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Custom T-Shirts: Pros and Cons of Selling Custom T-Shirts Online

10 min read

T-shirts are one of the most popular items of clothing among people both young and old. As a result, the global custom t-shirting printing market is expected to surpass a whopping $10 billion by 2025. Because the industry is so lucrative, more and more entrepreneurs are looking to sell t-shirts online. However, if you are new to the business, you may be looking for an inexpensive way to group your brand from the ground up. That’s where print on demand (POD) comes into play. This business model could prove lucrative if you understand the positives and negatives of printing t-shirts to order.

Within this article, we’ll be looking at those pros and cons, helping budding entrepreneurs figure out the best way forward with the online t-shirts business.

Read on for more information.

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What is Print on Demand?

Print on demand (POD) is a service that lets you produce and customize white-label items such as t-shirts with your own artwork and designs, then sell them whenever an order comes in.

This is a great way to save time, reduce your initial investment into the business, and avoid the numerous pitfalls that come with inventory management. As such, you can enjoy a creative business venture selling custom products without worrying about the costs too much.

But does this type of business work?

Let’s find out.

Pros of POD

1. POD is very easy to set up

Here’s the good news: POD platforms are very easy to use and set up. Many different sites are available to you as a budding entrepreneur that allows you to grow a POD business. All you need to do is sign up to the size, create a profile, and upload your artwork and designs. This can be done in just a few minutes.

In addition, many sites offer free setup, while others require you to pay a small registration fee. Conversely, there are some other sites like Merch by Amazon where you need to be accepted onto their POD program before you can start marketing and selling your designs.

2. Minimal inventory means you don’t have to worry about packaging or shipping

One of the biggest positives of a POD service for entrepreneurs is that you don’t have to think about all those trouble inventory-based issues like expenses and stock costs. You also do not have to worry about being stuck with extra merchandise that you cannot sell. In addition, somebody else will package and ship your items. All you need to do is create stunning t-shirt designs and market them to the right audience. Easy, huh?

3. Less technical and logistic responsibility lets you focus your talents

As aforementioned, one of the joys of custom t-shirt POD services is that all the boring logistics and production side of things are taken care of by another company. As such, you have total freedom to focus on coming up with new designs and figuring out which t-shirt ideas will sell. Therefore, POD is an attractive prospect to creative minds that do not want to be hampered by the technical aspects of the business.

4. It’s easy to build your brand and increase brand recognition

POD services are white-labeled. This means that you can personalize your products and package with your own branding and logos. This way, when your customers receive their t-shirts, your brand name is the only one they will see. There’ll be no sign of any other service

5. You do not need to invest in machinery or stock

We cannot stress the positives enough when it comes to a third party handling the production side of your t-shirt business. When you use another company to print your t-shirts, you eliminate the need to purchase your own machinery and print your own t-shirt stock. All of this will be handled by your POD partner.

Cons of POD

1. Lower profit margins

While you’ll save a lot of money on overheads and other expenses by choosing a POD service, you’ll have to pay more for goods compared to purchasing your t-shirts wholesale. As such, you can expect your profit margins to be significantly lower than a company with its own stock.

In addition, your POD partner will take a larger percentage of the sales and profits because they are handling the shipping, selling, and packaging of your t-shirt designs. Therefore, you will be paid a commission on those products. However, how you are paid depends on your agreement with the POD company. You’ll either be paid through royalties, receiving a percentage on every t-shirt sale, or markup from the bottom line cost of your t-shirt, setting the retail price of your custom t-shirt design in the hopes that it garners more profits for you. As such, the profit margins can be low and frequently unpredictable.

2. A lack of data on your end

While many POD companies will handle the sales side of your t-shirt designs, they will follow the market with a keen eye and monitor buyer information. They will then use this information to market more products to these customers and potentially make more sales.

Due to your role as the artist, you never get to know who enjoys your designs or buying them repeatedly. Unless the customer reaches out to you specifically, you’ll be left in the dark regarding your fans.

In addition, some POD companies will package and ship your custom t-shirts with their own logo on the parcel. If you took care of your own stock and shipping, you’d be able to incorporate your own brand into the packaging, increasing brand awareness and growing your brand organically.

3. You cannot guarantee quality

While you spend hours working away at your art, designs, and product ideas, you’ll also need to ensure that your POD partner only uses quality materials when printing your t-shirt designs. Unfortunately, many POD companies care more about the bottom line and profit margins. As such, the quality is diminished along the way. This reflects poorly on your business and your art, first and foremost, potentially affecting your sales.

Make sure you do plenty of research and only work with POD companies that can assure quality. You should also consider the quality of their customer service and whether their website looks professional. Both of these factors are usually an indicator of quality.

4. You depend on your POD partner for products and materials.

POD companies often work with various suppliers from whom source materials and products. As such, you can expect plenty of moving parts, many of which you may not have considered. In addition, sometimes materials that go into making the product become unavailable, which can hurt your profits and the availability of your custom t-shirts.

5. Order fulfillment takes more time.

Unfortunately, another drawback of a POD business is that your orders take longer to fulfill than if you already had the design ready to go and available in stock. While this may not worry you too much as the t-shirt designer, many customers like to get their products quickly, which cannot be guaranteed by the POD business model.

How can Ecwid help you?

Finally, if you would prefer to set up your own online store to sell your POD t-shirt designs, you may want to use Ecwid.

Ecwid is an ecommerce platform that makes selling online more manageable. Build your own store from scratch to instantly sync and sell across your own website, social media, marketplaces, and more. Grow your business with automated marketing tools. And manage it all from your Ecwid control panel.

Contact us today, and we’ll help you build your online store and take your entrepreneurial custom t-shirt business to the next level.

Do you want to learn more about selling t-shirts online?

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About the author

Max has been working in the ecommerce industry for the last six years helping brands to establish and level-up content marketing and SEO. Despite that, he has experience with entrepreneurship. He is a fiction writer in his free time.

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