Print on Demand: the Best Way to Carve a Niche in the Online Retail Market
If you are a creative person, you not only want to show your talents to the public but also to get real profits. Famous artists manage to sell their works quickly and expensively. Others are left with the recognition of a narrow circle of friends or use print-on-demand services. What are those like? Let’s find out how an e-commerce site can help monetize your creative and entrepreneurial abilities.
What is Print on Demand (POD)?
Print-on-demand fulfillment services mean the use of e-commerce technology. Your task is to develop original designs and cooperate with a supplier who has the technical base for working with unlabelled goods (White Labels) that are for sale under the customer’s brand.
The print-on-demand business model frees you from investing in goods, maintaining staff, organizing delivery and storage. To use fulfillment services, you just need to register on the POD platform and search for print on demand service providers. As a result, you can sell, for example, exclusive t-shirts in just a few clicks. All the rest – the purchase of the White Label, the logo design, and delivery of the product to the buyer’s address – will be carried out by employees of the entity providing the working partnership POD.
Difference between Dropshipping and POD
Dropshipping means direct delivery of goods bypassing the warehouse of an intermediary. POD implies you are directly involved in the development of each product item, meaning that such an exclusive product will always cost more.
Print on demand publishing is the best option for those who want to promote their product. You don’t have to invest in publishing. Just make an attractive post about your product on the Internet with a link to the POD. Recognition of users and commercial success will come over time.
How Does Print on Demand Work?
The process of running a print on demand business depends on the features of the platform you choose. Here are the general principles.
Online Store Setup
You can plan it in two ways:
- Integrate your online store into the POD service you have chosen. It can be AOP, Printful or another service integrated into a print on demand site, such as Shopify, BigCommerce and Etsy. This will be enough to begin sales.
- If you do not have an online store, use the ecommerce services provided by the biggest operators in this field Zazzle and Redbubble. Here you can create a profile and sell your products.
Uploading your projects
After choosing and setting up an online store or profile on another platform, you need to fill the catalog with samples of your exclusive design. It can be anything: frame paintings, mugs, watches, t-shirts, etc. The more samples, the more attractive your online store appears to the potential buyer.
Processing of the order
As soon as your POD online store visitor makes an order, the contractor gets it and starts working on it. You just have to control the order’s way from the manufacturer to the customer.
But this doesn’t mean this type of business is simple, cheap and will provide you with passive income for many years to come. Here are some useful tips to avoid the most common mistakes:
- Monitor the quality. Before offering products to customers, order a few samples for yourself and check them carefully. Are they really good? If not, then you got a reason to contact the support service of your counterparty.
- Delivery covers time for printing plus the time of the shipping. So whatever the contractor promises you, you should add 3-4 days to this deadline. Add shipping fees to the retail price at least partially. Free delivery positively affects the image of the seller, as statistics tell. It’s not always possible, but unexpected shipping costs can harm your relationship with the client. Note that free delivery justifies extensive waiting times.
- Place not just sample images, but also professional photos of real products in your online store. This may be done using model generators such as PlaceIt or, if you have the skills to work with editors, make templates on your own.
- Focus your marketing efforts on the target audience only. Create your account on all available social networks and promote your business there.
Print-on-Demand Product Ideas
The competition in the POD market is tough. No surprise, since the profit margin in this business is high while the investment is minimal. The marketplace is structured in the following way:
- T-shirts. Tough competition is common to this market segment since a T-shirt is an ideal product for branding. Besides, printing on t-shirts is neither a difficult nor expensive process.
- Mugs fall in the POD category with a wide variety of offers. Have you noticed that there are always branded mugs or glasses in the gift sets of reputable companies?
- Hoodies. This branded product brings good revenue to retailers and it is more than relevant for POD operators.
- Watches. It is an expensive but at the same time quite profitable product for POD. You will have to decide not only on the print on demand manufacturer but also on the watchmakers. If you find a target audience, then success is assured.
- Backpacks. This product is still in demand, so there are more than enough consumers of exclusive goods. These are teenagers and young parents, especially mothers. If you promote your product for this audience, then high sales figures are guaranteed.
Other popular products are smartphone covers, beach and bath towels, leggings, shorts, ties, blankets, shower curtains, tablecloths, pillows, fridge magnets, wall canvas and much more. As you can see, there are more than enough opportunities to realize your creative and commercial potential.
Pros and Cons of Print on Demand
Let’s start with the positive features of POD:
- Easy POD application setup: just register and add products to your profile.
- No risk. Overstocking is impossible, as each order is performed individually. You don’t buy anything to sell later.
- You have nothing to do with the process of packaging and sending goods to customers. The POD platform you have chosen takes care of everything.
- You get more free time.
Downsides of POD:
- Low profit margin. Even an inexperienced businessman understands why is print on demand so expensive. There are simple concepts of wholesale and retail. Retailers make a margin to wholesale prices, which makes their real profits revenue. In our case, there is no wholesale.
- Absence of relations with the customer. Maybe you would want to somehow motivate your regular customers, but in the case of POD, you will not have such an opportunity.
- POD platforms don`t provide information on sales statistics, seller ratings, or other marketing metrics.
- You can’t go beyond the goods produced by the POD-provider. So if you decide to offer, for example, bedsheets alongside t-shirts, then you will probably have to look for a new service provider.
Is Print on Demand Profitable?
POD is an optimal and safe solution for business given all the possible profit and loss from retail. You are largely risk-free since investment is minimal. You need to promote the business on social networks, among acquaintances, friends, and like-minded people. The profitability of this business is very high but on the condition that you are engaged in its promotion and regularly come up with new offers for customers.
Top Print on Demand Sites
Here are applications that will provide you with the most comfortable conditions for sales and related case study examples.
All Over Print is an application designed for online stores working with companies that provide Worldwide Dropshipping and Easy Print on Demand Fulfillment. You are offered full integration with Shopify, Etsy, Woocommerce, and Amazon.
This popular Shopify app offers users convenient layout options for textiles:
- printing on materials;
- solid print;
- 3D embroidery.
Marketplace software also offers POD services such as Lulu, Gooten, Printify. According to user reviews, each of them has its pros and cons and is in greater or lesser demand.
If you are an artist, designer, or just an enterprising person, POD electronic service will help fulfill your creative and commercial ambitions. Your success depends on your commitment and choosing the right partner for print on demand business.