Big News in our weird industry. Broder launched an design online application on their AplhaBroder website that is powered by InkSoft. InkSoft admittedly has an amazing online design tool for screen printing specific for end customer use. Very much like CustonInk’s ‘lab’. Of course, they don’t have an embroidery solution but that seems less important every day. The problem I see as a decorator is the behemoths continue to provide only “pho-ware” or software that is great at looking nice but doesn’t solve any back-end ordering inefficiencies. This is inherently the problem choosing a software vendor versus an ‘operating’ decorator with software.
I do feel AlphaBroder consciously provides an incomplete solution to keep their strangle hold on a wildly inefficient market. They benefit from lowering barriers to entry and adding yet another middleman in THE most layered simple business in the country. Why wouldn’t they develop software to help their customers sell and run their shop? OK, they don’t know how?….well find someone that will help with it, right? Nope, let’s introduce a new layer and add a technology company in the middle. Why? Levels the playing field and reduces barrier to entry which means another 20,000 new folks selling screeprinted and embroidered apparel. More small customers fighting for pennies is a good business and a smart move. They play lip-service that they are helping customers offering design studios and they care about your business in particular. Problem is, they are helping everyone compete with you at the same time. They’ll never limit who they sell to so you’ll have to send multiple quotes for every order you take. You won’t “win a customer” any longer, you’ll start having to “win every order”. Might want to brush up that resume cause this form of business is unsustainable. Add in all the websites reselling blanks from AlphaBroder for 25 cent profit and it’ll be over soon!
However, its not all doom and gloom: I do think it creates a great opportunity to provide end-customers with a complete vertical in our industry that is currently dominated by only two major suppliers that do not decorate and have yet to provide a way to process small orders efficiently.