Customization is the future of retail.
That’s according to Tim Williams, chief executive of Yr Store, a London-based customization specialist that’s worked with the likes of Liberty and Selfridges and set up interactive design stations in-store at Topshop.
“The ability to print on demand will be everywhere in the future,” he said, speaking at the second day of Product Innovation Apparel in New York City Tuesday. However: “It has to be a relevant experience for the audience you’re selling into,” he stressed.
Since launching in 2013, Yr Store has helped brands spanning Japanese streetwear label A Bathing Ape to activewear giant Nike, among others, to offer customers the chance to customize T-shirts using a touchscreen kiosk in-store which are then printed while they wait.
“The key part of customization that we’ve learned over the last three years is to create something that customers can understand,” Williams continued.
In terms of the Nike collaboration, Yr printed more than 180 personalized tees on an Epson direct-to-garment printer in one day at a pre-World Cup event in London. “That was about creating a moment for people to not only purchase T-shirts but we also allowed them to really buy into that event with very specific artwork,” he explained.
At Topshop, people could choose to customize everything from sweatshirts to tote bags to iPhone cases, that were then printed in-store using an Epson F-series dye sublimation printer. Prices ranged from $32 to $40.
“It’s enabled people to create customized content live, and do something really quick and be part of that unique customization zeitgeist at the moment,” Williams noted, adding, “What customization does for your business is it increases the dwell time in store or at an event, which can help to create additional revenue in the immediate area where our station is located.”
Not to mention, at a time when most consumers are only interested in ultra-low prices, in-store personalization helps to create a perceived higher value.
“What this allows really, because of the perceived higher value, is the ability to compete on experience and not just price,” he added. “It also means you can carry less inventory because you can print on demand.”
Looking ahead, Yr is working on bringing on-demand embroidery to life in store.
“The perceived value of embroidery is much higher,” he said. “If you can print it and embroider it you add another level of value.”