How to Start Selling Custom Merch with Shopify?

Nov 9, 2023

When it comes to online storefronts, Shopify is the gold standard. Shopify's low price, flexible features, and several payment gateways make it an excellent choice for anyone with a business idea for selling custom items. 

Shopify is one of the best eCommerce platforms in the market, which can be attested by its strong user base of the 4.4 million websites it powers. In 2022, Shopify processed a whopping $79.5 billion worth of order value. 

We love Shopify because it offers everything from analytics and premade themes to print-on-demand Shopify applications. It allows entrepreneurs to create their own online store in just minutes, with no coding experience necessary. And with a strong design and marketing strategy to back you up, you have no glass ceiling to stop you from gaining immense success in this ecommerce industry. 

In 2023, the global custom apparel market shows a lot of potential if you're looking to step into it. Experts predicted that between 2023-2027, the industry would grow by $1790.48 mn with a 7.22% compound annual growth rate (CAGR). If you want an in on this opportunity, keep reading. We will help you understand how you can start earning a substantial passive income by selling custom merchandise on Shopify.

Steps to Start Selling Merch with Shopify

The potential of online sales is limitless. You may develop a successful company selling goods or services to anybody, anywhere, requiring as little or more effort as you choose to put in. The challenge is that there is a lot to accomplish before you can make a living from a business online. If you want to sell online on Shopify and make money selling custom merch, go for our advice and think of a print-on-demand (POD) business model. 

Print-on-demand services allow you to manufacture bespoke items at a much lower price than producing them on your own while avoiding the hassle, expense, and danger of keeping and maintaining an inventory. The POD model allows you to work directly with manufacturers of white-label goods, such as white t-shirts or sweatshirts, to produce customized items to sell on an as-needed premise with your private branding and designs created by you.

Let's look at how you can sell on Shopify with a POD model in eight simple steps: 

Think About Your Products

You can only launch a successful online store with good products to sell. Your online shop's fortunes may vary greatly depending on the item you decide to sell. Many people are already selling items online using Shopify, so your new venture will need a way to stand out. 

A niche is the segment of the market that a product is designed to serve. In addition to demographics, location and current trends may help create a specialty. Choose a market segment you're enthusiastic about, and then look for products that are high in demand, and you can sell there for a profit. For example, the fashion industry is booming worldwide with ever-increasing demands; therefore, custom t-shirts can be a good item, and so can custom blankets

If your product is in high demand, it will be simpler to identify people interested in purchasing it. An in-demand product guarantees you won't waste time advertising things that won't sell.

Define Your Target Audience

The people who fit the profile of your ideal online customer make up your target market. You may find them in several ways. Here are a few methods to get an idea of who's your target audience:

  • Do consumer surveys to get insight into the thoughts and preferences of your ideal audience. Find out the demands and requirements of your target audience by conducting quizzes, individual usability testing, and collective feedback sessions.
  • You'll need to figure out how to win over your competitors' customers if you're going to be successful in online product sales. Examining the competition, you may learn about the kind of consumers they target. Emphasize what sets you distinct from the competition.
  • Create buyer personas to understand your target audience better. You should address their issues, concerns, passions, demographics, and professions. Use them as a guide to ensure your marketing efforts focus on the correct individuals most likely to purchase.

Think About Products Design

Unique designs are essential for print-on-demand, but the creative ability is not required. You don't need to be a professional designer to create exciting graphics. A necessary part of developing a successful design is conducting your investigation and culling the finest inspirations. Platforms, such as the following, can be used to find inspiration:

  • Pinterest
  • Dribble
  • Instagram 

If you don't feel like coming up with designs yourself, you may always employ someone specializing in that area. You can hire a team from design studios or get started with your talent search by browsing freelancing websites like:

  • Fiverr
  • Upwork
  • Freelancer

Remember to test your ideas before releasing them to the public. What you think is a brilliant concept might be utterly missed by your target audience. So, for example, if you're going to offer custom beanies, consider ordering a sample and showing it to your friends, family, or acquaintances to weigh in on a design you created for concept validation.

Pick Print on Demand Platform

To launch a successful print-on-demand company, you need a provider you can depend on to meet your customers' demands. Your professional standing as a business owner hinges on this, so give it your full attention.

The Shopify App Store has a directory of all available print-on-demand applications to integrate. As Shopify does not provide POD services, all Shopify-compatible applications are independent developers. Therefore, before deciding on a POD platform, make sure you consider these few details to verify their services: 

  • Quality of products
  • Range of products
  • Integrations it allows
  • Ease of using the interface
  • Minimum order quantity
  • Support availability
  • Pricing

Printify is a print-on-demand, as well as a dropshipping platform that is open and accessible, allowing all kinds of people to create and begin selling unique custom goods with confidence. In addition, once a transaction is made, they handle everything from printing to packing to delivery.

Create Marketing Plan

The success or failure of your company launch depends on how well you make use of print-on-demand marketing techniques. In order to succeed, you must grab people's attention, motivate them to stop by your website, convince them to make a purchase, and turn them into paying customers. Here are some suggestions for promoting your new venture:

Use social media

Provide updates about your custom merchandise on the social media networks frequented by your target consumers. Provide engaging material, do new things with visuals, and often check in and engage with your audience. Use the app's built-in social shopping capabilities to let users shop right from the platform's interface.

Promote with paid campaigns

Using advertisements may boost your chances of reaching your desired demographic. Whether you have a large or small marketing budget, create an advertising plan to market the things you are offering.

Get influencers on board

Influencers can truly impact your revenue by channeling thousands of their followers your way. Identify influencers with the most significant following of your target audience, and work with them to increase sales.

Unlock the power of email marketing

Email marketing ensures constant access to the customer's most holy virtual space, the inbox, in contrast to the more permissive nature of social media platforms. Get customers to sign up for your email list so you can give them updates and useful information like how-to videos and reminders when they leave items in their shopping cart.

Work on SEO

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a kind of inbound marketing that works over the long term to improve a website's visibility in users' search engine results pages. Use SEO techniques, such as keyword research and link building, to reach people who are actively seeking the things you provide online.

Create Shopify Store

Once you've got a plan for what to sell and how to market it, it's time to create a Shopify storefront. The first step is to create a Shopify account. There is no need for a credit card to sign up, and you can try out all the features, set up a store, and put your products up for sale for a trial period of 14 days. 

You may extend after the trial period by selecting one of three different pricing packages. To help you choose the right Shopify plan, we've included a comparison of features in each plan below.

Choose the name of the store and domain name

To set up a storefront, you'll start with acquiring a domain name and picking out a name for your store/brand. Domain names are often based on the store's name. It must be relevant to the custom products you will be providing. It's ideal if it can be summed up in a few memorable words. It's essential that the name is also simple to enter on computers and smart devices.

Choose the theme for your store

A stunning website is the first thing visitors and customers see. Beyond aesthetics, a professionally designed website may help establish trust in your brand and maintain a uniform eCommerce experience for your customers. You can consider the following Shopify themes:

Best Shopify themes for clothing store

Best Shopify themes for streetwear

To add products, you'll need to connect your Shopify store with the POD platform. Let's discuss that in detail, keep reading!

Connect Store with Print-on-Demand Platform

Here's a general outline of integrating your chosen POD provider with Shopify. However, not that detailed instructions on how to connect your print-on-demand app to Shopify may be found in the provider's support documentation.

  • Get your POD service's mobile app.
  • Make a new profile and enter your billing details.
  • You may add your designs and tweak the white-label items on the provider's app.
  • Determine a price for your products.
  • Sync the items from the POD store to Shopify to see them in Shopify's admin.

Launch Your Store

Before launching your online business, understand the POD service's fulfillment options and delivery rates. It is possible that certain POD services may automatically complete and send orders. Before publishing your store's policies, verify that your shipping practices conform to the standards established by the POD provider you want to use. 

You may want to tweak your checkout process once you've added your store's policies. You may simulate buys to test the checkout process in advance to ensure the journey is smooth and convenient. Once you're ready, you can open the doors to your online store to everybody by promoting your store and its products through all marketing channels.

Additional Tips for Successful Merch Store with Shopify

If you want to start and run a successful POD business, you need to incorporate metrics for gauging marketing performance in your strategy. If you're going to make it in the cutthroat world of online retail, you need to know all there is to know about the people who shop at your company so that you can tailor your offerings to them. 

The good thing about a store with Shopify is that this becomes easy. The analytics dashboard for Shopify's online store is full of insightful information. Some examples of trackable metrics are as follows:

  • Examine competing sales pages side by side to identify the most successful.
  • Examine the effects of product additions, pricing adjustments, and advertising tweaks on your Average Order Value.
  • See where your clients are located or what social media channels bring them to your website.

You can get an in-depth view of your company's operations without ever leaving the Shopify dashboard, owing to the comprehensive statistics it provides on user behavior, overall traffic, returning visitor counts, and a plethora of many other eCommerce KPIs. Our advice– use a data-driven approach to progressively optimize your sales funnel for optimum conversions and earnings while maintaining a minimalist attitude.


If you want to open an online store, Shopify is a great option. It's useful for both seasoned entrepreneurs and those just starting out. A POD business model with Shopify is a match made in heaven and will allow you to sell custom merchandise without a large initial capital outlay. As POD suppliers handle fulfillment, inventory management, shipping, and delivery, you'll save a lot of time to focus on the business's core operations. We're confident you will establish a reputation in the e-commerce industry if you consistently use that extra time to improve your back-end processes, product assortment, and marketing strategy.

Alice Pham

Writer and Blogger about Technology and Marketing. I also share my knowledge of Shopify, WordPress, and WooCommerce. Contact me via email: or

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