Many of us own 10+ t-shirts in our wardrobe. However, did you know that the t-shirt industry is expected to be a $10 billion industry by 2025; and, the majority of those t-shirt sales are expected to come from e-commerce platforms.
If you’re a budding entrepreneur or new to running your own business, selling t-shirts using e-commerce platforms is one of the easiest ways to learn the trade. As a bonus, it requires a minimal amount of capital to get started.
For artists, in particular, this is a great outlet to showcase your creative talents. Alternatively, even those looking for a steady side gig and an extra source of income have the chance to dive in and make some art. Therefore, let’s get straight into some tips on how you can set up an e-commerce t-shirt business.
1: Look for niche markets to make a statement
Let’s be honest, it’s a flooded market, and you’re going to face stiff competition. That’s why the key to finding success in your early stages is identifying a niche — something that will appeal to a particular audience but has the potential to scale later on. The beauty of designing your brand is the freedom of self-expression. From funny slogans to rebellion with a cause, the choice is yours.
First, single out a particular community, something you do, either professionally or as a pass time to start with. Say, for instance, you’re a mountain biker. If you can come up with a range of funny or topical designs related to this activity that fellow enthusiasts can identify with, it’ll likely sell.
2: Find a good manufacturer and printer
The next step is to find a manufacturer that offers suitable quality materials and does the printing on-site. Don’t forsake quantity over quality even if you might be tempted to do in the early stages. The reason for this is that word of mouth and customer reviews will be crucial in your business’s growth in the early stages.
The next step is to identify the range of colors, fits, and size selections you’re going to advertise for, such as the typical small, medium, large, etc. And of course, if you’re going to have a men’s line, women’s line, or keep it as a one-size, fits-all type. Then, once you have quotes from the manufacturer, you know what cost and profit margin price points you can advertise.
It’s also worth checking if this manufacturer does print on demand and shipping. This will become more relevant later on.
3: Get creative with designs
Now comes the fun part, where you get to design the look and feel of the t-shirt. You might decide to keep it simple in the early stages and go for one design. Alternatively, you can design a few, which could form part of a reduced package deal. The choice is yours!
Whether you decide to go for simple text or images, the message still needs to identify with your targeted niche. And if you’re stuck on ideas, you can always resort to hiring a designer. There are many options online to source a freelancer as well as plenty of websites with design templates already created. You can even customize what is available by mixing and matching images and text.
4: Trial some prototypes
Once you’ve finalized your ideal design and are happy with it, it’s time to get the manufacturer to print off a few sizes and colors. Then, start wearing them yourself, as well as handing them out to some trusted work colleagues, friends, and family.
Wear the t-shirt on and off for a week or so. Also, make sure it goes through the washing machine and dryer at least once. Take note of how it feels and how well did it wash? And, of course, ask for feedback from those you’ve handed them out to. Ask questions such as: Are the t-shirts comfortable to wear, did they wash well, and what response, if any, did you get from others when they saw you wearing it?
Depending on the answers and your own experience, you might need to source another manufacturer. You might even need to re-think the initial design. In an ideal scenario, it’s none of the above, and you’re getting positive feedback.
5: Make sure it’ll sell!
The next step is to make sure it’ll sell to your target audience, and here’s where you need to go online. Ask for feedback from outside of your immediate circle. Perhaps you already belong to a community social network group in your local neighborhood? Post some pics online and ask people for their feedback. You might even get some pre-orders.
Another alternative is to look to crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter to advertise it and even get orders. Then, you can gauge the response from there. You might even get lucky and get an offer from an investor to help fund your start-up.
6: Get online and start selling
Hopefully, up until this point, after all your design work, research and testing, you’ve got enough interest. There’s been positive feedback, and you’re ready to go into business and start selling.
You can design a website if you want. Although there’s plenty of other resources out there in the e-commerce space for selling your t-shirts. Facebook, Shopify, and Etsy make it easy for online apparel sellers to set up their e-commerce business on their platforms.
At this point, you have the option to manufacture your inventory, or you can partner with a print-on-demand service supplier. This means you’re not holding any stock, and any orders received will only get printed and shipped once placed.
So there you have it, six tips that’ll get you up and running in no time. The rising demand for t-shirts in the e-commerce space makes now the perfect time to start selling your designer t-shirts.