Sheer Custom Interview
Sheer Custom has developed and recently launched its exciting new software using Wilcom’s Embroidery Web API (EWA) technology.
“We get lots of inquiries from potential EWA customers who have eCommerce websites hosted on platforms like WooCommerce, Shopify, Etsy, etc., and they need software development help to integrate the EWA into those platform environments. We think that Sheer Custom can add value to our product, especially in this area, where the customer’s infrastructure is almost ready to implement our EWA product.” – says Janos Horvath, VP International Sales who manages the Wilcom EWA sales and support.
We asked CEO David Dawkins to introduce his product and explain how the Wilcom Embroidery API technology is helping his business.
David, thank you for speaking with us.
Let’s start at the beginning.
Why did you decide to use the Wilcom Embroidery Web API (EWA) product?
Our sister business Sheer Digital has been working with Wilcom Embroidery Web API for several years for clients in the UK. Sheer Custom has evolved from the knowledge we acquired working within the apparel decoration sector through our use of Wilcom’s embroidery technology. Wilcom Embroidery Web API was a natural choice for us, given our experience with Sheer Digital and the market leadership of Wilcom’s EmbroideryStudio and its creative possibilities.
How did the Wilcom EWA make it easier for you to build your product?
The Wilcom EWA offers a wide range of apparel decoration and personalization scenarios enabling us to serve both B2C and B2B business models. The first release of our product delivers embroidery personalization for consumers. We will soon introduce logo digitization which was already on our roadmap and confirmed as an essential B2B feature during demos with apparel decorators.
What’s your professional background? And how did you get involved in the embroidery world?
Originally, I worked in Sales, then Marketing, Product Development, and Market Research. I’ve worked in a broad range of sectors including telecoms, CPG, financial services, and consulting. I became involved in the embroidery industry through our work with Sheer Digital and Wilcom. In the post-COVID environment, there has been a considerable amount of acceleration in doing business online. Digital transformation seems to be top of mind for every CEO in every industry. Embroidery is no exception and I find this a very exciting space to be working in right now.
Please introduce your new product
Our first release is for WooCommerce – the leading e-commerce cart by global Market Share 2022 (Statista July 2022). Our next release (coming soon), WooCommerce, will feature B2B Auto Digitization options.
Sheer Custom’s first release for WooCommerce allows consumers to express themselves with personalized apparel that they can preview on products and purchase on any device.
We have been working with a pilot customer in Australia to develop a Shopify app that will offer very similar functionality to WooCommerce. We intend to launch this as a commercial app in the Shopify App store later this year. If you’re a Shopify store owner and want to be notified when we launch, please sign up with our form on the Sheer Custom features page.
Which customer problems does your product solve?
In essence, the product delivers positive benefits such as creative self-expression and professionalism. Ultimately, these are drivers of consumer and business choice as they seek purpose and self-actualization.
How long has it taken, and what challenges have you overcome?
It has taken around 18 months to design and build the product. The biggest challenge we have had to overcome is to try and balance flexible functionality without making the user experience too complex.
As a WooCommerce plugin, our product might seem like the domain of web developers. However – it has been carefully designed for novice users and does not require any special expertise to configure. We have a fully documented help center and support channels to help business owners.
How can Sheer Custom help add embroidery functionality to online stores with the required software development and services?
Above all, the Sheer Custom platform can help with differentiation. For example, by focusing your store on a niche using your creativity, it is possible to create exciting new propositions with opportunities for profitable growth. With a range of subscription plans and an easy-to-install and configure the plugin. The only limit is your imagination.
How would a new customer with an existing e-commerce site integrate Wilcom’s EWA into their online store?
WooCommerce store owners can download & install the plugin and be up and running within minutes. They can offer customers the ability to personalize products using EMB templates they purchased or created in Wilcom’s Embroidery Studio. Our plans include API call limits for small and medium-sized businesses. Enterprise businesses will usually have a direct relationship with Wilcom – although we can also help here with our White Glove service.
An essential step in a consumer experience is to view the final product with the custom design or text.
How does Sheer Custom support this functionality?
EMB templates offer a great way to combine creative designs with lettering. Our product enables customers to personalize these designs to their own unique specifications. Wilcom offers a broad range of font options with custom font options also possible. Thread colors from all leading brands can also be used with on-screen previews of the threads enabled via RGB equivalents for the closest possible color match.
Do most of your customers digitize with Wilcom’s EmbroideryStudio suite of products?
All of our customers involved in embroidery use Wilcom software as a powerful tool to realize creativity possibilities. This in turn can deliver powerful differentiation in an ocean of online stores. It is possible to purchase EMB designs from different marketplaces, although ultimately Wilcom software will be required to check designs prior to production.
Many embroidery companies have ready-made and quality-tested embroidery designs.
How can Sheer Custom connect these existing libraries to the website for online visitors to select and add to a product?
It’s super easy to upload Embroidery design templates (EMB files) and assign them to products. These designs can be priced based on any position (front, back etc) or combination of positions (front+back).
Customers see a “Customize” button on product pages that activates an easy-to-use interface to personalize their products. Font and thread options can be curated at the category, product, and variation level. In this respect, it is possible to be granular with colors to ensure contrasts are completely tailored. It is also possible to group EMB files for multiple customizations on the same product.
The most typical embroidery garment decoration is adding lettering, such as names to personalize a product or garments.
How can Sheer Custom assist with a practical and efficient user interface design using the Wilcom Embroidery Fonts?
The User Interface uses familiar steps such as adding text to a field and selecting font/ thread icons for quick and easy choices. Position choices are cleverly rotated until choices are exhausted to ensure maximum cart value. Customization options are added to the cart as line items attached to products which avoid issues with customers inadvertently removing customizations from the cart.
Many customers already have multi-decoration technology supporting printing and want to add embroidery or already have embroidery and want to add printing.
How does Sheer Custom support multi-decoration?
We have a print customizer in development and will be taking a similar approach to embroidery. Most of the competitive offerings in the market are offering powerful design tools. In our opinion, some of these have overly complex design user interfaces which are off-putting to customers. Our design philosophy is to simplify making it easy for customers to achieve their desired outcome of self-expression/ professionalism with minimal effort and minimal friction.
What changes do you expect to see in consumer behavior as we move forward?
Increasingly consumers are realizing the environment’s fragility and making more judicious purchase decisions.
The current economic context of high inflation is eating into incomes means each purchase decision becomes more involved with factors such as individuality, provenance, and environmental impact top of mind. Sustainability is no longer a trend but an underlying factor in every purchase decision going forward for the foreseeable future.