Common Mistakes to Avoid When Ordering Custom Merchandise

Creating custom merchandise is an exciting venture for businesses, teams, or events, whether for marketing, team spirit, or fun. However, it's important to avoid mistakes that can ruin your branding and turn a good idea into a costly error.

This article discusses common mistakes to avoid when choosing clothes. It also explains different printing methods such as custom embroidery and direct to garment printing.

Not Defining Your Branding Goals Clearly

To create effective custom merchandise, define your brand message clearly. Having a clear goal helps avoid confusing messages and ensures that your audience understands the purpose of your communication.

Setting a Clear Purpose

Once you understand your brand identity, set a clear purpose for your merchandise. Is it for a giveaway, for sale, or for internal use? The purpose will greatly influence the design and quality of the merchandise you choose to create.

Overlooking the Importance of Quality

Choosing high-quality apparel is crucial; inferior materials can lead to dissatisfaction and reflect poorly on your brand. Request samples before bulk ordering to assess material quality. While higher quality items may cost more initially, they last longer and better promote your message over time.

Assessing Print Quality

Print quality is crucial. Techniques like screen printing, direct to film, and custom embroidery each have pros and cons. Screen printing is cost-effective for large orders but may not capture intricate details like direct to film. Understanding these differences avoids disappointment in the final product.

Underestimating the Design Process

Designing for a screen and designing for a t-shirt are different tasks. Factors like colors, fonts, and image quality affect how designs look when printed. Professional designers who specialize in custom merchandise can bring your vision to life while avoiding common design mistakes.

Misunderstanding Printing Methods

The Right Technique for Your Project

Each printing method has its pros and cons. Screen printing is great for bold designs and large orders but has color limitations.

Direct to film allows detailed, full-color designs but can be expensive. Custom embroidery adds texture and a premium look but isn't ideal for intricate, multi-colored designs. Choosing the right method is crucial for satisfactory results.

Cost Implications

The printing technique also affects the cost. Screen printing is cheaper for larger orders. Direct to film and custom embroidery have higher initial costs. Balance the cost with the desired quality and effect to avoid overspending or compromising on the final product.

Overlooking the Proofing Stage

Reviewing Samples and Proofs

Never skip the proofing stage. Always request a sample or proof before the full order is produced. This gives you the chance to catch any errors and make necessary adjustments. It's much cheaper to change a digital proof than to correct a full order of printed merchandise.

Disregarding Delivery Times and Deadlines

Planning Ahead

Underestimating the time it takes to produce and deliver custom merchandise is a common mistake. Production times can vary widely depending on the quantity, design complexity, and printing method. It's important to plan ahead, especially if you need the merchandise for a specific event or launch date.

Communication with Vendors

Maintain clear communication with your vendor about your timeline. Make sure they understand your deadlines and check if they can accommodate rush orders if needed. However, remember that rush orders often incur additional costs.

Not Ordering Extras

Anticipating Need for Extras

It's wise to order a few extra units beyond what you think you'll need. There's always a chance of misprints or damages during shipping, and having extras can save you from a last-minute scramble.

Budgeting for Extras

Include a buffer in your budget for these additional units. This also helps when there's unexpected demand for your merchandise, allowing you to fulfill orders without delay.


Ordering custom merchandise is a multifaceted process that requires careful consideration at every stage. To make custom branded items that connect with your audience, avoid mistakes and prioritize quality. Consider your audience's preferences, design, printing methods, proofing, and timelines.

Custom merchandise can promote your brand, boost team morale, and effectively share your brand's message. Planning well and collaborating with the right partners are key to achieving these goals.

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