Print-On-Demand Fulfillment Is Bigger Than Ever During a Turbulent 2020
On March 19th, Alex Diaz, owner, Diaz Screen Printing & Embroidery, was in his California shop spending the afternoon wrapping up a large order, one of his last bulk screen print orders for a school that had been closed earlier in the week due to COVID-19. That same evening, California Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a stay-at-home order that officially resulted in closures and quarantines across the state.
“I was floored by this news,” recalls Diaz, “My business went from orders dropping in numbers to absolutely nothing overnight.”
A prosperous 2020 planned, with a colorful array of events ultimately foiled by the ever-growing threat of COVID-19. Movie theaters, restaurants, and the like had to completely close their doors.
“The only way for us to keep growing during this was for us to pivot to digital, a tactic we equally saw our customer base and markets implementing as well,” says Victor Pena, CEO of OmniPrint International. “The pandemic has accelerated the adoption of digital, and it’s giving us a growth in one year that we would’ve seen in five-plus years.”
While a majority of screen printers faced the decline of bulk orders, another market was booming: digital print-on-demand. Stigma from the early days of direct-to-garment (DTG) have some people looking at it as a luxurious gimmick, however it’s come a very long way, and has since launched a new wave of small businesses in the garment decoration industry, while offering a digital on-demand solution for established print shops.
While Diaz faced a complete standstill, CrumyPrintsInk, another California print shop, was working overtime to pivot to selling face masks, and printing fundraising t-shirt orders for businesses that faced revenue loss overnight.
“These closed businesses are owned and operated by hard working individuals who have families and bills,” says owner Maury Rob. “In the midst of all of this chaos, I saw an opportunity to not only help myself, but also help the fellow entrepreneurs in my community.”
Rob began running a campaign for helping closed businesses to offer them a solution for the financial woes they faced.
“While many of my screen printer friends were also able to pivot to mask sales, they lacked the resources for offering the on-demand merchandise service for closed businesses,” recalls Rob.
With no MOQs, no artwork limitations, and with the ability to fulfill orders on-demand, CrumyPrintsInk’s plate quickly became full, with local businesses looking to wholesale branded merchandise on-demand.
“2020 is the year of on-demand,” says DTG veteran Eric Deem, business development manager, Industrial Division, OmniPrint International. “If you aren’t a shop that was already involved with print on-demand, now is the time to do it!”
Soon after, many print shops followed suit by focusing on printed cloth face masks and/or producing fundraising merchandise. Those lacking the resources to produce on-demand garment prints were forced to reevaluate their business models in order to adapt to this new economic and social climate.
“With the explosion of digital, our existing customer base is at capacity with their current DTG equipment,” says Pena. “We’re seeing investment in new printers by existing printer owners who have leveraged e-commerce during this time. In addition, screen printers are pivoting to investing in DTG or outsourcing to print on-demand wholesalers. This is just the beginning of a huge market-wide pivot to digital.”
While coronavirus vaccine research shows promise, the social and economic climate that resulted from the pandemic has proven that digital solutions — including on-demand print fulfillment — are here to stay. The digital Renaissance has arrived sooner than most expected, and from here on out, the sky's the limit.