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1. Is it profitable to sell t-shirts online?

Best place to sell t-shirts online: Top platforms reviewed

There's nothing like turning a passion for design into a profitable business. The global online t-shirt market is growing, expected to reach $6.9 billion by 2027, and we've got the scoop on how to grab your piece of this pie. One pressing question many creators ask is - where is the best place to sell t-shirts online?

Let's take an in-depth look at the top platforms and compare their features, fees, and ease of use to help you decide which marketplace can give your t-shirt business the edge it needs and empower you to make money online.

Main takeaways from this article:

  • Selling t-shirts online is surging in popularity and can be a lucrative endeavor if you have compelling designs and a solid marketing strategy.

  • Choosing the right platform for your online t-shirt business is critical - factors such as audience reach, cost structure, ease of use, integration with print on demand services, and customization options can all have a big impact on your success.

  • Explore five top platforms, including Etsy, Shopify, eBay, Wix, and Gelato API, each with its unique strengths and weaknesses.

  • Beyond just creating a product, there are effective strategies and tips to help boost the visibility and sales of your online t-shirt store. 

  • Gelato offers an efficient and seamless integration for t-shirt printing and dropshipping to help scale your own store without having to worry about inventory or fulfillment logistics.

Is it profitable to sell t-shirts online?

Absolutely! The internet has opened doors for t-shirt entrepreneurs, enabling them to reach a global audience. Own-design t-shirt selling online is not just feasible, but can also prove highly lucrative. With minimal upfront costs, the potential for profit is substantial, especially when leveraging print on demand services and ecommerce platforms.

Choosing the best platform to sell shirts online: Top considerations

  • Audience reach: A larger audience reach can lead to more visibility and, by extension, more potential sales. On the flip side, smaller, niche platforms might offer a more targeted audience, making your products more relevant to them.

  • Fees and profit margins: Start-up costs, listing fees, transaction fees, and commission rates vary across platforms. When you sell your own custom t-shirts, some charge a flat monthly fee, while others take a percentage of each sale. This difference can impact your pricing strategy and, ultimately, your profits.

  • Ease of use: Consider the platform's interface, navigation, and the process to add new products. Some platforms offer drag-and-drop features or pre-made templates, which can simplify the setup process, especially for those with limited technical knowledge.

  • Integration with print on demand: Consider how seamlessly a platform integrates with POD services. Factors like automatic order forwarding and updating stock levels can make your business run more smoothly and efficiently, allowing you to sell custom t-shirts without any hassle.

  • Customization and branding: Look into the customization options provided by the platform, such as custom URLs, branding options, various templates for product display, and customizable checkout processes.

Top five platforms for selling t-shirts online

Let's examine the top five platforms for selling t-shirts online so you can select the one that best fits your needs, maximizing the success of your t-shirt venture. 

1. Etsy

Etsy logo / homepage

Etsy is a global online marketplace where people come together to make, sell, buy, and collect unique items. It's particularly known for handmade, vintage, and custom products, making it an ideal platform for selling unique and creative t-shirts. Etsy's community-centric approach offers a personal touch to the buying and selling process, appealing to customers looking for something different from mass-produced goods.

Selling fees

Etsy charges a listing fee of $0.20 for each item that a seller lists for sale on the platform, and once an item sells, Etsy collects a 5% transaction fee on the sale price (including the shipping price set by the seller).

  • Niche market: Etsy's audience is specifically looking for unique, handmade, or custom items, making it easier to target customers.

  • Global reach: Etsy provides sellers with access to millions of customers worldwide, expanding the potential market.

  • Community support: The platform has a strong sense of community and offers various forums and teams that sellers can join for advice, support, and networking.

  • Personalized storefront: Sellers can customize their shop's branding, which helps in building a brand identity and customer loyalty.

  • Competition: Due to its popularity, there's significant competition, especially in popular categories like t-shirts.

  • Fees: The listing, transaction, and payment processing fees can add up, especially for sellers with slim margins.

  • Limited customization: While you can personalize your storefront, there are limitations compared to having your own website.

  • Dependence on the platform: Changes in Etsy's policies, fees, or algorithm can significantly impact your visibility and sales.

2. Shopify

Shopify logo / homepage

Shopify is a comprehensive ecommerce platform that enables individuals and businesses to create their own online stores. It's known for its ease of use, scalability, and extensive customization options through themes and apps. 

Unlike marketplace platforms, Shopify gives you complete control over your online presence, from the design of your store to the customer checkout experience, making it an excellent choice for brands looking to establish and grow their online t-shirt business.

Selling fees

Shopify charges a per-transaction fee ranging from 2.4% to 2.9% for those using Shopify Payments, and it also earns a commission fee from shipping partners through Shopify Shipping, facilitating discounted shipping rates for sellers.

  • Brand control: Sellers have full control over their store's design, customer experience, and branding.

  • Scalability: Shopify can handle everything from a few orders a day to thousands, growing with your business.

  • Extensive app marketplace: Access thousands of apps to enhance your store, from SEO tools to marketing and sales apps.

  • Integrated payments: Shopify Payments offers a seamless checkout process, though sellers can choose from numerous other payment gateways.

  • Monthly costs: The monthly subscription fee, along with transaction fees, can be a significant overhead, especially for new businesses.

  • Technical setup: While Shopify is user-friendly, setting up a store and customizing it to your liking can require a learning curve and potentially some technical know-how.

  • Dependence on apps: To extend the functionality of your store, you may become reliant on third-party apps, which can increase costs and complexity.

  • SEO learning curve: Mastering SEO on Shopify to increase organic traffic can be challenging for beginners and may require additional resources or expertise.

3. eBay

eBay logo / homepage

eBay is one of the world's largest online marketplaces, offering a platform for individuals and businesses to sell a wide variety of goods, including t-shirts. Known for its auction-style listings and traditional "Buy It Now" options, eBay caters to a diverse audience looking for everything from vintage items to the latest fashion trends. 

Its global reach and vast user base make it a potent platform for t-shirt sellers aiming to tap into an extensive market.

Selling fees

eBay typically charges sellers a final value fee that ranges from 10% to 15.55% of the item's total selling price, including shipping. 

  • Massive audience: eBay's global platform can expose your t-shirts to millions of potential buyers.

  • Flexible selling options: Sellers can choose between auction-style listings, which can drive up prices for rare or in-demand items, and fixed-price listings.

  • Seller protections: eBay offers various protections for sellers, including dispute resolution and protection against fraudulent claims.

  • Ease of use: Listing items on eBay is straightforward, and the platform offers various tools to help manage listings, sales, and shipping.

  • Competition: The platform is highly competitive, with many sellers offering similar products, which can drive down prices.

  • Fees: Between insertion fees, final value fees, and payment processing fees, the cost of selling on eBay can add up.

  • Complexity of fees: Understanding the full cost of selling on eBay, including optional listing upgrades and international selling fees, can be complex for new sellers.

  • Customer expectations: eBay buyers often expect bargains, which can pressure sellers to lower prices or offer free shipping.

4. Wix

Wix logo / homepage

Wix is a user-friendly website builder that allows individuals and businesses to create their own custom websites with ease. It's particularly popular among small businesses and creatives due to its drag-and-drop interface, making it simple for anyone to design a professional-looking site without needing to know how to code. 

For t-shirt sellers, Wix offers an ecommerce platform that can be seamlessly integrated into any website, turning a basic site into an online store.

Selling fees

Wix charges a standard transaction fee of 2.9% plus $0.30 for payments made through credit/debit cards, Apple Pay, and Google Pay, with slightly lower fees for Wix Payments Point of Sale (POS) and Tap to Pay options. For manual card entries, the fee is 3.5% plus $0.30, while services like Afterpay and Affirm incur a 6% transaction fee plus $0.30. Additionally, Wix applies the original processing fees to refunded payments without issuing a refund for those fees and charges a $15 chargeback fee for any chargebacks received.

  • Ease of use: Wix's drag-and-drop interface makes it incredibly easy to design your store and add products, perfect for those without technical skills.

  • Customization: Offers extensive customization options to ensure your t-shirt store looks exactly how you want it to.

  • All-in-one platform: From hosting to domain registration to ecommerce capabilities, Wix provides everything you need to start selling online.

  • Marketing tools: Comes with built-in SEO tools, email marketing capabilities, and social media integration to help promote your t-shirt business.

  • Subscription costs: The monthly subscription fee can be a significant overhead for small businesses, especially when starting out.

  • Limited ecommerce features on basic plans: The more affordable plans have limitations in terms of ecommerce functionalities, which might necessitate upgrades as your business grows.

  • Template restrictions: Once you choose a template and go live, switching to a different template requires you to rebuild your site from scratch.

  • Scalability: While Wix is suitable for small to medium-sized ecommerce sites, larger businesses might find it less efficient in handling high volumes of traffic or complex inventory needs.

5. Gelato API

Gelato logo / homepage

The Gelato API is a sophisticated, REST-based solution designed to seamlessly integrate print on demand capabilities into ecommerce platforms globally. It enables businesses to automate the production and shipping of custom-designed products, such as t-shirts, by connecting them with local production facilities worldwide. 

This approach not only streamlines the fulfillment process but also optimizes logistics and delivery times. The API is built on predictable, resource-oriented URLs and utilizes standard HTTP response codes for error reporting, ensuring a reliable and straightforward integration process.

Selling fees

With Gelato, you incur costs solely based on the products you order, free from any additional fees, commissions, or startup expenses, enabling you to begin selling with minimal financial barriers.

  • Global local production: By leveraging a network of local producers, Gelato offers faster delivery times and reduced shipping costs, enhancing customer satisfaction.

  • Eco-friendly: The local production model minimizes carbon footprints associated with long-distance shipping, aligning with sustainable business practices.

  • Scalability: The API's pay-per-product system and absence of minimum order requirements make it highly scalable and suitable for businesses of all sizes.

  • Seamless integration: Designed for easy integration with major ecommerce platforms, facilitating a smooth transition and operation for businesses expanding their product offerings.

  • Production control: Outsourcing production to third parties can lead to less control over manufacturing quality and consistency.

  • Cost considerations: While there are no upfront fees, the cost per item may be higher than bulk production methods, which could affect overall profit margins.

Tips to sell t-shirts effectively

In today's digital marketplace, selling t-shirts online can be a profitable endeavor if done right. Here are five effective tips that can boost your sales and brand visibility. 

1. Partner with influencers 

One of the most successful marketing strategies in today's digital age is influencer marketing. Finding influencers in your niche can help increase your brand's reach. Remember to choose influencers whose audience aligns with your target market for the best results. 

2. Create retargeting campaigns 

Retargeting is a powerful tool that can significantly increase your conversion rates. By serving ads to people who have already visited your site or viewed your products, you're more likely to convert them into customers.

3. Run contests and giveaways 

Hosting contests or giveaways is a tried and true method for generating buzz and attracting new customers. It's a win-win situation because users get the chance to win something, and you increase your brand awareness and customer base. 

4. Invest in high-quality designs 

Quality matters when it comes to t-shirt designs. An intriguing, high-quality t-shirt design catches the eye and is more likely to sell. Consider hiring a professional designer or using Google Trends for design inspiration to ensure your t-shirts stand out from the competition. 

5. Understand your target audience 

Knowing your target audience is crucial in any business, but especially in online t-shirt selling. Understanding your audience's needs, preferences, and buying habits can help you tailor your marketing strategies and product offerings effectively.

Establish a competitive online t-shirt business with Gelato

As one of the popular print on demand websites, Gelato empowers you to stay ahead of the curve. From custom t-shirts to mugs and phone cases to photo books, wall art, and beyond, Gelato offers various high-quality print on demand products. With Gelato, passion and creativity can seamlessly blend with your entrepreneurial spirit as you explore limitless possibilities for your online store. 

Regardless of your artistic inclinations and commercial goals, Gelato has a flexible subscription plan tailored to your needs. Ready to revolutionize your online t-shirt business and tap into a global market? Sign up for Gelato today.


Next steps

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