Guiding a customer through product selection and providing a price quote
A customer will reach out to you by email, phone or social media. They will either have no idea of where to start or they will have a lot of ideas. Either way, you want to take control of the conversation and lead them down the correct path. The goal is to listen to what the customer wants and direct them to the best resources to find a solution. We need to make the process simple for the customer so they have a positive experience. There needs to be a balance of customer guidance and making sure that you are using your time efficiently. It is easy to spend a lot of time going back and forth with a customer as they try and choose an item(s).
Start off by learning about the customer. Find out if this is an order for them personally or for a group/organization that they are representing. Find out what type of items they are looking for. Let them know that you can offer them guidance on the best products and help with design options too. The best option is to tell them which item(s) will best fit their needs. If they are looking for multiple products or want to "browse" what is available, you can send them a link to a distributor website. Try to limit this option as it may get confusing or overwhelming for a customer since there are many options to choose from. If sending them to a distributor website, give them specific item numbers to search for or specific links that take them direct to the product. This will make things easier and avoid frustrations which leads to a positive customer experience. Try to use only one vendor when possible. Sticking with one vendor will cut down on shipping expenses and is easier to track once an order is started.
When customers ask for pricing, let them know that it depends mainly on quantity ordered and the type of print. If it is screenprinted, pricing will be dependent on the number of colors being printed and the number of locations being printed. It also depends on the type of material being printed on. A polyester shirt requires a special additive to the ink to ensure it drys properly. This will increase the cost but also ensure a properly printed garment. The least expensive option is always a 1 color print in 1 location. In order to price any job correctly, you will need to have an idea of what design is to be printed. If the customer knows that they want a 1 or 2 color print but not yet sure of design, that is enough information to provide a price quote.
Embroidered items are priced on total stitch count, not colors. Embroidery you can get a rough idea if the customer gives you an idea of how large or location of print (eg left chest is roughly 4” x 4”). Let the customer know that you will work on getting them pricing and they will receive a detailed price quote by email the next business day.
Once you know which item(s) are wanted, type of embellishments (print or embroidered), number of colors and print locations, customer name, email & phone number, use this information to fill out an order quote form and submit it for pricing. Submit the quote for request to the person in charge of pricing through email or hard copy. The customer will be emailed their price quote within 24 hours. The quote and customer information needs to be added to Asana under the quotes column. Please keep Asana updated with any changes in the quote. Once the quote is accepted and the order is placed by the customer, have them submit the artwork in the proper vector format. If the customer has artwork, but not in the correct format, have them email it to you for review. If the artwork can be auto traced into a vector format, then there will be no additional cost for artwork revisions. If it cannot be auto traced, then let the customer know that their artwork needs to be re-created in the proper format and that it will cost between $15-$25 to recreate it, depending on the detail of image. For orders over 100 pieces the artwork fee is waived. Another alternative is to work the cost of the artwork ($7 - $15) into the total price quote and let the customer know that we will handle recreating the artwork. If the customer does not have any artwork and wants to work with us to create it, inform them that the cost is $35 per hour.
See if there is an opportunity to add pieces to an order to take it to the next pricing bucket and save the customer money. For example, if a customer has 47 pieces, suggest that they add one more piece in order to save money.
Once you receive the details of the order and have all artwork, the next step is to submit the order. Open up a blank purchase order in Excel/Google Sheets (You can view a blank sample here). If it is an existing customer, they will already have a purchase order & invoice file in Excel/Google Sheets. Locate the customers name in the customers folder and open the file. You want to create a new purchase order using the information that the customer provided you. Choose the contract printer or embroiderer name from the drop-down menu or choose In-House if this is an order that will be produced in our production facility. Fill in the necessary information. (Learn “How to fill out a PO”) The turnaround time for most orders is 7 – 10 business days. If the order is time sensitive, be sure it is labelled as a firm in hands date. For time sensitive orders, you can consider contacting the printer/embroiderer and have them hold a spot on their production calendar while you finalize either artwork or order details. Only do this if you are certain that the order is confirmed except for some details. After completing a purchase order, print a hard copy. This will be used by the manager when it is time to order the goods. When you have a small order, you want to wait until you have other orders you can place it with so you can save on shipping costs. You want to be sure to have all goods in hand 3 to 4 days (or sooner) before the job is set to run. This way, if there are any issues such as damaged items, short/wrong item shipped, you will have time to correct the error without holding up the production time. Email the completed purchase order and artwork to the appropriate contract printer. For screenprinting, typical turnaround time for a proof is same day. Embroidery is 1 to 3 days. Be sure to review the proof before sending it to your customer. Be sure that the size of the print is appropriate for all sizes (youth through adult) in the order. A standard size print of 12” may look very large on a youth small shirt. Consider making the image smaller in order to look correct on all shirt sizes. When you receive the artwork proof, send it along with a completed invoice ("How to complete an invoice) to your customer for their approval. Once approval is received for both the artwork and invoice, reply to the contract printer with approved in order to move forward with the order. If it is an in house job, then print a hard copy of the purchase order artwork proof when received. Remember to upload the purchase order, invoice and artwork proof into Asana under the customer’s name. You are ready to place an order for blank goods with the distributor. Give the completed purchase order to the purchasing manager. When ordered, the purchasing manager will mark the purchase order with an “O” & date to label it as ordered.
Orders will take approximately 7 - 10 business days for completion depending on the contract printer used. For screenprinting, you can check Asana for the status of the order (Liberty Print Co LPC). On embroidery orders, you can contact email@example.com for the status. For shipping of blank goods from distributors, please allow 2-3 days for shipping. Orders from LPC need to be picked up when completed. TB's will ship orders when completed. When orders are complete, contact the customer to arrange pickup at or facility. If the customer requested that the order be shipped, create a mailing label in Shopify once payment is received (See below for payment options). Customers can pay by cash, check or credit. The preferred payment type is cash or check because credit cards charge 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction. If a customer wants to pay by cash or check, advise them to make it payable to us and that they can leave their payment in the bin at that time of pickup. The pickup bin is secure and under video surveillance. If they wish to pay by credit card, let them know that they will receive a separate email with a link to pay securely on our website. Also advise them that sometimes the email goes into the spam folder. If they are not seeing the email have them check their spam folder. The customer also has the option to call us with their credit card number. Please reference "How to setup a credit card payment link" for more information on how to create the payment email. The order is now complete. Place the hard copy of the purchase order & invoice with a copy of all invoices from the distributor and contract printer. Verify that the costs you have on your purchase order match the costs from the contract printer. If they do not match, make note as to why. If a correction needs to be made by the vendor/contract printer, please contact them.
Setting up a new online store
Online stores are used for customers like schools, sports teams & businesses to easily & conveniently sell their merchandise. A store can also be used as a fundraiser for the group. It will allow them to offer multiple items and allow customers to pay using a credit card. A customer will need to choose the apparel they would like to offer. Typically, the basics such as t-shirt, hoodie & hat, are the best sellers. Offering between 5-7 products usually produces the best results. Anything more leads to indecision by a customer and lower overall sales. They will have to choose a design (typically 1 or 2 different designs only). A simple, one color designs appeals to the majority of customers and yields better sales results. Work with the customer to determine the best items and design(s) to offer. Listen to their needs but also educate them on the best practices for a successful online store (reference the Online Guide for Spirit Wear - https://newtownapparel.com/pages/success-tips-for-online-spirit-wear-fundraising. Discuss with the customer and determine when the store should open and them set a closing date approximately 2 weeks later. A 2 week period has proven to be the ideal amount of time to yield the best sales results. If the closing date falls on a Friday or Saturday, consider extending it to the next Sunday. Opening a store any longer than a 2 week period leads to customers not ordering which means less money raised for the customer.
Once it is determined which products are to be offered, you need to create a new store front. We use collections in Shopify as a customer store. To create a new store go to Products --> Collections and click the button in the top right that is labelled Create Collection. The top line/box, labeled Title, will be the store name, which needs to describe the group/organization that the store is for. The large text box below is where you will add details such as when orders need to be in by (closing date), the store contact person/email, and the standard disclaimer that the items are custom made and returns are not accepted. You can also add any other details or requests that the customer may have. Examples are an estimate of when items will be available (approx 2 weeks after the store closing) and where they can pick up their orders.The next section, labelled Collection Type, should be Manual since you will manually add specific products to your collection. The top right section, Sales Channels, allows you to select exactly where you would like the products to be available. For these stores, you will typically only select Online Store. You have the option to add an image for the collection, but this is not necessary.The last section is Search Engine Listing Preview. This is the description that will appear when a person searches for the store online. You can edit this if you want the results to be more descriptive, but it is not necessary. What does need to be changed is the URL. The collection name is automatically used for the URL and sometimes this can be lengthy. We need to keep this URL short and precise. This is the URL that will be shared with customers so it should not be lengthy. Try to abbreviate; for example if the title is Newtown Middle School Online store, change the URL to NMS (www.newtownapparel.com/collections/nms). Now you need to add products to the store, but before you can add products to your collection, you will need to create a product(s)
In Shopify, click on products. This will list all the products currently available. If the product that you want to add already exists, but for another store, you can simply duplicate that item and make a few changes. We will describe how later. But first lets learn how to add a new product. While on the products page, click Add Product on the top right corner (desktop). This will bring up a blank products page. The top box, labelled Title should include a reference to the store name, the product description and the product number. This will make it easily identifiable when an order is received. For example, "NMS Cotton Hoodie 18500, Or NMS Youth & Adult Cotton Hoodie 18500/18500B. Next is the product description. Typically, you can cut and past the product description directly from the distributors website. Be sure to read through the description once pasted to ensure all parts apply to your specific product or if you need to add any additional details, ie how the garment will be printed. You will also need to add the available sizes. Example is YS - YXL and XS-4XL. Be careful when adding sizes. You may want to avoid making a YXS available if you are also making adult sizes. In order to print on the YXS you have to make the print very small which will not look correct on the adult sizes. In the same box, under your product description, add the product size chart. If both youth and adult be sure to add both. You can get this from the distributors website. Be sure that you add the size chart and not the product measurements chart, this is a common mistake. Most distributors have both charts on their websites. The sizing chart gives very different measurements than the product measurement chart. Sometimes you can paste the chart in as text and sometimes you will need to add it as an image. If adding it as an image, check to make sure that the image size will show correctly on both desktop browsers and smartphones. Next add the product images. Click upload image and find the image you want and press open. Product images can be pulled from the distributors website and then modified in Cadworxlive.com or any other graphic design program. You will need to add the school or organizations design to the apparel. Try to be as accurate as possible when sizing and placing the logo/design. Once the picture is uploaded, hover over it with your mouse cursor and click the letters ALT. In the image Alt text box, add the school/organization name. This will help make the product and online store visible to search engines. The box below product description is the price. Next to the price is the compare at price. If you are listing a product as on sale, you would add the original price in the compare at price to show what it used to cost before the sale. This will appear on the website. If you have the final cost of the product, you can add it to the Cost per item, but it is not necessary. Make sure that you check the box that states Charge taxes on this product. This should always be checked off. For the Inventory section, the SKU text box is where we put the products item number. Be sure that if it is a youth size you use the correct item number ie PC61 for adult or PC61Y for youth. This will appear on the customers order and make things easier when putting together a customer order. The Barcode section can be left blank. Inventory policy needs to be set to Shopify tracks this product. This allows Shopify to keep track of the total number of items in stock. We use this a little differently. We set the Quantity to 0 and when a customer places an order it will go to -1. This allows us to track how many items have been pre-ordered. For this to work properly, it needs to be selected that customers can order this product even when it is out of stock. At this point press Save to save all changes. The next section, shipping, can be left blank for now. For fulfillment services, that will be left as Manual because we fulfill all orders. Now you need to add variants. A variant is a different version of the product. For example, the same shirt may come in different sizes and colors, these are variants. Click on add variant. This will give you an Option Name and Option values. The default option is Size. If you will be offering both youth & adult sizes, then add (Youth & Adult) next to the word size. You want it to be as clear as possible for the customer that is purchasing. It will look like this Size (Youth & Adult), but only if you are offering both. In the options values, add the abbreviations for sizes, separated by a comma - YS, YM, YL, YXL, S, M, L, XL, 2XL. Check the distributors website to see what sizes your garment is available in. Different garments will have different sizes available. Next, click add another option button. This will give you another text box and is auto populated with color. You always want to add a Color variant even if you are only offering one color. This is helpful once the order is made. It makes it very clear what color was ordered. Type the color option(s) in the Variant options box. You can add more options if needed, such as style (men/women). On the right hand side of the product page are some additional options.The first option is product availability. This lets you choose which sales channel you want your product to be offered on. Click the word manage to display the options available. Right now, the only option needed is the Online Store. Make sure that this is the only option checked off. This ensures that the product will appear on the online store page. If a customer decides that they no longer want to offer this product, you can uncheck this box and it will hide the product and giving you the option to make it visible again at anytime. The section below Product Availability is Organization. This is where you will specify which organization the product belongs to. First enter the product type (i.e. t-shirt, sweatshirt, pants) and then the vendor name. The vendor name will be the name of the school or organization that you are creating the store for. Next add the collection name. This is the name of the collection that you created (usually the school/organization name) that you created prior to creating a new product. This needs to be filled out in order to have a product appear on the correct online store. Remember to press save. You now created a new product. Go back to your collection page; click Collections on the left side navigation bar and then search for the collection name. Click on your collection name and then scroll down to be sure that your product appears in the collection. At the top of the page you can click View and it will show you exactly how it will look online. Be sure to go through each product you add in detail to ensure everything is correct.
When creating a new collection, the product that you want to add may already exist in a different collection. If this is the case, then you do not need to create a new product. What you will do is search for the existing product. You can search by product name or the product number. When you find the product you want, click on duplicate. A window will pop up and allow to to change the products name. You will add the product name the same way that you would add it if it was a new product; include a reference to the store name, the product description and the product number. Go through each section of the product to be sure everything is correct. The important areas/items that need to be changed are the Vendor name, the Collections name, Images and price. These need to be tailored to the specifications of the new store/organization. Click upload image and find the image you want and press open. Product images can be pulled from the distributors website and then modified in Cadworxlive.com or any other graphic design program. You will need to add the school or organizations design to the apparel. Try to be as accurate as possible when sizing and placing the logo/design. Once the picture is uploaded, hover over it with your mouse cursor and click the letters ALT. In the image Alt text box, add the school/organization name. This will help make the product and online store visible to search engines. Once these are updated and you click save, it will automatically appear in the new collection.
You will now have a completed online store setup up as a collection. Review your collection and be sure that you have the school/organization name up top, the closing date, an email listed for the stores point of contact and our standard disclaimer about when orders will be ready and that returns are not accepted since these items are custom made. Make sure that all of the products that you want are listed in the collection. You can re-arrange the items and put them in the order that you like. It makes sense to place one or two inexpensive items first then some more expensive items after. To reorder the products, click Manually under the sort option. You can now click and drag the 6 dots to the left of the product number to re-position it.
At checkout, a customer will have multiple options to choose from for shipping. Orders for online stores are setup to be picked up by the head of the program. This is in place to save customers from paying for shipping. Customers need to be informed to choose the Ship to school/Team option in order to avoid a shipping charge. Some people will opt to have their order shipped direct to them. They can choose a shipping option and pay the corresponding shipping charge. Again, customers need to be made aware of this as to avoid any confusion.
Before officially making the store available to customers, click the View icon on the top of the Collections page. This will bring you to the live collections page that a customer would see. Go through the collection in detail, clicking through each product, to ensure everything is correct. It also needs to be explained to the customer about what shipping options should be selected. There are options to pay for shipping and also options to have the order picked up by the team or school for free and then distributed. This sometimes confuses people so be sure to clearly express this and consider adding it to the Collection description section. This will help clarify things. Once you have reviewed the online store, you want to send the customer an email (Your school/team store is now open) that lets them know that the store is opened and gives them tips on how to promote the store to make it successful. The customer has a big roll in getting the word out to parents. They need to be reminded on what to do. This email can be found in the Email List.
A store is typically opened for a 2 week period. When the closing date has passed, you will need to go into each of the products and mark them as sold out. In order to mark a product as sold out, go to the Products tab, click collections and then search for your collection. Click on the first product and scroll down to Variants. Select All and under the Actions drop down box, select Stop selling when sold out. It will automatically save your changes and this item will now appear as sold out on the online store. Repeat this process for each of the products in the collection. This will not allow customers to make a purchase after the closing deadline. You will also need to go into the collection description and notate that the store is closed but may reopen later in the year. There are times when a customer will contact us after the store closes because they missed the deadline and want to order. If the blank garments have not been ordered yet and you want to accommodate the customer, you can temporarily mark a product(s) as available in order to let them place a late order. Be sure to mark the product as sold out once the order is received. If blank garments have not been ordered and you have sufficient time to place an order to arrive before printing, you can give the customer the option to order if they are willing to pay the additional shipping charge that we would incur. These options are at your discretion.
After a store is officially closed and you are no longer taking orders, you need to create and submit the purchase order(s). In Shopify, click on Products and then inventory. From here, select filters for the store that you want. In the Filter drop down menu, select by Product Vendor and below that select the name of the online store that you wish to run the report on and press add filter. Next, in the Filter drop down menu, select Inventory Quantity and less than 0 (zero) and press add filter. This will list only the products that sold from that particular online store. It will not show you any items that did not sell. Sort the list by Product variant by clicking on the column header. You now have and inventory report, sorted by each product, for a specific store. The numbers in red are the quantities sold. Be sure that under the column header labelled When Sold out, that is states Stop selling. You can save this search for future reference by clicking save search in the top box to the right. To print the report, right click anywhere within the inventory report and select print. Besides printing a hard copy for your use, also print/save a copy in a PDF labelled StoreName Sales date.pdf (ie NYWA Store Sales 3-5-19.pdf) Place this PDF file in the customers file on Asana. This is useful for the future to track what items sold well. The inventory report will be used to create the purchase order(s) for printing or embroidery. Create the order and submit it to the correct vendor. Most orders for schools and teams are individually packed before pickup. Print each customer order, fulfill it with the proper items and bag it in a clear plastic bag with the printed order facing out so the customer name is visible. This makes it easier for our customer when they are distributing the order to each individual customer.
If the online store was set up as a fundraiser for the group, you need to put together a final invoice to determine how much needs to go back to the group.
Final Invoice & cut check
Reopening Existing Stores