Before you get to creating your own phone cases, there’s a few things you’ll need to know, namely the types of phone cases out there, how to choose which phones you want to support, and how to come up with designs.
Types of Phone Cases
Some phone cases are more practical, while others are more visually appealing. Some offer protection, while others are more like a second “skin” than a case.
There are a multitude of options, but here are some of the most common types to get your started.
Slim and gel cases
Slim cases are on the thinner side and let you add an eye-catching design and some additional grip to a phone, often through a flexible, rubbery silicone gel material.
These are some of the cheapest phone cases you can produce and customize with designs, especially if you want to print them on demand (more on that later).
Unlike slim phone cases, these cases usually only cover the sides/border of your phone, and are often made of a harder, shock-resistant material to protect your phone from dings and scratches.
Bumper cases can be minimalistic, only cover the edges of a phone, or they can come with an additional piece for protecting the back from scratches too.
Folio or wallet cases
Folio cases have a cover that folds over the front of your phone to protect the screen from dust and scratches, and give the phone the appearance of a small notebook.
Some even have wallet-like features, such as the ability to store cash or credit cards, while others can be turned into a stand to prop up your phone.
You’ll typically find these in a leathery material and they will likely cost more than the slim cases but also appear to more practical consumers.
Many people look at having a phone case less as an aesthetic choice and more as a way to protect the hundreds of dollars they invested in their phone should they ever drop it.
Tough cases are bulkier and add more weight to a phone, but afford customers greater protection.
It’s important to recognize this when you write your product descriptions for tough phone cases, as anything from drop tests to details about water resistance can help give customers peace of mind.
Battery life seems to be a problem regardless of what phone you have these days.
While they’re more expensive than most phone cases, battery cases are also very practical and offer a lot of utility for those moments when we wish we had just a bit more juice.
Since these cases not only protect your phone but provide some extra charge, battery cases are a good companion for models of phones where battery life is a constant complaint.
Choosing Which Devices to Focus On
It’s not just a matter of deciding what kind of phone cases you want, but what kinds of phones you want to support.
However, this can also offer an opportunity to dig into specific niches based on phone models. If you can foresee a need for cases for upcoming phones or spot any underserved smartphone types, there may also be an opportunity to consider.
While the latest iPhone models are probably a safe bet, you can take a look at this research by Device Atlas to see which phones are popular in the regions of the world that you want to sell in.
Design can be one of your biggest differentiators, especially if you’re selling the standard slim cases.
Design communities like Dribbble are great places to shop around for designers based on the aesthetic you’re looking for. Or, if you’re looking for cost-effective designs, you can always find them on Fiverr. Try to look specifically for designers that do custom phone cases.
You can also create your own design mockups in Photoshop or Photopea, and many phone case print-on-demand services like Caseapp and Printful also have phone case mock-up generators you can use.
Be wary that not all phone case suppliers will print on the sides of the case. Many will only print on the back alone, so make sure you pay attention to that during the design phase and when looking for a supplier.
Try to source several different designs so you’re not just betting on one idea, and get feedback as early as you can:
Post your designs on image-oriented social media sites like Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest, and use engagement (likes, shares, comments) as an indicator of interest. You can even put some money into promoting your designs to a wider, more relevant audience and see which ones do best.
Ask friends and family for their input.
Reddit is great for feedback if you’re selling to a specific niche. Post your designs in a relevant subreddit (r/pugs if you’re selling cases for pug owners) and the anonymity of Reddit will help you solicit good input. You can even follow up with another post when your cases are finally available for purchase.
Speaking to a niche, a group of people who feel passionately about a specific interest, through your designs will give you an edge in terms of garnering interest. After all, accessories like phone cases for many people are simply a way to show off to the world who they are.
How to Get Your Phone Cases Made
Once you’ve got some designs you feel good about, it’s time to bring them to life. Unless you’re willing to invest thousands in your own printing equipment, you have three main options when it comes to getting your phone cases made.
Use a print-on-demand service
Printful and teelaunch are just some of many services that let you print phone cases on demand. While they will eat into your margins a bit, they also take care of shipping and fulfillment so you don’t need to keep any phone cases on hand or even order them in bulk.
If you’re selling these phone cases on your own Shopify store, these print-on-demand services can integrate with your online storefront, taking care of fulfilling orders and customer support so all you need to worry about is making sales.
Finding a manufacturer to work with is the route you’ll likely want to go in order to maximize your profits.
Alibaba offers a directory of manufacturers in China who make a variety of phone case types from slim to folio to battery
While you will have to buy in bulk with a minimum order quantity that’s anywhere from 10 to over 200, you’ll have the potential to offer better prices and make more off of each sale when each case can potentially cost you as little as $1.
You can also choose to partner with a local manufacturer to appeal to consumers who are interested in supporting businesses in their own country. Either way, be sure to order a sample first before you go in on a bulk order.
It’s worth noting that you don’t necessarily need inventory on hand in order to make sales. Sales can be used to decide which phone cases you actually order so you’re not stuck with hundreds of cases that just aren’t selling.
Since inventory won’t take up much room, if you’re confident about your phone cases, you can invest in an offline presence to sell by setting up a kart or kiosk in a high traffic area like a mall.
Dropshipping existing phone cases
Instead of making your own phone cases, you can use a dropshipping model so all you really need to worry about is building a website and making sales.
The only major downsides are that you’ll have far less control over the product and lower margins, but in exchange, the product, shipping and fulfillment are taken care of for you.
Now that you’ve figured out your market, your product and your supply chain, it’s time to figure out how and where to sell your phone cases.
While marketplaces like Etsy and Amazon are good places to list your phone cases, you can also open an online store to own your brand, expand your marketing efforts, and build a long-term business. And, if you want, you can even sell them offline in a kiosk using a POS system.