions for any orders that come their way. With DTG, most of the creativity needed to wow a customer happens before the job goes to production, or even before the order is placed. Be ready to find people who understand social media marketing to help you promote your new capabilities in ways that may be unfamiliar to you. Look for people with database talents who can assist with your marketing and help you implement new types of services such as variable data fulfillment. Get help in establishing effective online ordering sites and customer interfaces that can be critical in a DTG strategy.
Price It Properly
Printers who are accustomed to minimum orders and gradually descending per-piece rates can struggle with a technology that enables printing to be done in run lengths that were impossible before. Personalization and variable data are capabilities that should, and must, command a premium in order for you to succeed. “It’s all about how you charge for it,” says consultant Marshall Atkinson. “If you’re going to do a variable name drop on 300 shirts, you should be getting extra money for every single one of those prints. Instead of charging it as a standard 300-piece job, charge it as 300 orders of one.”
Follow the Maintenance Recommendations
The printhead clogging issues that have been so widely lamented in web chatrooms are real, but they are also largely avoidable, especially with the improved ink management and delivery features in the latest systems. Learn the maintenance recommendations for your unit and follow them, even though it will mean purging printheads (and using expensive ink) even on days when you might not print a single DTG shirt. The ink expense hurts, but replacing failed printheads – especially when you do have an order to turn around quickly – is a lot more painful.
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