Looking to push your apparel brand or push your brand with apparel? So, you've already thought of a great idea, hired an amazing designer for specific pieces, and have a decent sales strategy to create a long lasting business. Awesome!
Now what? How do you get them printed? Who supplies the shirt? How do you sell them?
A couple viable options are: Online Tshirt / Apparel Markting Websites and Screen Print / Embroidery shops.
Online Custom Tshirt Sellers exist with the idea of solving one major problem for start up apparel brands: No crazy, upfront investment to get a good deal on apparel, free website, design tools, and shipping directly to your customer. It's definitely an option that can be beneficial.Let's take a look at how good this option is for your brand.
How are these businesses set up, anyway?
Companies like this are basically a super high-end website, costing in the millions, with a team of customer service reps. The work is generally outsourced to a network of screen printing and embroidery shops around the country or world, depending on the scope of the company.
While this model has worked for some, and it may still work for many more, it's important to know what tools are available and which of those tools will work best for your brand, resources, and business goals.
There are certain drawbacks to signing up to online shirt sellers that can affect your brand value and other options may better suit your needs and goals.
1. HIGH MINIMUMS: These companies usually have higher minimums than your average screen printing shop. In many cases, your order won't go to a printer until you succeed in meeting their predetermined order minimums. If you don't sell enough, no prints and your customers will be refunded.
That may not be the message you want to send your customers.
The reason for this is 2-fold: (A.) they are outsourcing the actual printing to shops like mine, and (B.) print shops don't like to set up for small orders as it's hard to keep a shop open and pay employees with lots of small orders and hefty set up times.
2. LOWER PROFIT: Because of the nature of their business model, prints are going to cost more per piece than an actual print shop. Since they are the middle man, they will pay the screen printer, then take a chunk for themselves and give you a lower percentage than they take for the convenience of providing you a website.
The other option is to seek out a screen printer and get a quote for a custom wholesale order, set up a website and social media sites and start selling. Why would you go directly to a Screen Printer? 1. We all have the same stuff. Screen printers / Embroiderers / Apparel Decorators have access to literally EVERYTHING places like Teespring, Custom Ink, etc have access to. They are selling the same exact brands and blanks that the industry sells on the average.
2. Make More Profit. You can make more profit by removing the middle-man website. Usually, screen printers are way less expensive than going through a marketing company.
3. Lower minimums. You can buy fewer pieces to test the popularity of a product and then buy larger quantities at much lower pricing. Why not make WAY more profit selling fewer shirts?
3. Their "FREE" doesn't actually mean free. You are just paying for it all on the back end through increased shirt prices. You make less because of the convenience they are providing in terms of websites and design tools, which may have their website address in your address.
4. More control over your final product. If you are trying to build a brand, isn't the product the most important thing? With screen printing shops, you can work closely with the people actually producing your apparel. You can ensure colors are perfect, choose the perfect garment, touch and feel it. You can get sample prints ahead of the actual print run. You can choose the types of inks, which will affect the way to print looks and feels. You can get quick turnaround times. You don't have to wait for the ordering process to end to know if you will be able to actually sell anything.
5. Custom EVERYTHING. There is nothing like knowing you are able to customize every part of your order. Did you want to sell a Gildan or Next Level or Bella shirt but don't want their inside label? Customize your brand by printing your label inside. Want to add a HEM TAG to a sleeve or bottom of shirt to raise the perceived value and offer a bit more class to your apparel line? Want to try out of the ordinary print placements? Ink color matching? Sizing Samples? Screen printing shops will have this in spades.
6. It's easy to set up a website and sell on your own. WIX, for instance, makes it super easy to be e-commerce ready with your own appealing, branded site. Shipping up to 50 orders a week isn't really that hard, and again, you will receive much more of the profit for your hard work. You also won't have to depend on reaching minimums to mail your customers packages.
7. Your customers won't have to wait at all. No more waiting to see if you reach enough sales for the order to go to production. Customer satisfaction on quick turnarounds is the name of the game in buying online. Don't leave that to chance!
The list goes on and on and on.
Developing a relationship with a screen printer will produce results that can't necessarily be achieved otherwise. Your brand deserves an AMAZING AMBASSADOR.