A market exists for for all types of T-shirts, although ecommerce store owners have to do their research and understand the level of demand for the types of shirts they want to sell. This research, along with a clear strategy for procurement, sales and order fulfillment, helps new ecommerce store owners establish their ventures.

Mass-market t-shirts

T-shirts can be purchased from wholesale merchants in a number of different ways. This approach to selling this type of apparel reduces the need for design and technical production skills on the part of the store owner, allowing him or her to focus more on the operational needs of the business. T-shirts are sourced from a local printer or from an online business that specializes in producing wholesale quantities. Different relationships exist, from the ecommerce store owner designing the shirts sold, to a collaborative process with the printer where rough ideas are fleshed out by a designer at the partner business and the selection of pre-printed designs. Some stores use more than one of these approaches to include both unique and more ubiquitous apparel in their offerings.

A prospective ecommerce store owner who wants to sell shirts produced by another company will find drop shipping an effective solution for both sourcing and delivering products. In a drop shipping scenario, a store owner selects one vendor, or a small group of them, to produce the items to be sold. Orders are taken through an ecommerce website and then passed along to the vendor, who receives the invoice and then sends out an order directly to the customer for delivery.

This approach means store owners don't have to deal with the physical production of shirts and, with drop shipping, don't have to worry about storing and shipping them to customers. The drawbacks are a reduced level of participation in the creative process and fewer opportunities for quality control and management. With drop shipping, store owners have less control over the shipping process and the quality of that aspect of operations as well.

Self-printed T-shirts

The alternative is for ecommerce store owners to make the shirts themselves. Costs are typically higher in this situation because silk screen presses or other printing devices are expensive. Other costs, such as ink, as well as the time spent making designs and printing shirts, have to be factored into the equation. Inventory storage is another concern, as are variations in demand.

However, one of the advantages of this strategy is that ecommerce store owners have complete control over their merchandise and can pick and choose between different materials and styles for the shirts they make. The final results are completely up to the store owner, who can make any design as long as the printing machine is up to the task. Shipping problems and dispute resolutions become easier because the store owner is the one taking orders, making shirts and shipping them directly to the customer.

The path chosen by an ecommerce store owner will have a significant impact on the final product. Those interested in entering or expanding into the T-shirt business have to weigh the pros and cons of outsourcing and in-house production. That information then has to be compared to financial restraints and requirements, personal skills, research about the desired market segment and the approaches of competing stores.

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