How to Expand Your Business with Print-on-Demand Products
In 2019, the Glossier hoodie had a 10K waiting list. That’s something you’d normally expect from a celebrity streetwear brand, not a skincare and makeup company.
Glossier is a great example of a brand that was able to expand their existing offerings with a line of products people actually want to wear and use. Its GlossiWEAR store has a sleek selection of apparel products that often sell out, and include everything to be, as the brand puts it, “Glossier from head to toe.” It’s more than just merch—it’s an organic extension of their brand.
Let’s be fair: before launching GlossiWEAR, the makeup brand was already a favorite amongst beauty-obsessed millennials (including yours truly). This brand is all about the aesthetics, and they nailed it when releasing a line of products in their signature pink shade.
However, you don’t need a billion-dollar business to start offering apparel and lifestyle products as part of your brand. No matter what kind of commerce presence you have—whether it’s an ecommerce store that sells handmade dog treats, or an Instagram account dedicated to your tattoo art—you can, and should, always be looking for ways to expand your brand.
In this blog post, I’ll go through various ways of creating a seamless extension to your brand that will make sense to your audience. I touch on increasing conversions, expanding your market share, and boosting your customer loyalty. And, as you might have guessed, I’ll show you how to do all of that with a print-on-demand drop shipper!
Let’s get started!
Perks of diversifying your brand
Your customer’s needs are always changing, which means your product line should always be adapting as well. What you don’t want to do, is transform your brand at the drop of a hat; after all, your brand identity is what attracted your loyal customers in the first place.
The clothing-retail giant H&M, for example, has successfully tapped into the homeware niche for several years now, growing from a small selection of home textiles to a full range of trendy home & living products, to opening the first stand-alone H&M Home store in 2018.
The success of H&M Home lies in the fact that the brand stayed true to their value proposition when launching a new line of products, and met their customer expectations. Their homewear is trendy yet practical, easily accessible, and with a low-mid price point—all the selling points that made H&M a household name in the apparel world.
Overall, product diversification is one of the best ways for a brand to grow and strengthen. Why? Because the more diverse line of products you offer, the bigger market you’re tapping into. This gives you a better hold of your current customer while introducing a fresh new audience to your brand. But keep in mind that it’s not about adding random products to your catalog. The products you’re expanding with should align with your brand, its values, and aesthetics— something both your existing and new customers will be interested in buying.
First steps to consider before expanding your brand
- Take a hard look at your current audience. Whether you already have a store, a social media following, or both, think of who your audience is and what they might like/want/need. Look at the comments on your social media channels, or run an online poll, asking them directly if they’d be interested in a certain product.
- Look at your competitors. What are their customers asking for, and which products are they raving about? Are they going for price or quality? By looking at your competition and their customer base, you can better understand what will give shoppers a reason to pick your products over everyone else’s.
- Stay authentic. No matter what product you want to offer to your audience, make sure it is aligned with your brand values.
Why choose a print-on-demand drop shipper for product diversification
To develop an apparel product from scratch, you’d normally need to make an initial financial investment, go through rounds of development cycles, and, in most cases, meet the minimum order quantity upon launching your product (this means that the manufacturer won’t make your styles unless you are willing to order, for example, at least 1000 pieces of that particular style). Quite simply, it’s a lot of money, time, and effort.
“The clothing industry has long product development cycles. It takes quite some time to product develop a clothing collection, to create the collection structure, design it, find the right materials, work through the sampling stage, find a manufacturer, produce the garments, and finally handle the logistics. It’s quite common to start product development 18 months before the actual product reaches the end customers.”
A print-on-demand drop shipping company like Printful makes it easier for you to get around some of these obstacles. It doesn’t require any upfront costs—you only pay when a customer buys the product. There’s no need for storage space and fees, nor expensive equipment. And you choose from existing product selection, which means no production rounds and long waiting time. Printful fulfills and ships your product under your brand directly to your customer.
All you have to do is use your existing customer base, your brand identity, and existing collection pieces to decide in what direction you want to grow your brand. Let’s go over ways to expand your business with print-on-demand products from Printful.
How you can expand your brand with print-on-demand
Here are ways to organically expand into new products, whether you plan doing it with apparel, home & living, or accessory items.
Include a few products that promote your main product line
If you have an ecommerce store but apparel isn’t a part of your offering, consider putting your logo on a line of tees, hats, and sweatshirts will help get the word out for your brand. Think of it like this: each tee worn by you or one of your customers is a real-life advertisement for your brand!
This is exactly what Nick Endle of Endle Home Goods did. At first, Nick made some products with his logo to wear at craft shows. After his customers expressed interest in his merch, he expanded his line of handmade wooden homegoods to include a few of Printful’s DTG (direct-to-garment) and embroidered items. Nick found a niche to expand to, and listened to his customers’ needs—a winning recipe for diversifying your brand!
DTG and embroidery products to sell on your merch store:
Use your creativity
Creating merch for your brand doesn’t stop with your logo. You can tap into your niche in many cunning, creative ways.
Here, I’d like to spotlight another amazing Printful customer—Teresa Carter from DeBrosse, a full-service knitwear brand. Alongside instant-download crochet and knitting patterns, a masterclass on selling handmade items, and her book, Modern Crochet, Teresa sells a brilliant line of mugs with cheat sheets for crochet and knitwear abbreviations, needles, and hooks.
Teresa also offers cropped sweatshirts with cheeky slogans like Knitflx and Crochet is my cardio in her shop. DeBrosse merch line is witty, practical, and mirrors the brand’s style perfectly. Teresa was able to take products that have little to do with knitting and crochet, and turn them into must-have items for her crafty audience.
Custom mugs and other home & living products to offer on your store:
Tap into athleisure
Athleisure is casual, comfortable clothing designed to be suitable both for exercise and everyday wear. It’s a great trend to tap into if you have a fashion brand, or if your brand is about fitness and a healthy lifestyle.
From high-end fashion houses to retail chains, more brands are adding athleisure to their collections as activewear sales have continued to outpace non-activewear sales. The activewear market is expected to grow to $69.2 billion in 2020. And as more of us are staying in due to the Covid-19 outbreak, I suspect that these numbers will only grow.
POD dropshipping companies like Printful offer a range of sportswear, loungewear, and streetwear that, combined, create a versatile range of athleisure products perfect for the gym, chilling at home, or running errands. One of our best-selling products is leggings—we offer various types, like yoga leggings and all-over print yoga shorts.
Other best-selling athleisure products:
Offer a line of personalized products
Product personalization has become one of the hottest trends in retail, and it isn’t going anywhere. 1 in 5 shoppers are interested in personalization to the extent where they’re willing to pay 20% more than a mass-produced item.
Personalization is an exclusive experience and can increase brand loyalty by giving your customers a more personal, unique shopping experience. Plus, the data you collect from personalization is a great source of inspiration on how you can further expand your product catalog and build your brand image, because you’re seeing exactly what kind of designs your customers want.
With Printful’s product personalization tool, you can offer products with an option for your customer to make them truly their own
Offer these customizable products in your store:
- DTG products
- Embroidery products
- Wall art
POD dropshipping: an easy, low-risk way to diversify your brand
Product diversification allows you to offer new products to your customers and creates new avenues of engagement for both new and existing shoppers.
But it’s not just about getting a bunch of products in front of more people, it’s about choosing the right items and targeting them to the right people too.
That means being mindful about which direction you want to expand to. Try to understand your audience and research the market from A to Z. If you don’t know the demographic of your current and potential customer, you won’t be able to understand where you stand and what your customer wants.
And once you’re positive about what your audience will love, use a print-on-demand drop shipper like Printful—this will allow you to offer new, exciting, and diverse product lines with minimal initial investment.
In conclusion: before adding a new product line to your portfolio, make sure to research your market, listen to your audience, and most importantly, stay true to your brand. I can’t guarantee that it will give you a 10K waiting list, but I am confident that this approach will put you in front of not only more eyes, but the right ones, too!
Big thanks to Klas Kristiansson from Apparel Entrepreneurship for sharing his experience working in the apparel business.