The art of custom design has drastically improved from the days of yesteryear thanks to the advancements of technology. The days of e-commerce brands having limited capabilities to provide unique, personalized solutions for customers at scale are over. In this episode with personalization expert Brian Tigner of Authentic Innovations, we dive into the latest technologies that have taken the “decorating” industry up quite a few notches. Get the scoop on how brands can manage customer expectations, and the considerations every merchant should be aware of when offering custom design solutions.
1:32 Brian’s background
3:37 Personalization has gone hi-tech!
8:37 Elevating the customer experience: Becoming “quicker, faster, better”
12:05 Tips on how to offer custom solutions
14:27 Managing customer expectations
16:28 Typical lead times and integration processes to consider
20:07 Marketplace trends for custom services
22:54 SLA Best Practices
27:11 What’s next in the personalization space?
Brian Weinstein: Welcome everybody to Sippin’ and Shippin’. I’m your host, Brian Weinstein. We’ll be kicking it here every other Friday, quenching your thirst for an insider’s take to enhance your customer experience. So grab your drink of choice, kick back, it’s Sippin’ and Shippin’ time. All right, welcome everybody to another episode of Sippin’ and Shippin’. I am your host Brian Weinstein. And with me, Caitlin Postel.
Caitlin Postel: That’s Right, I’m here. What’s up Brian? How are ya?
Brian Weinstein: I know you’re here ’cause I can see you. You can’t hide. You can run, but you can’t hide. So we have a guest with us this week, Brian Tigner from Authentic Innovations. How are you Bri?
Brian Tigner: I am good. I am good. But I bet the weather is better there than here. It’s rainy and about 40 out in Ohio.
Brian Weinstein: Oh no. Oh no. We had a deluge over the weekend, five plus inches of rain. It’s been pretty, pretty not great recently. I don’t know when this episode is going to air, but for this past weekend it was just not good.
Caitlin Postel: Gross here out on Long Island. Nasty cold. I’m ready for some sunshine on the weekend. That’s what I’m waiting for.
Brian Weinstein: Yeah, what happened? We had 90 plus degrees like two weeks ago.
Caitlin Postel: They faked us out. They lied.
Brian Weinstein: I was all set. I had the covers off the patio furniture. I was living the outdoor life, and then suddenly it all returned back to the bipolar springs that we seem to have year over year.
Caitlin Postel: Gross.
Brian Weinstein: Yeah, done with it. All right, so today, one of the topics that seems to come up for us a lot with brands that we speak to are ones that they’re thinking about getting into personalization of any kind, whether that’s embroidery, embossing, engraving, or any other. So Bri, before we dig into that, why don’t you give the audience a little bit of a background on yourself and a little history, a little Tigner history.
Brian Tigner: Well, we’ll try to make it brief. I don’t know that you want my whole life history, so I’ll try to condense this down to what’s applicable here.
Brian Weinstein: Start from when you were five. Let’s just start from five.
Brian Tigner: Probably my earliest memory, sledding down a hill, pulling up the ball and down over my face because the snow was blinding me as we were going down this hill, and I was certain that my father was taking me down a hill I shouldn’t be going down at five. Nonetheless, here we are today, and we’ve made it this far at least. So a lot of my background is in manufacturing originally. Spent a lot of time in engineering in a variety of different roles for a variety of different companies primarily focused on products. And as my career went along kind of in a twist of fate, I ended up in personalization, and what we call personalization is essentially every order is unique, every unit within that order is unique. We’re not decorating it with a standard design. We’re decorating it with a design that may have text or something that makes it unique. And really, it’s kind of what we’ve seen over the course of the last 10 years in the industry that people are leaning towards making things more personal versus wearing something that has a branded logo on it.
Brian Weinstein: Yeah, and that changes a lot. I mean, so the dynamics of I guess maybe 20 years ago in the space where you are producing 500 of the same embroidered patch or engraving of some kind, I mean, that’s a completely different animal than getting into the personalization market, right?
Brian Tigner: Yeah, So obviously, as technology’s improved, it’s made it more feasible to do it at scale. Ten years ago, talking about making every single order unique was just nearly an impossible feat at any kind of scalable model for a retailer who was national. Obviously, regional in many cases could be managed, but at a national level, not manageable. So that technology has improved dramatically. And I work for a company that invested quite a bit of money since 2008 in a personalization model that allowed them to take order intake in a specific way that would allow the operation team to automate the entire backend of the process, essentially scan a barcode, and be able to drop down from a server that exact design on that exact product, and then have an image that would show what the product is, as well as what the design that’s supposed to be on it because you have to be able to QA it, right?
Brian Weinstein: Right.
Brian Tigner: At the end, you got to verify what the customer’s going to get is what they ordered. So those were 10 years ago. That was a very difficult thing to do and a very expensive proposition to try to get custom code written. But nowadays, that’s become more feasible. Obviously as technology’s improved, resources have been put into trying to come up with what’s new and certainly what the consumer wants out in the marketplace. So obviously, we get a wide gamut of customers that come in and want different types of decorating. Some of them want what we call customization. They take a singular design, they may change the color of the design, but they don’t necessarily change the design. And so if that’s in print, obviously digitally it’s easy to change colors. If it is in screen print, that’s not quite as easy to change colors because you’re kind of limited to how many colors you can run. If it’s in embroidery, it means you’re changing over a lot of thread colors, so it’s a lot of change over cost involved in that.
Brian Weinstein: Yeah, Bri, sorry to interrupt, but when we’re talking about this… Now, you started, the company I think you’re referring to as a direct marketing company, right?
Brian Tigner: Correct.
Brian Weinstein: So it was correct a little bit, I don’t want to say… It didn’t obviously predate e-commerce orders, but it was probably before the technology was there for e-commerce, so that sort of lets you see the infancy stage of getting that individual personalized order and then so out in advance of e-commerce where it’s really starting to grow and take traction. So what kind of steps, there was still the Jane Doe and the Bill Blast who were ordering the individual items and wanted personalization. What kind of steps were you taking then versus now in order to accomplish handling the individual orders without having a tremendous backlog?
Brian Tigner: Yeah, I mean, back then, 10 years ago, we would collect a lot of the information on interfaces for the customer that had dropdown selectable list that we could then correlate into a work order. Nowadays, it’s all automated. It’s not handled at all internally. Essentially, the interface allows the customer to see what they’re going to get, so they actually can view their personalization or their design on the product before they even order it. Ten years ago, that wasn’t in the marketplace. It didn’t exist.
Brian Weinstein: When did 10 years ago become a long time, by the way, because I have pictures on my iPhone from even longer ago, and I still own the clothes that I’m wearing in that picture from 10 years ago.
Caitlin Postel: Ten years ago was 2013. I could do the math, Brian barely. But when I think of 10 years ago, I’m like, yeah, early two thousands, late nineties, I was a kid.
Brian Tigner: Yeah.
Brian Weinstein: Exactly.
Brian Tigner: Well, technology is moving so fast, right?
Brian Weinstein: Yeah.
Brian Tigner: It’s hard to keep up with, and 10 years is a lifetime out in the Silicon Valley. We’ve been the benefactor of a lot of that, improving our industry as well. And at the end of the day, we feel like we’ve kind of come to a point where we’re now able to start to talk to other companies to give them some of the information and give them some of the technology that we’ve benefited from, but on a smaller scale and make it more affordable. And that’s essentially what we’re trying to do, is we’re trying to come up with a solution, customer-based solution, that allows them to integrate to us an affordable manner and then give them good production pricing. Not the kind of pricing that you would receive in a small mom and pop shop, but production related pricing that you’re going to receive based on the fact that we’re able to spread our cost over so many more units.
Brian Weinstein: Yeah. Yeah.
Caitlin Postel: Sounds like you were ahead of the curve 10 years ago, and you say a few different words. We talk about personalization, which to me, when I think of personalization, I think when I go onto a site and they’re collecting all of my data and what I’m looking at, and they’re pushing me different… based on what my preferences are, this is personalized. Then you talk about decorating, and then you talk about customization, and I guess 10 years ago you weren’t getting that. They weren’t picking it up on the iPhone that I was shopping for my nephew Aiden. But now when I’m scrolling through Instagram, there it is, his initial Aiden S, and my niece and nephew, their name’s on a name plate. My mind is blown.
No one can see it, but I’m doing explosion head emoji. And how do you make that kind of leap to get from where you’re doing select down drops options to being able to really decorate and customize? And I know that’s a loaded question, Brian, but how are you able to stay on top of that progression in the want to, and I know it’s such a… people use it all the time, but to surprise and delight folks to be able to add that level of personalization?
Brian Tigner: Well, I think particularly for the company that I have worked for, really was very customer-centric, so it was easy for us to continue to keep innovating.
Caitlin Postel: Sure.
Brian Tigner: You mentioned a topic that really is super important, is really what we’re seeing now is the innovation less on the backend. That’s kind of solved for at this point. There’s quite a few companies out there that offer workflow solutions beyond the one that our company had developed that are now more canned and out of the box, but what now the innovation has turned to, to your point, is more about targeted marketing and being able to create an interface that not only interacts in real time with the consumer, but also allows the consumer to not have to think as hard or be as creative. The technology is creative for them. So example, you mentioned that you’re often targeted your… Did you say niece, nephew?
Caitlin Postel: Yeah. Anything I say really. I mean it’s kind of scary, but yeah.
Brian Tigner: It is. You know, you automatically see their initials on the product, which is one of the things that we’re seeing companies do. They’re creating their interface for their customer so that when their customer comes on, they either are collecting a customer profile by metadata that they’re purchasing from a company who’s collecting it from your online usage, or they are collecting it up front when you enter their website. They may ask you just a small list of questions. And through their small list of questioning, they’re able to then customize their entire website specifically to you. So everything would have a CP on it or CNP on it so that when you view their products-
Caitlin Postel: He got the middle initial. He’s getting creepy. This is a customized guy.
Brian Tigner: Yeah. Yeah, I pay attention to details.
Caitlin Postel: As you should.
Brian Tigner: So nonetheless, it really is about marketing the product in a way that makes it more consumable. But the world today is quicker, faster, better, right?
Caitlin Postel: Right.
Brian Tigner: Everything has to be quicker, faster, better, and no one wants to spend time shopping all day to find one present. Everybody wants to jump online, they want quick, easy access to something that’s meaningful. Obviously when you personalize something, it makes it more meaningful, makes it more personal as I give it to you for a gift. So we think about those things as we’re designing our technology.
Brian Weinstein: So Brian, when you’re speaking to a brand, for example, if you’re going to give them guidance, what are some of the things that they should consider? It could be thread colors, stitch counts, something on the embossing or engraving side. What are some of the things that they should be considering when they’re making a decision to either offer that out on their website or not?
Caitlin Postel: Removing a pocket maybe?
Brian Tigner: Yeah. Yeah, Caitlin’s referring to a recent one that we were working on. But I think for me, when we talk to some of these brands, I want to make sure that the solution that we’re creating is the right solution for them based on what their mission is. If their mission is innovation, then I’m going to likely come back with a lot of solutions that is going to put them on the forefront of some of the cutting edge technology that we’re working on. IE, we’re creating inks that have monochromatic characteristics. So essentially, there is monochromatic thermal ink, there is monochromatic hydro ink, there is even just hydro chromatic ink, which allows you to be able to, as an example, take a beach towel. It says one thing when it’s wet, and it says something else when it’s totally dry, right?
Brian Weinstein: Right. It’s crazy.
Brian Tigner: So now your personalization or customization, your design is more dynamic than static, so that’s something I would suggest to a company who is coming in and really is trying to get on the cutting edge of personalization. Somebody who’s trying to add on some personalizable feature to products that they already offer, and maybe they have already created a brand around, and they just feel as though by making them more personal, they come more giftable. In that case, simpler is better. At the end of the day, this can be an expensive proposition if you let it. It can be as complicated or as simple as you might expect, but really it depends on what you’re trying to achieve.
If you’re just wanting to make it personal and giftable, go with a few cute colors, go with just a few designs. Try not to make your interface too complicated and frustrate your customer because that’s not what they expect when they get onto your site. Whereas, when they get onto a site that’s expected to be innovative, they want their mind to be blown, right?
Brian Weinstein: Right.
Brian Tigner: But when they’re just trying to add something on to make it giftable, simpler is better.
Brian Weinstein: That’s interesting.
Caitlin Postel: Yeah, it reminds me of actually our second episode, Brian, where we had Robert Escobar, and we talked about personalization and considering when you’re a startup that handwritten note is nice, but now you’re doing 50,000 orders a month, are we calling Brian Tigner to get that machine that’s going to write the name for us? Are we going to scrap it? What is the cost ramification for things like this? Brian Tigner, where do you step in and draw the line or give brands guidance to Brian’s point on scalability of some of these ideas? Because it sounds awesome in theory, but how do you execute and what’s the cost to come along with that?
Brian Tigner: Yeah. I mean, often I think we found best policy is just to be transparent. And Brian and I often talk about this, that what people want, what brands want as partners, they want people who are not going to put them in a ditch, but are going to give them realistic timelines, realistic expectations, give them realistic pricing so that they know what they’re getting themselves into. Like I said, innovation is an expensive proposition when you’re being first to the market, and that’s probably stands true for any industry, not just in personalization, but any technology that you’re going to develop will take time and there’ll be trial and error. I think that drawing the line is up to the brand. It’s not up to me where they want to take their brand. It’s up to us to offer up solutions, be realistic, and be a good partner with them.
Caitlin Postel: Sure. Yeah, that’s fair. So it sounds like just that transparency is key and then they can relate that back into their cost per order, cost per unit, and make the decision, does this make sense? Will this really drive that experience?
Brian Tigner: And having been in the industry for so long, we’ve built a lot of partnerships with a lot of different companies. We can often guide them by giving them resources to allow them to go do research on their own, to draw their own conclusions, come back and consult with us, but to help guide their path. We don’t necessarily take them from point A to point B. We more or less point out what all the options are. And if you go down this intersection, these are resources that are going to help you guide yourself along the way.
Caitlin Postel: Sure, that makes sense.
Brian Weinstein: Yeah. I mean, it’s a complicated decision, I think, for any brand to say, “Hey, okay, we’re now going to be able to offer this.” What would be a suggested timeline? So if we’re a brand and we’re deciding to go this personalization route, how much runway should they leave themselves from the concept inception to when they can actually bring this live? What kind of runway are you typically looking at for that?
Brian Tigner: Well, I’ll contextualize the answer first and then answer.
Brian Weinstein: That’s perfect.
Brian Tigner: But as you know, everyone when they start out on a journey don’t always have the end in mind. And if they do, there’s a lot of twists and turns along the way. So companies really, as they start to formulate their order management system, the methodology or the architecture they use to create it often dictates how easily or hard it’s going to be to integrate with a personalization workflow system. So if you’ve got a bigger business, and they have put a lot of thought into their architecture and have made significant investment in doing so, then the turn time for integration can be as little as… I mean, we’ve done it turn time with our customer here recently, and it was probably, I don’t know, maybe eight weeks, but fairly sophisticated.
They had good resources on the other end of the phone who understood their system and could code or pass through an API the information that we need in order for us to be able to create the workflow on our side as efficiently as possible. But then I’ve had customers where they didn’t have a good handle on their order management system and/or their working off spreadsheets, and we had to start from scratch, and that can take six months. So I’d say probably anywhere from eight weeks to six months is a typical integration depending on how complex you want to get.
Now, if you’re starting from scratch and you don’t even have a front end, I think you’re probably looking more like eight months to a year to be able to fully integrate because you have to be able to collect information in order to be able to give it to us for our workflow. And that collection point has to be developed, and it has to be branded. There’s obviously out-of-the-box solutions for that. And if you’re willing to conform your business to some of these out-of-the box solutions, then that timeline gets condensed and your cost gets condensed. But if you want to customize those solutions, then obviously that’s where the expense and the timelines begin to extend.
Brian Weinstein: Right. Yeah, I mean, that’s good information because we deal with so many brands that are entrepreneurial spirits and have leadership who want to be able to turn on a dime and say, “This is what we need, this is what our customer base is looking for,” but it’s not always that simple. And I would imagine the one that you were talking about that was more sophisticated may have even come from a different provider, and they had done this in the past. Whereas, some of these others are starting completely from scratch.
Brian Tigner: Yep. You got it. Yeah, absolutely.
Caitlin Postel: The marketer and product growth, October 1st, we’re going to do customized jammie’s this year. We have photo shoots at Thanksgiving time. We better get this up and running. But by the way, we only are on Shopify.
Brian Tigner: Yes.
Brian Weinstein: Yes, exactly. Yeah.
Caitlin Postel: Let’s get started.
Brian Tigner: Exactly.
Brian Weinstein: And so Bri, do you see a lot of the brands that you deal with, are they charging back to the customer? I mean, is it almost 100% pass through? What’s sort of the industry trend that you’re seeing with the brands versus what you’re charging them?
Brian Tigner: Well, and I think that partially depends on the model. So some customers we have are commercial customers who are doing C2C transactions or B2B transactions rather. That kind of, I guess, changes the way that it works. So if it’s a B2C transaction, then often what we find is the transition’s much smoother because they can dictate to themselves a lot of how they’re going to market to their customer. Whereas if it’s B2B, often what happens is some of that’s being dictated to them. So I guess it’s somewhat contingent upon how they’re set up and what their model is and who their customer is.
Brian Weinstein: And there’s a give take when it’s B2B I would imagine too. Because for you, having more volume of the same embroidery or whatever the item is will allow you to lower the price, but at the same time, they can pass that along as, “Hey, you can get this from us just blank as is. Add this on, it’ll be this much.” I would imagine they’re pretty much passing that along at a cost.
Brian Tigner: Yeah. I mean, obviously if it’s a B2B relationship, then more often than not, it’s an industry that they know, and it’s an industry that probably has MOQs or they have competitors that have MOQs, and they’re either trying to carve out a niche where they don’t have the MOQs, or they’re offering something that differentiates them from their competitor. And so we try to work with them on solutions, but not all solutions are the same. Every solution for every customer has to be different. Obviously, it’d be great to make them all conform to one solution. I think we’d all love to live in that world, but that one doesn’t exist.
It does, but it’s a microcosm of where we want to be. So I think in the end, it’s we find success when we offer options to our customers and ensure that our pricing models fit their business and their process. And usually, there’s an answer. At the end of the day, sitting down with them and being transparent about what our real costs are, almost always ends in a success story because all they want to know is they got a partner on this side who’s going to be transparent with them and is going to work with them towards the same angle.
Brian Weinstein: Yeah, absolutely. And so our brands are very driven by their customer promise and the delivery time SLAs that they put out to market. What would you recommend, and I guess maybe we’ll go with embroidery, what would you recommend a brand build into their SLAs in terms of time? Obviously, there’s going to be the transit time, the warehouse needs to pick and pack, pick the order, pack the order, but just wondering from a standpoint of actually having the personalization completed, what should they be building into their SLAs?
Brian Tigner: Obviously, a lot of things go into that, as you know, and obviously everyone wants a starting point. So typically, what we use is a starting point is 72 hours. So from the time an order is delivered to us from the warehouse, we’ll process that order and put it back or give it back to the warehouse to ship, or we’ll ship it on the customer’s account within 72 hours. Now, having said that, there are customers who want 12-hour, 24-hour services, in which case we offer those. More often than not, what we try to do is keep things simple and not start creating layers and layers of pricing based on all these different variables that we’re all trying to live through. To be a good partner, we don’t want to create an accounting empire on their side or ours trying to manage all these kind of nuances.
So we try to factor in some of this variability into our initial pricing model and say, “Hey, look, our SLA is going to be 72 hours. Your cost is going to be based on usually two variables, your units per order and your total volume for a month,” and we try to keep it simple in that way so that we’re not trying to price out every single unit based on what its workflow was.
Brian Weinstein: And I think any service provider, you’re battling a little bit of spikes and volumes. I mean, to your point, you can have 12 hours as an SLA, but then you’re either, A, you could wind up as the provider with people sitting around not having any work, or you could have more work than you can get through in a 12-hour period just through either machine limitations or staffing limitations based on forecasts being exceeded, so it’s always tricky. I can’t even imagine around the holidays that spike. I mean, I can’t imagine because we’re in the 3PL space as well, but you’re limited to the number of heads that you have in terms of embroidery, for example.
Brian Tigner: Yeah, exactly. I think that’s the benefit of really using our model. Us having worked on a relationship with your team and being able to put our business inside of your business gives us a lot of opportunities for us to level load our scheduling. So even if a customer has a valley in their demand, we’re often able to level load that with another customer. We try to be strategic and find customers that have different peaks in seasonality so that we can level load that and not have to spread that cost, that fixed… once a variable becomes fixed in terms of labor over a fewer number of units, so it definitely gives us the opportunity to do that based on the model we have, and that’s kind of the differentiator between us and probably a lot of other decorators is because we’re being partnered up, we’re having the opportunity to do that where others don’t.
Brian Weinstein: Yeah. Yeah, anytime you could flatten those spikes certainly helpful to an operation.
Caitlin Postel: Yeah, it sounds like very similar to us when we understand a brand’s peak, just getting in front of it, understanding what those volumes look like, and setting the expectation so that we’re equally customer obsessed with their end user. They are our customer, but what’s the expectation so that we’re not missing that? Especially to your point earlier, Brian, it was like, “This is something special. I want the extra step. I got your name on it, I got the initials on it,” a little emoji, whatever the case is. So I think people are more forgiving in that way because it is a little bit extra special. Right now, it seems like the-
Brian Weinstein: Cate.
Caitlin Postel: Yeah.
Brian Weinstein: Auntie Caitlin, are you going to mention your niece and nephew’s names again?
Caitlin Postel: No, I’ve already gotten six adverts of what I could buy for them. One of them is from Thirty-One Gifts, so thank you for that. I’ll have that order in 72 hours, says Brian Tigner. Embroidery seems to be top of mind for a lot of apparel brands. I know you’ve been in this space and your organization has been this in this space for a long time, so you guys do an array of things. I was super impressed to see the different offerings, tote bags, logos, handwritten messages in the right font. It looks like someone’s writing. What else is out there? What’s coming next in personalization? And Brian jump in as well. Maybe you have something on this. He’s got nothing.
Brian Tigner: Yeah, he’s got nothing. What we’re investigating next for personalization are things like, as I mentioned, different types of ink. So there’s hydro chromatic ink, thermo chromatic ink. Right now, a lot of focus is on, I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of DTF, but direct film. Essentially what you’re doing is you’re printing not on the product itself, but you’re printing onto a plastic sheet. They call it a transfer paper. Essentially then you are heat pressing that onto a product, but the adhesives have become so sophisticated and with technology have become so good that they are equivalent in terms of their durability to screen printing, which has traditionally been the go-to technology for any kind of garment printing. So the reason that’s kind of been on the forefront is because everybody wants to move more towards a customizable model.
Screen printing is limited on the number of colors that you can have, and so this offers as many colors as you can put onto a digital file, and then the cost of it is so inexpensive. But some of the things that they’re doing also in that space is they’re coming up with reflective inks that really… as an example, a child might put a reflective ink on their backpack, not because they want a reflective ink, because mom and dad wants a reflective ink so that when they’re out walking the street, they have an extra layer of safety protection, but those are kind of things that they’re working on.
Other interfaces that we’re working on is handwriting. So we can take your handwriting, digitize that handwriting in just one order, and then send you… as an example, if you wanted to put a note to your grandchild on a baby blanket and wanted that to become heirloom quality, we could take your handwriting, we can embroider your handwriting. But when we do it, we’re obviously not paying somebody to stitch one stitch at a time. What we’re doing is we’re using a CNC machine and some technology that auto digitizes that.
Brian Weinstein: Yeah.
Caitlin Postel: Very cool.
Brian Weinstein: That ink that you’re talking about, that when it’s wet, it shows one thing and dry another. I would’ve been screwed as a kid because my mom, if you were wet, you couldn’t go in the house. And if we would want to go in and get a snack, and she’d be like, “Don’t you go in that house if you’re wet,” and I’m like, “I’m not wet,” and I can sneak in. But now they can actually give you shorts where they can see whether or not you’re wet.
Brian Tigner: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Caitlin Postel: Get sprayed by the host, “Don’t come in the house, you jerk,” it says on the back of them.
Brian Weinstein: Exactly. Exactly.
Brian Tigner: One of the other cutting edge technologies that are out there that we’re also looking into is trying to defeat the problem of thread changer for embroidery. So there are companies out there now that are essentially taking the technology that we’re using to print with, and they’re applying it to the thread coloring. So they’re coloring the thread on demand.
Brian Weinstein: Oh, wow.
Caitlin Postel: Interesting.
Brian Tigner: So all thread comes in white, gets loaded into this machine. This machine sets over top of your embroidery machine. And as the digital file comes into the machine, it colors the thread. What that allows you to do, which we could never do before in embroidery, is you would be able to do pictures, embroider literally a picture onto a product, because changing from one color to the next requires you to be able to tie. And most commercial embroidered machines only have about 15 needles, so you are limited to 15 colors. So this allows you to have infinite number of colors without any stops and allows you to really control your purchasing and really reduce your costs on the opposing side of the operation by only having white thread come in versus right now we got five, 600 thread colors in our inventory.
Brian Weinstein: Wow. What is the timing of a technology like that? Is that something that’s still five, eight years out, or is this something that’s sooner than that?
Brian Tigner: Oh, no. Yeah, they have it. There’s a couple companies doing it right now, and most of them are in Europe. They are definitely in production already, and they are readily available, but the technology’s still being improved. Like all technology, the iPhone that you have today is not the iPhone that you had 10 years ago, Brian.
Brian Weinstein: Yeah. Yeah.
Brian Tigner: Just so you know. You might want to upgrade if you-
Brian Weinstein: You mean my Blackberry that I had 10 years ago.
Brian Tigner: Yeah, yeah. I had Blackberry too. But anyway, yeah, it’s not the same. So the technology is improved, but it’s not concise. And really what the dilemma is at the moment is when you change from one color to the next. So imagine this, the digital file has to be registered and indexed to know where it’s at in its path as it’s kind of creating a design. If you have a thread break in the middle of that, it’s going to lose where its color registration is unless it has some way of backing up and knowing exactly how much thread has passed through and how much thread went onto the product and how much thread was discarded from the product. So that’s kind of the dilemma at the moment is, is they’re trying to figure out and perfect really the registration of the color on the product. Once we figure that out, and I’m sure that will happen, it’s just a matter of time and investment. Once that happens, then the 500, 600 thread colors that I have in inventory, thousands of dollars worth of thread will be obsolete overnight.
Brian Weinstein: Right.
Caitlin Postel: Unreal. It makes sense though.
Brian Weinstein: Yeah. It’s just amazing the amount of innovation. So as an outsider who’s not been in embroidery his entire life, you’re like, “It’s embroidery. I mean, how much innovation is there really going to be?” I mean, I never thought about being able to embroider a picture and not just a like logo or some sort of… Yeah. I mean, it’s really, really insane the amount of innovation that’s going into the market. Well, Bri, I really appreciate you coming on. This was super, super… Well enjoyable one because I always liked talking with you, but just really the information I think that you brought out there for our audience who in some cases we’re seeing more and more of this as a demand, I think it’s going to be super helpful to them as they’re starting their journey down this personalization route. So thank you very much.
Brian Tigner: It’s great to spend time with you.
Brian Weinstein: Caitlin, do you want to walk us out?
Caitlin Postel: Sure. Thank you everyone for listening. Thank you, Brian Tigner and our partners Authentic Innovations. Make sure you tune in every other Friday on Sippinandshippin.com or on your favorite podcast platform. Have a great weekend everybody.
Brian Weinstein: Thank you.