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On-demand printing (Image courtesy Stahls')

The Importance of On-Demand Custom Sports Apparel

Victoria Nardini has been in the trade show industry for a decade. She began working as a show promoter and then an exhibit builder. She is now an exhibitor and Trade show Manager at STAHLS’. 

For more options with customized sporting goods, more and more professional arenas are offering personalization at the game. You can find kiosks, shops, and even phone applications to create a personalized jersey while you watch your team live. It’s now an expectation for sports organizations to offer this service at every game and in every pro shop.

Granted, your everyday team shop won’t have the need to create a high-level personalized uniform on demand for a professional athlete, but that doesn’t mean a kid on the little league team down the street doesn’t need the same attention. Years ago, a little league team would have a set of jerseys for the kids in one size with the team name and a number. There was nothing personal about it. I can recall my softball jersey being two sizes too big for me, and the only way my parents knew it was me in the outfield was the giant number three on my back in black, shiny vinyl. Now, 30 years later, my toddler’s soccer jersey is not only her size but has her name and number printed on the back in a soft, white vinyl that looks like it’s part of the fabric.

Teams, names, and numbers all change at such a rapid frequency—we need to be able to execute and deliver within days, hours, and sometimes minutes to meet the expectation of the customer, consumer, or player. It wouldn’t make sense to have an overabundance of stock in an unfavorable player name, but the passion for sports comes from the unpredictable. That player could have an incredible postseason, and their jersey could end up on every child’s Christmas list. How do you execute something you didn’t expect? Plan for the unexpected by having the materials and equipment ready to personalize on-demand at a rapid pace. This allows the decorator to replenish without losing revenue or getting into a backorder situation. 

Shops that have on-demand capabilities can also offer less popular players without getting into an overstock situation. They can market the ability to provide these jerseys and produce them on an as-needed basis. Again, they are no longer turning away profits or finding themselves in a situation with an overabundance of jerseys they can’t be sure they will sell.

With the flexibility of producing fanwear and personalized pieces on-demand, fanwear has evolved beyond a jersey or T-shirt. Everywhere you turn, you can put a team logo, name, or mascot on anything from hats to drinkware. With e-commerce platforms like Amazon, making the availability of customized items so easy to access, we need to deliver for teams as well. Consumers have grown to expect they can type in their favorite team along with any item imaginable, and now, we can pair the two.