– By Graham Kennedy, Head of Commercial Ink Jet Business, Graphic Communications Group, Ricoh Europe.
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 personalisation, customer design and merchandising opportunities as well. DTG supports instore creation that encourages customers through the doors at a time when ecommerce 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 personalised 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 instore 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 personalised 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 easy to operate 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 personalisation of products is still very much in vogue. A plain T-shirt is quickly transformed into a personalised 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 customisation 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 favourite 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 customisation 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.
The easy-to-use systems have enabled a greater level of interactivity, added value and generated new revenue opportunities. The fast, small footprinted systems, with intuitive set up and low total cost of ownership, can be seamlessly added to any shop floor. And, as we have seen from Switzerland, Scotland and Japan, they are driving a wave of innovation that is propelling DTG printing to a wider market and fostering stronger relationships.
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