How to Make Your T-Shirt Shop Stand Out and Sell More

by liz on November 18, 2008

in design resources, t-shirt promotion

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As web designers and t-shirt addicts we’ve learned a few things about what goes into making a t-shirt shop a killer success. So we put together this article on the details that a lot of people overlook when designing their stores. We hope you find it useful.

SITE DESIGN

1. Use clear, simple navigation.

Why? The goal of a store is to SELL STUFF. That’s it. By removing clutter from your navigation and keeping it simple, you avoid confusion and funnel users quickly to the key areas of your store.

WHO’S DOING IT RIGHT?

These stores have clear, creative, and to-the-point navigation:

Go Ape Shirts

GlennzTees

the Tee Party

2. Use your main page to promote best sellers, specials and products you want to highlight.

Why? Your home page is the best advertising tool you’ve got. It’s the page that visitors (usually) see first. Don’t waste that valuable real estate with boring text welcoming users to your site, or news about your company.

If you have a sale, put it front and center. Find out what products are selling best and create a section to highlight those. If a particular design isn’t selling well, see if some front page visibility can help it do better.

You can include the news and welcome text, just remember it’s not the most important thing.

3. Cross promote products by including links to similar items on product detail pages.

Why? It’s the same idea as putting the Hershey’s syrup at the end cap in the ice cream isle. By suggesting similar or complementary items to users you give them a nudge in the direction of buying something else they might not have seen or thought of.

PRODUCT PHOTOS

1. Use photographs of your product instead of graphic mock-ups whenever possible.

Why? People like seeing exactly what they’re going to buy. When you’re ordering something online, you can’t touch or feel the product, so it’s important to give people the next best thing: actual up-close photos. Plus, because screen doesn’t translate perfectly to garment, you don’t get a true picture of how a design looks until you see it on the shirt.

2. If you have printed tags, custom sew-ons, or branding prints in locations other than the main print, show photos of those too.

Why? These are often the details that make a shirt extra special and unique. Showing them off adds value to your product!

3. Show large images of your product.

Why? There’s nothing more frustrating than looking at a design and not being able to see the details of the artwork.

Some sellers, artists especially, are concerned that showing large versions of a design will be an open invitation to theft.

But your know what? Get over it.

You’ll be doing a disservice to both your customers and your bottom line if you give into this fear. Worry about any theft when and IF it occurs; chances are actually relatively slim that someone will put in the necessary work to rip off your design.

WHO’S DOING IT RIGHT?

Check out these guys for some great examples of good product photos:

Wire & Twine
Large preview image of the shirt on a model, and tons of extra super-large pictures showing all the great details of the print.

Chop Shop
Preview images are displayed in a slide show and include detailed shots of both the actual garment, and the design. Click “see larger image” and you get whisked down to a nice full size graphic of the print.

BONUS TIP:
Wonder how many and what type of images are best for your store? You’ll be safe with the following combination:

  • A preview image (for product listing pages and features on the home page)
  • A medium-sized photograph of each printed location (for bonus points, offer a pop-up zoomed version of each)
  • A large graphic of each print (front, back, sleeve, etc so people can actually see the detail in the print)

If you have them, model shots are also a fantastic way to showcase your shirts because it allows people to see how they actually fit.

Oh, and accepting photos of customers wearing your shirts is a great way to encourage user interaction.

GARMENT INFORMATION:

1. Tell people what brand of shirt you’re printing on.

Why? Every brand fits a little bit differently, and you’d be surprised how many people who buy t-shirts know which brands fit them best and have developed a preference. In addition, lots of folks know that an American Apparel t-shirt is going to cost more than one by Fruit of the Loom; use this to help justify higher prices for your goods if you’re using premium brands.

2. Include size charts for all your garments.

Why? This goes back to the same idea that it’s really hard to buy clothes that fit correctly online. Having size charts lets people better judge whether a particular size will fit them. This is good for them because they get a t-shirt that fits the first time around and good for you because you have less returns.

3. Is your garment 100% organic? Made in the USA? Pre-shrunk? Washed by the hands of 1000 angels before being printed? Tell your customers about it!

Why? Anything that’s unique about your garment choice is another aspect that adds value to your products.

WHO’S DOING IT RIGHT?

Check out these guys for some great examples of good garment info:

Threadless

The big daddy of t-shirt sites offers so many different brands that they have a page crammed with information and size charts for them all. This link is on every product page.

BustedTees
The link for the size charts is intelligently placed right above the drop down box for size. Clicking launches the chart over the existing content.

CUSTOMER SUPPORT

1. Offer returns (or exchanges), promote the fact that you do, and provide detailed terms.

Why? It’s just good business and it makes people feel more more confident ordering products from your store. Think of it like this: who would you rather order from? A store that offered returns or exchanges if something didn’t fit, or one that said “Sorry, tough luck?” Be the type of store you’d want to buy from.

2. Have a detailed FAQ and keep it up-to-date.

Why? The longer you’re in business, the more you’ll find that many of your support emails have the same questions again… and again… and again. Save yourself some time and preempt these emails by creating a FAQ for your site to address common questions.

CUSTOMER RELATIONSHIPS

1. Have an “About Us” page and talk about your company. Be funny, be serious, just don’t be boring.

Why? People like stories. By telling a story about your company – how you got started, what your mission is, who does the artwork – you build interest, legitimacy and a connection to your customers.

That connection, by the way, is one of the reasons that indie design is so successful: people like buying things from real people instead of faceless corporations.

WHO’S DOING IT RIGHT?

Check out these well-written About Us pages:

AAITSKI
Completely absurd, but makes you read to the end.

The Ampersand Shop
Written with a designer’s flair and a bit of humor added in for good measure, you learn about both the shop and the folks behind it.

Assault Shirts
A mini history lesson of the company and tons of pics of the people behind lends tons of color to this otherwise black and white site.

2. Start a mailing list and include options to register on your site and as part of the check out process.

Why? Mailing lists are a great way to generate repeat customers. How many times have you ordered something from an online store, only to forget the name of the store after a few weeks?

Use your mailing list to periodically remind customers about new products, special deals, and coupons for your store. This significantly increases your chances of creating repeat buyers.

We recommend icontact to manage your mailing list because it’s easy to use, inexpensive (10 bucks a month), and because we’ve used it too.

Got any other tips that have been useful to you? Share em below!

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{ 53 comments… read them below or add one }

Vicky November 19, 2008 at 12:31 pm

Thanks for some really useful tips – this article is a good reminder that the customer is king! You might have some great t-shirts but unless you have the basics of your website sorted, so that the whole experience is easy for the user, then you probably won’t sell many.

Reply

Vicky November 19, 2008 at 5:31 am

Thanks for some really useful tips – this article is a good reminder that the customer is king! You might have some great t-shirts but unless you have the basics of your website sorted, so that the whole experience is easy for the user, then you probably won’t sell many.

Reply

origin68 November 19, 2008 at 5:06 pm

Nice article with some great points.

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origin68 November 19, 2008 at 10:06 am

Nice article with some great points.

Reply

william November 19, 2008 at 7:32 pm

Great read, interesting points raised.

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william November 19, 2008 at 7:32 pm

Great read, interesting points raised.

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william November 19, 2008 at 12:32 pm

Great read, interesting points raised.

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Cayo Medeiros aka. yogodoshi November 19, 2008 at 3:33 pm

Great article and thanks again for the tips and advices!

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Cayo Medeiros aka. yogodoshi November 19, 2008 at 10:33 pm

Great article and thanks again for the tips and advices!

Reply

Cayo Medeiros aka. yogodoshi November 19, 2008 at 10:33 pm

Great article and thanks again for the tips and advices!

Reply

tim November 20, 2008 at 3:32 pm

Thanks for the mention!

Our About us page changes frequently and I think it’s a good idea to make sure to do a once over for your site once every few months in case information has changed.

For instance, our other part-owner was married by myself a month or so ago so it was nice to include that in the about section.

Reply

tim November 20, 2008 at 3:32 pm

Thanks for the mention!

Our About us page changes frequently and I think it’s a good idea to make sure to do a once over for your site once every few months in case information has changed.

For instance, our other part-owner was married by myself a month or so ago so it was nice to include that in the about section.

Reply

tim November 20, 2008 at 8:32 am

Thanks for the mention!

Our About us page changes frequently and I think it’s a good idea to make sure to do a once over for your site once every few months in case information has changed.

For instance, our other part-owner was married by myself a month or so ago so it was nice to include that in the about section.

Reply

Jonathan Kong November 22, 2008 at 4:50 pm

Sound observations on the e-commerce ends. It’s always a good practice to see and observe the popular sites. It’s not necessary to follow all things but to gauge what is right and feasible for your own store.

Good point to bring up the customer relationship and support. It takes only a single bad rap to ruin a possibly long term relationship and referrals.

Reply

Jonathan Kong November 22, 2008 at 4:50 pm

Sound observations on the e-commerce ends. It’s always a good practice to see and observe the popular sites. It’s not necessary to follow all things but to gauge what is right and feasible for your own store.

Good point to bring up the customer relationship and support. It takes only a single bad rap to ruin a possibly long term relationship and referrals.

Reply

Jonathan Kong November 22, 2008 at 9:50 am

Sound observations on the e-commerce ends. It’s always a good practice to see and observe the popular sites. It’s not necessary to follow all things but to gauge what is right and feasible for your own store.

Good point to bring up the customer relationship and support. It takes only a single bad rap to ruin a possibly long term relationship and referrals.

Reply

Anthony Roe November 22, 2008 at 9:11 pm

This was definitely a great read!! I learned a lot from it, and have recommended a lot of people to come and read this!

Keep up the amazing work!!!
-Anthony Roe
Awaken Design Company

Reply

Anthony Roe November 22, 2008 at 9:11 pm

This was definitely a great read!! I learned a lot from it, and have recommended a lot of people to come and read this!

Keep up the amazing work!!!
-Anthony Roe
Awaken Design Company

Reply

Anthony Roe November 22, 2008 at 2:11 pm

This was definitely a great read!! I learned a lot from it, and have recommended a lot of people to come and read this!

Keep up the amazing work!!!
-Anthony Roe
Awaken Design Company

Reply

spikeyfan December 11, 2008 at 6:48 pm

Some other sites that I enjoy, and have great product images -

Buzzy Multimedia & Think Geek

Reply

spikeyfan December 11, 2008 at 6:48 pm

Some other sites that I enjoy, and have great product images -

Buzzy Multimedia & Think Geek

Reply

spikeyfan December 11, 2008 at 11:48 am

Some other sites that I enjoy, and have great product images -

Buzzy Multimedia & Think Geek

Reply

Javi December 26, 2008 at 10:46 pm

Really useful tips!!! I will take note of all of them :-)

Reply

Javi December 26, 2008 at 10:46 pm

Really useful tips!!! I will take note of all of them :-)

Reply

Javi December 26, 2008 at 3:46 pm

Really useful tips!!! I will take note of all of them :-)

Reply

IAMTHETREND January 29, 2009 at 4:53 pm

Great article! Well written, and easy to follow!

Reply

IAMTHETREND January 29, 2009 at 4:53 pm

Great article! Well written, and easy to follow!

Reply

IAMTHETREND January 29, 2009 at 9:53 am

Great article! Well written, and easy to follow!

Reply

CC February 6, 2009 at 11:53 pm

Come by and check it out. If you love support.
http://cameesa.com/support/design/194/loud-splash

Reply

CC February 6, 2009 at 4:53 pm

Come by and check it out. If you love support.
http://cameesa.com/support/design/194/loud-splash

Reply

Alexander February 19, 2009 at 1:21 pm

Hi, Great article. I will definately try to follow all the tips you provided.

Just one thing thou… The link for AAITSKI is missing the first ‘h’ in the hyperlink.

Reply

Alexander February 19, 2009 at 6:21 am

Hi, Great article. I will definately try to follow all the tips you provided.

Just one thing thou… The link for AAITSKI is missing the first ‘h’ in the hyperlink.

Reply

liz February 19, 2009 at 3:11 pm

I’m glad it was helpful!

Thanks for the tip Alexander, all fixed now :)

Reply

liz February 19, 2009 at 8:11 am

I’m glad it was helpful!

Thanks for the tip Alexander, all fixed now :)

Reply

Flipowski June 3, 2009 at 11:40 am

Ty 4 the mention! Aaitski! luvs ya!

Another tip? Taste the water in Belgium! ;-)

Reply

Flipowski June 3, 2009 at 11:40 am

Ty 4 the mention! Aaitski! luvs ya!

Another tip? Taste the water in Belgium! ;-)

Reply

Flipowski June 3, 2009 at 4:40 am

Ty 4 the mention! Aaitski! luvs ya!

Another tip? Taste the water in Belgium! ;-)

Reply

fakoon July 7, 2009 at 4:25 am

Thanks for the tips :)

Reply

fakoon July 7, 2009 at 4:25 am

Thanks for the tips :)

Reply

fakoon July 6, 2009 at 9:25 pm

Thanks for the tips :)

Reply

Paul @ shirta July 13, 2009 at 7:16 pm

What do you think, is shirta.com easy to use and to navigate?

Reply

Paul @ shirta July 13, 2009 at 7:16 pm

What do you think, is shirta.com easy to use and to navigate?

Reply

Paul @ shirta July 13, 2009 at 12:16 pm

What do you think, is shirta.com easy to use and to navigate?

Reply

Noelle - Xenotees October 18, 2009 at 10:12 pm

Well said! A must read for t-shirt sellers!

Reply

Noelle - Xenotees October 19, 2009 at 5:12 am

Well said! A must read for t-shirt sellers!

Reply

Noelle - Xenotees October 19, 2009 at 5:12 am

Well said! A must read for t-shirt sellers!

Reply

Rotten Thread Clothing November 21, 2009 at 9:59 pm

Very useful information. It showed me a few things I might need to reconsider or change around. Thanks a lot for such an informative post.

Reply

Rotten Thread Clothing November 22, 2009 at 3:59 am

Very useful information. It showed me a few things I might need to reconsider or change around. Thanks a lot for such an informative post.

Reply

Devon January 20, 2010 at 8:18 pm

This is a really great article, it's always so inspiring to see what everyone else is doing. I find it hard to look at everyone else, but it's easier when you guys throw together a post that shows who's doing what. I 'd really like to know what e-commerce platform chop shop is running on, I find a good online store makes selling so much easier, but it's hard to find one that works. I feel this would be a great blog post too. Maybe it is, I'm gonna scour the site for it now!

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wholesale dropshippers July 7, 2010 at 6:03 pm

Very inspiring and i learned a lot from this. This is article is a great support for beginners. Thanks for the information!

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Twelvedag November 10, 2010 at 4:06 pm

super advice! great info for new kids on the block.

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Ashley December 15, 2011 at 8:06 pm

Hey great article, but do you have any advice for opening a T-shirt store in a mall… Thanks…

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teetower November 17, 2012 at 1:55 am

There’s so many things I want to change on my site, but with a print-on-demand the options are very limited. I hand it to those starting out who do everything themselves. It’s a lot of work registering a business, producing a quality products, fulfilling orders, marketing, etc.

Reply

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