Two years ago we were in this situation with the Mautic community - we wanted to be able to give people the ability to buy official swag to support the community, and to give away swag as part of our newly-virtual conferences.

After a lot of research we found that most of the companies who are set up to offer a drop-ship service require you to hold stock, which is wasteful when you have such small numbers and community members all over the world. We started to look for a print-on-demand solution with reasonable worldwide shipping costs and good eco credentials, to host our swag shop.

Enter Spreadshirt.

I had actually used Spreadshirt to create some one-off shirts to wear at events shortly after I started working for Acquia as Community Manager, and was really impressed with the quality and the service. They even fixed an issue with a shirt that came up too small (top tip: read the size charts!) and sent it directly to my hotel in time for the event.  

One of the solutions they offer is the Spreadshop - a swag shop selling the products that you specify with your designs, at the prices you define. You get a commission - which you set based on the prices of the items plus an amount that you define - on every sale, and once you exceed various thresholds the percentage commission goes up.

Setting up the shop was simple - you can have as many or few products as you like, and you can turn off certain colour combinations that might not work for your brand.

Check out our shop here.

The great thing for us was that we could connect up our US and EU Spreadshops with Open Source Collective directly using bank transfer (US) and PayPal payouts (EU). Each month we receive an email telling us how much commission we earn, which we pass on to the Open Collective team who ensure the funds reach our collective.

Some ways we have used our swag shop:

  • Send thank you gifts directly to contributors
  • Purchase gift cards in bulk and provide them to event attendees automatically with some Google Sheet / Zapier / Mautic automation magic
  • Provide raffle prizes for meetups and conferences

Some gotchas to be aware of: 

  • Some countries may be subject to import tax on goods.
  • You have to create two shops for a worldwide market - one for the US region and one for the EU region. Each has their own products, so there is some duplication of effort as in effect you have to create two separate shops.
  • It is only possible to have one login account - you can’t add users to give them access to manage the store.
  • There are regular offers which provide free shipping, percentage discounts etc - this is a great way to promote your shop and help folks save on swag, as shipping can be expensive to some locations.
  • Some countries could not accept deliveries during covid - mostly these restrictions have been lifted but you can check shipping rates at the bottom of every page.

To date we have raised just over $960 in commission payments, and the process is really smooth for our community members around the world to order.  The maintenance is minimal, and most of the year it simply ticks over!