What Is Print On Demand – POD Explored and Explained

Print-on-demand (POD) is a business model and technology process where items like books, clothing, accessories, or homeware are only printed once an order is received.

This method eliminates the need to purchase, store, and manage inventory, removing most costs before making a sale. 

In a POD business, designs are printed onto blank products as needed, so there’s room for customization and no minimum print run.

With print-on-demand services, everything from digital printing to packaging the order and shipping it out is handled by your print on demand supplier.

With the print-on-demand (POD) industry forecast to grow at a compound rate of 26.1% per year until 2030, you need to get in on this now.

Key Points

  • Print on demand uses on-demand printing technology and integrations between e-commerce platforms and print providers to receive, print, and ship orders.
  • Print on demand eliminates the need for preprinted inventory as items are only printed when a sale is received.
  • Print on demand allows for selling products online with very little upfront investment
  • Print on demand can be used for a variety of products (e.g., t-shirts, mugs, phone cases)

What is Print on demand (POD)?

In Print on Demand (POD), products are created only when customers place orders, making it an efficient order fulfillment method. This print on demand business model enables the printing of custom designs on various products without the need for sellers to hold inventory.

POD services encompass the entire process, from printing to packaging and shipping, simplifying operations for sellers on ecommerce platforms. This model is particularly attractive for ecommerce businesses looking to test new product lines without the risks associated with stocking inventory.

With a wide range of products available, from apparel and accessories to tech gadgets, the versatility of POD allows for unique customization and design printing options to cater to different customer preferences.

What is the Print On Demand Process?

The process for print on demand includes the following steps to get started when using your own ecommerce store or an online martketplace.

  1. Choose and online marketplace or ecommerce platform and build your store.
  2. Choose which print on demand companies to use
  3. Integrate your store with your chosen print partner
  4. Upload designs and apply them to your chosen products
  5. Publish the products to your store
  6. When an order is received the order information is passed to your POD supplier
  7. Your products are made by your POD supplier who then ships your order and provides status updates and tracking information back to your ecommerce store
  8. Your customer is informed that their order has shipped.

What Are The Benefits of Print On Demand

One of the key benefits of Print on Demand is the low upfront costs involved, as there’s no need to stockpile inventory.

This allows for quick setup and immediate selling of custom items, giving you the flexibility to focus on your creative designs rather than worrying about logistics. Additionally, Print on Demand provides creative freedom, enabling you to experiment easily with various designs to better understand customer preferences.

These benefits make Print on Demand a popular choice for individuals and businesses looking to enter the custom product market without the traditional hassles of inventory management.

What Are The Disadvantages of Print On Demand

The disadvantages of print on demand are higher costs, supplier imposed limitations and loss of direct control of your end to end process.

  • Loss Of Control: As you are not printing and shipping the items you are not directly in control of the process from both a time and quality perspective.
  • Supplier Imposed Limitations: You are limited to the products, variations, customization options, and branding options that your chosen POD supplier provides.
  • Higher Cost Per Item: Costs are higher than buying in bulk and printing the products yourself.
  • Return Management: Handling returns isn’t straightforward as items need to get sent back to you and not the POD supplier.

These factors contribute to higher costs per item and longer turnaround times, making it essential to weigh the benefits of printing on demand against these potential disadvantages.

What Are The Different Approaches To Selling POD Online?

When selling POD online, you have various approaches to ponder.

You can set up your own ecommerce store, use popular online marketplaces like Etsy, eBay or Amazon, or sell on print on demand sites like Redbubble.

Each approach offers unique advantages and opportunities for reaching customers in different ways.

Online Marketplace

Maximize your reach and sales potential by exploring the various approaches to selling print-on-demand products on online marketplaces like Etsy and Amazon. When delving into these platforms, consider the following:

  1. Leverage Built-in Traffic: Online marketplaces offer a ready customer base, boosting product visibility.
  2. Utilize Search Algorithms: Make use of the platform’s algorithms to reach a broader audience.
  3. Stand Out: Differentiate your products with unique designs, quality, and exceptional customer service.
  4. Optimize With Marketing Tools: Utilize the provided marketing tools and strategies to enhance your product listings for increased sales.

eCommerce Website

To effectively sell print-on-demand products online through an eCommerce website, consider utilizing different approaches tailored to enhance your customer reach and sales potential.

When setting up your online store, integration with print-on-demand platforms is key for automating order processing, printing, and shipping. This seamless process directly from the website improves efficiency and customer satisfaction.

Customizing your eCommerce website with branding, product listings, and secure payment gateways enhances the shopping experience. Platforms like Shopify, WooCommerce, and Etsy support print-on-demand integration, providing scalability, flexibility, and control over the customer journey.

By leveraging these eCommerce tools, you can optimize your online presence and boost sales in the competitive print-on-demand business.

Integration with PODAutomate order processing, printing, and shipping from your website for a seamless customer experience.
Customizing the StoreEnhance branding, product listings, and payment gateways to create a unique and engaging online shopping environment.
Platform IntegrationUtilize platforms like Shopify, WooCommerce, or Etsy to support print-on-demand integration, offering scalability and control.
Efficient Order FulfillmentStreamline the printing and shipping process through eCommerce integration to improve operational efficiency and customer satisfaction.
Enhancing Customer ExperienceTailor your online store to optimize the customer journey, from browsing to checkout, for increased sales potential and customer retention.

Print On Demand Site

You can sell your designs on sites like Redbubble or Amazon Merch and take a lot of the stress out of the process.

Using these platforms you upload your designs, choose products to sell and set the price or margin.

Thats it, the print-on-demand site takes care of the rest.

There is less margin to make, but there is far less hassle.

Who Is Print On Demand For?

Print on demand is for artists, creators, designers, and entrepreneurs seeking a way to sell custom products without the hassle of managing inventory or needing a big upfront investment.

This business model allows you to create and sell custom products through an online store without holding any stock. It’s an excellent opportunity to tap into niche markets by offering personalized items tailored to specific interests.

Whether you’re a musician looking to provide unique merchandise to your fans or a business wanting to expand its product range, Print on Demand can help.

With low-risk involvement, Print on Demand is ideal for anyone with creative ideas looking to start a custom product business hassle-free.

Tips For Starting A Print On Demand Business

When starting your Print on Demand business journey, trying out products from suppliers is crucial to guarantee quality standards are met. To begin strong, keep in mind these tips:

  1. Choose an approach (ecommerce site, online marketplace or print on demand site) that suits your skills and knowledge.
  2. Compare POD Suppliers: Consider their print on demand products, pricing, integrations, location, and reputation for quality
  3. Find Your Niche Market: Customize products and give your niche customers what they want.
  4. Order Samples: Verify product quality before launching.
  5. Use Social Media: Drive product awareness using free social media channels

Types Of Print On Demand Printing

You can explore various types of print-on-demand printing methods like:

  • Direct-to-Garment (DTG) printing
  • Direct-to-Film (DTF) printing
  • Sublimation printing

Each method offers unique benefits such as:

  • Detailed designs
  • Vibrant colors
  • Durability
  • Versatility for customization

Understanding these printing options can help you choose the best technique for creating personalized products in your print-on-demand business.

Direct To Garmet (DTG) Printing

Direct To Garment (DTG) Printing is a method of print-on-demand that utilizes specialized inkjet technology to directly print detailed and vibrant designs onto fabric.

Here are some key points about DTG printing:

  1. DTG printing allows for customizing apparel with high-resolution images.
  2. The process involves printing designs directly onto fabric.
  3. It’s versatile, enabling intricate details and vibrant colors.
  4. DTG printing offers a soft touch on the fabric, making it perfect for complex or colorful designs on t-shirts, hoodies, and more.

Direct To Film (DTF) Printing

DTF printing stands for Direct to Film printing. DTF Printing is a digital printing technology that involves printing designs directly onto a special film, which is then transferred onto a garment or other material using a heat press.

DTF printing allows for high-quality and detailed prints on various surfaces, including fabrics, plastics, and leather. It is a relatively new printing method that has gained popularity in the apparel and promotional products industry.

Sublimation Printing

Sublimation printing is a digital printing technique that uses heat to transfer dye onto materials such as fabric, plastic, or paper.

The process involves using special dyes that sublimate, or transition from a solid to a gas without passing through a liquid state.

When heat and pressure are applied, the dye turns into a gas and permeates the material’s fibers, creating a vibrant and permanent print. Sublimation printing is commonly used for creating custom apparel, promotional items, and personalized products.

Sublimation enables far larger print areas and is used to print all over products, hence the term all over print products.

Best Print On Demand Suppliers

When looking for the best Print-On-Demand companies like Printful, Gelato, and Printify, you’ll find a range of options to suit your needs. These suppliers offer high-quality products, customization features, and various printing techniques.

Consider factors such as product range, quality, and shipping times to choose the best fit for your business.


Printful is one of the largest print on demand dropshipping companies. Known for offering premium products such as apparel and accessories and high print quality.

Printful provides user-friendly mockup generators that simplify the creation of product visuals.

Their platform also offers branding options for customization, catering to diverse design needs with various printing techniques like direct-to-garment (DTG) and embroidery.

Printful sets itself apart with a strong emphasis on quality and customer satisfaction, ensuring reliable production and fast shipping times.

Entrepreneurs value Printful for its easy integration with ecommerce sites, making it a popular and convenient option for those entering the print-on-demand market.

Best For: Entrepreneurs looking for a reliable and user-friendly print-on-demand supplier with seamless integration options and global print capabilities.


  • High-quality products like apparel and accessories
  • Easy-to-use mockup generators for creating product visuals
  • All printing done in-house
  • Printful Growth Plan enables higher profit margins.
  • Various printing techniques available, including DTG and embroidery


  • Is a little more expensive than some suppliers for certain products.


Ideal for global businesses seeking efficient and sustainable printing solutions, Gelato is a top choice due to its extensive print network and eco-friendly practices.

With a presence in over 100 countries and a vast network of production partners, Gelato guarantees fast and local delivery for a wide range of products, including books, posters, apparel, and marketing materials.

Emphasizing sustainability, Gelato is dedicated to reducing waste and environmental impact in the printing industry.

Best For: Global businesses seeking efficient and sustainable printing solutions.


  • Extensive network and production partners in over 100 countries.
  • Fast and local delivery (lower shipping costs) for a wide range of products.
  • Strong emphasis on sustainability and reducing environmental impact.


  • Limited catalogue compared to Printful and Printify


If you’re looking for a print-on-demand supplier with a vast selection of customizable products, Printify is the top choice.

With over 700 customizable products available, Printify caters to a wide range of seller needs.

Their premium subscription option offers enhanced features and 20% reduction in product prices.

By providing access to a diverse range of products and printing options, Printify enables sellers to meet the diverse needs of their customers effectively.

Best For: Entrepreneurs looking to expand their product range.


  • Wide selection of over 700 customizable products
  • Premium subscription option for enhanced features and better pricing
  • White-label products for branding with seller logos


  • Outsourced printing and the need to choose a print partner from the Printify network.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you’re curious about Print on Demand, you might be wondering:

What Does Print on Demand Do?

Can You Make Money With Print on Demand?

Is Print on Demand Good for Beginners?

Is Print on Demand Free?

Let’s tackle these questions to help you understand the ins and outs of this business model.

What Does Print on Demand Do?

By offering on-demand printing services, Print on Demand (POD) efficiently fulfills orders only when customers make a purchase, streamlining inventory management for businesses. Here’s what Print on Demand does:

  1. POD eliminates the need for stockpiling inventory by printing products as they’re ordered.
  2. It enables the creation of personalized products like t-shirts, books, and accessories with custom designs.
  3. Print on Demand services handle printing, packaging, and shipping, making it a convenient option for businesses with an ecommerce model.
  4. POD allows for testing new product ideas without the risk of investing in large quantities upfront.

Can You Make Money With Print on Demand?

Yes, you can make money with Print on Demand by selling custom products without holding inventory.

Your earnings will vary based on factors like product pricing, design quality, marketing strategies, and target audience engagement. To maximize profit, consider the type of products you offer, complexity of designs, production costs, and sales volume.

Successful POD ventures focus on niche markets, quality products, satisfied customers, and effective marketing tactics. By utilizing various sales channels, optimizing designs, and staying updated on trends, you can enhance your profitability in the Print on Demand industry.

Is Print on Demand Good for Beginners?

Print on Demand (POD) can be an excellent choice for beginners. Here’s why:

  1. Low upfront costs and minimal risks.
  2. Test business ideas without investing in inventory.
  3. Create customizable products for niche markets with a clearly defined audience.
  4. Eliminate the need to handle printing, shipping, and fulfillment processes.

With POD platforms, you can focus on designing and marketing your new product line while leaving the production and logistics to the supplier. This allows you to leverage social media channels to reach your target audience effectively. POD is a beginner-friendly option that streamlines the process of bringing your products to market.

Is Print on Demand Free?

Print on Demand services like Printful, Gelato and Printify are cost-free for creators, who only incur production expenses when an order is placed. This model eliminates upfront costs, making it a cost-effective option for individuals looking to enter the market without significant financial risk.

By utilizing POD platforms, creators can test market demand for their products without investing in inventory or printing equipment. Additionally, the free nature of POD services enables creators to access a global audience and distribution network without incurring fees. This allows creators to reach a broader market and expand their business reach efficiently.


The print on demand model offers a streamlined and risk-free approach to product fulfillment for ecommerce businesses which many would not be able to offer without a pod supplier, such as:

  1. Efficient Product Testing: You can start selling new products without the guarantee of holding inventory.
  2. High Product Quality: Print-on-demand businesses guarantee quality products for customers.
  3. Simplified Operations: From printing to shipping, everything is taken care of, reducing your workload.
  4. Global Market Reach: Explore opportunities in various countries like the US, Canada, Australia, and the UK to target specific niches effectively.

To sum up, print on demand (POD) is a convenient and cost-effective way to create and sell custom products without the need for large upfront investments.

With POD, you can easily design and sell products online, reaching a wide audience without worrying about inventory or fulfillment.

While there are some drawbacks to take into account, the benefits of POD make it a popular choice for many entrepreneurs and creatives looking to start their own online business.