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How to Start an Online T-shirt Business in India – The Complete Guide

If you are a geek for online businesses and new generation entrepreneurs, then you must have heard of “T-Shirt BhaiyaThe creator of T-shirt BhaiyaTajinder Pal Singh Bagga is a public figure. He started his t-shirt business with a unique concept. He makes t-shirt prints based on current political issues or national issues, in which people take interest. 

This gives him a marketing advantage and he doesn’t have to do a lot of research to come up with design ideas. T-shirt printing business is a sustainable business as t-shirts are that piece of clothing that never goes out of fashion. So in this article we will talk about how to start an online t-shirt business in India in detail.

Steps to Start an Online T-shirt Business in India

1. Decide Your Target Audience

Before you start your online t-shirt business, you need to be very clear who your target audience is. You can divide the t-shirt buyers into many segments based on:

  • Gender
  • Country 
  • Language
  • Interests
  • Age Group

The most significant group of audience for a t-shirt business is young people between 14 to 35 years of age. You can then divide them into segments based on their interests.

Some people might be interested in controversial topics, some might be interested in a particular fictional story like Game of Thrones, and some may be more inclined to wear t-shirts with famous quotes written on them.

2. Choose a Theme for T-shirt Designs

When you have decided on what audience segment you are going to target for your t-shirt business, it’s time to decide the common theme for t-shirt designs. You can have multiple themes for different design collections, you should prepare for 10 to 15 designs based on one theme. 

This gives customers more options for designs. It becomes easy to do marketing for a singular theme by targeting the interests of people on different platforms. 

3. Create Mock-ups and Test Your Ideas

Once you have decided on themes for your t-shirt designs, now you need to create mock-ups for those designs. You can take help from a graphic designer for this purpose. On Dribble you can find freelancers who will do this task for you. Or you can simply use free T-shirt design tools to create mock-ups for yourself. 

These tools are pretty easy to use and you can save money on creating design on an initial level. Once the mock-ups are ready, it’s time to put them to test. It’s simple to test your designs – circulate your mock-up among your circle and social media followings and see how they respond to your designs.

Now shortlist the designs that got most thumbs-ups among people, and create the final designs. 

The most important part is to be unique in your design approach and DO NOT COPY. Copying designs from others will create both legal and reputational problems for your business. Be sure to not use anything that is TradeMarked. 

4. Build An Online Store

Building an online store is one of the most important parts of starting an online business. And the major investment is put into building a store which can load fast, is mobile responsive and has all the necessary features of an e-commerce website. 

It can take somewhere between 3 to 4 months of time if you are looking to get your store built on custom.

But using ecommerce website builders like Shopify you can build a store in much less time, in around a month or so. With a basic understanding you can yourself design and build your website. 

If you are not sure how to go on with online stores initially you can opt for e-commerce marketplaces like Amazon and Flipkart and sell your t-shirt designs there. The main advantage of selling on e-commerce is that the investment to start online retail is almost zero there. 

There is a complete guide I curated on How can you start an Amazon FBA business. With help of this guide you can start t-shirt selling business on Amazon as well. 

5. Set-up Printing Machines

After deciding on which mode you will use for online retailing either your own online store or to sell on popular marketplaces, it’s time you get your T-shirt printing set-up ready. 

There are multiple types of machines used for printing graphics on t-shirts, which are following:

  1. Screen Printing
  2. Laser Printing
  3. Inkjet Printing
  4. Embroidery Printing
Screen PrintingLaser PrintingInkjet PrintingEmbroidery Printing
1.Most Popular techniqueHeat Transfer TechniqueModern TechniqueAn Ancient Technique
2.ProfessionalProfessionalLooks Playful Looks Elegant
3.Long LastingLess DurableLong LastingVery Long Lasting
4.More Costly for Multicolor PrintsNeeds Huge investment Cost effectiveExpensive
5.Difficult for Complicated DesignsEasy to PrintEasy to MakeDifficult to Make

You should carefully examine all 4 different methods and machines to decide which one or combination of methods you will use. Only with good research will you be able to figure which is best for your unique business and creative requirements. 

6. Find A Suppliers for Materials

Along with setting up printing machines, you will find suppliers for different types of clothes, inks, packaging materials, and other tools you might need. Setting up inventory will also require you to find a suitable space. 

You will need a space big enough to set-up printing equipment and store the finished products. This requires careful calculation of demand and supply in advance. You will also need to set-up an inventory management system to keep track of all transactions. 

If you want to save yourself from this tedious process of setting-up inventory and finding reliable suppliers, you can opt for print on demand services like Printful for example. All you have to build your store on Printful and create mock-ups for your designs. After that if someone places an order on your store, then Printful will print that design on the t-shirt and deliver it to the customer directly with your brand name on it. 

7. Work on Marketing and Sales

Marketing and sales are not something that comes after all these steps mentioned above. This is something equally important as sourcing raw materials. You can’t afford to escape on this part. 

For marketing you need to create a brand positioning for your business by communicating your messages with your target audience directly. Engage with them into conversation around the theme you’ve selected for your design.

People buy t-shirts with prints that they can relate to. Choosing a relatable theme is the most important marketing strategy. And communicating the message of that theme is equally important. 

To increase sales you need to make careful investment into paid advertisement on social media platforms and search engines. The paid ads can be tricky so take help from professional digital marketers for this. 

8. Fulfill Orders and Provide Services

The most difficult thing for an online buyer is to wait for a product that was ordered. In the initial days of online shopping people used to wait for months to get a package, but now with technological advancement the patience level dropped. 

So to make your online t-shirt business a success, you need to use reliable and fast shipment services. There are a lot of options to choose from for shipment services. 

Go for the ones which are used by high-end suppliers and e-commerce businesses. Do extensive research available, compare them, try to get reviews from previous users, and take a trial before trusting completely. 

Also be careful while using packaging material. Poor quality of packaging can lead to damage to the product and increased returns. Which will impact the brand value and customer reviews in a bad way.

9. Take Feedback and Improve Designs

It is important to always ask for reviews and feedback from your customers. This is a habit of every online buyer to check for reviews and ratings of a product before buying anything. So positive review of your products and services will help increase sales eventually. 

Also taking negative and critical feedback in a positive will inspire you to make changes in your design to give them a refreshing look. 

How Much Investment is Needed to Start Online T-shirt Business

There are two ways you can start an online t-shirt business in India, first is to have printing machines installed in your own space and doing everything on your own from sourcing of raw material to shipping. The second method is to work with a third party on demand t-shirt printing service provider.

In the first way, you will have to invest in space, materials, machines, online stores, printing, workers, shipping, and marketing. 

But if you opt for a second method and use third party on-demand services, you can start your online t-shirt business in a few days max, and you will need zero to minimal  investment. 

The major investment you will need in the second method would be for the store design, marketing efforts, and paid ads. Which is, in comparison to the first method, very less. 

How to Set Price For Your T-shirt?

For a premium quality t-shirt with unique print, people India will happily pay INR 500 to 1000. The cost of a complete product will be around somewhere between INR 150 to 250 depending on various factors. If you include shipping and marketing costs, then it will calculate to INR 350 for one t-shirt.

You can sell this t-shirt for INR 700 easily on an online store or marketplace. Setting-up price for a product usually includes production cost, marketing and advertising cost, and logistic costs. 

Only after carefully calculating all costs, you should set a price for your t-shirts. Remember not to over price and under price. In both cases, you will be in loss.

For bulk productions and high demands, the cost can be reduced while increasing the profit significantly. 

Things You Need to do Before Starting an Online T-shirt Business

Starting an online t-shirt business might sound easy when I talked about it in the above paragraph, but that’s not all. There are some things you need to do before or parallely to starting out. These are mentioned below:

1. Prepare Branding 

The crucial things that you decide on the concept of your brand and what your brand represents. Once you are clear about that, you need to prepare for branding materials like logo, visiting card, etc.

2. Book a Domain Name

Book a domain name for your brand initially, because availability of a domain depends on your uniqueness of brand. So it is wise to book your domain name before starting out a business. 

3. Register Your Business 

This is a very important task, as to sell anything online you need to register a legal entity. It will save you from legal troubles, if you start a business and something goes wrong. 

For this, you can take help of a professional to make decisions on various aspects of registering a new firm.

4. Get a GST Account

Starting any online business will need you to have tax information like GSTIN in India. To be able to claim your income tax returns and make your business transaction transparent in the eyes of the government you need to have a GST account. 

5. Open a Business Bank Account

It is important to have a business bank account for your online t-shirt business. It helps you keep track of your business expenses and incomes and also to better manage taxation. 

So on a priority basis open a bank account for your business. 

6. Get All The Licenses Required

T-shirt business is a creative type of business, I advise you to get your trademark licensed. You might also need to get permits to use designs from other creators. Check with local authorities to learn about required licenses and permits for your business. 

7. Get a Business Insurance

Most new business owners don’t realize the importance of business insurance, until something unfortunate happens. Business insurance gives you a peace of mind to operate business knowing that you have got covered.

If you are also employing people, you will also need to have Workers Compensation Insurance for them 

Talk to a professional insurance agent to get your business secured. So don’t go broke when something unpredicted happens for your business.

Conclusion

Starting a business of your own is a dream for many people, but running a business isn’t a dreamy task. It takes a lot of courage to start a business and a lot of patience to make it successful.

Doing in-depth research is required and taking every step carefully is important. If you’re ready to take this journey like Tajinder Pal Singh Bagga and make yourself a name by starting an online t-shirt business, follow the steps mentioned  in this guide. If you have any more questions you can ask me in the comment section below. 

About Nandini

Nandini Yogi is Co-creator and Senior Editor at Online Business in India . She is Writer by Heart and Business Developer by Profession. You can connect with her on LinkedIn and Instagram.