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[Guide] Selling Custom POD Apparel

If you’ve been toying with selling custom print-on-demand (POD) apparel, the market is poised for continued growth. Research shows that the market was valued at $4.90 billion in 2021 & is predicted to grow 26.1% between 2022 & 2030. While other businesses seemed to stumble during the pandemic, POD actually grew.

There are endless ways to enter the POD market, but apparel sells well with the potential to scale. From choosing the right products to understanding the POD technology, here’s your guide to getting started.

Choose Your Apparel

The first step in selling apparel in your POD store is determining the kind of apparel you want to offer. Figuring out which apparel to sell in your POD store is easier than with other business models outside of POD. For example, CustomCat has no minimum orders so you can scale your business organically. There’s no financial risk when you experiment with your favorite products & customizations.

Athletic Apparel 

Depending on your audience, athletic apparel appeals to everyone from workout enthusiasts to outdoor adventurers. They’re also well-worn, work-from-home staples that offer style, comfort, & the ability to transition from your desk to a lunch date with friends.

Shirts

Shirts are always in demand & can be customized to align with current trends, humor, or your own creativity. Here’s a round-up of what to choose:

Hoodies

From functional winter clothing to the next generation of fashion statements, hoodies & sweatshirts have become very stylish through their unique prints & esthetics. These multifunctional garments can be worn during any occasion and are a go-to when the weather is chilly.

Jackets

Jackets are versatile POD products that appeal to a wide range of consumers. Choose from jersey-lined hooded windbreakers, sporty pullovers, moisture wick full-zip jackets, & wind shirts. Depending on the jacket, they can also be marketed alongside your athletic apparel.

Hats

Just like shoes, hats are the type of products that customers enjoy collecting. Leverage the trend, create a custom line of hats, & promote them as a collection. Choose from flat bills, flex-fit caps, distressed trucker hats, knit caps, & more.

Understand Print-On-Demand Decoration Methods

As you’re settling on the type of custom POD apparel you want to sell, you’ll also need to consider how each decoration type impacts your products.

DIGISOFT™

Unlike other POD methods, DIGISOFT™ is versatile & durable with visually stunning results. It even prints beautifully on the softest, quick-wick fabrics that usually face POD limitations. DIGISOFT™ also adapts for one-off orders or thousands of products to fulfill the needs of enterprise businesses.

Direct-to-Garment (DTG) Printing

Direct-to-garment (DTG) printing applies jet ink directly onto apparel & other products. DTG is faster & cheaper than screen-printing & works well on one-off products. However, it may not be the best choice for softer fabrics or more sophisticated designs.

Dye Sublimation

Dye sublimation transfers dye to plastic, card, paper, or fabric using a heat-based digital printing technique. Designs are also vivid & clear to delight your POD customers. You can get to work customizing products like blankets, drinkware, sandals, & more.

Embroidery

Embroidery is a popular technique for items like polo shirts & requires a needle to stitch a thread. There are limitations, including color, & needs more time to execute. On the upside, the longevity of embroidered designs are impressive. With the power of digitally translated designs, you can create a custom embroidered hat, bag, shirt, or other products in minutes.

Ask Customers What They Really Want

Viral success can happen, but it isn’t the norm. Keep in mind there are other ways to realize success. You can also ask your customers what types of products they want by sending surveys, asking for feedback, & posting on social media. Crowdsourcing ideas as a contest also keeps customers engaged & directly involved in the design process.

Develop a Marketing Strategy

Developing an effective marketing strategy for your POD store is all about connecting with your target audience. There’s no one way to market your business, so experiment with different strategies & tactics, but always be sure to keep your target audience top of mind with anything you do. Show them why they need your products & the finer points of your uniquely customized designs.

Here, we tackled some of the guesswork for you. Use these resources to get started on your sales & marketing journey:

A/B Test Your Efforts

There’s no need to pick & choose between products & designs to launch. Instead, you can do an A/B test on everything from your custom designs to your marketing strategy. Track your results to see which works the best. Here are a few ideas for A/B testing in your POD business:

  • Custom designs
  • Apparel
  • Social media ads
  • Email marketing newsletter
  • SMS marketing 
  • Product copy
  • Cart abandonment reminders
  • Sales & promos

Collect Feedback & Reviews

Once you’ve gained some traction & see your sales kick in, it’s time to collect customer feedback & reviews. However, even your most loyal customers may need a reason to leave a review. Offer a limited-time coupon code or exclusive VIP access to get the reviews rolling in. 

You can also start a conversation on social media to ask what your customers do & don’t like about their experience. You’ll gain some buzz while identifying areas you can strengthen your business. 

Remember that constructive criticism isn’t always bad & can provide an opportunity to impress. Research shows up to 30% of customers will reverse negative reviews when companies reply & try to make things right.

Study Your Analytics

Whether you’re brand new to POD selling or an enterprise business, scouring your store’s analytics is essential for ongoing success. Look through your Google Analytics to identify where traffic & sales are coming from. 

It’s also important to note where interest might be dropping off. If everyone seems to leave during checkout, you may need to fine-tune the process. Or if the majority of your potential customers never seem to make it off the homepage, it could be an issue with the layout or the user experience. Whatever the problem, you can probably do some sleuthing in your analytics dashboard to come up with some solutions.

Rinse, Repeat, & Scale

Once you’ve gotten the POD selling process, it’s time to scale. Of course, growing too fast after tasting success can be problematic if you spend more than you sell. But that’s the beauty of selling custom POD apparel; you never have to carry inventory & earn when you sell. There’s no financial risk involved, & the only thing you’re really spending is time & energy to find a model that fits your business.

What are your best tips for selling custom POD apparel? Let us know by leaving a comment below!

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