T-Shirt Marketing 101: Placement

distributing your t-shirts


The 4 P’s of the Marketing Mix (price, product, promotion, and placement) are a set of controllable elements that a business will use as part of their marketing strategy. So far in our series, we have talked about product and promotion in regards to marketing your t-shirt business.

Placement is another area that you will want to look at when formulating a marketing plan for your t-shirt business. The placement, or distribution, goal of your t-shirt business is to get your t-shirts to your buyers at the right place, at the right time, at the right price, and in the right quantity. This flow of your products is determined by your distribution strategy of your t-shirts from production to the end consumer. Hopefully these tips will help you to think about your own distribution strategy and formulate a plan that works best for your t-shirt business.

Placement is how you are going to distribute your t-shirts, meaning, how will your customers be able to buy them? There are many possibilities and factors to consider. Will you be selling them out of a store front, through your own web site, at events, through other stores, or through other online sites, such as Amazon? If you are selling a line of t-shirts, will you use a distributor model or sell direct to consumers?

Placement of your t-shirts is the location or system where you are going to sell them. In order to form a strategy on where or how to sell your shirts, think about your target market. Where do they expect to find your shirts? Where are they shopping?

Distribution decisions depend on your product itself. Are you strictly selling custom t-shirts to groups, stock retail shirts, or a mix of both? If you are printing retail types of shirts that are more stock designs, are you printing and selling them yourself, or are you a “middle man” and selling your shirts wholesale to retail stores to sell for you to the end consumer?

After you have determined your product and how you wish to sell them, you need to determine your market coverage. What is your target coverage area? Are you selling local, regional, or over a larger area such as the whole country? With the internet and online stores, doing business throughout the whole country is much more feasible, which brings us to our next point – having a web site.

If you have a t-shirt business, having a web presence is important, if not essential. This can come in a variety of ways, whether you have your own site or you choose to go through social media. Having your own web site will be more beneficial to you in the long run rather than just relying on social media itself, although it is important to be on social channels as well.

[Related Content: The Brick and Mortar of Online Business: Having a Web Site]

Your web site can be for information and contact purposes only, or you can also choose to sell your shirts through it also, known as an e-commerce store. Whichever way makes more sense for your own t-shirt business, more times than not, people are searching online when they want to buy. If you are not online, they won’t find you.

Besides a web site, some t-shirt businesses will also open up a physical store location. If you are going to have a location, does it make sense to open a kiosk in a mall or your own brick and mortar store? Do you need to have a location at all? This depends on your product and market.

If you decide that you do want to open a store, you either have to buy the property or rent it. This will come at a cost, so make sure you factor this in. Your rent should be around 10% of your sales. As per an article on CNN Money, “Once rent and occupancy costs hit the 20% to 25% of sales threshold, you are treading water”.

Other factors to consider for distribution is inventory. Will you be printing on demand, or stocking up on certain designs? Again, this will probably be determined by what you are selling (stock or custom shirts) and your market coverage. Keep in mind, that printing shirts in advance will tie up money in inventory. Not only will you have money in inventory, but storing these shirts will take space, which will cost money also. However, if your strategy is to sell in stores, inventory will be part of that decision, and how much inventory to have on hand.

Logistics play a role in distributing your shirts. Shipping costs will be a part of the logistics in placing your shirts into the customers’ hands if the purchase takes place outside of your own store. Take into account shipping costs or transportation costs if you will be delivering them. This includes if you are selling your shirts directly to consumers or if you decide to sell to other stores.

Selling through other stores is an option if you have a t-shirt line. Local boutique stores that fit your target market may be interested in selling your shirts. Approach them with a plan that will benefit you both. Every store is different, and may have their own way of selling outside merchandise.

[Watch our video: How to Start Your Own T-Shirt Line Using Custom Transfers]

Have you looked into selling at events or even out of a truck? Depending on your target market and the shirts you sell, this may be a viable option. Having a truck and being able to print out of it can give you a moving showroom and store. This will allow you to print on site at events. Decorate your truck with your company and this moving showroom now acts as a moving billboard as well! If you choose to sell your shirts through this method, make sure you have the proper vendor’s license to do this and are selling in areas that allow this. Check with your city or area for local codes and laws.

Strategic partnerships with other businesses can help you distribute your shirts as well. Think of companies in your area that are not in direct competition with you that may benefit you both from partnering together. Through this partnership, you may be able to have a further reach in using a new customer base.

As we talked about in the promotion aspect, a sales force may be part of your promotion strategy. This doesn’t have to be your own hired sales force. Affiliate marketing is offering outside people to sell your products for you and pay them based on sales. This is much more common these days with online opportunities available.

If you are creating and printing t-shirts, you need a way to sell them to your customers. There are many ways available to get your shirts into your customers’ hands. The placement strategy, or distribution, you choose will depend on the shirts you are selling (whether they are custom printed on demand or selling a line of t-shirts), your target market, and your market coverage you wish to sell to.