Print-on-demand (or POD) stores have popped up all over the internet over the last few years.
A couple of years back, it was all the craze to set up your t-shirt-selling business and sell t-shirts with your designs.
This, however, has now evolved into something bigger and is expected to continue growing. Starting a print-on-demand business has grown from something you do in your spare time to a great income-generating stream.
So how does a print-on-demand store work?
How does a print-a-demand store work?
In a lot of ways, a print-on-demand store works like a brick-and-mortar store.
You have a product you get from a manufacturer and you have a customer who buys the product from you.
In a print-on-demand business model, you, as the seller, work with a manufacturer/supplier to customize the products with your design.
Once a customer places an order, their details are sent to the manufacturer, who manufactures, prints the design on the items, packages it, then ships it.
What are the advantages of running a print-on-demand store?
No inventory costs
Starting a business usually means that you have set aside a set amount of money that will go toward the inventory. With a print-on-demand store, you don't have to worry about any costs for the inventory because the manufacturer deals with the production of the products.
All you have to do is come up with the showstopper of an idea.
You are Free to Experiment
Another advantage of the POD business model is that you're free to experiment. You can have as many designs as you'd like on a storefront. However, the manufacturer only prints products after you close on a sale. If you were running a traditional business that required you to make the products after which you would get the feedback, the chances of experimenting wouldn't be as high.
The Business is Easily Scalable
You can easily increase the amount of products you sell without worrying about inventory or production costs.
All you have to do is add the designs to the catalog, and the supplier handles the rest.
A print-on-demand store is incredibly versatile. You can sell items such as totes, phone cases, mugs, apparel, and more. Furthermore, you can also offer different sizes and designs to cater to a broader audience and increase your revenue.
Cons of a print-on-demand store
It's hard to control the quality of the products
As with any drop shipping business, you don't have control over how the end product looks.
This is why it's important to get your hands on a sample. You can easily see what the product looks like and makes as many alterations as need be.
The processing and shipping times may be longer
Another aspect that's out of your control is how long it will take the fulfilling company to print, process, and ship the product, especially if the customer lives far.
You should account for this in your shipping information to avoid angry customers.
How to start a print-on-demand business
Before jumping in and creating designs, you need to decide whether you will be selling through a marketplace such as Etsy or starting your e-commerce store. There are pros and cons for both methods. However, you will need to figure out a couple of things beforehand :
Choose Your Niche
The first step is to select a specific niche for your POD store. Identify a target audience, research their interests, and determine what products they will likely buy.
You can utilize Google Trends to see what people are looking up and interested in regarding your niche.
Choosing a niche will help you focus on specific products and designs, allowing you to stand out from the competition.
This also intertwines with deciding what products you want to sell. A lot of POD suppliers have many products. You want to stick with products that make sense to your niche. You can join forums and ask them how likely they are to buy a product for that type of niche.
B.Create Your Designs
Create unique designs that will appeal to your target audience. You can create your designs using graphic design software like Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, or Canva. Consider the latest trends, customer preferences, and your niche when creating designs. Additionally, you can enlist the help of a designer. You can find one on various freelancing sites.
C. Choose a Print-on-Demand Platform
Several print-on-demand platforms are available, such as Printful, Teespring, and Redbubble. Choose a platform that offers the products and printing options you need, and integrate it with your eCommerce store.
Most print-on-demand platforms offer integrations with popular eCommerce platforms like Shopify, WooCommerce, and Etsy.
D. Set Up Your eCommerce Store
Choose an eCommerce platform that suits your business needs, whether that's Shopify, WooCommerce, or BigCommerce. Customize your store's design, add your products, and set up payment and shipping options.
Additionally, you can use a platform like Etsy to replace the need to build your own website.
E. Promote Your Store
Once your store is set up, promote it to your target audience. Use social media, email marketing, influencer marketing, and paid advertising to drive traffic to your store. Consider offering discounts or promotions to encourage sales and customer loyalty.
F. Monitor and Optimize Your Store
Keep track of your store's performance by analyzing traffic, sales, and customer behavior.
Optimize your store by improving your designs, product offerings, and marketing strategies to increase sales and revenue.
How to find a print-on-demand supplier
The next step is picking a supplier. This is essential to the growth and success of your business. Some factors to consider include:
- The product catalog
- The services offered
- Order minimums
- The quality of the products
- Customer reviews
- Total costs
- Experience level of the company
Search for POD suppliers and check their websites, customer reviews, and ratings. Look for suppliers that specialize in your desired products and have a good reputation in the market.
- Compare Prices and Services
Compare prices and services offered by different POD suppliers. Check their pricing structures, production times, shipping costs, and product quality. Look for a supplier that offers affordable prices and a fast turnaround time without compromising quality.
- Order Samples
Order samples from different POD suppliers to evaluate the quality of their products. You can also check the print quality, color accuracy, and product durability. This will help you decide which supplier is the best fit for your business.
- Check for Integrations
Check if the POD supplier offers integrations with your eCommerce platform. Most POD suppliers offer integrations with popular eCommerce platforms like Shopify, WooCommerce, and Etsy. This makes it easier for you to manage your orders, shipping, and inventory.
- Customer Support
- Check if the POD supplier offers excellent customer support. They should be available to answer your queries, provide updates on your orders, and address any issues or concerns you may have. A good supplier will have a dedicated customer support team that is responsive and helpful.
- Consider the Suppliers' location and experience
If you live in the US, you may find it easier to work with a company that has dealt with companies in the same region. This will make it easier to deal with taxes, plus they may have some tips for you that you may not be aware of.
A Few Print-on-Demand Pointers:
Take The Time To Order Samples:
Ordering a sample yourself is the best way to see what your customers will be getting. This will let you gauge the look and feel of the items.
This can also be helpful when you're taking product photos for your store.
Understand Production and Shipping Times
Even though shipping will be handled by a “third party,” you still need to set the right expectations with your clients. The best businesses in the market will be transparent about the shipping times and let you know when delays happen. When communicating the shipping times to customers, ensure you have added three or four days for product production.
Additionally, if possible, try to absorb the shipping costs in the product prices.
You can either offer free shipping, even if it's to some regions, or offer conditional shipping. I.e., get free shipping when you spend $100 or more.
Create Solid Product Mockups
A good mockup will help your products sell. Numerous mockup generators available on the internet can help you generate photos and videos of your products in action.
A print-on-demand (POD) store can be a fantastic way to build a successful e-commerce business that offers unique and customized products to customers around the world. By using a POD model, you can minimize inventory costs, reduce waste, and provide a wide variety of products without having to store large amounts of stock.
While starting and running a POD store can be challenging, the rewards can be substantial. By following the tips and strategies we have outlined in this post, you can create a successful POD store that stands out in today's crowded e-commerce landscape.