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Beginner's handbook

How to Choose Print-on-Demand Products for Your Store

By on July 26th, 2022 Reading Time: 9 minutes

It’s thought that an average person makes about 35,000 decisions per day. For an online store owner, some days a good portion of these decisions could be spent choosing products for your online store. 

These choices are not easy to make. After all, the products you select will represent your brand and showcase your unique designs.

tshirts in boxes
Source: Printful

We’re here to help you navigate the Printful Product Catalog and choose items that you’ll be proud to sell to your customers.

Let’s get this show on the road!

The formula for choosing your products

One of the most important things you need to do as an entrepreneur is to get to know your audience. If you don’t have any customers just yet, paint yourself a picture. Who is your customer and what are they buying? Thinking about this will help you shape your brand, choose the right products, and adjust your offering based on customer demand.

woman and a man in hoodies
Source: Printful

Settle on a niche 

Before starting to comb the internet for products to sell, there’s one thing you have to be sure about—your store’s niche. It’ll be the guiding light throughout your path and will also help you decide which products you should add to your store.

When honing in on your niche market, a good place to start is by reflecting on your interests and passions. Also, what you yourself would like to buy. Think about any gaps in the market your brand could fill. Always loved raccoons? Maybe your niche could be funny raccoon-themed designs.

etsy niche products
Source: Etsy

If you need help selecting a niche, here are 100 great ideas for your online store.

When researching your niche, you’ll drift into the waters of your competitors. Pay attention to the products they’re selling! Maybe you can draw some inspiration from other businesses in your niche. But don’t forget that you want to offer something that’ll make customers choose your products over other brands. 

How can you get ahead of the competition? Maybe it’s with price, product range, or quality? Consider all the options and think of how you can excel.

Offer quality

One way to stand out is to offer high-quality products. It’s not just the overall feel of the product, but also the materials it’s made of, how the product is made, and the quality of the print or embroidery. 

The best way to test product quality and make sure you’re going to sell products you can be proud of is to order samples. Not only is it the easiest way to get a feel for the products you’ll sell, but it also gives you the opportunity to see how your design looks on a particular product and to change any design details. Having a sample on hand is also great as you can create stunning photos of your product. 

Set a fair price

You obviously want your products to bring in a profit. To do that, your selling price should include all your expenses. Assess how much each product will cost you from start to finish and you’ll be able to establish an appropriate number. Don’t be afraid to set a fair price for your products. 

While you may want to offer the best price on the market, know that you’ll have to sell more to earn more. Alternatively, if you offer quality products, you can sell them at a higher price point. After all, it’s easier to justify a higher cost for quality products that last longer. 

Know that profit is the reward for your hard work, time, and dedication to your brand. Pricing your products can seem tricky, but nothing is impossible with a little bit of research.

Explore fulfillment methods

Before you jump into choosing products for your store, take some time to learn more about the different fulfillment methods available for designing on-demand products. To make your design stand out for all the right reasons, think about how you’d like to see your art on a product. Check out the various fulfillment methods below.

Direct-to-garment printing

Direct-to-garment, or DTG printing, is a method that sprays ink onto garments and is similar to printing on paper. DTG printing is an excellent option for those who want to add complex, multi-color designs on t-shirts, hoodies, tote bags, and other similar fabric items.

printed t shirt
Source: Unsplash

All-over printing

All-over printing, or sublimation, is a process where your design is printed onto special sublimation printing paper, which helps us transfer it to fabric by using a heat press machine. After that, the fabric gets cut and sewn into the final product. The all-over printing method is the best choice if you want to cover the garment with your design fully. Printful offers a variety of all-over-print products, so you can design blankets, hoodies, leggings, bags, swimwear, and more.

all over print backpack
Source: Printful

Embroidery

Compared to printing, machine embroidery requires an entirely different approach to creating a successful design. Since embroidery design is made out of stitches, it’s best suited for simple art and text. Embroidery is also very durable, so it’s a high-quality decoration technique. If your designs fit our embroidery guidelines, you can choose to embroider t-shirts, hoodies, jackets, hats, bags, towels, blankets, and more.

embroidered hat
Source: Unsplash

To be entirely confident about the final products you’ll sell, you can preview your designs on different products in our Design Maker and decide which method best fits your desired outcome.

How many products to add

Sometimes, less is more, and researchers agree! Psychologist Barry Schwartz found that when presented with too many options, people take longer to decide and experience choice paralysis and anxiety. He calls it “the paradox of choice.”

hoodies in different colors
Source: Printful

Choice is good, but too much of it can lead to indecisiveness and abandoned carts. How can you achieve that perfect balance?

Throughout the years, our team has talked to many customers, both experienced sellers and beginners. Two main challenges that beginners face when choosing products for their store are: “I don’t know what I need” or “I want everything!” 

The advice we give them: 

  • Don’t rush—start slow! That applies to the number of items in your store as well as color and design variations.
  • Begin with basic colors, like black and white for t-shirts, which are evergreen bestsellers.

Let’s go through some of the most popular product categories to sell and see whether these fit your brand.

Bestselling categories you can start with

Building your own product catalog is an in-depth process. You have to decide on the products you want to sell, create designs, calculate pricing, assess shipping, and more. To help you choose your first products, here are some suggestions you can try out.

T-shirts and hoodies

T-shirts and hoodies are true wardrobe staples that haven’t lost their appeal throughout the decades.

woman in a jungle in a hoodie
Source: Printful

There’s usually an abundance of styles, colors, and cuts that print-on-demand companies offer because of the popularity of these products. That gives you a great opportunity to find items that’ll appeal to your audience.

For example, children like bright, warm colors, so if you design kids’ apparel, choose red, yellow, or orange tees and hoodies. Or maybe your main audience is women, so consider offering some bestsellers from the women’s section of Printful’s Product Catalog, like the Women’s Fashion Fit T-Shirt or the Unisex Heavy Blend Hoodie.

A high-quality hoodie isn’t only a t-shirt’s best friend, but it’s also an investment piece. Speaking from my own experience, if I see a hoodie and fall in love with the design, there’s a good chance I’d spend up to $100 (or more) on it. Why? Because I know it’ll last for years and won’t go out of style.

Hats

Another versatile product category is hats. Most hats these days are true chameleons: there’s a hat for every season and they pair well with plenty of different styles and looks. Regular and all-over print beanies, dad caps, trucker hats, snapbacks, visors, and bucket hats are just a few of the options out there. Some are winter staples, while others are absolute summer necessities—it all depends on what your brand is going for.

man in a beanie
Source: Printful

Take a look at your store. If it’s inspired by the urban aesthetic, try selling snapbacks and bucket hats. For customers that prefer sleek designs, offer a classic baseball cap with a chic embroidery graphic.

Activewear

The fashion train is moving forward and activewear is definitely along for the ride. Over the years, workout clothes have evolved to be just as important for fashion as any other item.

woman in a leggings and sports bra set
Source: Printful

If you’re looking for product categories that are easy to cross-sell, you’ve hit the jackpot with activewear. The obvious choice is leggings and a sports bra set, because who doesn’t like a matching gym outfit? Another classic is the basketball shorts and sleeveless tank combo.

You can also expand your collection and sell items like water bottles, duffle bags, and backpacks—everything that goes perfectly with a good workout session.

Shoes

Footwear is taking over the fashion world one step at a time. While shoes aren’t the norm for print-on-demand products, they provide a great opportunity for your brand to stand out from your competitors and take your store to the next level.

shoes with one design
Source: Printful

By offering a variety of different footwear like slides, flip-flops, high-tops, or lace-up canvas shoes, you can appeal to customers with different styles and needs. The best part is that shoes are easy to cross-sell: design a complete outfit from head to toe with a hat, hoodie, joggers, and shoes. 

Kids & youth apparel

If one thing’s for sure, it’s that items designed for kids will always be in high demand. If your niche fits with families, think about adding kid’s clothing to your store like jackets, hoodies, leggings, bodysuits, and more. 

If your focus is more on apparel for adults, you can always create matching family outfits, which are especially popular during the holidays. It’s a great way to expand your product offering.

Eco-friendly products

Another product category that’s gaining popularity is eco-friendly products. If you’re passionate about sustainable living and fashion, an eco-friendly product line takes you one step closer to turning your passion into a successful online business. 

Our eco-friendly product collection consists of items made of at least 70% organic or recycled materials or such material blends. You can choose from a range of materials like organic cotton, recycled cotton, recycled polyester, recycled nylon, and organic and recycled fabric blends. 

Not only that, but in choosing the print-on-demand model, you’re opting for apparel that’s created only as the order is placed, which creates less fabric waste than conventional manufacturing. Plus, you don’t have to worry about having a small product catalog because, at Printful, you can find plenty of eco-friendly items for men, women, and children.

Accessories

Small items that make a big difference—those are accessories for you. Diverse elements that can enhance and give a little zing to anyone’s outfit are the name of the game. Think bags, phone cases, hair accessories, and more.

For example, phone cases are a popular product all year round. There’s a new smartphone model coming out every year or two, so if a customer likes the cases you offer, there’s a high chance they’ll return to purchase one for their new phone too. 

phone case
Source: Printful

The best thing about phone cases is the fact that you can play around and experiment with different designs to turn them into just what your customers want. Same as with other products, phone cases can be customized with any design that suits your store’s theme.

Bags are another amazing category that can be adapted to almost anything—depending on the style, they can suit many different niches.

For example, fanny packs are great for all of these:

  • Outdoorsy stores that cater to festival-goers, hikers, and nature lovers 
  • Brands that create products for school kids and the college crowd
  • Retailers that focus on trendy streetwear accessories
model wearing a fanny pack
Source: Printful

Home & living

The home decor category includes products like pillows, canvases, blankets, mugs, and more. It’s all the things people look for when they want to freshen up their living space.

hammock with a pillow
Source: Printful

One of the shining stars of this category is mugs, mostly because the demand for these items is stable all year round. It’s also a versatile item to sell—people love to both give and receive it as a gift, no matter the occasion.

The great thing about home decor is that it’s easy to cross-sell. Just imagine: a customer wants to buy an accent cushion from your store. There’s a big chance they’d also purchase a complimentary blanket to tie the room together. Choosing products that work well with the rest of your collection is a smart way to build your product catalog. More on that next. 

Experiment with collections

You may notice that your competitors are selling products from different categories. Don’t be afraid to try that too—think of your products not just as individual pieces, but as a complementary range of items. For example, swimsuits, towels, flip-flops, and water bottles can be sold together as a beachwear set. Even though these products are from different categories, they work well together. 

You can also create seasonal collections like the one I described above. Offering the season’s trends means you don’t have to make these products available year-round. This gives you the freedom to experiment with different items and designs—even those that don’t match your niche. After all, you never know when something might pique your customers’ interest! 

Keeping your catalog relevant

Style trends are ever-changing so it’s important to keep your catalog up-to-date. Research what’s popular in the fashion world and what’s topical for your customers. Some ways to do this could be to explore style blogs, follow influencers and bloggers, and dive into fashion forecasting websites. 

The cool thing with print-on-demand is that it’s easy to experiment with all the new products and trends because you don’t have to order your products in bulk, and they’re customized only when a customer places an order. So you can easily add and remove different items and test what works and what doesn’t. 

Another good thing to note: as soon as you see a product that works, try adding more variants of the same design or other products with that design. Once you’ve created something that your customers love, it’s easier to build a following from there. 

patterns
Source: Printful

In the end, what matters the most is your personal touch. Your designs are the key to unlocking your sales potential. They’re the reason why your customer decided to shop in your store and not anyone else’s. So make sure that you’re choosing products that highlight your designs, stay true to your aesthetic, and fit with your brand. 

I’d love to hear your methods and tips for choosing products for your online store. Share your advice in the comments below! 

Read Next: Top 10 Trending Products to Sell Online

Jana is a Content Marketing Specialist at Printful with a background in creative writing and content marketing. She draws inspiration from all things creative and has a deep love for all things written, be it a book, a script, a quote, or a joke.

Comments

    1. Alise Zindiga

      Hey! It shouldn’t be like that. If you’re experiencing this problem, please get in touch with our Customer Support via [email protected] or the live website chat, and our team will have a look.

    1. Esther Everson

      Hey, Tony! If you create a design template, then you can apply it to multiple sizes and colors of the same shirt at once. However, you can’t design multiple different style shirts at the same time – that you have to do separately. You can contact our Customer Support ([email protected]) and they’ll check out what Integration you’re using and what is the best approach for your needs.

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