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Guide: Pre-Orders: The Secret To Risk-Free Custom Merch.

As a gym owner, you know that having branded merch is a great way to promote your business, build community and attract new members. But what if you don’t have the capital to invest in stock right now? Or if you order too much inventory and it doesn’t sell, being left with wasted money and stale merch taking up space in your gym.. If you are reading this, you likely have experienced this first-hand.

With a little bit of organisation and management, there’s a better way you can order & sell merch virtually risk-free. That answer is the Pre-Order.

No downside risk.

Pre-Orders mean that you sell the merchandise before you
order it. This way, you don’t have to worry about any risks like ordering the wrong colours or styles of products and then having unsellable inventory sitting on your shelves.

Immediate cash flow.

If you take the money for the merch up front, you won’t have to spend any of your own money on inventory. You also won’t have to wait for the products to sell to get your money back.

Healthy profit margin.

The great thing about Pre-Orders is that you know exactly how much money you will make. You set the price at the profit margin you would like and then offer it for sale to your clients. You can do this knowing your wholesale price on the items being bought. This way, you will never have any shrinkage or unsellable inventory.

The 4 Stages of a Pre-Order

A Pre-Order happens in a couple of stages, which we will go over here. For the sake of helping paint a clear picture, we will choose a fictional T-Shirt Pre-Order.


Product Design & Creative


Pre-Order Sales and Marketing.


Order Placement and Fulfilment.


Product Distribution.

Stage 1: Product Design & Creative

You can do this stage if you are working on a new product that needs some creative work. Otherwise, an excellent place to start would be just your logo. In our case, we are making a new T-shirt design, so we need someone to design it for us. We find a creative person who can help us, and then we start to work on the design. This process takes about one week. Here are some things you need to think so that it will be successful:

  • Come up with a unique/seasonal design. Opt for a unique spin on your logo or a design around seasonal events, upcoming competitions or themes. Need help with any graphic design-related work? Check out; https://fitprint.co/graphic-design
  • Look to make it higher quality than regular apparel. Again, playing to the fear of missing out, a higher quality apparel item carries more excitement and demand. Look to release specific gym merch like activewear or sweat-wicking performance wear. 

  • Stay on trend with new colours. i.e pastel / earth tones. Most members already have a black and white t-shirt. Change it up and stay on trend throughout the year with seasonal releases. 

  • Design around limited edition themes. Include the year/season/event on the shirt. Think of it as a band/tour shirt. People relish their “early in the band’s life” tour shirts, proving that they were ultra-fans before the band became famous. The same thing can become of your gym as you grow and create your legacy. 

Order Printed Samples

If your printer allows you to order a printed sample, make sure you do! Showing off the ‘real life’ printed product to followers and members can significantly help increase your sale. Wearing merch in promotional content is a crucial step in selling. Thousands of gyms are using merch samples to generate engagement and hype around their pre-order merch release… Sharing photos and videos of your merch is one of the most effective ways to increase your sales. Not only do print samples allow you to see & feel the quality of your merch, but printed samples are a helpful promotion tool! Wearing your merch in your videos/posts lets your audience see how the products look and trust your judgement on quality! 

The great thing about Fitprint is that we offer no minimum, which means ordering one printed sample of each product you wish to sell is no problem and is highly recommended!

Stage 2: Pre-Order Sales and Marketing

Once you have the shirt design, we need to determine how long it will take to print and how much it will cost. Find a print shop and get a quote. Make sure they consider all details like screen fees, colours, etc. Ask for their wholesale price list and note any price breaks they offer. Also, make a note of their expected turnaround time. It’s usually wise to add two weeks to that time. Or, if you use Fitprint, you will get a guaranteed print date when checking out which is guaranteed 7 business days. 

Also, with Fitprint, you can instantly see the price of a printed item once you choose a product and add your design. Fitprint’s price includes the garment, print & set up costs all-inclusive. Use this price as your wholesale price and sell for any price above this to make a profit. We suggest starting with a 20% profit margin. Note, the price you see is for 1 item. However, suppose 

you pre-sell more than 5+ items. The price will get cheaper thanks to Fitprint bulk discounts, allowing for a more significant profit margin. 

With the pricing now sorted, you can confidently set up the products you want to make available for pre-order. Depending on your management system, you might have to make some personal tweaks. We assume that your online system can create, market, and sell a product online. If it cannot do this easily, read the section about selling this offline, or choose for us to create the entire pre-order store for you. Apply here.

  • Square: If you have Square terminal in your gym, you can easily create an online order form. This is a great way to take payment immediately without chasing up any unpaid funds. Learn more here:


  • Utilise your gym management software to capture the payment & order details.

Next, create a new product and give it the following attributes:

  • Name it “Whatever-Product-Name Pre-Order”. So for our case, we would name it “2022 Torian Pro Competitor Tee/Tank Pre-Order”. This makes it clear to your buyers that it’s a Pre-Order. 

  • Upload GOOD artwork and mock-ups of the item. You can quickly generate a mock-up by using the Fitprint product designer. Simply select a product, upload your artwork, position it on the product and then click the ‘View’ button to see your mock-up. You can then right-click and save the mock-up image to use. 

  • Put critical Pre-Order information in the product description. You can copy and paste detailed descriptions from the product page on Fitprint. 

  • Enter the Price and Save the Product.

When you set up your Pre-Order, ensure that you enter a precise and concise cutoff date. After this date, you will no longer take orders for this Pre-Order, and the product will be offline from further sales. 

Here is an example of how Jacob from WattFit uses Forms.app to take pre-orders: https://bit.ly/3SwHxtv

Online Marketing and Sales

Now it’s time to announce your pre-sale to your members. Not all your clients will pay attention to only one social media outlet or see the email you send out, so we need to hit many angles to maximise our reach. 

Check out our playbook for a step-by-step social media posting plan; Click here

Offline Marketing and Sales

Regardless of whether your system can make online sales,
we’ve found that in-gym marketing and sales dramatically help increase sales. In-gym marketing should include things like your printed samples on a display rack, fliers placed on entryways
or bathrooms, messages on displays around the gym, and announcements in central locations of your gym (the whiteboard or water fountain?) We’ve realised it’s one of two types of people who will buy in person, and neither should be discounted. 

  1. The Procrastinator. This person wants to buy the pre-order, but something always pops up in the way of action. Take the excuses away by marketing to them and closing the pre-order sale in person.
  2. The Person Who Needs a Nudge. Like the procrastinator, you have the person who wants to participate in the pre-order but isn’t quite compelled enough to click a link and fill out a form online.

Selling in-gym is a critical piece of a successful Pre-Order. A certain percentage of clients in every gym will wait on the Pre-Order and then come up to you after it’s closed and ordered, asking to get in on it. Happens every time. Try to fish those lazy clients out of the weeds early. We have found that in-gym sales are particularly effective in one of two easy ways: 

  1. Sign Your Name on the Whiteboard. Have an announcement on the whiteboard for your pre-order and have each coach mention it with announcements before class. Ask members to sign their names on the board to be included in the pre-order.
  2. Sign Your Name on a Pre-Order Sheet. Put a pre-order sheet on your front desk or around your gym. Ask your members to put their names on the list and size or other options for the product being sold.

Stage 3: Order Placement and Fulfilment

Once the Pre-Order is closed, compile your orders via an excel spreadsheet and place them with your printer. Before placing the order, make sure you charge everyone who happened to order via an offline source so you have their funds available. If you took any orders from a whiteboard, copy those names and order details onto an excel spreadsheet. Take all paper order sheets to your billing system, and hand enter each as another order for the product. Remember that individual folding & bagging of your pre-ordered stock is a must! This removes so much time & effort in handling the inventory and distributing it to your customers. 

Stage 4: Product Distribution

Once your merch arrives at your gym, let all your customers know to come & grab their orders. Hopefully, you paid extra to have each order individually bagged & tagged for easy distribution.

Final Word:

Pre-orders are a great way to get your branded merchandise out there, build community, and drive sales without the usual loss of unsold stock gathering dust on the shelves. 

Follow the four stages outlined above, and you’ll have no trouble selling your merch for higher profit margins without taking any additional risk. 

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