The UnNoticed Entrepreneur - Candid conversations with entrepreneurs on how their business got noticed.

Print on Demand for entrepreneurs opens opportunities for revenue and brand building at no up front cost.

October 19, 2021 Jim James
The UnNoticed Entrepreneur - Candid conversations with entrepreneurs on how their business got noticed.
Print on Demand for entrepreneurs opens opportunities for revenue and brand building at no up front cost.
Show Notes Transcript

Don’t give away your merchandise, you can sell it without buying it in the first place; with print on demand. It’s the new way to introduce your brand without incurring any fixed costs upfront and I am going to share how you don’t even have to manage the store.  Share my journey to starting the EntrepreneurMerchCo store on Etsy using Printful as my Print on Demand vendor.

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Amazon Merchandise

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Jim James:

Hello, and welcome to this episode of the unnoticed entrepreneur show. And today I'd like to talk to you about print on demand merchandise, because this is a way that we can all promote our brand. Sell our product, through merchandise, or we can give it as gifts. What's great about print on demand is that we no longer have to carry stock. This is something that I'm working on for the unnoticed show. And I wanted to share with you what I've learned so far in creating my own lie and sharing that and marketing that on Etsy. So now the merchandise. Is a big one, as we know, and from 2018 to 2023, it is projected to grow from $26 billion to a value of 33.99 a billion dollars. This is from a Statista report. In other words, merchandise is about as big as fashion. This is just the licensed sports merchandise market is worth nearly $34 billion. So you can imagine all the other kinds of Merck that are worth money. I read the other day that Elon Musk had managed to sell $700,000 worth of the boring company. T-shirts so there's mine to be made out of selling t-shirts with your own brand. Now in the old days as a company, we used to have promotional items and as east west PR as a small company in Singapore and in China, I used to give away to journalists notebooks, which in fact had the same. DOT's design as I'm now using for the unnoticed show. So as he starts public relations back 20 years ago, I was printing notebooks, given them to journalists and giving them pens. But of course the problem was that I then had all this stock and I had to keep it somewhere in my store. I might have to pay for it at advance print on demand, which is the new. Make just as, when you need it, technology has really revolutionized this and this isn't about the 3d printing is just about low volume, high value conversions of all manner of items of clothing or household goods, office products, even mobile phone cases. So I want to share with you what I'm going through here, because I'm building this myself now. The research I've done so far was about two parts. One was the production and the second is about the selling. So when it comes to production, I found previously a company called Vista print here in the UK, does a very nice job of helping a company or an individual to design and to print on, for example, a mug or a t-shirt or a mouse pad. And it's great Vista print. The service that they have, if that when you get stuck with your design is really good, it's online. And they had actually some people in, north Africa who were on customer support when I needed some help with the design. The thing with Vista print is that then I have to buy the product and I have. Basically bring it to me and then ship to somebody else. And what I didn't want to do was to buy stock and have stock sitting here where I live and also needing to buy some sort of minimum volumes. So the traditional model of printing, buying and shipping is not very good if you're an entrepreneur. So then I had interviewed a chap called drew stone in America for the podcast. He talked about Teespring about a, a platform that you can use to design and promote t-shirts. And I had a look at that and that service is now called Teelaunch. And that's great for designing and launch. Your products. And what you do is you can then embed that T launches it's called as a, as an extra player below your video on YouTube. For example, it's starting to do some integration with your social media channels, but again, still, it doesn't integrate with the store. So I looked again online and I found one called red bubble, which is great for t-shirts and people are using red bubble to market the designs that they're making into Amazon merchandise, for example, but I want to do more than just t-shirts. So, and red bubble as a market place is probably a slight different demographic than the one I want. So I then was looking at, Printful and PrintifyI both sound very similar. and I have chosen to work with Printful because they have fulfillment in America, North Carolina, but also in Europe, Australia. And they've just opened a facility here in the north of England. So they are one of the only companies that I can find that is going to be able to serve my client. Around the world. There's another one called Guten Now what these pod print on demand services are doing is they're allowing us to basically place an order. and only when the order is bought by a customer, would they actually make it? And what some of them are doing is this idea of drop shipping, where you don't even know. Ownership of the goods at all. So what would happen is that I could design a product on Printful and then I can promote that for example, on my website. And when someone buys it, then Printful will make it and they'll do the shipping directly to the customer for me. Now that's great. As long as I have got enough people that want to buy. But what I want to do is not just use merchandise as a promotional item, which is a perfectly good. If you use something like Vista print, if you want to make something for your company and give it away. But if you want to actually sell and make some money from your merchandise, then it needs to be on a couple of the big players. And those really are Amazon with Amazon merchandise. And you have to be invited to get onto that or on. And Etsy's a marketplace now with literally tens of millions of people who are looking for an Amazon alternative. So listed company run very, very well from what I can see, because my wife has got an Etsy store and is doing very nicely. Thank you. Selling Oriental tea pots that she's buying from China and selling and shipping around the world. Now, the problem with Etsy is that Etsy is the market place. but they don't hold your inventory. And as I mentioned, I don't want to hold inventory. I want to be able to design and sell in a marketplace and have customers purchase from the marketplace, but the fulfillment be done directly by my pod partner. And very few companies do that. Printful has an integration where you can design the product. And then you integrate that to any number of stores, including Etsy, another one called store envy, another one, called Wix, of course, which is the kind of the website development company. They also integrate to a whole host of kind of smaller niche, merchandise. Kind of homemade handmade stores. So what we're seeing is a proliferation of these new marketplaces that are, if you like anti brand that are not Amazon, that are run for artisans, and that kind of fits more where I I'm going to be going, because I'm going to be selling the unnoticed merchandise to other entrepreneurs. And I can't compete with the big t-shirt manufacturers or the big cup manufacturers. For example, I'm going to be selling to my own, my own tribe. But I also want to want to do, is I want to have the ability to have merchandise available that I can gift to people that for example, have bought and reviewed the book or who give a review on the podcast. And in the past they didn't have anything to give them, but my thanks, but now I can give them a number of different items. And what I like about this model, where I have Printful with the designs and the. And the production and with Etsy is my marketplace is that the whole value chain is done online. And I don't have to take any goods at all and I don't have to buy any inventory. So what sort of products am I going to be making? What sort of margins am I going to make? The question is can I make it profitable or is it really just a marketing activity? It starts off largely as a brand. Exercise and for many companies and many entrepreneurs, that's what merchandise is. When I spoke to Oscar Trimboli the other week who talked about listening and active listening, he talked about making merchandise, for example, making puzzles and, making playing cards to show the four villains of listening. So merchandise could be a great promotional gift idea, but also we can start to maybe monitor. So, what I've done is I've created a number of products in my portfolio to start with. So I've got a stainless steel bottle, I've got a mug, I've got a laptop sleeve, I've got face masks, a spiral notebook, a eco tote bag, and a phone case, a t-shirt and a polo shirt, and then an apron. So I'm just going for a small number of products to start with, and then I'm going for them in different. Because I don't want to have too many product types that then I have to manage. And what I've done is I've taken the same product, but with different variants on the design, What does that look like? So if I look at my water bottle, for example, this a water bottle is white, and then I've got my gray dots as a variant. I've got an, a one, which is the eclipse one, which is the red and one LGBT. So I've got four variants on the bottle. They cost me 14 pounds, 51. So they're not cheap to buy. The shipping is four pounds, 99 and the VAT is three pounds 90. So it's going to cost me about 24 pounds, 23, 41 to buy. So what I now have to do is to go and look online and see. What price do water bottles sell for? But what it does mean is that I could conceivably give a gift to people for 29 pounds of a branded water bottle. If I want to do something cheaper, for example, like a mug, a mug, which is just a plain white mug with nothing on the inside is going to cost me five pounds, 95, the shipping's quite expensive at four pound 29. And the VAT is two pounds. So mug is going to cost me about 12 pounds, which is about what it would cost in the store. The benefit is of course I haven't had to buy any mugs and I'm not having to go to the post office to do the shipping either. So bear in mind. I don't have to buy the box. I don't have to go and stand in line. I don't have to do anything but sell it. So it costs me 12 pounds, 29 to give away for free. If I sell it for, let's say 16, 17 pounds is not an unreasonable amount for a cup, then I can make myself five pounds. So the idea of merchandise as a way to build your brand has in the past been impossible for entrepreneurs because it means what the cost of design, but now on Printful you can either upload your design or you can. Take some of their stock designs and put them on a t-shirt or a cup or an apron or a bag, or even home wear products. I've also done a phone case. For example, you can then let the system synchronize with a platform like Etsy or store envy, for example. And then when people buy the product on Etsy, Etsy will let me know, but. Printful we'll do all the fulfillment and all the deliveries. So actually it's a hands off e-commerce transaction and it gives me the opportunity to create social media posts about the merchandise that I'm creating. So we just announced the book and the book's going really well. This podcast has reached now the top four in the UK for entrepreneur podcasts. So coaching very happy to ring that bell that we've made some progress in the last 12 months. But now then also I can say, guess what? We've got the book, we've got the podcast and now we've got the merchandise. It's a complete branding opportunity and it doesn't cost me anything other than my time to do the design. The Etsy store cost me 20 cents per product that I list, but I can be then in retail or e-tail very quickly with no fixed costs. And only ever making some money if I sell something. So I wanted to share this idea of merchandise today because PR in the past has had a large component of giveaways and we've had, whether it's post-it notes on your desk, whether it's pens or in my case, giving away notepads to journalists, people really appreciate it in the character around. It's no longer necessary to print a large stock of these and. In your office or in your home, you can design a whole store layout and worst case you can order the samples from Printful because they give you three per month at a discounted price, or you can buy them from your own Etsy store and then you can start to build up a reputation as a merchant as well. So it's an opportunity. For all of us that run small companies to get involved in something that historically regarded, as just the preserver, the big companies who could buy merchandise and stock it, or just the retailers. So encourage you to just have a look. My Etsy store is. Entrepreneur merchant company. It's going live now. And we're just synchronizing this week with these new products on to finalize the pricing. And I'd love to get your feedback. Tell me what you think of the products. Tell me what you think of the design. Tell me what you would like to buy. If you wanted to let other people know that you're an entrepreneur by the water bottle, carry by the phone case that you use by their apron that you wear around the house or in your, in your. I'd love to hear the idea of my merchandise is that there are entrepreneurs all over the world. Like you, they're listening to this show now. And if you were to wear a piece of merchandise that let other people know that you're an entrepreneur, I think that would start conversations because entrepreneurs love to talk to other entrepreneurs. And that's really the mission that I have for this podcast and for the book and for the news. And now for the merchandise. So the merchandise is my way to help people to start conversations. If you were to create your own merchandise, what would be your objective for it? Let me know if there's anything I can do to help. Then obviously just give me a shout as always all my contact details are in the show notes. Thank you so much for listening to this episode of the unnoticed entrepreneur.