April 21st, 2021 × #ecommerce#fulfillment#automation

Selling and Shipping T-Shirts with TypeScript

Wes goes through his journey of designing, selling, and shipping his own t-shirts using various technologies to optimize the process.


In this episode of Syntax, Scott and Wes talk about selling and shipping t-shirts, and how to do it all in TypeScript!

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Show Notes

01:58 - T-Shirts 101

  • T-Shirts are cool
  • I sold 100 right away to get the kinks out
  • Then I did pre-order
  • The stack

09:08 - Selling: Front-end

  • Snipcart
  • It's a button
  • When Someone buys, they scrape the site for the HTML
    • If you only have a client-side rendered button, you use the JSON API instead
  • Integrated into Gatsby pretty easily
  • Wrote one custom hook to count inventory and disable when sold out
  • I thought Snipcart would be enough, but I soon realized it wasn't. I needed something to fulfill the shipment.

10:10 - Selling: Shipping Quotes

  • Snipcart has integration for USPS, etc.
  • You can also do custom shippers
  • It's a webhook
  • They also take care of customs declaration

13:30 - Selling: Backend

18:05 - Fulfilling

  • Printing labels
    • Designed with CSS + React
    • Print CSS is wild
    • Fan Fold labels were way better
    • I switched to Stallion Express
    • Cheaper
  • Printing packing slips
  • Batch scanning
  • Scanning → Mark as shipped
    • Started with webcam
    • Bought scanner for cheap
    • QR code was better because my tokens were long
    • Data matrix is often better
  • Sending notifications
    • Hit the endpoint via Snipcart

28:48 - The physical part

  • T-Shirts printed from local supplier
    • U-Haul to get them here
  • Bags printed in China (about 40 cents each)
  • I wrote a bunch of code to organize by size
    • This cut down on moving around (14 hours if you save 30 seconds per shirt)
  • Some got stickers
  • Multiples were the hardest
    • 24 different types of shirts
      • some wanted 4xl
      • some wanted tall

36:30 - Common questions

  • Why did you do this yourself?
    • Fun project
    • I learned a ton
    • This is how you don't burn out
  • Why not print-on-demand? (DTG)
    • Tonal
    • Embroidery
    • Quality
    • Money
      • Pay people in my community
  • Control
  • Why not $companyThatHandlesIt
    • I want to do stickers
    • I want to do decks
  • Why not Shopify
    • Large orders still need major fulfillment strategies
    • Code has to be written or money spent

44:16 - Other lessons learned

  • Queues would be good here
    • Sometimes you had to wait 3+ seconds for the confirmation of shipping
  • No one reads, it was pre-order
  • Don't buy shipping right away — people email about incorrect addresses
  • Over-order by a few each (out of 1550 orders, five got partial refunds and three got full refunds)
  • Pre-order is great because you can offer many sizes
  • Async JS to do things at most 50 at a time


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