How to choose your market for DTG printing?

As more and more people enter the direct to garment printing business, machine manufacturers launch state-of-the-art solutions, and the industry continues to develop, it is essential to clearly define the market and the niche where you, as a garment decorator, will work in. In this article, Dmitry Sarbaev, managing director of FLUXMALL DTG, takes a closer look at the most common models that exist.

Though growing rapidly, DTG remains quite young, and not all people have figured out how to use it as a tool in their business.

A clear understanding and definition of each business model will help you make your own DTG business successful and profitable.


In the era of e-commerce and online marketing fulfilment business model and several variations of it are showing an outstanding performance. This is a web-based model, when your e-commerce solution offers a functionality for the artists who create their own garment designs, to upload and promote them within your online platform.

As a fulfilment centre, you handle all the rest of the job from start to finish. You are both the supplier of the wide range of blank garments that the online customers choose from, the on-demand printer of the artists’ artwork that customers select, and the logistics hub that work with shipping agents to provide a wide coverage and different delivery options. All the products are typically shipped by you on behalf of the artists, so while doing most of the job, you remain anonymous, and most online customers even don’t know who you are.

There might be different approaches to branding and marketing, features and capabilities of the web solution, shipping options and lead times within this business model, but most margins are in the hands of the fulfilment centre, whereas the artist remains the main creativity force, while still having less profit margins.


In a wholesale printing you do the bulk printing production run, not necessarily packing or shipping anything. In this business deal with the buyer, you come up with the price of a printed garment. The buyer then sells it on a retail level doubling this price, as it’s normally seen in the industry. Physically the buyer is on his own, reselling it in his store, at an event, or simply online.

Wholesale printing would fit you best, if you like simple bulk printing without the hustle of switching between designs and types of garments. As always, it is a chance to educate your customers who to design an artwork that would greatly look on a DTG-printed garment.


Contract DTG printing is normally service-based. Whether it is a garment factory that contracts you, or a different decorator that needs expertise and your experience with DTG, you would draw up a contract with them to provide a DTG printing service. Most of these companies will supply you either with the finished garments, cut panels, or other substrates to print on, and will require you to run printing only.

Contract printing serves as a good opportunity to build and develop relationships with the other players across the industry. As a DTG printer, you can perfectly work with embroidery decorator, if, say, the end customer needs a combination of stitches and digital prints. Or else, your service might be needed at times, when the screen printer cannot handle a small printing job and wants to subcontract DTG service provider. Nevertheless, you can both close good deals and build your industry network when using this business model.

Custom retail

Custom retail is a personalised printing service. A person who needs a custom one-off would come to your printshop to make a T shirt as a special gift or for a special occasion: a birthday party, an anniversary or a team building event. Custom retail could be viewed as one of the hardest business models, as most of the time people usually have no solid ideas of what they would like to print. Thus, it requires time, efforts and skills for the printer to implement these ideas in the artwork, and print it then.

This type of printing business is not suitable for you, if you prefer simple and quick printing jobs. You also need to price this kind of jobs appropriately because it is not actually the printed garment that you are paid for, but the time that you spent with the customer to sketch his ideas and then digitise it into the DTG-relevant artwork. It’s also a great chance for you to provide extensive explanations to your customers which art specialties ‘taste’ better for direct to garment, so that next time this same person can come up with proper artwork ideas himself.

No matter if you are a newbie, or an experienced professional in printing, considering to go with a proper business model and a particular kind of target market or a niche can give you advantages against your competitors who might not be that focused. After all, to work in the niche is to biggest fish in your particular pond. You don’t need the entire sea, just choose a proper business model and dominate in your niche, in order to gradually grow your DTG business!

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