Have you always wanted to own an online store to sell custom T-shirts in the UK (and the rest of the world) but have been daunted at the idea of building a functioning e-commerce site from the ground up?
I’m aware this sounds a bit too much like an infomercial but I promise you, it’s not. I just want to let you know that nowadays there are ways to build online stores without any kind of technical skills. You don’t even have to take care of the storing and the printing anymore.
It is no wonder that so many people are interested in owning their own e-commerce business. The advantages are many! First of all, there is no rent to pay and you can reach a customer pretty much anywhere in the world.
In this post, we’ll explain to you how to create your very own online T-shirt store.
Before we get going, a little disclaimer. This blog post was designed for people who already have a brand or an idea of what their clothing line should look like in mind. If you’re not that far ahead just yet, then we have a couple of blog posts we’d like to recommend to you:
- How to come up with an authentic name for your clothing brand
- How to design an authentic logo for your clothing brand
If you already have a brand and logo, then you can go on ahead and read the blog post.
1. Consider your options
Is an online store really what you need? And if it is, then which kind? Nowadays there are all kinds of ways to sell your stuff online. From eBay to Amazon, there seems to be an endless number of ways to make an extra couple of pounds but which one is better for you?
These allow you to sell just about anything you want with the condition that you have to share the space with many, many other sellers. These include eBay, Amazon and Etsy. They’re popular but the competition can be intense. These are popular and easy to use but they may not the best place for a clothing brand – particularly a small one.
Because of the huge competition, some smaller brands may not be able to keep up. Also, if you’re targeting a niche market, it may be easier to go somewhere else where your target audience may be able to find you more easily.
Print on Demand Platforms
Technically speaking, these allow you to sell your design — not the T-shirt itself. The way they work is that you upload your design and then they produce and print the garment whenever someone buys it (some sites require a minimum order).
The good thing about these platforms is that they spare you from carrying stock and the production process. On the other hand, you have little control over the quality of the final product.
Your Online Store
If you want a professional-looking website and a place on the world wide web to call your own, then creating your online shop from scratch may just be the solution for you. Don’t let the whole ‘creating from scratch’ part scare you. Nowadays there are online tools that can build you an online store in just minutes without the need of any kind of HTML or programming knowledge.
2. Where to Begin
Now that you’ve decided to make your very own online T-shirt store, you have to start asking yourself some questions.
What features would you like your online T-shirt store to have?
It is a good idea to start by writing down all the features you would like your online T-shirt store to have. Take a look at some of your favourite brands for inspiration — or check out what the competition is doing, as well. This can be as simple as having a menu for your social media channels as complex as having a background that changes colour whenever you scroll down.
This list will make the process much easier. Once you have a clear idea of what you need, then the decision-making process will be clearer and you won’t hesitate when going for what you need. Oh, and whatever it is you want, make sure it is ALWAYS mobile friendly. With just over half of all online sales in the UK made through mobile, there is no excuse to not have a mobile-friendly website in this day and age. There’s no excuse nowadays for not having a responsive online T-shirt store.
Will you hire a developer or do it yourself?
Hiring a web developer and/or a web designer will allow you to create your website exactly the way you want it. This is a good option if you have a very clear idea of what you want and have the money to pay for it. A developer may not be as expensive as you think (there are all kinds out there) but generally, when it comes to websites, you get what you pay for.
If you’re just launching your T-shirt line, then I wouldn’t recommend building an online store from the ground up— even if you have the money to pay for it. Simply put, it’s not worth investing your money in something that you don’t know if it’s going to work. Online businesses are hit or miss. We always hear about the successes but data shows that half of UK start-ups crash and burn within five years so we must cut our losses wherever we can.
Besides, when a developer creates your site then you will always depend on him whenever you need a change and those costs quickly add up. If your brand proves successful, then you can always later hire a designer to build your site.
This is particularly relevant when you consider all of the platforms we have available nowadays for building online stores.
The Most Popular E-commerce Platforms
Like we mentioned at the beginning of this blog post, these are platforms which give you all the tools to create your very own online store. They’re easy to use and in most cases don’t require technical knowledge.
We’ll go over some of the most popular ones.
The best choice for large businesses. BigCommerce gives many options to businesses with the ambition to scale up and also those that work B2B and wholesale.
How easy it is to use and the wide variety of themes and customisation options are just some of the reasons why Shopify is the most famous e-commerce platform.
This platform is well known for its beautiful themes. If you have plenty of high-quality pictures and care about the aesthetics, then this one is for you.
This is the best online store builder for small businesses. If you have less than ten products to sell then this is your best option. It is also known as the most intuitive of all to use.
Technically, it’s not a website builder like the others but a plugin you install on a WordPress template. Requires a bit more of technical skill.
3. Creating an Account
Details may vary depending on the platform but in most of them — if not all — you will start by creating an account. Over here, we’ll cover the basics of how to create an online store in all the platforms but if you want to learn the specifics for each you can do so here: BigCommerce, Shopify, Squarespace, Wix and WooCommerce.
This is your address in the online world. It should be easy to remember, generally, the name of your brand. To see if the domain you want is available, you can do a domain search on a website such as Instant Domain Search.
Some of these platforms offer a free domain which is a great option to have if you’re not ready to marry any idea just yet but the only inconvenient is that they add their own address to it so your domain will end up looking something like this business.myshopify.com — not very professional.
Create an email for your new website
Along with a domain, you’ll also need to create an email address so potential customers can contact you. Avoid email addresses with your name on them, just in case you may have to pass it on to someone else in the future (you never know).
Usually ‘info’ or ‘hello’ which is a friendlier version of the first will suffice. Keep in mind that most of these platforms charge per email address.
4. Site Design
This is when the real fun begins. For most, working on the way the website looks is the best part.
Install the theme
Remember those notes you took at the beginning? This is when they’re going to come in hand. A theme may be gorgeous but it won’t do any good if it doesn’t carry the features you need to launch your business.
Create a Menu
When it comes to online shops, your menu should showcase the categories of your products. It is one of the first things people see so make sure it is clear and visible. Also, your menu should adapt to your brand so if you only have one type of garment, don’t bother creating categories where there aren’t any.
People often neglect their ‘about’ page and that’s a big mistake. First of all, here is where you get to showcase your personality. What makes you different. An idea could be to talk about what inspired you to design T-shirts in the first place or how you came up with the name of your line.
Your about page is also very important for SEO (search engine optimisation). If you’re new to it, don’t be scared. It’s not as technical as it sounds. Just make sure you include keywords of relevance for your target audience. For example, if you’re designing T-shirts for anime fans. you may want to include words in the text like ‘Otaku’, ‘Manga’, and any popular characters or series of the time like ‘Attack on Titan.’
Also, you may benefit from reading a bit on SEO. This guide is a good place to start.
Not too much to say here. This is where people should find the information necessary to contact you. Sometimes it isn’t necessary to have a ‘Contact’ page per se. For example, The Dankest Tees has a contact form in the footer of their website which is easy to access.
The most important part of your website. More often than not, your ‘Home’ page is where your potential customers will land first, which is why all the information necessary should be on display.
There are many different theories out there on what constitutes a good home page and they don’t all agree. As a general rule, you should always have the most important information at the top of the homepage. It’s no longer necessary to have everything above the ‘fold.’ Nowadays is more about the hierarchy and fitting everything into its proper place.
Some suggestions of what should appear on your homepage are:
- Search box
- A navigation bar/menu
- Contact information (phone number, address, etc)
- Links to your social media profiles
- Bestselling and/or featured product
When it comes to website design, minimalism is a good idea. Keep only the essential information so users don’t become scattered.
Once we have a pretty website, it’s time to start worrying about the more ‘functional’ stuff — which is ultimately a crucial part of the process if we want to make a sale.
When paying online, we like to have choices. Some people would rather use a credit card while others find PayPal more comfortable. These are options but the SSL certificate is mandatory. This certificate… certifies (for a lack of a better word) that any credit card information users submit on your website are safe and encrypted.
Most e-commerce platforms can provide your shop with SSL certificates so you probably don’t need to worry about that.
There’s a lot to unpack — pun intended — when it comes to shipping. Should you offer free shipping? And if you do, how do you keep it from eating your profit margins? And then how about:
- Dealing with couriers?
There’s just too much information for us to cover here on the blog so we’re just going to link you to this Shopify blog post that explains it all very clearly.
You can let us do it for you.
Printsome On Demand
Is our answer to those T-shirt designers who want to set up their online T-shirt shops but don’t have the time or the skills to deal with the production part.
We are an innovative award winning printing company. With more than 5+ years experience in apparel customisation, we have worked with over 10,000+ clients, including big brands such as Amazon, Ikea, Virgin Atlantic, Visa, Facebook and more.
The system can connect directly with a Shopify store and handle the fulfilment of any order, so you can focus on what you really love, designing.
Each garment is printed on demand — as they’re sold — there are no minimum sales requirements. Each order is treated with the utmost care to make sure it is of the highest-quality before it is drop shipped within two and four days.
The interface has been designed so it can be easily installed and give full power to the user from the get-go. If there’s something wrong, Printsome’s customer service will always be there to help solve any problem.
Printsome’s hassle-free fulfilment system allows business owners to forget about the production process and lets them focus on the details and strategies necessary to scale their business.
For more information on Printsome On Demand services, please visit our website.
6. Testing and Launching
Once you’ve finished the design of your online T-shirt store and have arranged all of the production details, it’s time to launch. This is a very exciting moment but it is also one that can make or break the efforts we’ve made until now. A website may look great but if it’s not functional, then it’s not going to generate any sales.
Bad spelling and grammar can kill. Okay, maybe not but it can certainly deter a couple of potential customers from buying. The best way to spot spelling and grammar mistakes is to have someone else go through your website. You may be the human thesaurus themselves but after working too much time on the same project, even the most obvious of mistakes can slip by to the sharpest of minds.
Other things you might want to look out for:
- Forms (fill them out)
- See in on a smartphone (does it still look good?)
- Check out for broken links (do they all lead to the right, intended place?)
- Contact details are accurate
- Images are loading properly
Once you’ve made sure everything is working properly, then it is time to start selling T-shirt and officially launch your online store.
These are features that your online T-shirt shop could have but it’s not a necessity. These can also be left for later. You can get to them once the business has been up and rolling for a while.
Find a way to feature your best, favourite, most sold designs. Shoppers sometimes need help and curating the options is sometimes a good way to show them the way.
A blog is a great way to showcase your brand’s personality and also, not to mention, SEO (again). I didn’t mention the blog before because it is something that requires dedication. In order for it to work, you need to be consistent. Make a schedule and stick to it. Even if it’s just once a month — it doesn’t matter how often you post as long as it is consistent.
This is taking it a step further. Videos are not easy to produce. They take time and lots of resources but when they’re done well, it is worth it. According to some reports, 64% of consumers make a purchase after watching a branded social video.
The newsletter is what takes a community to the next level of engagement. Use it to communicate news, send offers or just showcase the latest design. Just make sure you don’t spam.
You probably know already how important social media is today’s online world. Simply put, it’s one of the most effective ways to get traction and spread your message online. For a clothing line, we’d recommend starting with Instagram and Pinterest. These networks are based on pictures which are perfect for promoting a new clothing line.
Nowadays you can even connect your Shopify store directly to your Instagram and Facebook page.
After being in business for a while, you’ll probably create a following of faithful customers. They will probably have something nice to say about your design, don’t be afraid to add them to your site. We trust people more than ads, never forget that. Besides, there’s nothing wrong with showing off a little bit every once in a while.
Original Text: Jorge Melo
Edit: Harald Meyer-Delius
Print on Demand
Here at Printsome, we’ve always supported creative endeavours which is why we’re proud to announce our brand new ‘print on demand’ service.
Thanks to our five years of experience in the apparel-printing industry, we were able to design a platform catered towards the needs of artists and designers who want to start their own T-shirt line. Printsome’s ‘Print on demand’ service has no minimum orders and can print any design with no colour limitations.
From the moment you connect your online shop (like Shopify) with our platform, anyone can buy one of your designs. We deliver all over the UK and Europe. Drop shipping has never been this easy.
Why worry about inventory or logistics when we can take care of that? We deal with the boring stuff so you have more time to do what you love. To find out more, simply visit our brand new website.