T-shirts have been a fundamental part of wardrobes across the globe for a really long time. Its universal acceptance and popularity among all demographics make selling t-shirts online a lucrative business opportunity for lots of entrepreneurs.
T-shirts are economical to source, have a universal appeal and are pretty simple to customize. As a result, ‘selling T-shirts online’ is a popular choice for beginners, as well as veteran eCommerce entrepreneurs.
Even though this business seems to be easy, there are a lot of things you need to take care of to make it successful. A good understanding of your competition, making sure that your brand stands out from the crowd, high-quality produces, unique design and strong brand image are some areas you will really need to focus on.
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Well, let’s help you with some steps that will help you start selling T-shirts online.
4 Steps To Keep In Mind Before You Start Selling T-Shirts Online
#1 Find Your Target Audience And Niche
Start by asking yourself, “who is going to buy these t-shirts”?
eCommerce is a huge world and there are multiple T-shirt sellers out there. Answering this question will help you figure out a way to define who you are catering to and this will help to stand out from the competition.
Now you may be wondering how defining a target audience will help since almost everyone wears t-shirts. Well, narrowing down your target audience is what will help you find your product niche.
It will help you to clearly envision and define what your product should look like, who is going to buy it, how will it be perceived, and why will the buyers need it. Understanding the interests of people around you and your target audience will help you define that niche.
#2 Setting Up An Online Store
Once you have determined a target audience and niche for your T-shirt business, the next step if for you to set up an online store. While there are multiple eCommerce platforms that will enable you to launch a store in just a matter of minutes, finding the perfect domain name for it may pose a challenge.
The best way to overcome this challenge? Pick a brandable, short name on a relevant .store domain. Not only does the .store domain clearly communicate that you are in the business of selling online, but it also helps to better position your brand and helps to stand out from other t-shirt business that are using clunky domain names.
For instance, Stately Shirts, the company that offers high-quality printed t-shirts that showcase numerous geographic states for people to flaunt and celebrate, uses Stately.store as its web address.
According to Seth Maschmeier, the Founder at Stately:
“Our original domain was www.thestatelyshirtcompany.com which we eventually decided was far too long and could be difficult for people to remember or even read at a glance. So then we worked on finding easier domains.
We went to www.thestatelyshirtco.com and then www.statelyshirtco.com and then www.statelyshirts.com. Then I thought just “Stately” would be perfect. We picked www.stately.store and .STORE works great because we offer more than just shirts and will continue to expand with our ideas. It describes who we are very well.”
Stately.store is a pretty cool domain name. You can take inspiration from the name ideas mentioned in the second half of this article.
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#3 Adding Products To Your Store
After setting up your online store, you need to add products to it. There are lots of ways through which you can source your products for your online store.
One of the easiest ways is to partner up with a “print on demand” site, which prints t-shirts on demand. There are also websites that provide the service of shipping them along with printing.
Since the products are going to be printed only when the order is placed, there wouldn’t be any extra upfront costs. In this way, you can also introduce newer products, and even discard the ones that aren’t selling.
#4 Failing And Trying
Your research might have suggested that whatever product you have designed and created will be driving a huge amount of sales. However such results are sometimes impossible to achieve by just launching your store.
Your predictions might fail to match the actual needs of your target audience resulting in low sales. Don’t let it put you back.
To sell T-shirts online is a process of trial and error. Giving the customers a voice is going to help you find the solution. If a design isn’t working out, try something very different.
If buyers don’t react to it, try something yet again. Let them pick what products and designs are attractive to them. Empower customers to give you feedback so you can fine-tune your offerings and give them what they need.
Creative Online Store Name Ideas For Your T-Shirt Business
An important part of starting a t-shirt business online is finding the right name for it. While you certainly can come up with creative name ideas, finding exact match domain names can be challenging.
The best way to solve this name-game muddle is to pick a smart name on a relevant new domain extension like .store. As a word that has always been associated with a business that sells something, the .store domain fits perfectly for any business selling online.
400+ T-Shirt Business Brand Names on .STORE Domains to Inspire You:
Making The First Sale
Having an online t-shirt store up and running is just the first step. The real deal is to make that first sale. Below are a few things that might help you do that successfully.
It’s a proven fact that product reviews accelerate sales growth.
But the question that remains is how to score those product reviews before making the first sale?
The people who you can rely upon buying your product without questioning its legitimacy, are your family and friends. Ask them to buy your product, and once they have done that, learn about their shopping experience.
Get feedback from them about how you can improve, and also ask them to leave you a product review.
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Despite what you may think of it, this age-old trick always works like a charm. For a consumer, what’s better than getting something they need for free? It’s as simple as that.
A free giveaway campaign, in the beginning, is sure to attract a huge number of customer base and create much-needed brand awareness for you. Once they have used your product and they like it, they’re sure to use it again. They are even likely to recommend it to friends and family.
In today’s world, every business has to maintain its presence on social media. And this is more applicable for eCommerce businesses. Consumers might not really come to your store, but there’s a much higher probability of them landing on your Instagram handle or Facebook page.
With Instagram’s Shoppable feature, you can even sell directly from the social media channel.
The key is to use social media to your advantage to build an audience. Post about your products regularly and make sure your brand is reaching out to potential customers.
However, posting alone won’t help you attract customers to your brand. The more you engage with them, the more likely you are to create value for your brand in their minds.
You don’t have to be a salesman, you just have to provide great content and the rest will follow. Involve with forums, groups, blogs, and articles and it will get your brand noticed.
Hell, get them to participate in a quirky hashtag challenge!
Social Media Influencers
‘Influencer marketing’ is something that has gained unfathomable popularity in the past few years. Social media influencers are people with a large follower base and their followers tend to hero-worship them.
In other words, followers want to use products that influencers are using, do the things that they are doing. It’s simple – these social media influencers already hold a strong position among members of your target audience.
This means you can leverage from collaborating with these influencers who will happily promote your t-shirts and your brand to their followers.
Influencers promoting your brand on their social media handles (in exchange for a few free T-shirts), could really attract a lot of customers to your store.
Most of the time, you will find users browsing through your product catalogs, adding your product to their cart but leaving without making a purchase.
Cart abandonment is inevitable and online shoppers do that all the time.
The solution to this is a solid retargeting campaign. Retargeting ads use cookie-based technology to make sure that the visitors who left your store without placing the order, are being shown custom ads about the same products on their social media handles.
Even when they are surfing on the web, with no intention to shop online, you can show them the ads about the products they intended to buy and eventually didn’t.
How to Start a Print on Demand T-shirt Business
What is Print on Demand T-Shirts?
“Why fit in when you can stand out?”
Print-on-demand T-shirts has emerged as a successful eCommerce model as it harnesses people’s inherent aspirational quotient and lets them express their individuality through an endless range of creative and customized T-shirts.
What is print on demand (POD)?
Simply put, it is an eCommerce model wherein print on demand t-shirts are designed only AFTER an order has been placed for them.
The POD process boasts efficient turnaround times, often taking only 2-3 business days for order fulfilment.
Why choose print on demand as a model to sell t-shirts online?
Prints on demand t-shirts have disrupted the prevalent trends of the online t-shirt market in the last few years. Print on demand t-shirt companies cater to a niche market base and offer them unique benefits over traditional eCommerce platforms.
Some of the benefits of print on demand t-shirt business are:
- Minimal or no requirement for warehousing – Print on demand t-shirts are printed only after an order has been placed for them, eliminating the need for holding prior inventory.
- Efficient processing time – Advanced digital technology enables print on demand companies to ensure that high-quality t-shirts are designed with speedy turnaround times rivaling those of Amazon.
- No onus on order fulfillment – Print on demand companies manage the logistics of shipping the t-shirts. This takes away the hassle of order fulfillment and allows for effective resource allocation.
See below for a list of some of the best print on demand companies you can work with:
List of 45+ print on demand t-shirt websites
|1||0stees.com||Funny T-shirt, Movie T-shirt, TV Shirt & Video Game Tees|
|2||6dollarshirts.com||Funny T-Shirts, cool tees, and soft vintage shirts shipped daily for only six dollars each. New shirt designs all the time!|
|3||aafnation.com||Patriotic apparel and gear for men and women. The best Fourth of July shirts, tanks, and hoodies in the land.|
|4||artistshot.com||Artistshot offers a wide range of custom clothing as well as cool t-shirt designs. Sell your art and become part of their t-shirt designers teams.|
|5||betterthanpants.com||Browser our catalog of thousands of funny, offensive, and sometimes just plain dumb t-shirts. High quality prints on heavyweight cotton tees shipped fast|
|6||bigcartel.com||Build a unique online store, sell your work, and run a creative business. Perfect for clothing designers, bands, jewelry makers, crafters, and other artists.|
|7||bonfire.com||Create your custom shirt campaign for free. Upload art or design your shirt online sell to your community for a good cause or for profit. Launch today!|
|8||bucktee.com||Best of pop culture clothing for you.|
|9||cafepress.com||Best merchandise to express yourself|
|10||chummytees.com||Must see trendy t-shirt designs – funny, vintage/retro, political, offensive, and plenty of text tees.|
|11||coolshirtsmean.com||Have you ever asked these questions? What Does Your Name Mean? What Does My Name Mean? Find out! See name meanings and get a cool t-shirts, hoodies for your name!|
|12||crazydogtshirts.com||Funny t-shirts printed on crazy soft apparel. Shop online for cool shirts for men, women and kids. Cute maternity tees and soft tank tops.|
|13||creativefabrica.com||Get access to our ever growing library of fonts, graphics, crafts and more. Over 1 million unique premium designs. Access them all today.|
|14||customink.com||Make custom T-shirts, apparel & promotional products online with the highest quality printing & customer service. Easy Ordering. Fast & Free Shipping.|
|15||customizedgirl.com||Custom Shirts, Tanks, Undies, & More|
|16||designbyhumans.com||Shop cool graphic tees selected by a community of creative and unique designers. Browse new graphic t-shirts from artist all over the world at Design By Humans.|
|17||fineartamerica.com||Buy art online, decorate your home with incredible works of art, and help support living artists all over the world! Fine Art America is the world|
|18||iloveapparel.com||Funny T-Shirts, Hoodies, and other fun Apparel just for the things you love.|
|19||lookhuman.com||T-shirts made from preshrunk 100% cotton and a heathered tri-blend fabric.|
|20||merchbar.com||Lowest prices on 1,000,000+ band t-shirts, vinyl records, hoodies, posters and more from over 35,000 Rock, Pop, R&B, Hip-Hop, Metal and EDM artists. Shop now!|
|21||moteefe.com||Moteefe is a social commerce platform providing a solution for users to sell customised products through social media|
|22||pixels.com||Shop for t-shirts, art prints, phone cases, and more from independent artists and iconic global brands.|
|23||printify.com||Create and Sell Custom Products with your design.|
|24||prowrestlingtees.com||Wrestling t-shirts sold by over 1500 wrestlers directly. 14,000+ items. Official apparel providers for AEW, NJPW, Impact & more|
|25||rageon.com||RageOn is your one-stop all-over-print shop for T-Shirts and more for brands like KISS, Lisa Frank, Black Eyed Peas, Technodrome1, Larry Carlson etc.|
|26||redbubble.com||Awesome products designed by independent artists|
|27||rockabilia.com||Rockabilia is the premier music and entertainment merch site. We have shirts, shoes, sweatshirts, bottoms, accessories and more from your favorite movies and bands.|
|28||rushordertees.com||Custom T-Shirts Fast, Design Online|
|29||sellmerch.org||Learn how to make, market and sell your custom merch|
|30||sevencopy.com||There are various styles, designs, colors, graphics, sizes, shirts about your name you can choose.|
|31||snorgtees.com||Funny t-shirts, hoodies and tank tops updated with new designs every week. Shop our huge collection of awesome, cool, and hilarious pop culture, nerd humor and overall funny designs today.|
|32||spiritshop.com||The Official Store for SpiritShop.com!|
|33||spreadshirt.com||Custom T-Shirts and T-Shirt Printing|
|34||spreadshirt.net||Create personalised products or shop from their designer marketplace.|
|35||storenvy.com||Discover inspired goods from authentic brands. Or, build your own brand with a free store.|
|36||sunfrog.com||SunFrog Shirts is a community for designers and shoppers. Shop SunFrog Shirts for creative & custom designs as unique as you are. Customer satisfaction guaranteed.|
|37||teechip.com||Design and sell shirts, mugs, and phone cases online with TeeChip Pro. Upload your artwork and we take care of the rest. No upfront costs. No minimums.|
|38||teehag.com||Pop-culture inspired tees for all ages!|
|39||teenavi.com||TeeNavi store, all the t-shirts, sweatshirts, hoodies, tank tops, mug that you could be looking for.|
|40||teepublic.com||Shop Art, T-Shirts and Other Apparel Created by a Global Community of Independent Designers.|
|41||teeshirt21.com||Millions of crowd-sourced designs from independent designers all over the world. Large selection of shirt styles. International Shipping. Satisfaction guaranteed.|
|42||teeshirtpalace.com||Get quick shipping on unique T-shirts, tank tops, long sleeve shirts and hoodies from TeeShirtPalace, with funny and cool apparel for men, women and kids|
|43||teespring.com||Teespring is the free and easy way to bring your ideas to life. Design your product, set a price, and start selling. Teespring handles the rest – production, shipping, and customer service – and you keep the profit!|
|44||teespy.com||Get A Massive Edge And Make Your Next T-Shirt Campaign A Winner With This Push-Button Software.|
|45||teezily.com||A French company, internationally renowned. Founded in January 2014, Teezily is a platform marketing thousands of personalized products.|
|46||theshirtlist.com||The Shirt List is the biggest collection of curated pop culture t-shirt lists on the Internet. We list t-shirts by theme, artist, and store.|
|47||threadless.com||Awesome t-shirts, art prints, iphone cases, and more featuring unique designs by the global Threadless artist community.|
|48||zazzle.com||From cool t-shirts to custom mugs to DIY invitations, Zazzle is the place to unleash your creative side. Shop for, or design, amazing products today!|
Is the print on demand t-shirt business model still profitable in 2020?
A resounding, YES!
The POD market in the USA and Canada has been on a steady upward curve and with the base for print on demand drop shipping increasing exponentially; it’s still a viable business model today.
What is dropshipping?
Dropshipping is a core aspect within print on demand. To put it simply, print on demand dropshipping is a process wherein the seller doesn’t need to hold inventory.
Upon receiving orders for a t-shirt, the supplier dispatches the t-shirt to your customer directly. The entire order fulfillment process is automated and low-risk, hence it’s emerging as an attractive option for start-ups or even individuals to dabble into.
How to make your print on demand t-shirts business a success:
- Niche is everything – Before you get started with optimizing your store, you’ll need to ensure your t-shirt designs are desirable to your niche. The more specific your niche, the better!
It increases your chances of tapping into the market share that’ll consider your offerings seriously.
- Design & feedback – Create unique and engaging design concepts that’ll resonate with your selected niche. It’s also important to receive feedback from the relevant sample size to determine if your offerings will be attractive to your niche.
You can have your design critiqued by your social media base or on Reddit. If you’re seeking to outsource design creation, you may find freelancers on design sharing communities like Behance or 99designs.
- Create your online marketplace – It’s pivotal that you have a website set up before you begin your print on demand t-shirt venture. Register a domain name. Ensure you design an attractive and user-friendly POD website (sites like Shopify can help you here)
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- Choose the right print provider – Partner with reliable print on demand websites. Do note their USPs; for example, TeeSpring specializes in print on-demand t-shirts.
- Spread the word – Once you’ve got your marketplace set-up and have chosen a print provider you’re satisfied with, it’s time to promote your online store.
There are many ways to do this, popular methods include:
- SEO optimization
- Hiring social media influencers
- Joining relevant forum groups
- Leverage paid social media by running ad campaigns
- Leverage word of mouth marketing by using testimonials & user reviews
- Monitor the results – It’ll take some time to ascertain what works for your business and what doesn’t. Conducting regular analysis of performance will help you make effective tweaks (e.g. changes to the pricing model, website design using Shopify, promotion methods, etc.)
Other popular print on demand product categories:
The biggest markets for print on demand products are shirts. Many are enamoured by the idea of flaunting their individuality through unique and exotic designs on custom shirts/t-shirts.
The increasing number of sellers uploading exuberant designs over the years has provided an endless assortment of choices for the discerning customer.
However, this has also led to high competition and market saturation in the print on demand t-shirts niche.
Print on demand companies today need to conduct thorough audience profiling to ensure their t-shirt matches their audience’s demand.
Some print on demand products are perennially popular on sites like Amazon, eBay etc. Examples include:
- Notebooks & Print
- Personalized gifts
- Art decor & wall prints
- Printed pet t-shirts
- Bags & purses
- Phone cases
- Towels, pillow covers
Pros & cons of print on demand t-shirts
Print on demand provides an affordable and low-risk approach to venture into the eCommerce markets of Canada & USA.
However, it’s important to objectively analyze its advantages and drawbacks:
- Monetize your online audience – For those who enjoy an active social media following, print on demand can be a great option to connect with your audience while seamlessly monetizing your content.
- Easy set-up of operations – Print on demand websites are largely user-friendly and easy to set up. One can register, set up their profile, and begin uploading their creative designs within minutes.
- Low startup cost – Compared to conventional eCommerce business models, print on demand business model doesn’t require a large capital. Print on demand websites like Shopify allow you to kickstart your business with a low budget too.
- No need to hold inventory – Print on demand companies handle the task of packaging and logistics, removing the hassle of holding stock.
- Freedom to experiment with a business idea – Unlike most marketing ventures, print on demand enables you to test if a new t-shirt will perform well without carrying the risk that comes with buying inventory.
- Low margins – The biggest drawback of print on demand t-shirts are the low margins of profit. This is most prevalent in niches that are highly competitive as competing stores are willing to sell items at minimal prices. Selecting the right niche helps mitigate this problem to a large extent.
- Errors on supplier’s side – Human error is inevitable in any supply chain process. Even proficient print on demand companies can make mistakes whilst fulfilling orders, the responsibility of which will be borne by you.
- Limited range of t-shirts – You may be constrained by the type of t-shirt you wish to sell depending on your chosen POD partner. While print on demand t-shirts are widely popular; the same isn’t the case for sellers who wish to sell highly customized tees.
The print on demand model has emerged as an ideal, low-risk option, and an easy alternative to traditional eCommerce business models. POD helps empower new entrepreneurs or start-ups to essentially test an idea and its market feasibility before they invest in it.
Tips For Starting A Low-Risk Print On Demand Business
As mentioned earlier, print on demand gives you the privilege of not having to manage your own inventory. However, there are a few considerations to be made if you are looking to start a print on demand business.
We’ve curated a list of tips that might help you build your print on demand business.
#1 Strategize your Shipping
Customer satisfaction is highly dependent on how they receive the products they buy. Even though you aren’t directly taking care of shipping, there are a few things you could strategize to improve their experience.
Whenever you are intimating the shipping time to the customers, make sure you’re also taking into consideration the printing time, which could add 2 to 4 days to fulfillment time.
Create a FAQ page or a separate shipping page, where you can clearly explain all the terms of your shipping well to the customers. The more upfront and transparent you are about the shipping; the better the confidence you build amongst your potential customers.
You can also consider absorbing the shipping costs into your retail price, partially or completely. It’s a known fact that surprising shipping costs added during checkout increase cart abandonment.
Besides, free shipping has its own benefits:
- Even if offered in specific regions, free shipping acts as a sales sweetener providing customers an incentive to buy
- Conditional free shipping like setting a minimum purchase limit to acquire free shipping encourages customers to buy more products and at the same time helps you achieve a better shipping rate by shipping products together
- Free shipping gives the necessary satisfaction to customers, and you can use it to justify longer wait times in fulfillment
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#2 Order Samples
Quality assurance is the topmost priority when using print on demand services online. The possibility of something getting lost in translation or a modification in the design from what you saw on screen to the printed product is high.
You need to ensure that the t-shirts you ordered looks and feels exactly how you intended it to be and the perfect way to do that is to be your own customer.
You can use sample discounts or free shipping options to buy the t-shirts yourself and experience first-hand what it’s like to receive your own products.
One of the other benefits of ordering samples is that you can take some really cool pictures to spruce up your Instagram marketing.
#3 Niche Marketing
The key to building a successful print on demand business is to target a particular niche.
If you’re planning to design and sell t-shirts, it’s always better to define the audience you are targeting. Otherwise, you’ll just get lost into the vast pool of generic businesses with very fewer results.
For example, if you target fitness enthusiasts or cat owners, you can design specific products that are in demand and incur lower costs to acquire customers by maximizing your profits since your targeting decisions would be precise.
You can also build an audience of your own through target marketing, to whom you can always sell your newer t-shirt designs in the future. A few ideas for that are:
- Starting an Instagram account and creating content to build a follower base amongst your target audience. Building relationships with them would help you in converting your sales
- Running Facebook ads and targeting the interests of your niche customer base and using low-cost ads to analyze which designs are resonating with your audience
- Collecting emails from visitors so that you can continue marketing it to them for free through email marketing
- Collaborating with social media influencers to reach out to an unexplored customer base
#4 Create Mockups
Many print on demand services help you create your own mockups, where you can show your products in the flesh. They also provide mockup templates that you can use to bring your products to life.
Mockups increase the chances of people buying your products as they get a better perspective and it’s worth spending a few extra bucks on.
Since you will be new to the business of selling T-shirts online, you’ll need to figure out ways to stand out from the existing t-shirt business owners. A great way to do that is to understand your target audience, what they need, what their lifestyle is like, and how you brand yourself to meet their ideologies.
It’s simple – If someone can relate to your product, selling is easy.