Obviously you do a lot of customization work, so can you give me a story, like what you were using before and the problems you’re encountering?
Rod: So when we initially started with the cricket stumps and everything was manual. So we set a product up online on our Shopify store. And then we would sell it. And then the customer would say, well, how do I do the artwork? And we would say, well, send us your logo and text and colors and then we’d come back to them with that work.
But, it got to the point where it would just took so long to do the artwork and these weren’t massive jobs. So there wasn’t a lot of profit in it. What we found was all the profit was getting eaten up in time having to deal with customers’ back and forth.
So it was one of those things where we’ve got this great product, but it wasn’t viable to sell as a product because we couldn’t be competitive. So we tried different online design programs and they worked okay. But, they just couldn’t everything quite right. All those little finicky bits. A lot of them couldn’t do vertical text and the cricket stump really needs this. And that was one thing that Shadi specifically made happen just for us. And so that was a great advantage.
Unbeknownst to me that was a hard thing to do. I didn’t know it was such a over the top thing to try and get done, but it was. A lot of the other online designers couldn’t do it. So, that was a massive advantage that they could, and they just made it happen.
In order to get the artwork to work well with 2D online designers – it was just always troublesome. Our products aren’t small watches or small little pendants. They’re big things. Crickets stumps are almost 80 centimeters long. And the art has to wrap around a stick. So it was always problematic to get that done.
So what were the major benefits of using Spiff3D’s tech for your business?
Rod: Profit margin is, is one thing. So if you’re doing this in a scalable nature, it was hard to sort of use that tech and scale it up, like to hundreds of orders a day or for customers products.
It was always problematic. So you’d have to get the artwork of and then you’d still have to make adjustments to it. And so this wasn’t too bad. It certainly saved more time than going back and forth with the customer. But then you had to spend more time. So if you’re doing a hundred dollar sale, you’re going to spend 15 minutes or 20 minutes extra. And it does all add up. Every now and then, you do it on whim and you have to then touch it up again before you put it the printer.
So when you discovered Spiff3D’s platform what were your first impressions?
Rod: I almost thought it was too good to be true when I was talking to Shadi about it. Especially when he told me he could give me a print file. And the fact that the team at Spiff knew about the printing processes compared to just having knowledge of digital files. So it was really their knowledge of print and being able to get set up straightaway. It’s now a massive advantage for us.
And that’s interesting because you’ve obviously got your own printer in the back of the store, right?
Rod: Yes – in-house. So like, obviously that’s a pretty hard printer right? You need to have a pretty specific file and knowledge of prepress to get that printing out properly. It’s more complicated than just lining it up. You need to ensure it doesn’t bleed over and the PDF is perfect. When we download the print file from Spiff, we get it and it’s ready to go. It’s ready to print straightaway. We’ve matched our colors up to where our online palette so that we know when the customer picks a specific color, it’ll print out exactly how they. View it on the screen. And so that’s, that’s super important for us, the fact that we can just grab the fall and print it right away, and then it takes out so much time it’s unbelievable.
So is matching colors to what the customer wants important? I’m sure they have specific brand colors which some of your business clients need to use.
Rod: Yes color matching is critical. And I suppose you go to some brands they’ll have this well-defined in their brand guidelines, as like a Pantone or some other color system, and they to make ensure it looks like that color. So if it prints out, and looks different then from a branding perspective, they can’t use the product. So Spiff facilitates that color-matching process very well.
What about the quality of the 3D models? In your opinion, does it replicate the real thing accurately?
Rod: Yes. this is an easy one. What we want is for them to see it on the screen and then when they get the product in real life, it’s exactly the same. I think it’s very important. Because you can only model so reality into a 3D model, so we try to ensure them look really realistic.
I’m blown away with the realism, especially with the cricket stumps. We’ve since added cricket bats too, but with the cricket stumps, we started with just timber stumps. And then of course, we’ve gone to plastic stumps with rubber bases and timber stump with rubber bases and spring stumps with metal bases and all of those textures and those little nuances that are important to that product – they are represented so beautifully in 3D that it looks almost real. And so when the customer sget the product, there’s no surprises. It’s perfect.
I think that stops a lot of those sources of customer disappointment. So if you spend all this money and the customer paid a hundred dollars and when they receive it, it’s not quite what they were expecting…that can cause issues. You want the product to look good on the screen. You need to show them exactly what the choices they have made during customization will look like before they order it. So they know, that whatever design they have made, that’s what they get.
Have you seen many returns or customer disappointment thought?
Rod: We haven’t got a single item come back because it wasn’t the design they wanted. And there’s some circumstances which can affect this, like when the customer gives a bad logo or a low resolution logo.
But we check that and we’ll pull it aside and go and contact the customer and say, Hey, this isn’t going to come out really well. Can you give us something better? And so generally they try that. They can’t always do that because some of them don’t know what a bad resolution logo is. So we will then go, and spend another 20 minutes on this, clean it up a bit and then make sure it, it prints well. Cause when they see it. They won’t question it. They’ll just say it and go, oh, that looks great.
I’m not sure if we can disclose this, but have your sales volumes increased with the customized products compared to your other lines? How has Spiff3D’s software grown with you and scaled.
Rod: So from a volume point of view out, especially with our cricket stumps, they’ve certainly ramped up, especially in the lead-up to cricket season. It’s cyclical so we see a large volume of orders come in and we turn them around pretty quickly.
They can order them and get them within a week or a week and a half. And this is important just before cricket season. The software has certainly allowed the customer to have the control, but also give them the ability to order late if they need to but still get them when they want them. So that ability to produce the product faster and more accurately has increased our sales capacity.
So do you think this is a source of competitive advantage now?
Rod: With the crickets stamps of course, is something that clubs are constantly talking to us about. Our main core feature is making cricket bats and repairing cricket bats. And we do a lot of that. We fix 500 to 600 cricket bats every year. But now the fact that we can allow the player to customize their stickers to go on their already customized cricket bat. And then let them see all of this online realistically, like chrome and metallic and other textures and colors. They just, again, get exactly what they’ve ordered and something that’s customized just for them, They cannot buy another one. Anywhere else. So it’s such an advantage to have the customer be able to do that. It’s great.
What’s the origin of your business, how did you get into customization in the first place? Was it just because someone asked to do it once and you went, oh, well, I’ll try that?
Rod: So I’m a signwriter by trade. And so, I would always fix my own bats and things like that when I was still playing cricket. And when we were coming up with this brand, we thought about what we could do different?
Everyone was either buying cricket bats from overseas or putting stickers on blank ones. Some were making them from scratch, but only when when someone wants something different that they couldn’t find off the shelf.
So given that I could print something out easily, we started just by mucking around with printing stickers. But it wasn’t until we started really getting into it that side of things that we thought, what if we give a player, something that they want that’s just for them? And so it’s that what sets us apart. That’s our little niche of making completely customized bats, just for cricket players. You can be as totally unique as you want, and get exactly what you want.
What are some of the unexpected things you’ve seen or learnt along the way?
Rod: We just made some cricket bets tickets for one of the groomsmen for a wedding. The cricket bat was a gift complete with a customized sticker. I’ve got a strong Indian market and we had a customer coming in who had a big event in India that was all around supporting the farmers. So we made stickers up for that guy. I was really passionate about that and he wanted to put a message on his cricket bat. It’s really nice to be able to do those things for individuals. It’s not just a sticker – it means something to them much more. And that’s awesome.
So yes customers can absolutely design it as a gift and give it to whoever they want. And it’s completely unique – just for them. No one else would have anything like it. And that’s what having Spiff3D on our online store enables us to.
What has been your experience working with the team at Spiff3D so far?
Rod: We’ll continue to enhance our product range by working with Spiff3D. We absolutely love the service, the over the top service that we get from Shadi and Daniella – it’s just amazing.
I don’t know the names of the other members there. If I did, I would say this to them all, but their service is amazing. The business has helped our business become better and it will continue to help us grow and be more profitable and be more efficient at the end of the day, that helps us become a better product for users to use us.
So I’m super thankful and I can’t wait to see what else they do. So I’m very thankful for them. I see Spiff as more like a partner with the business, as opposed to just a piece of software, you know? Since we’re using Spiff, nothing’s ever been a problem. And if it has had to have 10 tweaks done to it to get it right, I’ve certainly felt that it’s never been a problem.
I’ve certainly felt bad at times when I’ve gone. Ah, we haven’t quite got it right here and we need to do more. It’s never been an issue and they just. It just gets done. And that’s what I love about them. They just get it done and they make it amazing and they go above and beyond, because I think what I feel is that they want their product to be great.
And so that not only makes my product great, but it makes it even better. So I just I’ll forever be grateful for that.