Start a Shopify T-shirt store without inventory [2024]


Are you a creative soul with a passion for fashion looking to start your Shopify T-shirt store but worried about the complexities of managing inventory?

Well, worry no more! This blog post is your key to unlocking the exciting world of eCommerce, specifically tailored for beginners eager to sell their custom T-shirts on Shopify. We’ll walk you through the 6-step process, from determining the target market to setting up an online T-shirt store using Shopify. 

Especially, with the support of print-on-demand partners, you can sell T-Shirts on Shopify without worrying about inventory & shipping. This helps you dedicate more time to other crucial aspects of your business, such as product design or marketing.

With easy-to-follow steps and the latest updates for 2024, this guide will empower you to turn your T-shirt ideas into a thriving online business.

Let’s find out!

1. Why sell T-shirts on Shopify?

Sell T-shirts on Shopify

While running an online T-shirt store can be highly competitive, it can also be a lucrative venture. According to Statista, the T-shirt market is set to reach $44.56 billion this year, with an expected yearly growth rate of 3.22%. 

Shopify is a trusted and popular eCommerce platform with over a million businesses using it to sell a wide range of products. Custom T-shirts are a top category for growth. Here are some exceptional advantages that make Shopify the top choice for selling T-shirts online:

Strong eCommerce focus: Specializing in eCommerce, Shopify caters to businesses of all sizes, with a key emphasis on strong online sales and scalability.

Integrating Print-on-demand (POD) apps: Shopify allows businesses to integrate with various POD partners seamlessly. You can sell customized T-shirts without handling inventory or production. Some popular POD apps compatible with Shopify include Printify, Printful, Gelato, JetPrint, Custom Cat, and Teelaunch.

Robust app marketplace: Shopify has a large app marketplace, with over 8,000 apps catering to diverse business needs.

Multiple sales channels: By using Shopify, you can connect with diverse sales channels, such as social media, online marketplaces, and physical retail locations. It increases your visibility and allows you to access a wider customer base.


2. What is better for Print-on-demand? Etsy or Shopify?

When it comes to selling custom T-shirts via POD, businesses often wonder whether to use Etsy or Shopify. Let’s find out!

Etsy is a marketplace specializing in handmade products. In comparison to Shopify, the platform is less flexible in designing stores and providing a fixed customer experience. It is often a good fit for small businesses with a limited range of products or startups with minimal initial costs.

On the other hand, Shopify is an e-commerce platform that enables you to create a full-fledged online store.  It doesn’t require listing free and a cheaper transaction fee than Etsy. Shopify works well for businesses of all sizes, from small startups to growing enterprises

There are some highlighted features that Shopify outreach of Esty that you can notice, including: 

  • A wide range of product catalogs
  • Enabling you to use your domain to build your e-commerce website.
  • Obtaining ownership of the shop and having access to consumer data 
  • Extremely scalable with robust e-commerce tools
  • Full control of branding and customer experience
  • Reduced transaction costs and no listing fees
  • 24/7 individualized and thorough client service

In conclusion, the choice between Shopify and Etsy for POD services may depend on your business goals, customized needs, and target audience. However, with Its robust features, flexibility, and scalability,   Shopify is the better choice for selling T-shirts online compared to Etsy.

3. How to sell T-shirts on Shopify without inventory

3.1. Determine your target audience and niche

Determine your target audience and T-shirt niche

Choosing the right target audience and niche is an essential step when starting a Shopify T-shirt dropshipping. To ensure your success, businesses should consider these essential tips and tools.

First, it is crucial to conduct market research to identify your target customers. Tools like Google Trends, Facebook Audience Insights, or Shopify forums such as Shopify Discussions, Store Feeback, or Shopify Education & Certification can provide valuable insights for businesses on how to segment target customers and approach them. 

Second, assess your strengths and market demand; your enthusiasm will shine through in your designs, but it should match market requirements. Look for a balance between your interests and market demand for better product supply.

Lastly, stay informed about emerging trends and best-selling niches. This helps you narrow your focus, build a loyal customer base, and minimize the competition in the general market. Here are some niches that you can consider when launching the online T-Shirt store such as:

Pets and animals: Customers in this segmentation always want to highlight their love for animals in clothes, especially dog and cat lovers 

Sports: Sports fans are passionate about their teams and love wearing merchandise that showcases their support. Some popular sports that you can consider such as football, basketball, and baseball.

Food and drinks: Foodies love wearing T-shirts that showcase their favorite foods and drinks. 

Jokes: Another prominent area in the T-shirt market is jokes and statement shirts. T-shirts with hilarious pictures, punchy one-liners, geeky jokes, or even memes are examples of humor-related items. 

Jobs: It’s crucial to recognize that millions of people are proud of their careers, even though other people may not appreciate their current position. 

Hobbies: Another well-liked T-Shirt niche is hobbies. People like using their clothes to display their hobbies and passions, and custom-printed goods offer a great way to do exactly that. 

Travel:  People love to show off the places they’ve been and the experiences they’ve had, and custom-printed merchandise provides an excellent opportunity to do just that.

Family: There’s a market for just about any family or connection, from shirts that proclaim “World’s #1 Mom” to custom-printed goods for solitary fathers, newly engaged ladies, siblings, newlyweds, and grandparents. 

3.2. Select a POD service

Next, choosing the appropriate POD services for your eCommerce business is crucial for the T-Shirt business’s success. 

So what is POD service? POD (Print-on-demand) is where your custom-designed products, like T-shirts and mugs, are printed and shipped directly to customers when they order. You don’t need to store inventory, pay upfront costs, or handle shipping to sell your T-shirt online.

Shopify is one of the most popular eCommerce platforms that can be integrated with several POD services to streamline business operations. So, how you can choose an appropriate POD partner? There are several key factors you should consider, such as pricing, shipping, and print quality techniques

There are some notable POD integrations with Shopify that you should consider:

Printful is a flexible solution for businesses

Select a POD service - Printful

Printful has a wide range of POD products and features to grow your T-shirt business. The Principal Design tool includes a T-shirt mockup generator and logo maker, which allow you to design your T-shirt easily. There is some notable information that you should consider when choosing Printful as your POD system:


  • Shipping: from 2–7 business days, cost-based on the vendor selected
  • Print Quality Techniques: In-house printing offers direct-to-garment, embroidery, cut-and-sew, and sublimation printing, depending on the product. Businesses can add customized tags and packaging for a better customer experience.


  • Pricing: slightly more expensive than other POD systems.

Printify is a cost-effective solution for businesses

Select a POD service - Printify

Printify has the largest catalog of custom products and allows users to choose from a global network of printing partners. Moreover, you have a wide variety of products and local producers for faster and more cost-effective shipping. There are some notable points about Printify that you should check before registering for a long-term plan such as: 


  • Pricing: Offers competitive pricing with discounts in comparison to others, starting at $29 for the premium plan.


  • Shipping: average 4–12 business days,cost-based on the vendor selected
  • Print Quality Techniques: Using third-party partners with a wide range of printing techniques, from direct-to-garment, sublimation, cut and sew, embroidery, and other printing options, depending on the provider and product.

Gooten is an all-sizes solution specializing in custom home decor

Select a POD service - Gooten

Gooten offers a wide range of customized products, including wall art, clothing, and home decor. They have a network of over 30 manufacturers in more than 70 locations, allowing for efficient production and on-time delivery. Gooten also provides seamless eCommerce integrations, making it easy for businesses to sell products online.


  • Pricing: Offers competitive pricing
  • Shipping: Faster shipping takes 3–4 business days. Fixed-rate shipping cost


  • Print Quality Techniques: Offers basic techniques such as direct-to-garment, direct-to-film, dye-sublimation printing, woven products, and embroidery prints.

3.3. Create your T-Shirt designs

When a business creates T-Shirt designs, it is essential to create appealing T-Shirt designs and effectively market them. Therefore, researching a good research design to follow and produce is important. Here are some sources that you can go to when searching for ideas for your T-shirt designs: 

Get ideas for T-shirt designs from artwork and fashion websites

  • Movies and magazines
  • Competitors’ designs
  • T-Shirt marketplaces like Zazzle and Redbubble
  • Design communities such as Dribbble, Behance, and Pinterest

Get ideas for T-shirt designs from design specialists

  • Hiring a designer through platforms like Fiverr or Upwork to create your unique T-shirt design.
  • The services of a design and branding consulting agency for better T-shirt design.

Get ideas for T-shirt designs from customers

  • Exploring hashtags on social media such as #tshirtfashion #tshirtstyle 
  • Using Google Trends
  • Using a social listening tool such as Hootsuite Insights or Talkwalker

3.4. Mock up your T-shirt designs

Mocking up your T-shirt designs is an important stage in the design process since it enables businesses to visualize how the artwork will appear on an actual garment.


There are several tools for creating realistic T-shirt design mockups, such as:

Canva Mockup Generator: An innovative tool that allows users to easily create stunning mockups for a variety of purposes. Whether you need to showcase a website design, a product packaging concept, or create a visually appealing social media post, this generator has got you covered.

Printful Mockup Generator: The tool in the POD application, can help you mockup your design easily and in the most convenient way with a robust catalog.

Printify Mockup Generator: A powerful tool that allows users to create custom mockups for their products. With this tool, users can easily visualize and showcase their designs on a variety of products, such as T-shirts, hoodies, mugs, and more.

3.5. Test your T-shirt designs

Next, testing your T-shirt designs is a critical step in the process of creating market-ready apparel. To determine if your designs will sell and match customer demand, you can use several ways.

The most easy-to-use way to test your T-shirt design is to seek feedback from trusted sources like friends and family. Constructive feedback from reliable friends can help you refine your designs based on initial reactions.

Additionally, consider utilizing social media platforms to share your designs with a broader audience, gauge interest, and gather valuable insights from potential customers. Observing the response to your designs regarding likes, shares, and comments can offer valuable clues about their market potential for your dream T-shirt business. 

Another approach is when your business integrates with the POD system, adding your designs to a Shopify store and monitoring which designs receive the most orders or positive reviews. By implementing these methods, you can validate your T-shirt designs and make data-driven decisions on which one to pursue further for your business.

3.6. Set up your Shopify store

When setting up your Shopify store for a T-shirt business, there are 6 essential steps for creating an appealing and functional online storefront, including the following: 

Step 1: Create a Shopify account

First, register a Shopify account and, if necessary, use a free trial. Shopify offers a 3-day trial without a credit card, then enjoy $1/month for 3 months. If you are still deciding whether to run your store in the long term, browse its pricing plans to choose the one that best suits your requirements 

Step 2: Choose a Shopify theme

Next, there are various Shopify themes specifically designed for T-shirt businesses. Consider layout, customization options, and mobile responsiveness to ensure your online storefront is visually appealing and user-friendly. 

Choose a Shopify theme

You should create your checklist requirements to choose an appropriate and unique theme to launch your online T-shirt store. For example, look for themes that offer features like product image zoom and quick view to enhance the shopping experience for your customers.

There are some notable themes for the T-shirt business that you can apply to your store:

Eurus is a perfect Shopify theme for T-shirt sellers. With a focus on speed, mobile optimization, and easy customization, it offers a seamless and visually appealing online shopping experience. Packed with features like Mega menu and product badges, Eurus ensures T-shirt businesses can quickly create a high-performing online store.

Eurus - Shopify theme example for T-shirts store

Beyond is a superb Shopify theme for ethical t-shirt businesses. It includes features like cart notes, in-store pickups, blog support, and a range of customizable engagement features. This theme is perfect for those looking to sell t-shirts in a high-quality online store.

Beyond - Shopify theme example for T-shirts store

Fashionopolism is a standout Shopify theme for t-shirt stores, enhancing sales and user experience with cart features, customization, visuals, and navigation tools. Perfect for online and physical stores.

Fashionopolism - Shopify theme example for T-shirts store

Mandolin is a Shopify theme designed for t-shirt stores, known for its user-friendly design, in-store pickup options, cart enhancements, content management, and promotional features. It’s a solid choice for t-shirt brands looking to create a visually appealing and functional online store.

Mandolin - Shopify theme example for T-shirts store

Step 3: Connect with a POD app

Launching your T-shirt business will be much closer after incorporating a POD solution like Printful or Printify. They provide superior shipping terms for your online T-shirt business and a large selection of tools for T-shirt designs. 

Connect Shopify with a POD (print-on-demand) app


Step 4: Customize the store’s experience

To create a distinctive and enhanced shopping experience, it is necessary to perform certain duties, such as: 

  • Create product listings with detailed descriptions, images, and pricing.
  • Organize products into collections for easy browsing.
  • Set up a user-friendly navigation menu and optimize your store for mobile devices.

Step 5: Set up your payment

When setting up an online store on Shopify, choosing the right payment gateway is critical. A payment gateway allows you to process customers’ payments securely online. To choose the right payment gateway for your Shopify store, consider factors such as country support and seamless integration with Shopify. Popular options include PayPal, Stripe, and Shopify Payments.

Set up your payment

Step 6: Launch and make it live 

Once your T-shirt store setup is done, remember to test your website for any technical issues before the launch. Also, promote your business through marketing and social media to attract customers and increase your reach.

3.7. Start promoting your T-shirt business

After setting up your business on Shopify, it is essential to promote your store with a well-planned marketing strategy. To effectively market your Shopify T-shirt business, consider these key strategies:

Utilize the Power of Social Media: Establish a presence on platforms like Instagram and Facebook that align with your target audience. Businesses should share eye-catching visuals of T-shirts, engage with followers, and use relevant hashtags to expand their reach.

Email Marketing: Start email marketing within your niche. Produce valuable and engaging emails to your customers to let them know about your brand and special promotions. Additionally, set up automated email campaigns on Shopify for potential customers who add items to their shopping cart but do not complete their purchase. This will help your business recover potentially lost sales and increase overall conversion rates.

SEO (Search Engine Optimization): Optimize your site for search engines by incorporating relevant keywords, meta descriptions, and alt tags. This boosts your store’s visibility in search results. Shopify offers customers a variety of resources to carry out SEO marketing, such as SEO, Image Optimizer & Speed, and Smart SEO

Sale Channel: Shopify integrates with multiple sale channels like Facebook, Instagram, Etsy,…Selecting the appropriate sales channels helps your company expand and flourish. Additionally, businesses should encourage customers to submit product reviews on their selling channels. Good reviews raise the legitimacy of your store and foster confidence.

Remember that successful marketing requires time and effort. Be patient and continually refine your strategies as you gain insights into your audience’s preferences and behaviors. Your Shopify T-shirt business can flourish and expand with dedication and a well-planned marketing approach. 

3. Proven tips for a successful T-shirt business on Shopify

Promoting your Shopify T-shirt store

There are three important things you should know if you plan to sell T-shirts on Shopify. 

Finding a reliable supply for your T-shirts is the first step. Despite the abundance of options, only some services are the same. Make sure you carry out your research and choose a provider that can provide you with high-quality T-shirts at an affordable cost. Additionally, you should include POD as a practical fulfillment option for your Shopify T-shirt store.

Secondly, you’ll need to come up with visually appealing T-shirt designs. This is where your marketing expertise and innovation will be put to use. You must create T-shirts that your target customer will truly desire to wear. Remember that your designs must be print-ready and high-resolution. 

Finally, you must configure and optimize your Shopify store. Make sure your Shopify store operates seamlessly, with ongoing optimization for speed and mobile. You should incorporate carefully selected design store, selling product, marketing apps to leverage the overall customer experience and boost your conversion rates.

Sum up, to succeed in your online T-shirt business, remember these three essentials: pick a reliable T-shirt supplier, create appealing designs, and keep refining your Shopify store. These key steps can lead to a profitable T-shirt business.

4. Successful Shopify T-shirt store examples

If you still wonder about the successful business of Shopify T-Shirt store models, here are some examples:


Shirtwascash - Successful Shopify T-shirt store examples

Shirtwascash is a unique online store that specializes in all-over print clothing. The store is known for its wide range of catchy and eye-catching designs. With a monthly traffic of 61,000 users, Shirtwascash has successfully captured the attention of a substantial online audience, making it a prime example of a successful POD store that caters to diverse design preferences.

Factory 43

Factory 43 - Successful Shopify T-shirt store examples

Factory 43 is an online store that stands out with its fun and quirky vibe. This store offers a variety of unique and distinctive designs that are sure to catch the eye of any customer. Factory 43 showcases how creativity and originality can set a store apart in a competitive market, making it an inspiration for those looking to create distinctive merchandise like Shopify shirts.


Shelfies - Successful Shopify T-shirt store examples

Shelfies is a Shopify store known for its vibrant and photorealistic Shopify shirts and all-over print designs. The store’s mission is to make you smile with its visually appealing apparel. Shelfies is an excellent example of a brand that prioritizes creating visually engaging and joyful Shopify T-shirt designs that resonate with customers who seek positivity and individuality in their clothing choices.


5. Conclusion

Shopify is the ideal starting point for launching your T-shirt retail business, whether it’s a small boutique or a large enterprise. It offers a wide range of integrations and useful apps, making it easy to set up a fully functional store with ready-to-print products for your customers.

This 2024 guide has covered crucial steps, from platform selection to T-shirt design, Shopify store setup, and effective marketing. With the right approach, your path to success in the online fashion retail world becomes readily attainable. So, your journey begins here, and success is well within your grasp!

6. FAQs

Experienced software manager with expertise in System Architecture, BIM, Business Analysis, Software Development, and Project Management, holding an Engineer's degree. With 8 years of dedicated experience in both software and ecommerce, I've successfully guided numerous ventures to launch. Excited to contribute innovative article ideas to your website.

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