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Customize products on the web

February 26th, 2010 / By: / Graphics

A man goes into a store, buys a shirt and goes home. A woman goes into a store, tries on eight shirts, goes to the next store, tries on five more, then goes home and shops online. She might keep this up for days in order to find the right style, fit and fabric. This may be an overstatement, but it illustrates a point that is not missed by savvy apparel businesses. In fact, anyone who prints on fabric can capitalize on this point.

Peach Berserk is a buzzing “bricks and mortar” store and workshop in Toronto, Ontario, but it has a far more commanding reach via an interactive website. Owner Kingi Carpenter makes the entire shopping experience fun by offering customers “a website that allows people to goof around, try things and see what they look like.”

Shopping for clothes is vastly different than shopping for an awning, signage or exhibit. Still, each instance should allow customers to try things and figure out for themselves what they like.

On the Peach Berserk website, visitors choose the pieces of the dress, the pattern for the fabric and the color. The customer designs her own dress, submits her choices online and in a week the dress is done.

“We do it all in-house,” Carpenter says. “If someone needs it in two days, we can do it. Everything stays in downtown Toronto. The price is higher, but there’s such flexibility.”

Customers can even submit artwork for a custom pattern.

The shop also turns out pillow cases, curtains and duvet covers—even oven mitts are popular. “Our attitude is if you can print it, we can make it,” Carpenter says.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a picture your customer created that accurately represents the finished product they will be paying for adds value to your products and services. Some projects may be too complex for a customer to “design” their own, but why couldn’t they at least see their logo on several different fabric patterns or colors?

Any part of the project that can be designed interactively is a plus for you. The customer has a hand in the creative process and is likely to have a better understanding and acceptance of the final product. The commitment up front for businesses is critical, but the payoff can be substantial.

Janet Preus is editor of Specialty Fabrics Review, a publication of the Industrial Fabrics Association International, and contributing editor for Fabric Graphics.

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