Why should we write about mistakes you potentially could make? Why are we even sure that mistakes will take place?
POD is very attractive for getting profit because it seems very easy: understanding of your target market, creating unique designs, getting some marketing skills and voila! - a pot of gold in your pocket. It makes POD a very competitive area. But it also means - you need to find a way to be competitive.

Mistakes are not a bad thing, actually. Mistakes mean ‘experience’. But if there is a way to avoid it and get some good pieces of advice  - why not?

We gathered for you some problems you will probably face.

Design and Garment

Don’t settle when you are looking for POD garment suppliers. Take your time and have a business ONLY with a reliable one. If fail happens your reputation will be racked, but not the T-shirt company supplier. So do proper research for your own sake.

You like high-quality material, right? You customers as well.
Your products should be durable, machine-washable (for T-shirts and apparel) and made with not-for-a-one-time material. The print should be bright and permanent as well.
Before you offer your products to your customer - buy some samples and TASTE them.  Maybe it will seem too barbaric but:

SCRATCH, DAMAGE, STRETCH, DO WASHING TEST

Just do everything to check how your product reacts to all these experiments and nothing will put a damper on you.

#howdobigfishdo
Check the garment suppliers big fish collaborate with:
Printify: Avdis, Alstyle, Anvil, Bella+Canvas, Case Mate, Delta, District, Fruit Of The Loom, Gildan, Hanes, Independent Trading Company, LAT Apparel, Next Level, Rabbit Skins, Sport-Tek
Print Aura: Alternative, American Apparel, Anvil, Bayside, Bella Canvas, Gildan, Independent Trading, LAT, Next Level, Yupoong, Rabbit Skins, Royal Apparel

Big companies offer several products suppliers to choose from. You would better start with the several and most reliable ones as a newbie to avoid distractions. If everything goes well and you have a stable business - it would be a high time to widen a garment suppliers variety.

Hook them with the assortment

You also met companies that can offer only 3 types of T-shirts and a bag, right? When it is said minimalism is all we need, that’s NOT about the number of products your business should offer to your customers. That’s all about simple engagement:
- your customer came just to order simple T-shirt, clicked on it… and then kinda:

‘Whooaa...there is a crop top also, it will be extremely fashionable this summer...
and flip-flops. I always wanted flip-flops with watermelon.
And I for sure need a beach towel with trendy cactuses.
Crap! There is a time to attend a gym, maybe I would better make leggins by myself?’

But it will never happen if you have only simple T-shirts, mugs and bags to offer.  So think about the assortment you would offer.

#howdobigfishdo
Just check how these guys are making business. You simply can GET LOST in the variety of products and make a total look with only one design.

Try it!

Firstly search then print.
Firstly taste then advertise

What is POD business about? You give your customers instruments to create an art:
1) here is a garment
2) choose a size and colour
3) upload and put your print on it
4) make an order

But there is another option also - you can provide your own print designs (for an extra-fee or not) or even sell already ready-to-sale things. And that’s user-friendly option may be very profitable.
But
Don’t rush to create your own designs. It’s a high risk to lose your bucks paying for designer crafts (in case you are not A BRILLIANT DESIGNER BY YOURSELF) and materials.

Be canny - firstly check your ideas on the market. Yes, for sure you can make a poll among your friends and family...but please not. It’s not a reliable source of information simply because they LOVE you and don’t want to hurt.

How big bois do business?
Where to search for winning designs for your business?
Check what competitors on the market offer.

  • Social media era gives a transparent market vision. Facebook and Instagram give a tone of live and actual information. People comments, press likes and leave reactions  - analyse what designs and prints have the biggest feedback. You can simply search keywords ‘printing’ or ‘trendy print’, or if you feel yourself a PRO try Facebook’s Audience Insights tool. It helps to discover interests in the area you search and people engagement in it. And where is engagement - there money is. So when you find a hot-cake-post with big interest - take it for inspiration.
  • Design and freelance websites (such as 99design, Fiver or DesignCrowd)
  • Reddit and Quora
    Here lives an active auditory with a professional background, so we are not tired to tell over and over (and over) again - CHECK IT.

Another mistake what newcomers do - the advertisement purchase. It looks logically:
You came up with the idea, made a website, found all the business partners, created a product - so it’s high time to promote it!
Oops - not.

Taste taste taste! Again again and again.

Especially about the advertisement. As it every time experimental deal, so it’s not a wise way to buy a lot of ads and highly spread it.
Because it simply could not work at all. And you will lose money. Lots of money.
So, step by step, taste little pieces of ads - and then analyse.

What is fancy and good-looking...website?

A proper website is a crucial part of every online business and its success. A user-friendly stylish website with good photos sells much better than an average one.
Old-fashioned websites seem to disappear but there are surprisingly still lots of them. They kinda were buried in 2001 and then suddenly awaken in 2019.

A simple truth:
Wow-looking fancy websites with good quality photos - SELL, and old-fashioned - DON’T.
So, hiring a web designer is a sticking point.

What do we understand under user-friendly POD websites?

  • clear messaging
  • good product description
  • customer onboarding + support 24/7
  • mock-up generator (even the simplest)

Clear messaging

Clear messaging is when the website is not overloaded with information. Keep it simple and well-organised. People are likely to leave your website when they don’t see a clear plan of action. The nature of it is in thinking - a user feels disoriented and can’t focus on the spread information. It’s called ‘analysis paralysis’.
So what to avoid?

  • Too many icons
  • Not visible or even absent ‘call-to-action’ buttons

Customer onboarding

The сustomer onboarding process is a meaningful part of a serious game. It’s not that determining as a good website with an understandable interface, but - it’s about your manner to do business. Customers are People - they appreciate so much when they feel careness.

So do it! If you built a good connection between the customer and the product from the very beginning - their relationships will last long. And even if you mess up somehow they will still loyal...while you are fixing the problem, of course.
Why do you need customer onboarding? Because your service is awesome and you need your customers to know that your service is AWESOME. Get them acquainted with each other.

So what good examples of customer onboarding?
Step-by-step tutorials, guidance and 24/7 support (chatbot as a very good alternative).  To stay in constant communication with the customer is a fabulous way to keep them hooked with your product.

Product description

Ok, next stumbling block with the website is product description.
Well, you give your customer a huge variety of garment and apparel to choose but simply forgot to write down what exactly you offer. Due to this little misstep customers can just skeptically scroll the page and close it. And maybe even never return to your website again.

Because it all matters: photos, material, available colours, sizes, features, manufacturer.
Will be perfect if you can divide and make a filter. Yes, that’s about more job to do but it worth it. No fancy website will help if you have a bad interface on the page where you exactly sale.

Mock-up generator

It may seems too difficult and too ‘luxury edition’ as POD for starter-pack. But believe us - it’s one of the most worthy website investments.  Your customers need to see the final product. You will prevent a lot of unpleasant issues simply getting this tool done in your website.

If you DON’T have it on your website:
How will you arrange the design with your clients? Using e-mails?
Ok, well, they may send to you their designs and you will put on the T-shirt.
How will you negotiate in case you misunderstood each other?
Imagine the situation: the print is on the T-shirt but in the wrong place, not where the customers wanted. Because you don’t see the vibe in mind your client want and got each other wrong.

So, to not let your nerves being shot to pieces - BUILD it IN.

By the way, there are lots of mock-up services on the digital market (we’ve chosen the best of them here ТУТ лінк на статтю). In case you don’t want to spend money for developing, you can just integrate with the others. C - cooperation.

#howdobigfishdo
Just check the Printful website - these guys know how to do business for sure. Their website is the flawless perfection - colours, bright ‘call-to-action’ button, minimally distractive options and chatbot. By the way, they have understandable video-guides for new users showing around the company history, workflow and brief instructions for the best user experience. Truly amazing.
Another good example is Printify. They are also into colours, one big visible ‘call-to-action’ button and even better catalogue organisation than in Printful. Bravo!
If you check TeeLaunch you see the clear ‘call-to-action’ buttons and quite understandable minimalistic interface… But it a bit chaotic still. And no filtration for the catalogue isa really big trouble.

Efficiency and management

After obvious mistakes with website and garment, the newbie may also do some efficiency management process mistakes with its newborn business. Delayed shipping and inefficient order processes are the main reasons customers will NOT USE your service anymore and search for a new one.

These issues are often hidden for customers so they can’t take steps back and will be just disappointed with your service. And that’s where the problem  - one loyal customer is much worthy than 3 one-time-customers.
So what can make your customers feel extremely dissatisfied?

Hidden prices

We are playing a clear game, right? And if the customer makes a purchase he expects to spend exactly the same amount what was written all the same. Even if it’s just 1$ extra above the check at the end he may think “What is this I should pay for?”. And this little unpleasant surprise may spoil all the purchase aftertaste. That’s how the human brain works and if we want our business go well so ought to keep these nuances in mind.

So please, write clearly all the extra-expences the customer will face. Shipping, extra fees, whatever - please include it in the list before a customer gets his credit card.

Minimal order requirements

Another huge deal that really annoys really a lot - fixed minimal order requirements. This tight-fisted way of business conflicts with the philosophy of POD by itself. POD was born to give the opportunity to order only ONE piece (if you want only one), on the contrary to offset-printing which would like to offer you 500 items with one design. So making the decision to settle minimal order amount you step back in the printing evolution and simply will not be respected by your colleagues on the field. Think about that.

Disrespect your clients

If you want to work as professional POD you need to take the fact that your business is the middle part in the chain. Your clients are also making business using you as a helper. So providing white-label products without any tags about you is a good tone.
And don’t forget about white-label shipping as well. Clients don’t like to be implicated.

Irresponsible allies

We have already told that. But again - reliable partners and integrations are the MUST. Working as a POD you can’t stand alone for the first time. You may need to cooperate with fulfilment services, shipping companies, garment suppliers etc. But there is a very important question of quality and efficiency. If your ally can get you in wrong not fulfiling in time, delay shipping or make an inappropriate print - you may lose your customers. And your reputation will be racked, not the T-shirt supplier or shipping company.

#howdobigfishdo
Printful and Printify the strongest key parts are the ability to cooperate with various reliable e-commerce platforms. But Printful makes lots of processes on his own, prints in-house and no outsourcing (this company can afford it). On the contrary, Printify totally integrates with 10 classy print suppliers and another allies. But both role model companies use only white-label shipping, so follow their lead.