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I was just wondering why those of you that chose to go the fullfillment service route, went that route? Was it because of the ease of starting up and the marketing tools that they offer? Or was it the print on demand service that they offer.....etc.

I'm just curious as to if the idea of starting up your own service came to mind (i.e. printing your own, marketing yourself....etc). I'm in the process of weighing out the pros and cons of each, that will maximize my revenues.

I do currently have the ability to start an online shop myself and do my own marketing. But I feel with cafepress ranking sites and the search that they offer, that I might be seriously gimping myself.

What are your thoughts? Anyone?
 

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I actually do both (use fulfillment AND do it myself).

Doing it myself mainly offers me control over all the aspects of the business (customer information, shipping turnaround, fraud prevention, branding, etc)

The fulfillment companies don't offer much in the way of marketing. That should still fall mostly on your shoulders and if you are relying on them to do that for you, then you are missing out on a lot of sales and your business will not grow much. Yes, cafepress has a marketplace, but that will only get you a small potential volume of sales. You can also get listed and ranked in the search engines without cafepress.

The benefits of the fulfillment companies for me is the "hands off" selling. I can be sleeping or barbequeing in the backyard and still be selling 25 t-shirts in a day without lifting a finger. No printing, no shipping, no worries. My job is to just create cool designs and advertise/promote the online store they create for me. It's the ease of use and convenience that's the main benefits there.

Doing it myself, if I get a rush of t-shirt sales, I have to spend all day packing shirts, printing labels, pulling shirts of shelves, processing orders, verifying transactions, etc. All the stuff I LOVE about doing it myself is all the stuff I'm grateful I don't have do when using a fulfillment company :)

But you should ALWAYS be marketing yourself. Anything the fulfillment company does to promote you is just a BONUS, the main portion (I'm talking 99%) of the marketing and advertising for your shop should be done by you (no matter if you are doing it yourself or using a fulfillment company).
 

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Hi Dub3325,

I have been t-shirts for years yet I haven't used fullfillment services. Instead I choose to do my own printing and shipping. I have always had my own site (since about 1996) so at that time there wasn't any "fullfillment services" that i knew about so I did my own printing and marketing. By the time Cafepress, zazzle, etc. came about or became well known I didn't see a need for them as I had been doing it all along myself.

I recently acquired my own equipment to allow me to print just like the fullfillment services do I have on a small scale print "onsie/twosie" type orders for individuals that create shirts on my site for gifts for their personal use however I've for years sold products from my site, shipped them and marketed. I don't think you will "cheat yourself" if you "choose to do it yourself".

The only thing is as everyone else has said you "do all the work" which is "timeconsuming" whereas if you let someone else do it "you save time" but you have to "split the profits" more. The one caution is making sure that who you use "have the same high standards" as you do since they will be producing your items and sending them out. I say this as you should care "what goes out" that has your name on it.
 

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Yea I was browsing around a lot of the fulfillment services....and although they are very convenient to use....it would be cutting into my profits significantly.

What I assumed is that most people that use this service, dont have the background or funding to produce an ecommerce site. I was just trying to support that theory.

Do you guys process your own credit cards or do you have a third party company step in and take all of the headaches of a merchant account?
 

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What I assumed is that most people that use this service, dont have the background or funding to produce an ecommerce site. I was just trying to support that theory.
That couldn't be further from the truth :) Everyone from the mom and pop, rock band to larger international brand corporations use fulfillment companies. Sometimes doing everything yourself can cost you money if you don't have time to do it all.

Do you guys process your own credit cards or do you have a third party company step in and take all of the headaches of a merchant account?
You need a merchant account to process credit cards, and many merchant accounts are built to tie into shopping cart programs like cubecart, oscommerce, etc. So although the credit card processing part is pretty automatic (once you have the merchant account setup), you still have to be on top of fraudulent orders and know what to look for.

With a fulfillment company, they have to worry about that stuff :)
 

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You mentioned that Cafepress has a marketplace. What do you been by marketplace? You also mention that the offer minimal advertisement, how does this work? I also have a few more quick questions.
1.It's it possible for me to visit your website?
2. do you only sell your designs?
3. are there any rules or laws about selling transfers or shirts produced by other companies?
4. how much does Cafepress charge you for their services?
5. If I was to package my own products, where would I get the packaging supplies? ( plastic packaging, labels, tags and etc.)
 

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do you design all of your transfers? where do you buy your packaging materials, labels and identification tags? What other items do yo add to your shipment?
 

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I run and gun selling straight to boutiques. Its Very time consuming, but my goal is to have a BRAND and there really aren't too many large brands that sell via the full-sillment means being spoke of here, Its probably about as profuable as sellnig via zazzle or whateevr because you only recoup wholesale, have to offer payment terms etc, but again I say you dno't really go the route i am not doing what I'm doing
 

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I kind of took the middle ground. I use a screen printer that handles my store and all my shipping and customer service and printing, bu its not print on demand. So i need to buy stock but thats about it. The shirts come out really nice too and they can do some cool specialty printing.

I'm pretty happy with them so far.
 

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I actually do both (use fulfillment AND do it myself).

Doing it myself mainly offers me control over all the aspects of the business (customer information, shipping turnaround, fraud prevention, branding, etc).....

......All the stuff I LOVE about doing it myself is all the stuff I'm grateful I don't have do when using a fulfillment company :)
Hey Rodney,

I know this is an old thread but it seems to be the most appropriate for my query. I have my own ecommerce site but I have been considering adding a site through a fulfillment service. I'd appreciate your thoughts....

did you have to spend as much time promoting your CP store as your own store?

a few years on do you still see the value in both?

do you have your whole range on both or a focussed range on CP?

does using a fulfillment effect your branding?

Cheers :)
 

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i tried to do it myself last year and pressed up some shirts and etc...... went well.... i should have pressed more..... but the tshirt thing was just a side thing at the moment....

i dropped some cash and have 8 boxes of gear to get printed...only issue is that i'm broke right now and between students loans/rent/bills.... i cant get the loot needed..... so i went the fulfillment route..... i just hope the quality is what i expect...... i'm a stickler for craft and details...

i just got my fulfillment store up and running...... so hopefully that will pull some cash in.... my goal os to use this as a startup and focus on actually launching my own brand next year...if all goes well......


and on a side note....(architecture sucks)


b
 

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did you have to spend as much time promoting your CP store as your own store?
In the beginning I did, but I haven't promoted it as much recently.

One nice benefit of CafePress is that they do a LOT of marketing for their shopkeepers by way of driving traffic to their marketplace.

a few years on do you still see the value in both?
I definitely see the value in both. As I've mentioned before, I can sell 20 items in a day at CafePress and not have to lift a finger. They get shipped out to customers and I get a profit literally while I'm sleeping or eating dinner. The flexibility to do more with my time is really one of the biggest benefits for fulfillment for me.

do you have your whole range on both or a focussed range on CP?
I put a few of the more popular designs on CP. And I've used CP to start new lines or test new designs that are completely different from my original line. I think I have 3 or 4 cafepress stores at the moment.

does using a fulfillment effect your branding?
For me, big picture wise, I don't think it does.

Some people think it does effect your branding. With CafePress, you get zero opportunities for branding on the packaging, inserts, packing slip, emails to customers. So you just have to work that much harder to make sure your t-shirt brands itself. To me, all the other "stuff" is nice, but I really want people to remember my t-shirt design on its own merits. If they do, they'll know how to find me.

Other fulfillment companies offer more in the way of branding opportunities. Like spreadshirt allows you to include your logo on the packing slip and offers "white label" stores.

Part of what you lose with a fulfillment company is that control over the different little things. Sometimes I like that control, and sometimes I'm fine with delegating it so I can do other things. When doing it all yourself, it's nice to know that YOU sent the package out and YOU checked it for correctness and YOU get to talk to the customer if there is a problem. But all that takes time, and if it's not your full time gig, it can sometimes take too much of your time. Decisions, decisions :)

Hope this helps :)
 
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