24 Jan 2018

The Top 10 Print on Demand Custom Merchandise Products Ideas for 2018

Once upon a time, the words ‘custom merchandise’ might have been accompanied by screams of terror, and the sound of brisk footsteps running directly for the hills. Minimum order quantities, holding stock, logistical headaches around order fulfilment.

Print-on-demand is changing all that. Your customer simply places their order, the products are printed, and sent right to their door. Success! All you need to do is add the designs, and market the products.

And there’s more. Today’s aspiring merchandisers have a fully-loaded range of products to choose from.

In today’s article, we’ll take a look at which products you need in your store for 2018!

1. Phone Cases

In case you missed it, it’s official…we’re ‘addicted’ to our phones! We won’t bore you with the usual boring smartphone adoption statistics, but suffice to say that, if there are still people kicking around without a mobile, they’re doing an awesome job of hiding it.

Where this gets interesting is that 79% of U.S. smartphone owners use a protective case for their smartphone[1] a statistic which rises to 87% for iPhone users.[2]

It’s not just a safety feature designed to protect your phone from the inevitable thrills and spills of modern life, either. Today’s phone users love to personalise their phone; whether it’s a prized photo, a logo or a slogan. Their phone isn’t just a functional device, it’s a part of their identity.

2. Fine Art Prints

One of the more subtle ways the internet has revolutionised our lives revolves around interior design. There was a time when buying fine art prints might well have involved a trip to your local art gallery.

Now, it’s easier than ever to connect with artists and designers all over the world – as well as buying their prints. This isn’t just a great way to highlight unique artwork that showcases our individual tastes – it’s also a real goldmine for lesser-known artists and personalities looking to sell prints bearing their amazing designs and slogans.

3. Canvas Prints

Designed to replicate the look of original oil or acrylic paintings by actual artists, canvas prints have a premium look and feel. But they’re great for sellers, too, since they’re often significantly cheaper than traditional framing.

They’re lightweight – meaning lower shipping costs – and there’s no glass, meaning less risk of in-transit breakages.

A quick look at the Google Trends map for the term ‘canvas print’ shows that they’re gaining popularity year over year – with a particular spike around December each year, highlighting their status as a ‘go-to’ Christmas gift!

4. Sublimation

Sublimation, unlike traditional screen printing, allows you to print your design onto a whole garment. The artwork is printed into the fabric rather than just on top of it, for a colourful, long-lasting effect.

With classic printing, you’d usually pay for each logo applied to a product. With sublimation, you pay ‘per side,’ i.e. a fixed price for front and back. This makes it a great choice for whole garment prints, like the t-shirt shown above.

Sublimated products are, again, incredibly popular custom merchandise – but don’t just take our word for it. In a recent survey, over 66% of sublimated printing businesses said they expected their business to grow in the next year.[3]

With so much demand for sublimated products, this is a great chance to tap into a growing market!

5. Hoodies

Ah, precious hoodie. Warmer of winter nights; comfortable, affordable companion to gym-goers and couch potatoes alike- and worn by millions every day.

It also happens to be a great way to show your support for a band, artist or personality you love.

The hoodie should be a staple product for any custom merchandise store, such is its enduring popularity and infinite snugness.

via GIPHY

6. Tank Top

Sun’s out, guns out! It may seem like a distant mirage during the early, wintery months of 2018, but at some point during the year, it may actually get warm – enter, the tank top!

In truth, tank tops are popular year-round thanks to their versatility. They can be used for gym workouts, long runs and yoga sessions. You can even choose performance fabrics if you’re an influencer in the fitness space looking to sell to this increasingly active, and increasingly huge market. (Studies suggest that 45 million adults in the US and 4.5 million in the UK have gym memberships.)[4]

7. Baseball T-shirt

These t-shirts, with their distinctive contrasting coloured sleeves and collar binding, have traditionally been popular as undershirts for baseball players in the US (hence the name.)

<History lesson alert> They’re also sometimes known as ‘Raglan’ t-shirts, named after a dude called Lord Raglan. He lost his arm in the Battle of Waterloo, and had the ‘Raglan sleeve’ invented for him to allow him to use his sword in battle – a bit like Jaime Lannister’s golden hand, but much more stylish.

These t-shirts have a nice, all-American kind of vibe, and – like the hoodie – have the good fortune to look great when used either for sporting activity or leisure.

Throw on your design or logo, and they’ll look even better.

8. Towels

Ok, probably not the first product you might think of when it comes to print-on-demand custom merchandise. But the beauty of towels lies in their versatility; they’re particularly suitable for sporty-type-influencers and brands, as they can be used for everything from home workouts, to yoga classes, through to tough gym sessions.

Your followers can use them regularly and publicly. It’s a great way to get your brand out there, and a great way for your followers to show their support beyond the clothes they wear.

Oh, and this is another product that’s soaring in popularity right now. After all, more people going to the gym = more need for gym towels. (You wouldn’t want to be one of those guys who don’t wipe down the equipment when they’re done. Eugh.)

9. Mugs

If there’s one thing we love more than our smartphones and our gym memberships, it’s a cup of tea or coffee. Would you believe that in the UK alone, we drink 165 million cups of tea every single day (plus another 70 million coffees?)

More than that, 65% of us say we have a favourite cup or mug and 1 in 6 of us would sulk if someone else used it. So, yeah. Our mugs are kind of important to us.

And, like pretty much every other area of our lives, we seem to be moving away from the generic, the bland, the one-size-fits-all, the ‘everybody in this whole office has the same mug as me.’ What we’re saying is, it’s another thing we like to personalise. If we’re sending our blood pressure through the roof with 6 cups of coffee per day, we might as well drink it out of a mug that means something to us.

For all these reasons, mugs are a great product to promote to your audience!

10. Tote Bags

What if you could sell a cool product AND save the planet? Ok, maybe that’s a little dramatic, but seriously: did you know that, around the world, we use 5 trillion plastic bags each year? That’s 160,000 a second – and 700 a year for every single person on the planet. Even worse, less than 1% of them are recycled.

Well, not all heroes wear capes. And, actually, some heroes actually look a little bit like capes, but with handles on them. Yep, we’re talking tote bags. Not only do these little superstars look really stylish, they’re 100% reusable and often made from recycled materials themselves.

Whether screen printed or sublimated, these are a great way for your followers to show their support while doing their bit for Mother Earth.

In Closing…

So, there you have it. Our tips for the ‘big 10’ custom merchandise products you need in 2018. Did we miss anything? What other products would you like to be able to print on, and offer to your fans?

  1. https://www.statista.com/statistics/368627/us-protective-case-usage-among-smartphone-owners/
  2. https://www.theverge.com/2014/10/28/7085005/it-doesnt-matter-what-your-phone-looks-like
  3. https://a-e-mag.com/features/stats-and-facts-sublimation-industry-growth
  4. https://www.realbuzz.com/articles-interests/fitness/article/9-surprising-gym-statistics/

To try out some of these print-on-demand custom merchandise products in your store take a look at:

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