The Client

Oh Shirt Yeah provides customers with a new, interactive way to customize their apparel and favorite accessories.

The first and only of its kind, Oh Shirt Yeah offers an interactive retail experience where customers can design and purchase customized apparel and accessories in-store, in an hour or less. The collaboration between new-age programming and cool kiosks allows shoppers to be in complete control throughout the entire design process—making the experience that much more awesome.

The Need (or should we say, needs)

First and foremost, Oh Shirt Yeah needed a software that could handle the scaling and HD demands that come with not only storing, but promptly processing, serving and printing thousands of HD images daily.

Next, Oh Shirt Yeah needed its content management system to be easily accessible and modifiable by OSY staff—a simple, but intricate request.

Finally, the company needed custom web design that articulated (without underestimating) the awesome-ness of both its product and the OSY experience.

Once we mapped it all out, we were able to itemize Oh Shirt Yeah’s needs into four specific areas:

  • Custom Web Design
  • WordPress CMS Integration
  • Microsoft SQL Database Development
  • Software Development
The J9i Solution

As you can imagine, we had our work cut out for us—but we were super excited about helping bring this innovative new concept to market.
Determined to deliver not only a program, but an experience, we homed in on the most important parts of the solution we wanted to offer Oh Shirt Yeah:

  1. A system that could deliver on-demand customization
  2. A solution that that was kiosk-centered, yet delivered on all the expectations its users
  3. And a bunch of other good stuff like reliability, speed, etc.
The Details

Our process began with a little thing called ‘product/market fit.’ That is, we needed to determine the smallest, yet most viable part of the product that could be (1) brought to market, and then (2) continue through stages of development by way of user feedback.In Silicon Valley, this concept is referred to as MVP, or Minimum Viable Product. Not only is the concept sexy, it’s smart, and it prevents a software team and business from doing extensive work behind the scenes, only to discover that they’ve built a product that no one wants.

For Oh Shirt Yeah, achieving the MVP was not as difficult as many would imagine. For one, there wasn’t really any competition or existing apps that offered the product or service that OSY offers—this was the biggest advantage.

Instead, this was a brand new product; it wasn’t backed by years of experience, research, or trial-and-error that we could pull from. And that was okay.

Secondly, the experience we helped Oh Shirt Yeah create wasn’t going to be reduced to an app that users would download, or a website that they would navigate to while sitting at home.

Instead, the software would be developed for a specific kiosk-based environment that delivered on the customization needs and time expectations of customers who visited the Oh Shirt Yeah retail location.

The concept was simple: allow a customer to go into a store, interact with a tablet-based designer to customize their perfect shirt, iPhone case, and other apparel or accessories, and then pay for their customized product.

Then, once the check-out process was complete, the user’s design would be sent to in-store printers and prepared for printing.

The next step is where our software gained its glory: the customer’s design would have to be scaled up to the size of the product it would be placed on (e.g., a shirt) so it could be properly printed as a template. That template is then sent to a heat-press machine and used for the final printing process.

All of this had to take place within the same four corners of the store the customer walked into.

The Work

First thing first, J9i was charged with building the application necessary to handle the workload of OSY. To do so, we used:

  • NET
  • C#
  • And a heck of a lot of JavaScript

The goal was to provide an interactive experience for customers, and to enable strict requirements for the designs to go straight to print without a lot of interaction from employees.

Next, because payment processing was taking place on the same tablets customers were using to design their products, this meant that everything (data, etc.) had to go through a PCI audit and remain PCI compliant at all times.

With a new project—especially one such as this—it’s easy for ideas and the enthusiasm to go through the roof, thereby increasing cost and turnaround time. However, we had to remain levelheaded and focused on the goals we set forth early on in the project. Even in doing so, however, we ran into a few different obstacles.

The initial challenge came in using and serving so many HD and high-quality images and customized ideas that would make up version 1.0 of the software. As we mentioned earlier, Oh Shirt Yeah needed a software that could handle the scaling and HD demands that came with not only storing, but promptly processing, serving and printing thousands of HD images.

We solved this issue through continuous testing, creating strict guidelines for the image uploading process, and the use of some great Azure resources. It was after the implementation of these things that we scheduled an invite-only testing session.

Here’s what happened:

The (Soft) Launch

With the first version of our customized solution in place, it was time to test the waters and make sure we were on the right track. So, we staged a soft launch and invited around 100 excited locals in to use the designers. The soft launch was critical to the overall project for two reasons:

  1. It helped us determine whether we were building something people actually wanted (people other than the business owners and developers, that is)
  2. It helped us identify any glitches in the process and areas that could be improved

Observations and feedback from the soft launch helped us realize several things. First, we quickly learned that people wanted a way to send in their own images and not be limited to the designs offered on the designers.

To address this need, we integrated the software with Twillo. With Twillo, users are able send their own images to the designer through a text message. Pretty cool, right?

The second thing we learned from the soft launch was that the OSY staff needed to be able to update and control all aspects of the software quickly, easily, and at any given moment. This was really just a reminder of a need we initially identified upon starting the project.

We made it possible for the Oh Shirt Yeah staff to control the software by building in fail safes and validation checks that enabled such access and ensured that nothing went wrong during the process.

The Wrap-Up

While the proof-of-concept was nice, there were still a few things we had to work on to arrive at the best end-product possible; this included: improving some of the updates and integrating the feedback we had received into the designer.

Working with OSY’s in-house designers, we buckled down on improving version 1.0. We were able to create a launchable new software within 6 months of conception, just in time for the team’s official store opening.

To bring the entire project full-circle, we created an SEO plan for Oh Shirt Yeah that included a hybrid national-local search campaign for the new store and the even newer concept.