Print-on-demand recently has become the potential MMO business model with a CAGR of 33.86% during 2020-2026. Print-on-demand is not a new concept, but not many people have a comprehensive overview of this business model. What is print-on-demand? What are the pros and cons of this model? How to start a print on demand business? Let’s find out right in this blog!
What is print-on-demand?
Print on demand (POD) is a type of drop-shipping model in which the merchant works with the supplier to customize white-label products like t-shirts, mugs, or tumblers and sell them under your brand name as soon as the order has been placed. That means there is no need to pay for the product until after the product has been sold and you don’t have to buy and hold inventory in bulk.
With POD, the merchant doesn’t have to deal with shipping and inventory management. Every stage, from printing to packaging and shipping, will be handled by a third party with fulfillment services. POD fulfillment services enable you to connect your eCommerce site to their platform, and whenever someone buys from your site, that order is sent to your service provider for printing and fulfillment.
How to start a print-on-demand business in 5 steps?
1. Choose your niches and products:
Choosing a profitable niche for your store is the most important challenge you have to do before turning into your eCommerce journey. Where should you start looking for that profitable niche idea?
Google Trends is a very useful tool that can quickly help you assess what people are saying regarding your niche and so can Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Reddit. Also, a good niche can be found on our e-commerce blogs since we have already done the work of collecting from many sites for you!
Once a niche has been selected, it’s time to find POD product ideas. There are a lot of choices, but make sure you stick to your market demands and your products that make sense for your selected niche.
Take time to make a tour on common marketplaces such as Amazon, eBay or Etsy to find out whether your chosen idea is already being sold. If yes, don’t fret it! It could be a sign that it’s a profitable product to sell.
2. Set up your store:
Once you get a product idea and a niche, the second step of running a POD business is to set up your stores. Simply, it is all about integrating your existing store to the POD fulfillment platform such as Gearment App.
Print on demand services such as Gearment have already integrated with giant eCommerce platforms/marketplaces like Amazon, Shopify, Etsy, etc. If you already have an existing online store on these platforms, you can effortlessly integrate it with the specific POD fulfillment platform and start selling from there.
3. Design your merchandize
Whether you’re a Gearment Partner or a merchant on an e-commerce platform, designing your merchandise is always necessary. With the niches and products that you have chosen, you can upload your artwork on the variety of Gearment products and the mockup of the complete products is shown. This feature helps you do usability testing before fulfilling.
Once you are satisfied with the designs, your new item is ready to go to your customer’s hands!
4. Sell your products:
At this stage, your shop is open to the world and you have products that are ready for printing and fulfilling. All processes are taken by Gearment, the POD fulfillment platform you’ve chosen. So the only thing you need to do is to start marketing your products and driving traffic to your site. Being prepared for your e-commerce stores with some marketing tips and tricks is necessarily important!
5. Your POD platform partner fulfills your order:
At this point, the POD fulfillment platform will probably handle the part of their specialties such as Customer Service, Orders, and Logistics once you have placed an order for them. The real-time tracking should be published and notified the seller.
With it being said, your ecommerce store’s data is also extremely crucial and the POD platform partner must offer you a chance to collect them. Fortunately, Gearment provides a feature that allows sellers to analyse your data on Gearment dashboard to ensure every business decision you make is an effective one.
Pros and cons of print-on-demand
In comparison to traditional business methods, POD is particularly cost-effective, hence it is comparatively inexpensive. It’s a low-risk company model that doesn’t require big maintenance or expansion expenses. However, like any other business model, POD has its benefits and drawbacks. Before diving into this model, you should read the following section to evaluate if it is appropriate for you.
Pros of print-on-demand
1. Easy to start:
Most POD platforms are user-friendly and simple to use. By registering an account, creating a profile, and uploading your designs in just a few minutes, you can quickly start and run your own business.
2. Experiment with different designs:
You can easily add new designs and see if your customers like them or not. You don’t have to invest a lot in things that may not sell well since orders are printed on-demand. You can also simply delete a design if it isn’t as popular as you wanted.
3. Experiment with different products:
Not only designs but you can also test out with different items. It’s no longer just about selling t-shirts, POD companies like Gearment provide a wide range of products in various categories such apparels, mugs, pet bowls, doormats, etc.
4. No stocking issue:
The POD concept helps to solve the most common problem of the eCommerce market – the cost of storage. When choosing the POD model, you won’t have to worry about hazards such as out of stock or inventories since the product will only be made and printed after buyers order. So the amount of costly storage is fully saved. Also, you do not need to pay for the storage of overstock products and no super extra cost from destroying the expired products.
5. No need to invest in fulfillment process:
POD fulfillment partners will do their specialties, meaning that they have the qualified staff that are able to fully handle the costly processes such as Orders, and Logistics. The technical part of the printing process is handled directly by your POD partner. So the only thing you should invest in for your e-commerce stores is doing marketing effectively which is much more affordable and generates sales faster!
Cons of print-on-demand
1. A few control the fulfillment process
Just like with any drop shipping service, POD means that you don’t see each product yourself. So choosing a reputation fulfillment company and testing your products to make quality inspections and see how they look is extremely important, if not critical. Acknowledging that, Gearment always looks for ways to improve our fulfillment process so we can proudly take this cons off from your plates once you work with us!
2. Depend on your printing partner for products and their availability.
POD companies work with different suppliers to source products or product materials, which means there are a lot of moving parts, and sometimes products may go out of stock or become unavailable. Gearment also has a solution to this problem of most POD fulfillment companies. That is a feature that suggests sellers similar products to replace the out-of-stock products. We have been working with our suppliers to ensure they are similar to the greatest extent possible when it comes to color, and material so you can comfortably switch to these alternatives without disappointing your customers!
3. Take longer time:
Obviously, the product is printed on demand taking longer time to the customer’s hands including fulfillment time and shipping time than it would if you already had available stock. So you have to let your customers know that each product is printed on demand and that this takes a bit longer than sending out an already made product.
But don’t worry! You can definitely shorten the time by choosing a POD company that is famous for fast processing time like Gearment. Recently, we have genuinely reported the processing time of all Gearment products in the last 2 weeks. Up to 90.73% of all products are well processed and produced in just 1-2 days (as shown). This number is a result of our all-out effort and is expected to keep improving much more day by day
The POD industry will have a few drawbacks like Gearment mentioned above. But you can possibly minimize their impact on your business by choosing a reputable and quality POD partner like Gearment. Starting a business is not easy, especially when it comes to the POD industry since the tremendous competitiveness can easily harm new and small startups. Our advice is not to give up and keep going. The harder it gets, the better you can learn! If you are not successful at the first time, don’t worry as the data and experience you get is way more important than anything else!