Starting a business requires significant investment and risk.
Traditional brick and mortar shops are expensive and online stores require you to buy inventory upfront without knowing whether your products will sell.
Print On Demand services enable entrepreneurs to open online businesses with low investment and low risk, as they print and ship your products only when they are sold.
In this article I outline the pros and cons of print on demand that you should consider before starting your POD business.
What is Print On Demand?
Print on demand (POD) is a printing technology and business model that allows products such as books, clothing, and other printed products to be produced as they are ordered. This means that a t-shirt or other phone case is not printed until a customer orders it, and it is printed and shipped directly to the customer by the POD supplier.
POD has become increasingly popular in recent years due to the growth of online shopping and the ease with which one can set up a print-on-demand business.
How Does Print On Demand Work?
Print on demand is a business model where a company prints products only after an order is placed. This means that the company does not have to carry any inventory, and only pays for the cost of production when a sale is made. Print on demand is often used by small businesses and entrepreneurs to create and sell custom products without the risk of overstocking.
Many different types of products can be printed on demand, including t-shirts, hoodies, mugs, hats, and even jewelry. The company that prints the products will typically have a wide variety of products to choose from and will be able to print custom designs on any of them.
To start a POD business, you will need to create an ecommerce website or online store where you can sell your products. You will also need to choose a print-on-demand service to work with. There are many different POD services to choose from, so it is important to compare their prices and features before making a decision.
Once you have chosen a POD company, create and upload your designs to the POD platform. You can use any type of design software to create your designs, and you can upload them to the print on demand company’s website. The company will then print your designs on the products you have chosen, and ship them directly to your customers.
Who is Print on Demand For?
Print-on-demand is a perfect fit for individuals who are looking to launch their own online business or brand and create unique products to sell online without the need to invest in costly machinery or hold large amounts of inventory.
It is an ideal option for beginners who want to test out the market and experiment with their designs without significant upfront investment.
Benefits of Print-on-Demand
Print on demand (POD) technology has revolutionized the world of printing many different products. Entrepreneurs around the world are leveraging this technology to start their own businesses without worrying about stocking inventory or carrying the risks of traditional printing. Here are the top benefits of Print on Demand:
You Can Start Your Own Brand Without Risks
With POD, you don’t have to worry about investing in inventory or printing equipment costs upfront. You only incur the cost of printing the item once you have secured a sale. So you already have the money from the sale before you have to shell out for the printing and shipping of the item.
Availability and Quality Of Products
POD technology offers a myriad of product types and materials, which means you can choose the best quality products to fit your brand or business.
You dont need to source and order different products to test the quality of a phone case or water bottle for example. Print on demand companies handle that. You just get to choose which to stock in your online store.
Experiment with Design Variations
Experimenting with different designs in your ecommerce store is one of the most exciting benefits of print-on-demand. With the ease of creating products and uploading designs quickly, creators have the freedom to try out different ideas without the added cost or risk of investing in inventory to test a design.
If you have a design, you can change the font, colors, and or graphics easily in Canva and add it as another product listing. Because there is no or very little cost of doing this, you can test until you find a winner. If the designs didn’t work. Create new designs and continue to test.
Try Different Products
Once you have found something that sells you can build it out by offering the design on other products. Selling just clothes comes with obvious drawbacks like returns due to sizing. Whereas other products like mugs, wall art, or phone cases don’t.
Unsure which product your design will work on? Try it on many products and see what works. If you sell on Etsy, it only costs $1 to test 5 different variations of a design. Thats it.
Easier To Establish Your Brand
Establishing a brand can be a daunting task, but with print on demand, it’s made easy. Print on demand allows individuals to create their own unique products with custom designs without having to worry about inventory or shipping.
With a minimal investment, anyone can create their own brand from scratch, experiment with different designs, and test the waters before making a substantial investment.
This allows for a low-risk startup, making it perfect for entrepreneurs looking to make a name for themselves in the e-commerce world. The ease of setting up a print on demand store is invaluable and allows individuals to focus on what they’re good at – designing and promoting their products.
Focus On What You Enjoy
You can focus on the areas where you excel while leaving the rest to the POD providers. POD providers handle the printing, packaging, and shipping, which allows you to focus on marketing, branding, and customer service.
No Inventory, no packaging, or shipping trouble
With POD technology, you don’t have to worry about inventory or shipping issues. Your POD provider will take care of this for you, saving you both time and money.
Hassle Free Set Up
Setting up your print-on-demand business is easy and straightforward. All you need is a computer and an internet connection. You don’t need any machinery or special equipment.
Benefits Of Print On Demand: Conclusion
Print-on-demand technology is a cost-effective, low-risk way to start your own business without worrying about inventory, shipping, or supply chain management. With these benefits, entrepreneurs around the world are making the most of this technology to create successful businesses.
Disadvantages of Print-On-Demand
As outlined above, Print-on-Demand is a popular choice for entrepreneurs looking to start an online business. While the service has many benefits, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. Here are some of the cons of Print-on-Demand services that you should keep in mind:
Reduced Profit Margins
One of the biggest drawbacks of Print-on-Demand is lower profit margins due to the cost of print-on-demand services and the production process.
The cost of printing one item is much higher than printing in bulk.
On a one-to-one basis, the cost of using print on demand fulfillment services is more expensive than printing an item yourself.
But there is nothing against a business owner using POD to prove a design and once proven, choose to print in bulk to benefit from the lower per item costs.
Dependant An A Printing Partner
When using a Print-on-Demand service, the entrepreneur’s success depends heavily on their printing partner’s service, quality and stock availability.
Most of the time this is ok. However I found that if a certain color of a sweatshirt for example becomes hot and in high demand. The POD supplier often runs out of stock limiting your ability to make the most of the trend.
Christmas can be stressful in POD too. Orders are high and you are reliant on your print company to print and ship your item well in time for xmas.
To ensure you stand the best chance, make sure you choose your POD partner well.
Availability Of Data
Print-on-Demand sites don’t provide complete data about customers purchasing products. If you run your own website utilizing POD then you will have access to customer data, however if you use sites like Redbubble you won’t. This reduces your ability to retarget and market other products to them.
If your POD supplier messes up an order, your customer will be unhappy and you have to be the one who deals with the customer.
All POD suppliers should have quality assurance processes but errors happen. Sometimes far more often than you’d expect.
Over Xmas I had a mug that was one of my top-selling items, but the POD supplier really let me down. I had many issues and ended up having to switch to another Printify supplier, but they also had problems. I ended up having to pull the listing from sale and losing potential sales and having to refund unhappy customers.
Limited Refund and Return Options
In Print-on-Demand services, the refund and return options are limited and are dependent on the printing partner’s policies. Usually many will reprint an item if they misprinted it. However, only a few will reprint it if the item is not delivered.
If you offer exchanges, you have to manage that process yourself. You get the customer to ship the item back to you and then get your POD supplier to reprint the item in the newly requested size at your cost.
You can resell the returned item, but that is a hassle that you’d hope to avoid when using POD.
Confusing Tax Implications
Tax implications can be confusing for entrepreneurs seeking to navigate the ins and outs of Print-on-Demand services. It is challenging to keep track of the taxes on different products in different regions when using multiple POD partners.
You really have to be organized.
Longer Fulfillment Times
If you were doing your own printing you are likely only to be printing your orders. You would be able to get your orders shipped more quickly.
When using POD companies your orders are in a production queue with many other people’s orders. So they get printed a bit slower.
Leading up to key shopping dates like Black Friday and Christmas I found that fulfillment times get worse as more people are buying so each POD platform has a longer production queue to complete.
Summary Of Disadvantages
While Print-on-Demand has revolutionized the way small businesses can start and manage their online shops, it’s important to evaluate the potential disadvantages before jumping in.
How to start a print-on-demand Business
1. Choose your Products and Niche
Before starting your print-on-demand business, identify your target audience and select the products you want to sell. Choose a niche that aligns with your passions or interests and offers a unique value proposition.
2. Construct Your Store
Create an ecommerce store on an ecommerce platform or marketplace that suits your business needs. Customize your store by adding your logo, brand colors, and product descriptions.
3. Create Your Designs
Create unique designs that resonate with your target audience. Use design software or hire a professional graphic designer to create high-quality designs that stand out.
4. Sell Sell Sell
Once your store is set up and your designs are created, start promoting your products to attract potential customers. Use social media, email marketing, and paid advertising to reach your audience.
5. Hassle Free Fulfillment
Your POD platform partner fulfills your order: Choose a print-on-demand platform partner that can fulfill your customer orders in a timely manner. Ensure that your chosen partner can ship your products to your target audience worldwide.
Starting a print-on-demand business takes a lot of effort and planning. By following these steps, you can set up your business and start selling your products to customers worldwide. Remember to stay informed about industry trends and adjust your business strategy accordingly.
Conclusion: Pros and Cons of Print-On-Demand
So I’ve outlined the benefits and drawbacks of the pod business model. I think the pros outweigh the cons of print on demand and it has earnt me thousands as a side hustle.
The low upfront investment and endless possibilities this really is a great business model for anyone who wants to start a side hustle without shelling out a ton of money upfront.
Is Print-On-Demand Worth It in 2023?
Yes, Print On Demand is worth it in 2023. It is a popular business model that has been gaining traction in recent years. This method of selling products allows you to upload your designs to a POD platform, and then have the product printed and shipped only when there is an order. This means that you don’t have to order inventory upfront or deal with the hassle of packaging and shipping. But is it still worth it in 2023? That’s what we’ll explore in this FAQ.
What are print-on-demand services?
Print-On-Demand services are platforms or suppliers that allow creators to upload their designs and sell products without managing inventory or shipping themselves. These services handle the printing and shipping of products when an order is placed.
What are print-on-demand companies?
Print-On-Demand companies are businesses that specialize in the POD business model. They may offer a variety of products and fulfillment services to creators, such as printing, packaging, and shipping products on their behalf.
How do print-on-demand companies work?
Print-On-Demand companies work by allowing creators to upload their designs to a POD platform or supplier. When a product is ordered, the company handles the printing, packaging, and shipping of the product. Creators receive a percentage of the sale as a commission.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of print-on-demand companies?
The advantages of print-on-demand companies are that they offer a low-risk business model for creators who want to start selling products without investing a lot of money upfront. They also handle the printing, packaging, and shipping of products, which saves creators time and hassle. The disadvantages of print-on-demand companies are that creators have less control over the fulfillment process, and may experience lower profit margins due to higher per-unit costs.
How do I find suppliers to source products for my print-on-demand business?
You can find suppliers to source products for your print-on-demand business by searching online for POD services or platforms. You can also reach out to manufacturers directly to see if they offer POD services. Make sure to research and compare different suppliers before choosing one to ensure that they meet your business’s needs.
What is the POD business model, and how can I make it work for my art business?
The POD business model involves uploading your designs to a POD platform or supplier. When a product is ordered, the platform or supplier handles the printing, packaging, and shipping of the product. For art businesses, POD can be a great way to sell your designs without having to manage inventory or shipping yourself. This allows you to focus on creating new designs and building your brand.
What are print-on-demand fulfillment services?
Print-On-Demand fulfillment services are companies that specialize in handling the printing, packaging, and shipping of products for creators who use the POD business model. These services allow creators to focus on creating new designs and building their brand, while handling the fulfillment process on their behalf.
What is the difference between print-on-demand and dropshipping?
Dropshipping is a business model where an item is shipped directly from the manufacturer once it is sold by another company. POD therefore could be considered a type of dropshipping.