So you’ve decided to open your very own online clothing shop. That’s brilliant news! Now that the decision has been made, you’re going to have to make quite a few more decisions. One of the most important ones is where you’re going to put this online shop – and we don’t just mean “on the Internet.”
There are basically two options that you can choose from to open an online T-shirt shop:
- Create your own website. This will allow you to sell your garments 100% on your own, but it can be a difficult process.
- Open a shop through an online retailer like Spreadshirt, Threadless or Design by Humans. These are fulfilment platforms that make creating an online shop easy by outsourcing production.
A lot of people end up going with option #2 because it’s easier and cheaper to set up than your own shop, and there’s a lot less risk involved.
Here are other common situations in which people choose fulfillment platforms:
- You’ve got really basic design knowledge and want to do the designs yourself
- You’re testing out this whole T-shirt printing thing and are on the fence about it
- Your clothing business is something small on the side you have as a hobby
- You’re doing small orders and can’t do the work yourself
It really is so easy that just about anyone can do it. You can see where we’re going with this – you should definitely go with option #2, right?
While Spreadshirt and similar sites can work really well for some people, are they really the best decision for your business? Probably not. There are lots of legitimate reasons that you actually shouldn’t use one. Setting up a shop yourself is definitely more work, but it almost always leads to more benefits overall. Here are some of the main reasons why you should reconsider using a fulfilment platform.
Reason #1: You lose control of your product
This is a major reason that lots of people opt to open their own website — it gives you full control over your final product and every little detail of the website, too.
When you hand over the reins to another company, they’ll be able to make some big decisions about your product. That might mean that they can severely limit how your shopfront looks, or it could be that they decide how much the production costs are for your tees. They can’t ship to all countries and aren’t available in all languages.
You also can’t be as choosy about what types of shirts and apparel your products will be printed on. Instead, you have to take the ones that the company offers. This isn’t to say that it’s low-quality, it just might not be quite what you were hoping for.
Whatever it is, you’ll lose one of the major benefits of having your own brand, which is being able to create exactly the product you want. Why compromise on that?
Reason #2: It’s not unique
This ties back into our first point. All the shops on these platforms look fairly uniform, with a small selection of product types displayed in a similar way. There are some ways that you can customise your shopfront and products, but ultimately you’re quite restricted in how unique you can make your stuff look.
These websites include options for designers to sell their creations. Shop owners then put up those designs up for sale in their shops on their products. That means lots of shops can end up offering similar stuff. And that means your customers have a really easy way to find almost exactly the same items you’re selling somewhere else. If you’re a designer, it means you won’t have 100% control of who uses your designs and how.
If you really want to create a unique product, then having your own shop is definitely the way to go.
Reason #3: Spreadshirt limits what you can do with your designs
All designs to be sold on an online retailer have to pass a test. This is to make sure their users upload stuff that they’ll actually be able to print, but it can be a bit of a pain for serious T-shirt designers. For example on Spreadshirt, you’ll have to spend some time waiting for your design to get approved. You’re also limited by how many designs you’re allowed to upload.
You’ll probably have to use a vector image for a successful design, which means you’ll have to learn how to make them if you don’t already know. Then, once you’ve done that, you’ll only be allowed to use three colours – and black and white count as such.
Of course, you may run into some of these issues when doing your own designs anyway, whether that’s for design reasons or budget reasons, but it’s something to take into account.
Reason #4: You miss out on chances to define your personal brand and SEO benefits, too
Running your own site is so much more personal, and your customers will be more easily to tell what your personal brand is all about. Hosting your shop on another platform means giving away valuable branding space to another company.
Also, not to get too technical here, but having your own site is much better for SEO reasons. That just means it will be easier for your site to show up in search engine results therefore more potential customers will be able to find you.
Reason #5: It’s less professional
There are a lot of hobbyists on online retailers alongside the professionals. Now, we’re not saying that there’s anything wrong with using your hobby to make a bit of money. Actually, we think that’s pretty cool! But if you’re serious about your business, it definitely looks more professional to have your own website.
Having your own shop lends your brand an air of professionalism that you just don’t get when you’re using a shared platform. Part of the reason of this is that unless you pay, your shop will have advertising information of the company on it. Another is that you won’t be able to have your own domain, for example, shops hosted on Spreadshirt include “spreadshirt.com” as part of the name.
On top of that, the look of a lot of these platform-based shops is really sloppy and amateur. Many are seriously outdated and difficult to read. Some shops manage to pull off a cleaner look, but why run the risk of lumping yourself in with a nonprofessional crowd?
Reason #6: Most people aren’t making much money off of it
We were just mentioning that fulfilment platforms come with some limitations. Perhaps unsurprisingly, they’re often willing to lift some of these limitations if you pay them more.
Spreadshirt gives you access to more options if you pay (like having multiple shops, having your shop in multiple languages, and sending newsletters to your customers).
There are also little annoyances, like having to wait until you make a minimum amount of money to be able to collect your money, and the platform taking a cut of the profits from your sales. On top of that, they pay out on a quarterly basis, so you may be waiting some time for your cash. And of course, as you’re using their platform, they’ll take a cut of the profits for their services.
You’ll also need to promote your shop, which will probably involve spending even more money. Once you’ve taken all the costs into account, you really might end up making more money if you have your own shop. Or, to put it in another way, If you want to get the most out of these websites, chances are you’ll need to seriously put in the time and money. Now, that’s true of a lot of things – but if you’re at that point, why not just spend money on creating promoting your own unique shop?
Summing it all up
There are plenty of reasons opening up shop on a fulfilment platform might be the right decision for you. But even though these types of shops are quick and easy to set up, you should seriously consider whether they’re the right fit for you and your business. Chances are, there are going to be a lot more benefits in the long run to putting the time and effort into creating your own site.You’ll probably be much happier and your business will be more successful as well.
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