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Discussion Starter #1
Hi, everyone.

I am not only new here, I'm new to the t-shirt business. So please forgive my question if it is a stupid one...

I have a computer program that outputs a cool image when someone inputs data about themselves. When they do that, the program produces an image customized to him or her.

I'd like to use a fulfillment service to print out the image on a t-shirt. But to the best of my knowledge, Cafe Express and the other services only handle orders for pre-uploaded static images and do not handle variable orders on the fly.

From a computer software point of view that would not be difficult to program. Does anyone here have any ideas about the best way for me to proceed with Cafe Express or some other service?
 

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Does anyone here have any ideas about the best way for me to proceed with Cafe Express or some other service?
I don't know of a way to do it in "real time" online.

You could "simulate" it like this (this is assuming you have the programming skills to do technical stuff):

1) Setup a cafepress store. Grab a blank t-shirt image (this is OK as long as you are going to use cafepress for the fulfillment)

2) Figure out how much you want to charge for the t-shirt. Figure out the shipping costs.

3) Setup your variable image program on your server to create the image on the fly and have it superimposed on the t-shirt graphic (or any other product) so the customer can buy it right from your site.

4) Set the price so you make a profit from the cafepress base price and include the shipping.

5) Setup a PayPal or Google Checkout button that allows the customer to pay you for the t-shirt.

6) Grab the customer generated graphic (high resolution version) from your server and upload it to your private cafepress store.

7) Add the graphic to product the customer ordered. If the customer ordered a t-shirt and a mug, you upload the graphic to a t-shirt and a mug.

options:
8) Make the purchase through your cafepress store at your "base price" and have it shipped directly to the customer as a "Gift" so the pricing is blanked out.

8a) Make the purchase through your cafepress store at your base price and have it shipped to you. You then repackage the shirt with your own promotional materials and ship it to the customer.

If the idea worked out and you wanted to invest a bit in the equipment (printer, heat press, maybe a cutter) you could just do all the printing and shipping yourself.

Hope this helps :)
 

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You want a company that has an API for such a thing. At the moment CafePress does have an API for product data but no way at the moment to upload. Maybe in the future they will have this. I can't think of anyone else who does anything similar.

I don't know if using flickr would be an option (I haven't really looked into it.. but it just occured to me), but they integrate with various print on demand services now. Flickr have many APIs.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Adam said:
You want a company that has an API for such a thing. At the moment CafePress does have an API for product data but no way at the moment to upload. Maybe in the future they will have this. I can't think of anyone else who does anything similar.

I don't know if using flickr would be an option (I haven't really looked into it.. but it just occured to me), but they integrate with various print on demand services now. Flickr have many APIs.
Much thanks!

The Flickr option sounds very intriguing. Could you please be more specific?
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Rodney said:
I don't know of a way to do it in "real time" online.

You could "simulate" it like this (this is assuming you have the programming skills to do technical stuff):

1) Setup a cafepress store. Grab a blank t-shirt image (this is OK as long as you are going to use cafepress for the fulfillment)

2) Figure out how much you want to charge for the t-shirt. Figure out the shipping costs.

3) Setup your variable image program on your server to create the image on the fly and have it superimposed on the t-shirt graphic (or any other product) so the customer can buy it right from your site.

4) Set the price so you make a profit from the cafepress base price and include the shipping.

5) Setup a PayPal or Google Checkout button that allows the customer to pay you for the t-shirt.

6) Grab the customer generated graphic (high resolution version) from your server and upload it to your private cafepress store.

7) Add the graphic to product the customer ordered. If the customer ordered a t-shirt and a mug, you upload the graphic to a t-shirt and a mug.

options:
8) Make the purchase through your cafepress store at your "base price" and have it shipped directly to the customer as a "Gift" so the pricing is blanked out.

8a) Make the purchase through your cafepress store at your base price and have it shipped to you. You then repackage the shirt with your own promotional materials and ship it to the customer.

If the idea worked out and you wanted to invest a bit in the equipment (printer, heat press, maybe a cutter) you could just do all the printing and shipping yourself.

Hope this helps :)
Much thanks! Your approach seems to me very cool. Too bad Cafe Express has not made it easier though. I would think that there is a large amount of pent up demand for variable images on t-shirts. Am I right or wrong about that?
 

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I would think that there is a large amount of pent up demand for variable images on t-shirts. Am I right or wrong about that?
My guess is the demand probably isn't that large.
 

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I don't think demand is huge but given the right clients the provider could make a killing. I'm sure CafePress are aware of this. ;)

More about flickr. Here is the information about the upload api.
http://www.flickr.com/services/api/upload.api.html

So whena customer uploads an image to your website it also gets uploaded to flickr.

I don't know how seemless this would be (like I said it just came into my head as an option) but these are the POD services flickr use.
http://www.flickr.com/do/more/

If you can programatically upload a design and return a URL where the customer can buy then that would work. If you can't then it isn't much cop.

(Excuse my British slang)
 

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He means custom uploaded images. Designs that are not always constant, aren't just 12 retro designs but ones that can be decided by the customer.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Adam said:
So whena customer uploads an image to your website it also gets uploaded to flickr.
What I can now easily do is have the customer enter in his or her image-generating info and see the resulting image. If the customer wants that image on one of my t-shirts, all I need is his or her info relayed to me within the order.

I can then immediately recreate the image for the t-shirt. Then produce it in-house or via a fulfillment service by using one of the "variable image" methods suggested here.

I can also have different examples of where the image would go on a t-shirt, like middle, upper left-hand side, things like that. I don't think that I would need to have the actual image portrayed on t-shirt examples, but I do not think it would be too difficult to add that feature within the sales process.

BTW, any slang is ok with me as long as I can kind of understand it, mate. :)
 

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I have custom created software that does all that on my fulfillment site it's all written in ASP. There is one company selling a Java solution on here that you might be interested in.
 

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SynclecronicsMan said:
Hi, everyone.

I am not only new here, I'm new to the t-shirt business. So please forgive my question if it is a stupid one...

I have a computer program that outputs a cool image when someone inputs data about themselves. When they do that, the program produces an image customized to him or her.

I'd like to use a fulfillment service to print out the image on a t-shirt. But to the best of my knowledge, Cafe Express and the other services only handle orders for pre-uploaded static images and do not handle variable orders on the fly.

From a computer software point of view that would not be difficult to program. Does anyone here have any ideas about the best way for me to proceed with Cafe Express or some other service?
Did you ever find a solution to variable images on shirts? We are having the same issue... every shirt we are trying to make is custom... any thoughts?
 
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