Gasoline has gone up. Yes, it's the mantra these days. So has the cost of packaging, processing and shipping of just about everything. As a goods processor (can't honestly say that we are a manufacturer because we decorate just finished goods for the most part), we are caught in the middle of all of the trouble.
As a decorator, we are pushed by in-bound freight charges. We are squeezed by the outbound ones and our customers certainly don't want to be paying several times over. We need every size job and so many of them are smaller than the minimums that many of the apparel distributors use as a 'free freight' cut-off. Distributors don't want to cut their margins either. After all, why should they? And customers really don't want to be paying an extra ten or fifteen dollars in freight charges for a shirt that they probably could buy at Penney's for the same price as the distributor is selling it.
It is becoming frustrating!
Solutions abound. Some apparel suppliers have begun offering their own embroidery. It works in a few cases as long as the suppliers are stocked and as long as the customer doesn't want something that the suppliers don't carry. Then, there is no justice, I'm afraid. The customer gets stuck with either a huge bill for digitizing, doing one piece and extra freight (there's that word again) or they do without. Or they go somewhere else and the distributor loses out.
The other solution is to make some sort of arrangement with suppliers.
We've started doing just that. It is amazing how cooperative a supplier becomes when a contractor comes to them to offer some sort of order consolidation and/or pickup that is provided by the decorator. Yes, there is an expense when it is done and unfortunately it has to be passed onto the end-users but the fact is, it is saving our customers money. Freight rates are again going down because we can consolidate deliveries. We sort the goods, we are working with suppliers to simplify the pickup system and we have seen some very good results.
This work will continue. Really, it's kind of fun and no, it is not a new idea, although the concept of spreading the pickups to include some clothing suppliers who may not be local is taking off as well. The hope we have is that we'll entice more customers to come to us. We do, after all, have a bunch of mouths to feed and our employees want to work. It's kind of refreshing!