Images takes a look under the bonnet of the newly updated, mobile-friendly DecoNetwork 8 suite of online design and business tools for print and embroidery

Ecommerce is growing fast and purchases made on mobile phones are growing even faster. According to a December 2017 report by market research company eMarketer, overall UK retail ecommerce sales reached £83.55 billion last year, accounting for more than 19% of total retail sales. The company predicts that by 2021, more than a quarter (25.8%) of all retail sales will be digital, with 56% of those sales made using a smartphone.

DecoNetwork is well aware of the statistics and trends in the market and the need to provide its customers with the tools that will help them to respond to, and compete in, an increasingly digital marketplace. It’s against this backdrop, then, that the company has developed and launched its latest, updated suite of online design and business tools for print and embroidery – DecoNetwork 8.

Responsive sites

“We saw the increasing need for responsive sites, for tools that travelled from desktop, to tablet, to smartphone without losing functionality or sacrificing form. All decorators need an online presence that meets their customers where they live and that allows them to do business anywhere and in any format,” DecoNetwork explains.

The company notes that seeing the difficulties its clients faced in managing customers, jobs and purchasing is what prompted it to move beyond its roots in online decoration design to create its back-end BusinessHub shop-management suite. Similarly, noting the realities of the increasingly mobile world and the difficulties decorators have with creating and maintaining that critical online presence is what has driven it to completely rethink its front-end, online designer, and its website design toolkit. The result is the entirely new outward-facing site and tools that make up DecoNetwork 8.

DecoNetwork 8 makes it easy for customers to create a shirt design on a mobile phone in a few simple steps

“We’ve created a new model where all client-facing tools work on any device, and wherein decorators can create, style and maintain sites with the ease of a live, drag-and-drop interface,” DecoNetwork adds.

So what’s changed in DecoNetwork 8 and how will those changes benefit your shop’s profitability and productivity? The answer lies in the front-end – that part of your site exposed to your customer, separate from the tools you’ll use to style your site behind the scenes.

Freeing the front-end

“DecoNetwork has always given your customer the ability to view your pertinent information, shop your catalogue, upload their own designs, add and style text, and even composite and add text to real embroidery files, while creating instant, true-to-scale mock-ups directly on the garment; now it can do so on any device, desktop computer, tablet or mobile, at any size, and in any orientation, without losing one bit of the functionality it has in a standard desktop configuration,” explains the company. “The instant accessibility of your shop and the ease of using your tools means that your customer can shop, add designs to garments, add team names and details to templates you design and control, no matter where they are or what device they are using. It’s normal to expect that your customer can use their mobiles to search, customise and purchase, but in an industry first, they can also alter their graphics – sizing, rotating, recolouring – and add text with tools that scale and menus that shift out of the way to keep the garment and decoration images front and centre in the design process, even on small screens.”

The always-on salesperson

Ecommerce was once touted as the ‘sales force that never sleeps’; according to DecoNetwork, a new mobile-friendly site that includes the fully responsive designer can make a DecoNetwork store into both an always-on salesperson and always-open art department, which can verify the quality of images and allow the customer to customise, play with and lock in a design at any time and place. “Busy customers will always have these abilities at their fingertips with a snappy front-end that is mobile-friendly enough to qualify for Google’s mobile search and a 99/100 score for loading in their PageSpeed tools,” the company notes. “All you have to do to obtain this easy-to-navigate and responsive site is to use DecoNetwork 8, and these abilities are instantly part of the way you do business.”

The company adds that with the new tools in place, then it’s time to focus on your customer. “Time savings are a matter of training any customer for whom a self-serve model is a good fi t, or perhaps those that have a propensity for forcing your artists through a world of tiny alterations, to start their visual brainstorming process in the online designer. Free from the limitations of desktop-only designers, they can play, tweak, edit and send in order details on-the-go.”

DecoNetwork 8’s new drag-and-drop design tool allows decorators to customise their website without the need for knowledge of mark-up or code

Bolstering the back-end

According to DecoNetwork, in a creative, image-driven industry such as garment decoration, standard templates and site designs have a tendency to “flatten branding, no matter how cleanly designed”. The company has addressed this limitation by moving beyond a standard responsive template to create a drag-and-drop design tool that decorators can use to visually design, customise and update their website, without any knowledge of mark-up or code. “We created a system by which you can use a simple interface in your back-end admin area, select a page in your site, and reorganise, resize, replace and add to the elements in that page simply by dragging them around a live view of the page, or by grabbing a new widget from an easily navigated tray and dropping it into place.”

All alteration is done in a back-end tool that provides a live-updating, ‘what you see is what you get’, view. The page resides on the right hand side, with a pull-out ‘drawer’ of widgets with image sliders, multi-column layout tools, video embeds and even social media streams, as well as ecommerce-specific segments, such as listings of blank goods or collections stock and custom designs. “Almost everything in this interface can be dragged to a new location or easily altered. You can change any text by clicking on it and retyping the contents, you can select any area and replace background images, complete with effects like mouse-over zooms or parallax scrolling. Anything you want to change can be accessed in the page from easily identified drop-down menus attached to each element in the page. Moreover, this visual editor shows live changes without requiring you to take your site public, meaning you can work and test changes while your existing site is still live, functioning normally, and taking orders,” DecoNetwork explains.

DecoNetwork has always allowed customers to add text to real embroidery files; now they can do this on any type of device or size of screen

Ease of use for everyone

Summarising the advantages of its latest software advances, DecoNetwork comments: “We created DecoNetwork 8 with a single driving purpose: to provide tools for both decorators and their clients that look, feel and function as well as any world-class tool meant for wider audiences. Pair that ease of use with information, pricing and processes specific to our industry, and you enable any decorator to present themselves professionally without excess cost or effort, while customers never feel like they are settling for less than a larger company might offer. Having a site that works anywhere and offers these versatile tools helps independent decorators of all sizes to compete on a level playing field.”