How much should you charge for your T-shirts? Learn pricing tips & strategies in this article.
As a custom t-shirt company who’s been in business for over a decade, one of the questions we get asked most frequently is: How much should I charge for my t-shirts at retail?
It's a more challenging question than you might think, and a ton of strategy comes into play when considering what price point to sell your product.
So, we've collected some trade tricks to give you a launching point on how to price your custom t-shirts for retail.
Are you looking to sell shirts online? Know your costs.
The 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 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 than an ill-fitting shirt with 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 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 will perceive them as less than they're worth. So price them as they should be, and let your product speak for itself.
Another thing to remember when forecasting your costs is the inclusion of any retail add-ons like custom garment tags (whether printed or hem labels), 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 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 do you price t-shirts? Research the market.
Looking at your competitors in the market is also an excellent way of determining a ballpark idea of what your retail cost should be. Looking 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 price your t-shirts at the same price or just $1 less than your competitors, but it's crucial 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 your t-shirt cost is down, you can use it to calculate a price determined by your desired profit percentage. Most retailers shoot for a profit margin of about 50%.
Using the 50% margin, you would have to multiply your production cost 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? Now that we've got the mathematical part of pricing down let's get into some psychology.
Price for people, not for numbers
This fact may be one of the most important and least considered factors when pricing their product. That fact is: People do not always act rationally.
If people acted all of the time rationally, 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 cost of your product will trigger an emotional response in your customers.
Great pricing will involve considering human behavior and emotion to find a sweet spot to 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.
The reason is: 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.
Ugmonk gives an excellent example of bundle pricing in the photo above. They sell a set of 4 t-shirts for $100 (or $25 each) instead of their standard pricing of $28 each. Centering the bundle around one theme or idea as 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 will save money. Win, win.
The key to bundling is to offer an option to buy each product individually. Some customers may want one item, and that's fine. Plus, offering individually lets customers see the deal they get by purchasing a bundled package.
3. Use Anchor Pricing.
This means displaying the original price, then showing what you charge. One brand that does a great job this Huckberry, an online menswear marketplace. Through partnerships with brands, they can offer exclusive offers to their customers.
The image below shows that the 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 you're getting a deal you won't get elsewhere. (Notice that their price is also a non-round number!)
Another excellent 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. Your product page might read like this: $55-$60.
This way, the customer sees the offer's value and knows what they're saving.
So much more could go into this lesson, but this is a great launching point!
Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Knowing your cost.
- Researching the market.
- Determining your profit margin.
- Pricing for people.
- Getting paid!
You got the run down- what’s next?
Whether you dream of starting a t-shirt line, have taken some steps towards it, or already have a running company, we hope you found this post helpful.
As a free resource, download our Guide to E-Commerce for tips on setting up shop and 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.
We look forward to chatting soon, yeah?
Originally Published 02/03/2021 | Updated 04/28/2023