3 Tips to Boost T-Shirt Margins

2016 will be the year of the T-shirt. At least, that’s what distributors and decorators indicated in the Wearables Sales Forecast, with a solid two-thirds of respondents predicting increased sales of the promotional powerhouse next year. The vast majority (89%) of those polled also believe profit margins on T-shirts will either increase or stay the same. Of course, savvy salespeople know you can’t just sit around and wait for those predictions to come true.  Here are three ways to up your margins.

  1. Try upselling to a higher-margin garment. Most clients are willing to spend a few extra quarters for a higher-quality, super-soft shirt, perhaps from a ringspun cotton or triblend. “It’s a really low price to pay for a luxury item that’s going to be worn,” says Rick Roth, president of Mirror Image in Pawtucket, RI. Consider the appeal of popular performance fabrics, trendy name brands, American-made clothing or “green” apparel made with a percentage of recycled plastic bottles. Staying up to date on industry trends will help you offer informed suggestions to clients.
  2. Push decoration methods with a higher perceived value. Arizona-based screen-printing consultant Terry Combs points out that processes like gels and foils add very little time and cost to the printing process, but done well, they can add significantly to the perceived value of a garment. Many customers are also willing to pay more for the soft hand of waterbase and discharge printing.
  3. Offer custom finishing services. An attractive presentation goes a long way. Folding, poly-bagging, custom hang tags and private label neck or hem tags all add to an item’s perceived value, says Steve Kanney, owner of Target Decorated Apparel (asi/90549) in Naperville, IL. “We have to get out front in sales meetings and let our clients know how they might add value and profits to their orders,” the contract decorator says.

Read the whole Sales Forecast in the November/December issue of Wearables for more winning strategies and insights into the latest business trends.