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How to Integrate DTF into Your Business

Josh Ellsworth of Stahls’ shares the three ways you can offer DTF printing.

At Impressions Expo Atlantic City 2024, Josh Ellsworth, EVP, of Sales & Marketing at Stahls’, led a session titled “Integrating DTF into Your Business: What you Need to Know to Get Started.”

Josh said DTF printing makes it easy to sell to new and existing customers because you can launch more product offerings, including:

  • a virtual inventory such as sports, school, and spirit wear stores, 
  • fashion and small businesses,
  • corporate/promowear, 
  • and athleisure and fitness. 

“With DTF you can say ‘yes’ to any print job,” Josh said, “but not all DTF is the same.”

Here are the three ways you can be in the DTF game today:

  • Do it yourself
  • Outsource transfers 
  • Outsource fulfillment

Do It Yourself

To go the DIY route, you need the right environment, capability, talent, equipment, and supplies. “Bringing it in-house is not a decision on volume,” Josh said. “It’s a decision on business model and strategy. You can build the room once, but be prepared to buy the latest and the greatest equipment each year.”

Outsource Transfers

Josh referred to this option as “just press, no mess.” He said the advantages of outsourcing transfers include the balance of control and innovation, no need to own print technology, no demand requirement, lower overhead, and simpler labor education. However, the risks include speed of delivery, dependability of supplier, and costs/profitability.

Outsource Fulfillment

When outsourcing the entire DTF printing process, ecommerce and automation must be involved. Once you’ve dialed in those processes, you can focus on marketing and sales, are free of maintenance and most safety concerns, and there are no demand requirements. With this option, you have the least control and the risks are the same as outsourcing transfers: speed of delivery, dependability of suppliers, and costs/profitability.  

The path you choose depends on your capabilities, business goals, and client needs. “If you can get away from the nuances of how it’s made, you don’t necessarily need to tell your customers what process you’re using,” said Josh. “Just show them a good quality product.”

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