Business tips

Starting a product-line eCommerce business

With an increasing number of digital print companies not just able to print your designs on a range of products but brand them and deliver them straight to your customers, running an eCommerce company has never been easier.

They’re stories that make us green with envy. Those digi-preneurs who have launched a product line with nothing but a computer and wifi connection, then attend to business from a recliner on the beach. Yet with the exponential rise in digital printing companies such ventures aren’t nearly as far-fetched as they might seem. All you need is a good idea, a print company and a way to get your products to the masses!

Find a printing service

A veritable slew of print-on-demand companies are springing up in Australia, largely due to the growing affordability and capability of digital printers. Many of these companies offer a vast range of plain products for printing including, most commonly, t-shirts but also cushion covers, tea towels, caps, bags, aprons, jackets, wall decals, banners and more. Other companies offer a range of fabrics, which they can print and custom sew for you.

Processes are often so streamlined that in a few easy steps you can select your products or fabric, send the company a digital file of your photograph, logo, design or even a scan of a drawing or painting and chose the number of units you want. Some companies even offer drop shipping, which means they will send your products directly to your customers. This is key if you want to sell stock without storing it – hence the recliner on the beach!

Decide what to print

If you’re an artist, photographer or graphic designer you’re off to a good start. An increasing number of designers create a line of products by printing funny or feel-good statements, drawings or even the brand logo. Check out Australian company Pony Rider < ponyrider.com.au > , which prints a range of products under their sought-after brand logo.

Other designers make a decent passive income designing good repeatable patterns that they sell through a printing ‘marketplace’ run by a printing company. Each time someone purchases a product with their design, such as fabric or wallpaper, the designer earns a percentage of the sale, in the same way you might from selling photos through an image library. For such marketplaces, check out Frankie and Swisse and Spoonflower.

If you’ve got a great design idea but aren’t up to the task of creating it yourself, you can find a freelance graphic designer who can work with you to bring your image, design or catchy sayings to life. Check out design marketplace The Loop for a long list of local designers.

Sell your products

Gone are the days when getting your products to shoppers required hitting the pavement and selling your wares to local shops. Now you can quickly and easily get your products onto marketplaces such as Etsy, sell through social media sites such as Facebook or, even better, create and sell through your own website. After a bit of business planning it doesn’t take long to create a webstore or find a web developer who can do it for you.

The advantage of selling through your own website is that your products become part of a defined brand. With your webstore as your shopfront, you can create and reveal the personality of your brand, not just through the products you sell but through extra features such as additional photography, a blog, customer images, social media links, and more.

 

A Q&A with Jared Fullinfaw, founder of The Print Bar

There seems to be a lot of digital print shops opening up – why is this?

There are two factors here; I think custom t-shirts is a real growth market in Australia. The quality keeps improving and more people are realising that it is something that is easy and fun to create and sell. I also think entry-level print machines have become cheaper, which has made it easier for print shops to open up. However, we stay away from the entry-level printers now, and the difference in quality is huge. We use a Kornit Storm Hexa which is an exciting machine, it has vibrant retail results and prints artists’ drawings with such accuracy.

What types of designs do you most commonly print?

We tend to print drawings and artworks because at The Print Bar we’re all creatives ourselves and this attracts customers who want to be a part of our creative culture. We also do a fair bit of work for small businesses and projects such as exhibitions and corporate events.

Do many of your customers get a whole range of products printed to on-sell?

Yes there are a heap of fashion labels and companies that print with us, from Hills Cider to Nudie Jeans.

Do you offer branding and drop-shipping options?

Most of the brands we print for opt to have their own label or tag applied to their products and we do this in-house. We also offer a drop-shipping platform and we have about 80 clients that this is working for at the moment.

 

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