How Direct-to-Garment Printing Trends are Shaping Retailers’ In-store Experience
Demand for sustainable printing, faster adaptability for clothing lines, and the influx of creative design in fashion. Future Market Insights identified these as some of the drivers for the predicted growth of the global Direct-to-Garment (DTG) printing market to £2.31bn by 2023.
We have also seen interest in DTG increase as a result of the pandemic accelerating reshoring and redefining supply chains in response to cost and time pressures. There has been greater uptake of creative personalization, customer design and merchandising opportunities as well. DTG supports in-store creation that encourages customers through the doors at a time when e-commerce has become the default way to shop.
Future Market Insights also pointed to the reduced cost of printing digitally as helping with wider adoption. The ability to quickly add a personalized message to a bag, a quirky slogan to a t-shirt, or an Augmented Reality-developed design to clothing allows a greater level of customer interactivity as the following examples highlight. They show how retail operations are responding to these trends by inspiring customer creativity and originality:
Delivering a Unique In-store Experience
“One gift, one story” is the adopted slogan of Manor, Switzerland’s largest department store chain that has 59 outlets. It gave a practical demonstration of this ethos, and inspired customers during the pandemic, by offering them something special – a personalized printed gift, such as a one-of-a-kind T-shirt or fabric bag. The innovative idea was introduced to widen its business opportunities, win new customers, and offer existing customers an attractive extra benefit to visit the physical store. It was brought to life with Ricoh Ri 100 Direct-to-Garment printers. They enabled the immediate in store printing of images straight from mobile phones and USB sticks directly onto bags, pillowcases, napkins, socks, and T-shirts.
Jennifer Trowbridge, Project Manager Business Development Unit Retail, Manor, explained, “The personalization of products is still very much in vogue. A plain T-shirt is quickly transformed into a personalized garment, and customers love this kind of innovative printed gift and memento.” She added the investment in the garment printers paid off quickly, thanks to their affordability and print on demand capabilities supported by user friendly software.
Keeping production local with DTG technology is Swish Edinburgh, Scotland. It has a boutique shop and a next day printing service outlet for the customization of items such as a T-shirts, tote bags, and sweatshirts. It produces one off pieces, promotional merchandise, and its own stock of 20 to 30 designs on two Ricoh Direct-to-Garment printers.
Shoppers at H&M’s Harajuku store in Japan were able to develop their own designs and bring them to life with Ricoh DTG technology at ‘Redesign Lab’. The immersive Augmented Reality experience using Disney’s ‘Star Wars Saga’ collateral asked visitors to create artwork by superimposing a virtual world on the real-world using AR glasses. They then printed their favorite design on clothing.
Lucas Seifert, President and CEO of H & M Japan, said, “This experience is a good example of how technology can help add value to clothing through product customization and on demand production. This will avoid overproduction, create meaningful products that will be loved and valued for a long time, and make future business models even more sustainable.”
All three retailers show how DTG technology can start new conversations with customers.