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Discussion Starter #1
Hello and thank you for your time,

I had an idea before I launch my site. I have about 11 designs I can offer and about 20+ in the pipleline. However, I was considering having 5 of my favorite ones up first and having the others listed as 'coming soon' where you can opt-in for an update when it is available. This would allow me to gauge interest and make sure only shirts that people want are on the site.

I figure QUALITY is better than QUANTITY

Do you think such an idea would fly?
 

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Depends. If you're doing heat transfer, a good combination of quality and quantity is a good idea since you can simply print on demand. For other methods a few select designs might work; but people DO like to have several designs to look through, and may not be very interested with just a couple shirts to consider.
 

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I'd consider starting with eight designs or nine designs. That way you can have your shirts displayed in a neat grid (4x2, 2x4 or 3x3) on the page with no empty slots. Eight also just seems like a good number to give plenty of choice without being too over the top. That said that was an arbitary number choice on my behalf, and five sounds good too. Or six - 3x2 of current designs, then 3x1 of "Coming Soon".

As for your "Coming Soon" / Register Interest idea - it sounds like something worth considering. I don't know if people actually use those features, but in my opinion there's nothing wrong with them. So long as you make it clear people are under no obligation if they register interest (don't want to put people off) then I don't see why not.

If you're using it to gauge interest though, "Coming Soon..." is a little inaccurate, as some designs may not make the cut. Also, while "Coming Soon" is a fine concept in theory, you need to be very careful when using it. Two examples:

1) Recently a large company had a well known product recall in Australia (not bothering with details as it's not relevant to t-shirts). They then registered a website to announce their return, and spent a lot of money advertising this website on TV. On this website is a "Coming Soon" banner for some of the content. My immediate reaction was one of contempt - in their case they are a very large company, and their product was off the shelves for several weeks. They have the time and the money to have their product complete before launching. Why launch half a product?

Now obviously the larger the company, the more this is a problem. For a small company it's a different situation, but you still have to be wary. Some people perceive "Coming Soon" as admitting you only have half a product, or as being unprepared to launch. Others view it as an insight behind the scenes, an exciting chance to know what's happening next.

2) We've probably all been to a website that said "Re-launch soon!" or "Coming Soon" or "Check back for updates!". Maybe we've come back a week later, only to find it hasn't been updated. "Okay" you might say to yourself "Maybe they put that up only just before I was last there. I'll give them another week." You come back a week later - nothing. Three or four weeks later you check back again - still nothing. It's now been over a month. This time you don't check back again, in fact you write off the company as too lazy or unorganised or not caring enough about their web customers.

Obviously you can't afford to do that - if you say something will be Coming Soon you need to be positive you can make it happen within a reasonable timeframe. Better to announce something as being up without any advance warning, than to tell people it's coming and then disappoint them. If you have the content ready to post and are just holding back waiting for the right time, this is not a problem.

Two other things to consider: You want to look reasonably large and professional, regardless of what the reality may or may not be. Secondly, how many designs you have depends a lot on your printing methods. If you use a print on demand system, you might as well offer a large range of designs from the start. If you are needing to invest capital in printing in advance then you need to consider your budget before considering how many designs to print.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for your replies

To answer the first question, it will be screen printing. As for the coming soon idea, there would be a timetable for when they launch. I just want people to sign up and update them in order to build more interaction with my visitors and gauge interest.

What I do is pay art fees for each design ahead of time. however, I am debating if I want to do that for every design, or just wait. I only debated doing it upfront as it saves 3 business days in the process of sending the shirt. (Although I can pay for rush production, which is nice)

A lot to think about before I launch...
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Twinge>>What if I have 9 designs, each one really makes you laugh. As oppose to sites where they have 12-20, but they are just not that good? I guess I am focused on quality of content. Although I DO agree I have to have more than 3-5 shirts at once
 

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Well, bearing in mind that it's always better to put things in a positive light - and to make your customers feel involved - why not avoid calling it "Coming Soon" and concentrate on their being able to choose? I mean, give them an opportunity to vote for the upcoming designs they like.

That sounds less like adding designs is something you haven't been able to do, and more like you're polling what people want. It's really the same thing but it feels like something else :).
 

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Discussion Starter #7
There you go. That makes sense. That section lets people choose as well as get an idea of what I am capable of creating, therefore building some sort of trust/credibility, one small step at a time

Because adding designs is easy, but I am new to this and can't assume I know what people want.

Thanks
 

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I've talked with a few other printers about this idea of testing, and I've come up with a few things...

First, its a good idea to maybe put a poll on your site, or have some way to vote, as another person already mentioned...

Another really good way is to throw out some of the designs you want to test on Ebay before you start selling them on your site. Ebay is a pretty good judge of what sells, with far more traffic (on the most part) than your own site.

Or...you can have people on this forum vote on which designs we think would sell...there's a ton of options to evaluate which ones you'll finally decide make the cut...

Hope all goes well!
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I did'nt think about Ebay. Interesting. I guess sit critiques are a good idea too. Yeah, this is very helpful.

Thanks
 

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joelmon said:
Twinge>>What if I have 9 designs, each one really makes you laugh. As oppose to sites where they have 12-20, but they are just not that good? I guess I am focused on quality of content. Although I DO agree I have to have more than 3-5 shirts at once
Personally? I'd go with the fewer better - like Busted Tees - but you have to remember that even if those 9 shirts are the best things you've ever thought up, not everyone will agree, and someone else might find 3 in 20 and only 1 in the 9 that they like, for example.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
no question...I actually have tested a few ideas that were unanimously agreed upon. I've actually cut a good number of ideas due to some research. I guess expanding that research is the key

Thanks
 

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You should offer as many designs as possible. People like to shop around your store. People also like to feel like their dealing with a reputable company...Not some guy selling t-shirts out of a truck (although you may very well be doing that). Even though your business may be very small, it is important that the customer does not have that perception..
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Do you think it is wise to wait until orders come in before paying art fees (for approval, before they are printed) or do them ahead of time, as I have done for some of my designs already.

I know the largest t-shirt site offers about 10 days to 2 weeks for shipping, so it seems customers can wait. I just know that if I can expedite it, I want to.

That's why I was considering paying art fees ahead of time, even if there is a risk that nobody will want it.

Thanks
 

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Just my opinion, but I think the more shirts you can offer, the better. We have a few shirts that I'm not too proud of, but they have sold well and customer responses have been extremely positive.

In fact, without getting into specifics, we are in our third month and the amount of shirts we sold this month is now into the triple digits.

I guess it all depends on what is most important to you. A few excellent designs that will net you a few sales or a bunch of shirts that may not be ground breaking but will land many more sales.

Cheers,
Chris
 
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