Parts Marketing Idea – Offer Branded Merchandise

If you’ve ever seen a hat or t-shirt with a company logo on it, you’ve seen branded merchandise. And, you see a lot of people wearing Nike branded clothes (for example), you would logically assume Nike is a big brand.

So, what if you could get people wearing your company’s brand at car shows, swap meets, off-road events, truck pulls, at the race track, etc.? That would obviously be a good thing for your company, and might even convince the public that your company is kind of a big deal. Here’s how you make it happen.

How To Buy Branded Merchandise

There are two ways to get your hands on some branded merchandise:

  1. Order in bulk
  2. Order from a print-on-demand company

Both options have pros and cons.

If you bulk order, you can usually get the best price per item (with bigger orders being cheaper). So, if you wanted to order 150 high quality t-shirts to giveaway at an upcoming event, you’d spend about $900. If you only wanted to giveaway a dozen or so lower quality t-shirts, you’d spend less than $150.

However, when you bulk order, you have to guess about sizing. Some of the t-shirt printing companies (we recommend 4imprint, and we have linked to their site above) can offer suggestions, but really it’s hit or miss. If you order too many small t-shirts and not enough XXL t-shirts, someone is going to be disappointed.

If you print-on-demand instead of bulk order, you have a lot of options:

  • You can easily offer multiple designs and colors – technically, there’s no limit
  • You can request the perfect size for each customer
  • You can order different styles (e.g., hoodies, sweatshirts, women’s t-shirts, youth t-shirts, etc.)
  • You can offer multiple types of products with the same logo (e.g., hats, shirts, mugs, etc.)
  • You can ship the product right to the customer’s door

The two big downsides to print-on-demand: First, you have nothing in inventory you can sell to a customer in front of you. Second, your cost per item is substantially higher. A bulk t-shirt, for example, will cost you $5-10 per (assuming you’re ordering 25-100 shirts at a time). A print on demand t-shirt will cost you $12-18 per (only, to be fair, that price includes shipping).

To summarize: Bulk ordering branded merchandise gives you the lowest cost per item, but it requires a significant cash investment, and you have to hope you order the right mix of sizes and styles. Print on demand gives you the ability to offer numerous styles and sizes, but you pay more per item.

Selling Branded Merchandise To Your Customers

When people think about branded merchandise, they often think about giving it away. While your company can certainly do this from time to time, we don’t generally recommend giving away something that people will pay good money for. Instead, we recommend selling branded merchandise.

And, if you’re going to sell it online, we recommend print-on-demand merchandise because it’s the easiest way to do it.

This is a screenshot of the Mishimoto gear website. If you’re thinking about selling branded merchandise online, be sure to check it out.

If you look at the Mishimoto gear website, for example, you’ll see that they’re offering clothing, stickers, tchotchkes (like toys, keychain tags, etc.), and even some automotive themed gear like oil funnels. All of their products are reasonably priced, and while $15 or $25 is more than you might pay for a regular old t-shirt from your local Wal-Mart, it’s a reasonable price for a t-shirt from a brand that you really like.

To be clear: We don’t work with Mishimoto, we don’t know how they came up with this list of merchandise, and we don’t know if anyone buys this stuff or not. However, we’re all but certain the merchandise they’re selling is print-on-demand. And, if people are buying this stuff, it’s probably making Mishimoto a few dollars per order every time it happens.

Five Great Reasons To Sell Branded Merchandise Online

#1 – Lend Credibility To Your Auto Parts Brand

Put yourself in the consumer’s shoes: Would a tiny, fly-by-night operation spend money on professional, high-quality merchandise? Not likely. If a brand is offering merchandise with their logo on it, that connotes credibility.

#2 – Make it Easy For Your Fans To Promote You

Every online store has devoted fans. These fans would probably wear a t-shirt with your name on it if you gave them one, and might even buy a t-shirt if you offered one to them at a discount or as part of a package offer. If one of your fans is wearing your t-shirt at a car show or swap meet or whatever, that’s free advertising.

#3 – Build Your Own Special Offers

Speaking of discounts, why not give everyone that orders more than $500 worth of parts a free t-shirt? Or give everyone that spends $99 or more a chance to buy a t-shirt for just $5? Or a hat? Or a branded travel mug? People like free or discounted stuff – we’ve talked about it before – and if you offer your own products, you’ll have the flexibility to give it away or discount it deeply.

We’ve talked a lot about t-shirts, but don’t overlook the market for stickers, hats, etc.

#4 – Your Store Can Make More Money.

Anyone can buy t-shirts printed on demand at a price of $15 or so, and that price includes delivery to the customer’s door. If your store sold this t-shirt for $20 or $22, that would be a gross profit margin of about 30% including free shipping.

#5 – Did We Mention It’s Easy?

The process for adding print-on-demand branded merchandise to any ecommerce site is simple. First, you find a good print-on-demand company. Then, you create imagery, SKUs, and descriptions for each item you offer, and then you setup a fulfillment process.

Summing Up

Branded merchandise is a tried-and-true marketing technique, one that often makes consumers think your brand is bigger and more important than it might actually be. While offering branded merchandise used to be expensive and somewhat inconvenient, print-on-demand services have made it possible for any company to sell branded merchandise online.

What’s more, print-on-demand services make it possible to offer a wide variety of branded items, all of which will help grow your company brand.

NOTE: If you’re a Spork Marketing client, be sure to ask us about adding branded merchandise to your site.

Share