Many believe Amazon only works with gigantic embroidery and apparel companies like Custom Ink, Logo Up, Nike, and Land’s End. This was true a few years ago, but now Amazon is choosing local micro-factories that are located in the Seattle and Tacoma areas. A micro-factory is any factory that has less than 25 employees with annual sales between 2.2 and 3.5 million dollars. Most apparel micro-factories specialize in the “Unit of One” which means you can order one shirt or cap. This opens the doors to nearly every person in the world who wants personalized apparel.
Micro-factories are investing in Direct-to-Garment technology which allows them to print only 1 shirt with a 100% custom design. Embroidery one-offs are now possible with smaller-sized embroidery machines that are networked with server banks around the country.
Custom online stores for small businesses that feature their branded virtual apparel. It’s called virtual apparel because the product hasn’t been produced. The direct-to-garment printers talk to the online store and once an order is placed the printers go into production. This is called “click to print” by the Amazon developers and is powered by Amazon servers.
The advantages of online stores are that the small business carries no inventory and doesn’t have to worry about stockouts on certain sizes and designs. The reordering is a click vs. calling the embroidery shop placing your order by phone and filling out archaic paper order forms.
This technology is still in its infancy and will keep screen printers and promo product sales reps scrambling to find a way to combat Amazon’s online presence. Customers are tired of working with unprofessional screen printers and commissioned-based bulldog promo product sales reps.
Northwest Custom Apparel is a local micro-factory located in Milton that has printing and embroidery capacity along with online stores for your company.