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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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