alex thomas print on demand success story

Alex Thomas’s Journey to Become a Million-dollar Seller

Alex Thomas, founder of the Athlete’s Gift Shop, is one of the successful international sellers at Merchize. With years of experience in Digital Marketing, Alex Thomas founded Athlete’s Gift Shop four years ago and developed it into a million-dollar brand store.

Last March, Alex also visited the Merchize office and factory. On this occasion, Alex also joined as a speaker at an event organized by Merchize in collaboration with Amazon Global Selling Vietnam and LianLian Global, in which he shared his insights on how to select and develop winning print-on-demand products.

alex thomas event

print on demand event
Alex Thomas presented at “New Generation Of Print on Demand" event hosted by Merchize, Amazon Global Selling, and LianLian Global

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step," and how did Alex’s journey begin? What challenges did Alex face along the way? Join us as we unveil Alex’s inspiring journey, offering insights and strategies for entrepreneurial success!

About Alex’s Print on demand Brand

Athlete’s Gift Shop

  • Total number of orders: 25,000 orders/year
  • Main products: Home decor items such as Photo Night Light, Wooden Sign, Blanket, Metal Sign, etc.
  • Main niche: Sports
  • Primary target customers: Sports enthusiasts, grandparents/parents/siblings/friends buying gifts for sports enthusiasts.

Why print on demand?

Alex started as a Digital Marketer with years of experience in building media pages, websites, and eCommerce stores. Leveraging his strengths, Alex decided to venture into the print on demand business. But why did he choose print on demand?

Compared to other business methods, print on demand stands out for its minimal initial investment requirements, providing entrepreneurs like Alex with a cost-effective avenue to enter the market. Furthermore, product sourcing is no longer an issue with print on demand as there is a great variety of products available at your disposal. Therefore, Alex only needs to focus on marketing activities, his forte, without worrying too much about production and shipping.

However, finding a long-term fulfillment partner was not easy. “I’ve tested a lot of different suppliers for print on demand, some of them are okay some of them are really bad and then Merchize just completely stands out because they have really good prices. Their quality is really good. Customer service is great and their shipping time which is really important for me is actually really good, especially for customized stuff when you first start your print on demand businesses,” said Alex.

In addition, with print on demand, there’s no need to establish an office or a large team of staff. Alex’s team consists of about 10 people, mostly freelancers or agencies. This small team structure helps Alex save and optimize operating costs.

Alex’s Strategies to build a million-dollar store

Focus and avoid spreading too thin

One of the biggest challenges when starting a print on demand store is finding products that sell well. Alex has tried listing many different products. However, Alex realized that too much time should not be spent on this process. Instead, roll out your products as quickly as possible. As soon as there are positive signs, focus on optimizing those products.

And to optimize the product selection process, you must understand who your customers are, what they want, and where they usually show up. Typically, when selling decorative items and gifts, sellers often focus on friends buying gifts for each other or parents buying gifts for their children but forget the extremely potential group, grandparents. This is a group with good economic potential and always generous with gifts for their grandchildren. They are willing to spend a large amount of money to buy gifts for their grandchildren on special occasions such as birthdays, graduations, or Christmas.

athlete's gift shop print on demand

Create demand and sell solutions

One of the important factors for successfully building a print on demand store is choosing the right platform. Alex chose Shopify as his main sales channel. Using Shopify allows Alex to build his own website, making it easier to optimize and expand. Compared to using other platforms such as Amazon or Etsy, optimizing the store on Shopify is easier and more convenient.

By operating his own website, Alex has the full flexibility to run his marketing attempt through different channels. He can increase visibility and attract visitors to his website through advertising methods like Google Ads or Facebook Ads.

According to Alex, “We create the demand. You know, most people buying our products never thought that they wanted our products they see the ad and they’re like oh like I need this.” As a print-on-demand seller, you can create a product that solves your customers’ pain points which they might not even be aware of themselves, and convince them that they really need it.

Supplier selection

When it comes to choosing a print on demand partner, Alex usually consulted YouTube as well as Facebook Groups about print on demand.

For Alex, shipping time is one of the important factors that he would look into. “I was happy about just how fast the shipping was. When most print on demand suppliers especially if they’re overseas, most of the time the delivery takes like 3 weeks for other suppliers but Merchize was really, really quick,” Alex shared.

Starting with fewer than 100 orders per month, Merchize has been accompanying Alex in developing and expanding his store. As of the current moment, Alex’s order volume fulfilled at Merchize has grown to over 2000 orders per month. Throughout the two years of partnership, Merchize has worked closely with Alex in supporting the development of new products on demand, suggesting top-selling items for different occasions throughout the year (such as ornaments for the holiday season or Photo Night Lights and Acrylic Plaques for Mother’s Day/Father’s Day). Additionally, Merchize has provided image support for Alex’s products with high-quality videos and photos created by a professional media team.

merchize factory tour with seller Alex
Alex has visited Merchize’s factory in Vietnam and explored the print-on-demand production process

Furthermore, Merchize’s support team is available 24/7 to address any production and shipping-related issues, ensuring timely delivery even during peak times. Merchize’s ability to handle peak season orders and customer service has impressed Alex over the past 2 years. Sellers should be cautious when choosing print on demand supplier and should have backup plans in case of adverse situations.

Merchize’s Factory Tour with Alex Thomas 

Social Proof

Utilizing social proof not only attracts customers but also fosters a sense of trust and credibility among potential buyers. According to Alex, “A website with real product photos along with purchase and review counts from customers will create more trust than websites with normal product photos."

social proof

Channel management

To help manage orders from platforms and push orders to print on demand partners, Alex used CedCommerce software. CedCommerce helps save time and effort by managing everything from a user-friendly interface. It also provides product information synchronization, order, and shipping management, along with detailed reports and statistics.

Using management software helps Alex save time and optimize manpower as well as avoid confusion or mistakes in the fulfillment process.

Alex’s Advice

Alex emphasizes the importance of understanding your target audience and their preferences before finalizing your product offerings, paving the way for entrepreneurial success. This may sound counterintuitive, but it is an effective way to target your products correctly and address the customer’s pain points.

is a senior writer at Merchize covering products, services, and consumer tech issues and trends. Previously, she was a content writer for trustworthy brands and International corporations. With her deep knowledge in multiple industries, Bich has become a professional writer and has chosen Merchize to explore eCommerce, MMO, and Print on Demand... In her free time, she loves reading, listening to music, and hanging out at cafes.