For graphic designers and other creatives with plenty of trendy ideas but little practical experience in production, dropshipping might be the missing piece to your t-shirt clothing line business.
As a small business owner, you probably have a ton of enthusiasm for your ideas but next to no capital or space. Traditionally, a lack of funding, workspace, and storage would stand in your way of growing your t-shirt line.
The good news is there's a workaround for these common issues nowadays. Dropshipping helps you manufacture and ship your custom t-shirts with fewer sunk costs, so you can get your business up and running faster.
What is the Dropshipping Method?
Dropshipping is a cost-conscious supply chain strategy for online businesses. It's a way of outsourcing some of the work that goes into your clothing line, including manufacturing, storing, or shipping tasks.
While you'll still create designs and make mock-ups, you'll work with a third-party supplier or t-shirt wholesaler to fulfill your orders. For a portion of your profits, a third-party wholesaler sources t-shirts and prints your designs before sending them to your customer.
In other words, you won't have to keep equipment, materials, or inventory on hand to fulfill orders. In fact, you won't even have to print your custom t-shirts when orders come in.
When an order goes through, you'll forward the details to your dropshipping supplier, and it will fulfill the order on your behalf.
Where Do You Find Dropshipping Suppliers?
You can find wholesalers all around the world, so you'll have to narrow your search according to your products and locations.
Depending on the size of your clothing line, you may work with one wholesaler or several located all over the world. As you grow, you might want to have a supplier in countries where you get the most traffic.
Suppose you're based out of Toronto, you might only work with Canadian wholesalers at the start. Once your international customers increase, you might expand to wholesalers in the US and EU to service these customers.
What Are the Alternatives to Dropshipping?
If you're on the fence about outsourcing all your manufacturing and shipping tasks to a third-party supplier, there's a middle ground between this and doing everything on your own. You can order t-shirts in bulk through screen printing companies.
Like dropshipping wholesalers, custom printing companies in Canada and other countries will source your tees and print your designs. The biggest difference is that bulk screen printing companies will send the finished product to you, not your customer.
This comes in handy if you're planning on becoming a vendor at fairs, markets, and other special events now that health restrictions are lifting. You can have your bulk order at the ready for walk-in customers.
What Are the Benefits of Dropshipping?
In 2018, the global dropshipping market size hit $102.2 billion, and it's expected to grow by 28.8% by 2025. This kind of anticipated growth hinges on the fact that there are plenty of benefits to using this ecommerce fulfillment method.
Dropshipping (and its alternative in bulk screen printing) requires a very low investment. You can launch your t-shirt line without pouring thousands of dollars of your own money into t-shirt inventories, inks, printers, commercial rent, and shipping arrangements.
You'll partner with a manufacturer that already has what they need to produce your t-shirts, so you can avoid these start-up costs.
Next to money, growing your t-shirt business takes space. Space to print your best t-shirt designs and space to store your inventory.
When you partner with a third-party supplier, you won't have to worry about finding a space big enough to store your equipment and inventory. Instead, you'll get to use your third-party supplier's shop and warehouse.
By outsourcing your printing to a wholesaler, you're now free to set up shop anywhere in the world. You can manage your website and design t-shirts from your living room couch, a seaside villa in Belize, or cottage country in Canada. As long as you have a solid phone signal and access to the Internet, you can work wherever your feet take you.
Let's say your t-shirt business blows up overnight and you go from roughly 50 orders a week to 50 orders a day. By outsourcing your manufacturing to your suppliers, you won't have to worry about working hard to fulfill these orders. Your supplier absorbs these growing pains as your business expands.
Will You Find a Dropshipper?
While you might have a knack for spotting trends and designing beautiful clothes, it's easy for creative types to struggle with the more practical side of starting a business. If you're worried about the cost and mental energy of managing your venture's production side, dropshipping can offer an affordable solution.