What is Print-on-Demand? Is POD suitable for my business

The print-on-demand(or POD) service covers different products, such as t-shirts, hoodies, tote bags, coffee mugs, and many other items. The concept is very popular among booksellers and publishers. 

One simple defining principle can explain the whole operation of POD: Print After Ordering. 

The stores using this business model don’t need to keep an inventory of the products it sells, but purchases them from a third-party supplier. The product will only be created after customers have placed the order, and then it will be shipped directly to the end-customers.

What is the role of print-on-demand in a business?

For the traditional selling model, shop owners will order the products in bulk to minimize the cost, then they will rent a place to store them up and deliver them to customers when they receive the order.  

Imagine the sales performance is not as good as you expected, you may be left with a pile of products that aren’t selling.

print-on-demand is a process in which you work with a supplier to customize white-label products with your own designs to sell them on a per-order basis under your own brand.

White-label products refers to the products sold by you with your own branding and logo, but they are manufactured by the POD service provider. 

Why should we choose print-on-demand service?

Choosing POD service means you do not have to pay for the product production until you’ve actually sold it. So you don’t need to buy in bulk and rent a place to store all the stocks.

With print-on-demand services, everything from printing to shipping is handled by your supplier. Once you’ve set everything up, it takes only a few clicks to fulfill an order once you’ve made a sale.

In the case of bags, typically the seller uploads their design to the creator. The POD service provider (supplier) will accept on-demand print orders through the website. 

Print-on-Demand Case Study: MakeToteBags

After you’ve signed for MakeToteBags (MTB) and uploaded your ideas to the website or have your shop connected with MTB. Your custom bags are put out for sale through both MakeTotebags and your website. When a customer makes a purchase, MTB will start the production and have the product delivered to him/her. 

Likewise, if you take an order through your website, you can place a direct order and have the product created and drop-shipped to your customers.

Mostly small companies and Instagram shop owners would go for the Print on Demand service, which is a perfect solution for them to avoid inventory problems. 

The print-on-demand service helps them manage their business without having to worry about storage and fulfillment processes. 

When you receive your order from a customer, that order is automatically sent to the POD service provider (supplier) where it gets printed, packed and shipped. You get a notification and a tracking number when the order is shipped and it is delivered to your customer. Based on your selling platform, you should be able to provide all the same details as updated from your printer supplier.

Print-on-demand services offer an alternative way to bypass the time, investment, and lower the inventory-related risk, letting you go from creating to selling custom products. You can even test out the market at a fraction of the cost.

You can use print-on-demand services to:

1. Do Market Research

Test a business idea or a new product line for an existing business without the risks that come with buying inventory.

2. Monetize an audience you’ve built 

We highly recommend youtubers, social media influencers or bloggers to use the print-on-demand service. Since you’ve gained a group of followers and as well as trust from them. They may want to follow the trend and knowledge you provide in your niche. For example, you make content which relates to fashion, you may use it to promote your products. 

3. Low MOQ

Easily print one-off items— For those who want to buy it for personal use. You can purchase a low amount and send these as gifts to friends or keep them for yourself. The POD service is a popular option for people who want to customize gifts for special occasions. 

4. Increase product diversity

The more designs you offer, the more versatility you give your customers. 

If someone wants art of flowers but all you sell are animals, then you’re severely limiting your audience. 

For instance, when a customer finds your store and wants a fanny pack, but you are only selling a backpack. No matter how much they love your style and design, they will still search for other stores to find what they actually want. 

Do not want to lose out on a potential customer? Upload as many designs as you have to MakeToteBags! Your customers can choose the product they want and apply your design to it!

The pros and cons of print-on-demand

The print-on-demand service is for people who want to build a business based on a dropshipping model. With POD service, shop owners are hands free from the whole fulfillment process. 

The print-on-demand service is one of the most accessible ways to source products or start an online store. Before you consider whether to go for it or not, you should know the perks and limitations.

Print-on-demand Pros

1. Create products quickly

Once you have the idea, you can upload your design to the platform, and it will be ready for sale in minutes! The only thing you need to take care of is customer service. As in, the supplier is responsible for the shipping and fulfillment process. 

2.Low investment, lower risk:

Since you’re not physically holding any inventory, it’s easier to add or remove products, test out ideas or pivot your approach.

3.Take care of it in your spare time

A good way to earn passive income! Some of you may have tons of ideas and want to make it happen without quitting your full-time job. With POD service, having online business doesn’t require much time to manage like a traditional business model. Before you make sure the business is worth giving up your job, you can test it out here!

Print-on-demand Cons

1. Lower margins: 

Naturally, your costs per item will be higher than buying in bulk. As print-on-demand service providers are handling a lot of the duties, they are going to take a larger percentage of your profits. Your products may yield thinner profits, depending on how you price them and acquire customers.

2. Less control over shipping

Shipping costs can get complicated as it often varies for different products. Your options may also be limited if you want to create a standout unboxing experience.

3. Limited customization: 

Your ability to customize products depends on the vendor and the product. You’ll have to weigh base costs, customization options, printing techniques, and available sizes when deciding on which products to customize.

4. Quality can be a big problem

Sometimes it’s best not to take chances. You should even order one of your own custom products to judge the quality for yourself. Do your research to see which companies have the highest quality printing. You are the one responsible for the quality of the product. (White-label products means your customers won’t know they are from a third party!) 

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