As a custom t-shirt company, one of the questions we get asked most frequently is: How much should I charge for my t-shirts at retail?
It’s a tougher question than you might think, and there’s a ton of strategy that comes into play when considering what price point to sell your product at. So, we’ve collected some tricks of the trade to give you a launching point on how to price your custom t-shirts for retail.
Looking to sell shirts online? Know your costs.
The very first thing you should consider when pricing your t-shirts for retail is how much it costs to produce them. Of course, you want to keep costs somewhat low, but not at the expense of quality. Something we’ve found to be universally true is that people are willing to pay more for a retail quality t-shirt, rather than a shirt that’s ill-fitting and has a rough feel. So paying $1 or $2 more on the front end might enable you to charge $5–10 more at retail, plus you'll create customers who love your product, tell their friends about it and come back for more! That's how you build a successful brand.
That being said, don’t be afraid to price your t-shirts for what they’re worth. If you’re selling a high-quality t-shirt, make sure your price communicates that. If you’re pricing your t-shirts for less than they’re worth, your customers are going to perceive them as less than they’re worth. So price them as they should be priced, and let your product speak for itself.
Another thing to keep in mind when forecasting your costs is the inclusion of any retail add-ons like custom garment tags (whether printed tags or hem tags), branded hang tags, bagging, etc. These features can go a long way in building legitimacy around your brand—and, for that reason, we always recommend them to customers who are seeking to sell their garments—but they do increase the total cost of your project. A worthwhile investment, but still one to be aware of and account for when pricing your finished product.
How to price t-shirts? Research the market.
Taking a look at your competitors in the market is also an excellent way of determining what a ballpark idea of what your retail cost should be. Taking a look at a competing t-shirt line to see how they price their shirts gives you a rough idea of what the market is willing to spend—assuming they're successful. Anyone can price a t-shirt at $150 and "sell" it online (aka offer-it available for sale), but that doesn't mean anyone is buying it.
This isn’t to say you should just price your t-shirts at the same price, or just $1 less than your competitors, but it’s important to think about what other people are charging for their product when you’re trying to convey to your customers that they should choose you.
A t-shirt pricing calculator
Once you have your t-shirt cost down, you can use it to calculate a price determined by your desired percentage of profit. An article from Entrepreneur states that most retailers shoot for a profit margin of about 50%.
Using the 50% margin, all you would have to do is multiply your cost to produce by 2, and you’d have your retail price. But if aiming for any other profit margin percentage, you’ll use this formula:
Retail Price = [(cost to produce) ÷ (100-profit %)] x 100
So let’s say you want to set your profit margin at 60%, and your shirt costs $10.00 to produce. In that example, your formula will look like this:
Retail Price = [(10.00) ÷ (100–60)] x 100
Retail Price = [10.00 ÷ 40] x 100
Retail Price = 0.25 x 100
Retail Price = $25
Simple enough, right? Now that we’ve got the mathematical part of pricing down, let’s get into some psychology.
Price for people, not for numbers
This next fact may be one of the most important and least considered factors when people are pricing their product. That fact is: People do not always act rationally.
If people acted rationally all of the time, pricing a product would be incredibly formulaic. You could plug your costs into an equation, get a price that most people would agree upon, and start selling. But people are emotional, and whether you think it or not, the price of your product is going to trigger an emotional response in your customers.
Great pricing will consist of considering human behavior and human emotion to find a sweet spot that will persuade people to choose your t-shirts. With that in mind, here are three quick pricing tactics that will help you optimize your price for emotion over logic:
1) End your price with a non-round number, rather than a zero or a five. Reason being: when humans are scanning information to make a decision, they get lazy. So, even though the difference between $30 and $29 is only $1, it feels like a lot more. And we’ll make decisions based on that feeling.
2) Bundle products together, and give a price break. Rather than stick to selling all of your products individually, think about creating a bundle package as well. Say you’re selling three different shirts for $20 each. Consider offering an option to buy the shirts together for $55 total.
Ugmonk gives a great example of bundle pricing in the photo above. They sell a set of 4 t-shirts for $100 (or $25 each), as opposed to their normal pricing of $28 each. Centering the bundle around one theme or idea like they do gives this bundle some bonus points too!
Many words have been written on how product bundling increases revenue, so we’ll spare you the reading and give you the short version: when applied right, it works. You’ll sell more t-shirts with less effort, and your customers save money. Win, win.
Key to bundling though: make sure you offer an option to buy each product individually as well. Some customers may just want the one item, and that’s fine. Plus, offering individually lets the customer see the deal they get by buying a bundled package.
3) Use Anchor Pricing. This means displaying the original price, then showing what you’re actually charging for it. One brand that does a great job of this Huckberry, an online menswear marketplace. Through partnerships with brands, they’re able to offer exclusive offers for their customers.
In the image below, you can see that traditional retail for the S/S Breton Shirt is $55.00. However, at Huckberry, you can get it for $44.98. This lets you know that you’re getting a deal that you won’t get elsewhere. (Notice that their price is also a non-round number!)
Another great use for anchor pricing is when partnered with the bundle tactic. Using the example earlier, purchasing three t-shirts individually would cost $60, but you created a bundle for $55. So, your product page might read like this: $55 $60.
This way, the customer sees the value of the offer and knows what they’re saving.
There is so much more that could go into this lesson, but this is a great launching point! Get started by 1) Knowing your cost 2) Researching the market 3) Determining your profit margin 4) Pricing for people and 5) Getting paid!
Whether you have a dream of a starting a t-shirt line, have taken some steps towards it, or already have a running company, we hope you found this post helpful.
If you haven’t yet, download our Guide to E-Commerce for tips on how to set up shop, and start browsing products to start designing your next retail-ready masterpiece.
If you're currently selling online or looking to start, our fulfillment program can help. Leave the picking and packing to us while you focus on designing and selling your high quality custom merch.
Let us know how we can help :)