The Best Marketing Practices for Custom Merchandising

Kateryna Tytarenko, SEO Specialist in Multi-Programming Solutions  •  9 min read

You can be a successful business owner, a startupper, or an influencer. No matter which activity you prefer, providing custom merch may help you to build a loyal fan base. POD merchandising goes beyond exploring a new profit stream but aims to increase the company’s popularity, successful word-of-mouth advertising, and global recognition.

This article is helpful for any business wanting to raise its brand awareness, engage loyal and potential customers and promote your company cost-effectively. POD online stores can learn about the additional possibility of advertising and widening the list of unique on-demand services. 

Table of Contents

What is Custom Merchandise?

Develop Your Startup Branding Strategy

Types of Branded Merchandise and sales statistics

The best ways to optimize sales- market reach

Bonus: Why should Custom Merchandising Matter?


You make merchandise whenever you sell products from your brick-and-mortar or online store. It can be generic, like plain t-shirts or mugs, suitable for any kind of purpose, or custom, tailored to a specific group of buyers. Each item can be redesigned with images added to the garment surface to suit various occasions. Moreover, sellers can easily create branded goods by imprinting companies' names and logos.

Print on demand merchandise, also known as a promotional product offer, can be limited in time or amount, which makes it more desirable and valuable for customers. 

You may consider selling customized stuff dedicated to some upcoming event, like the premiere of the forthcoming film or holiday eve, including the most unexpected one, like the World Kindness or the Chocolate Days. The main requirement is - don’t forget to print your store name on items!

Branded products can be distributed as freebies to new customers or loyal clients to increase retention. Corporate orders for office workers or identical goods for sports teams are also popular spheres of application for custom merch.

Among the most trendy items to imprint are clothes, cotton bags, caps, cups, hats, underwear, sports stuff, phone accessories, and pet goods.

The Best Print-on-Demand Product Ideas

You may either create and sell custom merchandise online under the current brand or sub-brand. In the first case, you’ll be able to reach a new audience and spread your company's popularity over other markets. Vending printed stuff under a sub-brand, you’ll scale beyond the current activities and discover new opportunities for further business growth.

Of course, you can personalize and sell whatever you want, but it’s worth following the basic e-commerce merchandising strategy to receive the maximum outcome.

Define your brand’s purpose and build identity

Selling custom merch isn’t just about adding a new product range or somehow diversifying your online listings. It should represent your company's authenticity. Think of how to express your individuality and pick the right product to showcase it. 

Know your customer

Before you start printing, explore your target audience's interests and needs. Social media is a perfect source of valuable information. You can create surveyls for your users to determine their preferences for custom products and designs. Still, you probably won’t satisfy the majority of followers with a single item. So it’s worth considering several variants of custom merchandising for business to appeal to the entire client base.

How to Use Facebook Marketing for Print Business

Add value to the merch

Your promotional item should bring additional value to customers to make them memorize it and associate with your brand every time they take it. People often use water bottles, caps, phone cases, sweatshirts, and power banks. So it's quite possible your custom merchandising solutions with printed logos will also become a subject of attention to your client’s inner circle.

phone cases marketing desing tips
Source: Etsy

Keep things simple

While creating your brand’s icon, try to make it as simple and outstanding as possible. Busy design, sloppy logo, and a wild mixture of incompatible colors are rather a straight “no” for your prints than a “must have’. E-commerce merchandising tools, like Shutter Stream, Canva, or even Freepik, can help you create high-quality photos of your product and try on various types of designs before release.

Where to Find Images for Your Print on Demand Brand?

And now, let’s learn which items you may customize and use in your promotional campaign.

Like in any print on demand business scheme, you may use the same trendy items to organize custom merch. Still, it’s preferable to pick some casual stuff that your clients can use outdoors. That will definitely attract public attention, while such goods as kitchen stuff, wall art, or bed covers will take their eternal place in consumers’ homes.

Also, try to focus on eco-friendly custom merchandise. Modern buyers highly appreciate environmentally safe and reusable products, which also positively impact your company’s reputation.

Business Cards

These small printed papers (or whatever material you choose) can contribute to customers’ impressions of the company. According to the poll results, around 72% of respondents stated they concluded their first opinions about the firm simply by looking at its business card. 

Based on visual custom merchandising best practices, card designing can help to enhance the brand’s image, engage a larger audience, build customers' trust, and serve as a direct marketing technique. Mainly, business cards contain the company's name, e-mail, telephone number, physical address (if we talk about the land-cased establishment), website, and social media profiles.

business cards custom merchandising

Office supplies

Notebooks, pens, and table calendars are perfect pallets for applying visual merchandising techniques. These items for everyday use kill two birds with one stone. They bring value to customers and, in most cases, are placed in plain sight, capturing the attention of potential clients.

T-shirts and hoodies

You’ve probably seen corporate workers dressed in the same cloth celebrating another successful business year or providing team-building events. Custom apparel is one of the most popular directions for on-demand production. 

According to Statista, the clothing segment held over 53% of the textile printing market share in 2022. So printing logos on t-shirts and hoodies is a good decision if you want thousands of people to see it. Sell your branded stuff at a moderate price or provide special days with freebies, and quite reasonably, your successful merchandising can build customer loyalty.


Phone cases, bags, flash drives, stickers, and funny socks are top-rated items among the younger generation. So if you aim to reach this target audience and convert it into regular buyers, determine what trendy pictures or taglines you may add to improve customer experience and visual merchandising.

The GentleMinions, Cool Kids, VogueChallenge, and other TikTok trends in Etsy and Shopify

All companies should compile detailed plans for their business development. Of course, if they don’t want to stay in one place and risk being beaten by their rivals. As for POD firms, the main goal of scaling lies in increasing sales and profitability. These tasks can be reached in several ways. Here are the basics.


Search engines yet remain the most efficient way to promote your brand and reach new customers. So don’t underestimate the power of SEO - optimization for the website or online store. The better your content will respond to users’ queries, the higher your shop will be shown in the search results. You may also consider off-page activities like link baiting or bookmarking.

Multi-vendor partnership

While you may have dozens of sales per day, this number can reach hundreds if you have a reliable partner. Regardless of your e-commerce business model, multi-vendor channels will benefit all its members. 

For example, if you are a POD provider, you don’t bother where to get custom merchandise made. Instead, your main task is to find assistance in attracting new buyers and generating sales. You may connect several affiliate online stores to generate orders and ensure your consistent manufacturing process. 

If you work within a dropshipping scheme and use Shopify app marketing strategies, collaboration with local printers in different geographical areas can significantly reduce shipping costs and production time.

Social Media Marketing

Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn - use the maximum opportunities of these platforms to make your brand well–known worldwide and reach short and long-term objectives. For instance, you may provide organic marketing strategies by encouraging clients to share their experiences with your brand or join unique challenges to receive a discount. Also, think of paid advertisements and a partnership with influencers, which can quickly grow your customer base or make a good custom merchandising promotion.

Print on demand software

Today’s automated program solutions enable launching and running a POD store with minimum hassle and maximum productivity. First and foremost, digital products like PodZa allows sellers to integrate their online stores with top e-commerce platforms (like Shopify, eBay, WooCommerce, Etsy, etc.), manage orders, inventory, and shipping process, organize selling chains with affiliate partners and provide design tools for creating a custom product. 

Additional marketing apps provide businesses with enhanced possibilities and advanced features allowing users to manage shipping, tracking, product supplies, create sales reports, and much more.

E-mail marketing

Sending new offerings lists, notifications about the consumers’ carts, or resuming orders are essential for excellent merchandising and customer service. E-mails are a perfect and free way to promote your product assortment, refresh the clients' interest in your brand, and keep them engaged and fair to the printing company. Of course, you have to collect this personal information previously. You can do it during a new customer registration stage on your website or e-commerce platform.

ecommerce merchandising best practices

If you still doubt whether custom merch is worth your money and efforts and perhaps why you should give them to your customers for free, we’ll sum up the essentials in a few points to show why it matters. 

Increase brand awareness

Custom merchandising best practices in retail proved that selling promotional products significantly impacts the brand’s popularity in the market. This strategy allows companies to increase loyal customers' engagement and attract new buyers. Businesses of any size and sphere use personalized items in their advertising campaign, which help them garner brand awareness and generate more profit.

Try affiliate marketing

All the buyers are searching for a perfect item that can help them stand out from the crowd. Made with an imprinted one-of-a-kind design, your goods may become an object of attention for people of different ages and lifestyles. 

Community affiliation is another reason your custom merchandise store can succeed during public events, like concerts, festivals, or sports games. Thus, people will enjoy purchasing t-shirts with a favorite music band or baseball team to emphasize they also become a part of a glorious mass celebration. And a tiny sign of your brand on the stuff will promote your company, sometimes even better than social media or paid ads. 

Save investments

Together with other commonly used brand-building marketing tools, custom merchandising systems are a way cheaper approach for your business development. If you add your logo and an eye-catching illustration to some casual stuff, like caps or bags, which people use daily, you’ll make a “walking billboard” advertising your company on every step. 

Along with a cost-effective marketing result, you may also save money buying various items in bulk to create custom merch.  

We’ve figured out how casual merchandising attracts customers and what types of promotions businesses can apply to grow their brand awareness and explore new markets. Custom merch is a perfect opportunity to make your company recognizable among the wider audience, refresh the clients' engagement and generate more orders in your store. If you own a printing service, you may produce items under your brand, sell them at a moderate price or even give freebies to support your customers. 

Wholesale custom merchandise  is also a great way to push the boundaries of your brand. For example, printing t-shirts for a corporate event has a good chance of becoming profitable. The main thing is establishing yourself; then, word of mouth and Internet marketing will do the job!

Marketing & SalesAugust 30, 2023
Have a project in mind?
We are ready to do it!
Do you like this article?Please rate
E-commerce Platform
How to Build a Profitable One-Product Shopify Dropshipping Store
As an online business owner or a dropshipper, you may have already heard about the growing tendency to build and run a thriving single-item store. It gives customers unique and targeted shopping impressions, ensuring everyone will find exactly what they are looking for in the niche market.
PoD Products
How to Start a Print on Demand Business in Europe in 2024
The international expansion of the e-commerce market has positively impacted the print on demand business. Now, users from the most remote corner of the globe can order personalized goods and deliver them within a day.
Navigating B2B dropshipping: A Comprehensive Guide 2024
Instead of merchandising to the end consumer via a contracted supplier, entrepreneurs can provide bulk sales to other companies without holding any stocks. Thus, traditional B2C dropshipping can be transformed into a profitable B2B model.