Modernizing Custom Apparel: Out of Bulk and into ECommerce

August 31, 2020


Data just released by IBM in their latest U.S. Retail Index reveals that ecommerce growth is now five years ahead of expectations, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic pushing so many shoppers online. IBM predicts that for the year 2020, ecommerce will grow almost 20%. This has direct – and important – meaning for your school or YSO custom apparel program.

You were probably considering moving your store online before you ever heard of COVID-19. After all, the traditional bulk ordering process for custom-decorated apparel is a big negative in so many ways. But you hadn’t acted yet.

Take it from us – now is the time!

Everyone that has switched to digital shopping is loving the no-contact, anytime convenience, and that includes your players or students and their parents. Heading back to school, returning to play or practice, and showing their spirit, your folks need custom apparel. And with an online SquadLocker store, they can get everything they need quickly, easily, and safely. All good. Contact-free. Delivered directly to them.


Comfortable and cozy – just the thing for work @ home

The IBM report also noted that clothing as a retail category has taken a big sales hit during the pandemic. Obviously. Who needs business apparel when they aren’t going to the office or paying calls on clients or customers? On the other hand, athleisure and spirit wear are hotter than ever. But you already knew that, because that’s what you’re wearing right now, isn’t it?

Even some schools that are planning a return to the classroom are modifying their dress uniforms with comfort and outdoor activity in mind, swapping button-down shirts for polos, for example, and allowing certain spirit wear items as everyday wear. Whatever custom decorated apparel you offer, you have to get it decorated and into the hands of your customers.

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Bulk ordering is a big loser

Bulk ordering requires predictability and serious advance planning, if you hope to get the inventory you need in time for school or play. Well, predictability has flown out the window. Lots of YSOs and schools still aren’t sure yet about their back to school or return to play plans. We’re all feeling our way forward, but one thing’s for sure: Nothing about bulk ordering fits any more.

Not the part where you have to order a ton of stuff and hope it’s the right stuff. Not the part where you or someone else has to store all that inventory. Certainly not the part where you have to gather people together and then hand out their gear. It’s just not cool.

So now, in just a few short months, you find yourself five years behind the times. This is a branding faux pas of colossal proportions. If you don’t get with it, you will be hopelessly out of date with your shoppers. And you’ll continue to be hopelessly mired in the irritations of bulk ordering. No worries, though, there is an easy solution.


Ecommerce is a big winner

At this point, the parents, students, players and extended families who purchase your decorated gear and apparel expect to find you online. Meeting that expectation is a customer service necessity to retain their loyalty, and easier shopping means they are likely to buy more. That’s good for your organization’s brand and your bottom line.

As the leader responsible for making the switch from bulk to digital, you will benefit as well (and deservedly so). You will gain the same things as your customers:

  • Time
  • Convenience
  • Simplicity
  • Reliability
  • Health safety


Creating a custom apparel store is no small thing, because it shows your people that you’re focused on the future in ways that really matter to them. That’s pretty inspiring stuff.

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