When retailers and clothing manufacturers meet face-to-face, it is often to pore over thick binders full of samples.
Artisans Inc., an apparel manufacturer with an emphasis on embroidered items with outdoor themes, got rid of the three-ring binders in favor of iPads. The software from Irish Titan makes the process quicker and more interactive, according to Vicki Gabert, Manager of Sales and Marketing Support for Artisans.
The manufacturer produces two annual catalogs — spring/summer and fall/winter — along with several specialty line catalogs. Prior to the iPad application, representatives carried two four-inch thick binders to meetings with clients. This made it challenging to locate specific items, sometimes resulting in long sessions with customers.
“The process was cumbersome at best and it really lengthened the time of presentations, meaning that salespeople were limited in the number of clients they could visit,” Gabert said. “With the iPad application, everything is right at hand. If a client is looking for a bear design, for example, the sales rep can search by bear and bring up all of the relevant designs. Meetings are now much more productive.”
The iPad presentation platform is also more engaging, Gabert added. “It is very intuitive and the clients really enjoy it to the point where they sometimes start working the iPad.”
What You See Is What You Get
Because the company’s items are embroidered and laser-etched, it is particularly important to provide accurate representations of the finished product. “Our markets are very unique, as all of our products are decorated,” said Gabert. “Anyone can build an app to show you garments, but we needed something that could truly represent decorations in specific styles and colors.”
Due to the accurate depictions on the iPads compared to the sample books, customer requests for proofs have decreased by 20%, helping to streamline the pre-production process. The improved accuracy of the iPad is also beneficial once an order is in production, Gabert noted, because it is costly to halt the manufacturing process to make a correction.
Gaining the confidence of the sales staff was essential for the project to move forward, according to Gabert. “If we had the salespeople throw the book away, the replacement had to be perfect and the final product had to be perfect or they would have lost faith.”
The new application also eliminated the costs and resources involved in printing the binder. Product information can now be updated without having to print new pages, ensuring that the client is provided with the most up-to-date information.
The next step, which is expected later this year, is to provide salespeople with the ability to place orders directly from their iPads through a link to the company’s enterprise resource planning system.