What if you could start your own online store that required minimal investment, zero management or inventory, and was also safe?
That sounds like a great idea, right?
Print on Demand is one such business model that allows you to do that. This business model works even better if you have a creative bone in your body.
Without much ado, let’s talk about what a Print on Demand business entails.
Print on demand (or POD) is an order fulfillment method where eCommerce businesses can print items once a sale is confirmed and dropship them to their customers.
This method enables businesses to design a variety of products with customization options and incorporate them as a part of their brand.
Compared to the traditional form of buying and maintaining your own inventory, Print on demand service does not incur any inventory, storage, management, or protection costs as it is an ‘order-based’ business model.
Let’s see the Pros and Cons of the Print-on-demand services :
- No experience required – POD does not require any previous experience and helps online services to focus on their core business aspects.
- Easy to set up – eCommerce businesses can be started by signing up and creating a profile. Then businesses can upload their designs or products, and they are good to go!
- No risk – Since Print on demand services involve minimal inventory and no packaging or shipping hassles, the associated risks are practically none.
- No need to manage stock – Print-on-demand services do not require eCommerce businesses to maintain their own stock; this frees them from the cost incurred in maintaining inventory like in the case of traditional businesses.
- Global reach – With Print on demand services, Dropshipping becomes easy, and an online business can sell online anywhere in the world.
- Wide scope of printable products – Any item that has a potential for customization and self-publishing, for instance, everyday products like t-shirts, books, posters, and backpacks can be tailored with unique designs for their own online stores with a more personal touch.
- Longer fulfillment processes – Since the business model depends on confirmed sales and therefore does not have a finished product directly for shipping, the fulfillment process of Print on demand services takes longer compared to other businesses.
- Low-profit margins – Since print on demand companies handle shipping, packaging, and selling, the profits in the long run for online businesses are relatively lower. Additionally, the cost of goods for an on-demand printing service may be higher compared to wholesale purchases.
- Limited control over the quality of the product – The merchant or the designer has limited control over the print and product quality used by print on demand companies and, therefore, can lead to a low-quality fulfillment.
- Dotted responsibility may create a problem – Since the responsibility of fulfillment is split between the merchant and print-on-demand supplier, customers can blame the merchant for the issues incurred by Print on demand companies leading to lower customer satisfaction.
When it comes to print-on-demand business ideas, the first few ideas that come to mind are customizing T-shirts, mugs, backpacks, etc.
However, the market is already saturated with such ideas, and there is a much better use of the print-on-demand ideas for different products that have less competition and fairly good demand.
Here are a few interesting products where the best print-on-demand services can be used, and eCommerce merchants can use them to create a niche in the market.
The first on our list is calendars. These can be wall calendars, desk calendars, pocket-size calendars, etc.
Very few online businesses think of this idea as a viable one, but this product is useful for corporate companies, events, new-year gifts, giveaways, etc. Consider this as a cheaper alternative to distributing stationery items like dairies, pens, etc.
Blankets can be customized to match the needs of the user, especially kid’s blankets. From cartoon images to geometric shapes, blankets can be a blank canvas for the design creator for their ideas.
And such customized blankets can be a unique gift that can be given on birthdays, parties, and ceremonies. Customizing a blanket for weddings, receptions, birthdays, and anniversaries are some other ideas that an online store can explore using the print-on-demand model.
eCommerce businesses can look to make unique, customized posters or canvasses that can be used as decorative pieces for interior decoration purposes.
Compared to expensive paintings and décor materials, a print-on-demand canvass can bring out the same aesthetic feel but with a distinctly personal touch.
This item is highly unexplored territory, and puzzles can be used to create a unique custom product using print-on-demand services.
Printing images of near and dear ones, company logos, pets, etc., can put that personalized touch into gifts and toys. An online store can capitalize on this strategy to create a decent space in the market with its unique offerings.
Another interesting idea is to create personalized acrylic blocks. The blocks can be used as paperweights or can be as big as a canvas for aesthetic displays; size is not a restriction here.
Acrylic blocks with custom images can be used as an excellent gift and have a long lifecycle. This makes them a desirable product with the potential of high customization for print-on-demand services.
The only way to stand out in an over-saturated service market is by offering unique products that stand out to create a clear competitive edge. With the above-mentioned ideas, an online store can use print-on-demand services on its website to create its own niche in the market effectively.
Here is a list of popular print-on-demand companies that has created a wave in the market with their unique service offerings and has proven to be a role model for many print-on-demand services.
From custom T-shirts to phone cases, Printify is one of the print on demand sites that claim to have a versatile reach with nearly 6000+ products that can be customized with the print on demand model.
It is considered one of the best print on demand sites. The company provides a range of products on their print on demand site to pick and choose from.
Using a Mockup Generator, designers or merchants can customize products to sell online. Once the design is finalized, Printify provides a sample for customers to see and feel the product for any alterations.
After the sample approval, an online store can publish their products on platforms where the end-user can place orders.
Printify also ensures proper quality checks on products before Dropshipping them to the end-user after order confirmation.
- Printify offers a free pricing plan and premium and enterprise segments for cost-effective shipping options.
- Broad database of over 250 products
- Good quality checks, reprinting options, and refunds.
- Has an extensive and global network of print providers
- Approximately 90 order fulfillment facilities
- Excellent product quality from print providers
- First-rate merchant support policies to protect merchants
- Resourceful knowledge base and user guide
- High print quality
- Customizations and branding options are limited.
- Slow and unresponsive customer service.
- Limited online marketplace integrations.
Check out my in-depth comparison of Printful vs Prinify to get more insights.
Printful is a print provider with a big customer base in the form of online stores.
From clothing for men, women, and children, hats, accessories, home & living products, metal printing, blankets, towels, aprons, wall art, etc. Printful offers an excellent choice for all kinds of print-on-demand businesses.
It follows the same pattern as any POD service: signing up, creating custom products, printing the final design, packing, and shipping to the end-user. Many POD companies sell products designed by Printful for their own online store.
- No monthly fees and no minimum order purchase
- POD methods involve sewing and embroidery options apart from digital printing
- High-quality products with designer support and branding services with no outsourcing requirements.
- Integration with the most popular online platforms
- Easy-to-setup API and user-friendly interface for Android and iOS users
- Low-risk Dropshipping business model
- Guarantee policy on lost and damaged packages
- Discount on product samples and shipment within three days of order confirmation
- White label printing & eCommerce photography with 24/7 support
- Warehouses in the US and Europe
- A vast range of product customization options
- Expensive price range
- No refunds on damaged or lost items
- Few product categories
Lulu xPress provides professional-quality POD services to customers with flexible formats that are easy to use. Their print on demand service focuses mainly on books like print books, comics, magazines, calendars, perfect-bound books of all sizes, etc.
One of the businesses with the fastest turnaround time, Lulu xPress has a global fulfillment reach of nearly 150 countries.
They rely on their 3-step action: Plan – Create – Order to help customers place their orders quickly with retail and distribution options on their print-on-demand site.
- Global fulfillment to 150+ countries
- Low turnaround time of 3 to 5 days of printing and shipping
- Accepts payment using multiple currencies
- More than 3000 flexible and beautiful design formats for preview before printing
- High-quality book material, perfect and coil bound binding options
- Automated printing and pricing options through dashboard control
- Limited only to book manufactures
SPOD concentrates more on branded clothing apparel for men, women, babies, and kids and accessories that need a custom touch.
This print-on-demand company is integrated with Shopify, Amazon, eBay, Etsy, Squarespace, etc., for direct publishing options with a dedicated Order Desk management tool and open-source platforms like WooCommerce and Magento with their SPOD API.
The website already has up to 50k free designs and over 200+ print on demand products for all its users. This print provider automatically takes care of quality control and order fulfillment with a 48-hour production time frame after sample approval and order confirmation.
It is one of the preferred print providers for Shopify POD businesses.
- No setup is required, and no lock-in plans.
- Free library of more than 50,000 designs and 130 white-labeled products for design creators.
- Uses Order Desk management tool and open platforms like WooCommerce, Magento, Teelaunch, and Gooten.
- The SPOD app seamlessly integrates with Shopify, Amazon, eBay, Etsy, Squarespace, etc. for automatic fulfillment.
- The turnaround time is 48 hours for printing, packaging, and shipping
- High-quality products for own-brand creation with a return rate as low as 1%.
- Limited to clothing line and accessories.
- Need a Shopify account to get started.
- SPOD ships to the US and Europe only.
- File upload capacity is limited to 10 MB.
There are numerous ways in which creative designers can create unique product designs for their customers.
However, for eCommerce businesses looking to enter the POD space with their existing business and has no experience in creating any print design on demand, here are a few options to help designers create and start selling custom products quickly.
With more than over 300 million monthly active users and more than 2 billion monthly searches, Pinterest is a treasure cove for designers with numerous sections that include food, wedding, style and fashion, wall arts and crafts, travel and holidays, etc.
Made famous by the DIY generation, Pinterest offers various perks for Print-on-demand companies. Since the platform is based on a ‘want’ mentality, users often create online boards as wish lists that portray a creator’s ideas.
This makes it easy for POD services to explore, connect with designers and find suitable designs for their products at a lower price.
Designious allows users to use any product they want to print without paying other fees. Apart from paid membership options, the website has a ton of freebies that print-on-demand companies can use quite effectively.
With more than 2800 designs, this site allows designers to create their designs and is a marketplace where print-on-demand services can find the right design for their business.
Imprinted is a platform where designers can simply upload their designs to white label products to gauge their creativity. The platform allows users to choose from previous or personalized original designs to create a realistic mockup photo for print-on-demand stores.
Imprinted is integrated with online platforms like Shopify, WooCommerce, Etsy, etc., and online businesses can connect using the Imprinted API. They also have worldwide Dropshipping facilities that users can utilize to sell custom products directly to the end-users.
No, the extra ‘b’ in Dribbble is not a typing error, and their extensive design options are noteworthy and unique, like their name.
From animation, illustration, and branding to mobile design, typography, and web design, Dribbble is a community with an extensive range of the world’s leading design portfolios.
The platform provides a unique space for designers that can be hired by print-on-demand businesses to create a unique design or for a freelance project.
The Canva app is a 3-in-one app that includes a photo editor, video editor, and graphic design tool. Canva is one of the best places for a print-on-demand newbie to create their unique designs.
With over 3000 fonts, color palates, pre-made templates, easy redesign options, and a video editing tool, the Canva app is a go-to place for designers to create their signature designs without spending much.
Similar apps that help create print designs are Placeit, Photopea, etc., and can significantly benefit print-on-demand businesses by creating good-quality yet cost-effective designs.
Starting a print of demand business can be an easy process. There is no limitation to the earning potential of running a print on demand company.
Here are a few tips that can prove beneficial while starting a print-on-demand business.
The market is already saturated with clothing products that POD services leverage to start their business. However, the margin from those might be significantly less and, at the same time, may face tough competition from local businesses.
Therefore an eCommerce business needs to decide on the items they will be able to fulfill. Don’t sway your decisions based on hype, research well and start your business with products with a high fulfillment rate.
The next important step is to preview samples and order them before Dropshipping them. This step ensures quality, avoids customer-merchant conflict, and helps build rapport.
One of the drawbacks of the POD model is that even though the burden of fulfillment lies with the print on business services, the customer always holds the merchant responsible for any flaw in the product.
Committing to tight shipping times might land an eCommerce merchant in trouble. Even if a print-on-demand service offers a high turnaround time, keep a delivery time buffer during the Dropshipping process.
Print-on-demand services offer space to create a mock-up of the final product before making a sample. The mock-ups enable the user to understand how the print on demand product will look in real life and allow areas of improvement if needed.
Once the final design is approved, online merchants can use the mock-ups to create hype on their online platforms using their unique print-on-demand products.
Generic designs quickly become outdated, and the market is usually flooded with such designs. However, there is always a market for unique designs that can attract market attention.
A POD business that stands out based on its well-thought designs will always have an audience following, and online businesses can leverage this to create their niche in the market.
The burden or responsibility of order fulfillment is split between two or more businesses. Therefore, it is necessary to understand all the expenses involved in the order fulfillment process to avoid losses.
Consider the design charges, production costs, shipping costs, taxes, platform fees per order, and overheads, and then add a profit margin to it.
Adjust the profit margin according to market demand for a competitive edge, but consider the minimum number of orders to cover the overall print-on-demand production and shipping cost.
1. Can You Make Money With Print On Demand?
Yes. The print-on-demand business model is one of those business models that has a market for unique designs and excellent earning potential with amazing success stories.
However, the revenue depends on several factors, including testing products, advertisements, pricing, and high volume sales.
One thing to note about the POD business model is that the profit margin is on the lower side. Therefore, online businesses must be patient enough to test numerous products from time to time to ensure an interest among the audience.
2. What Print On Demand Is Best?
Here are a few print on demand companies that has become examples of the POD business model –
3. How Much Can You Make A Month With Print On Demand?
The print on demand business will offer an excellent earning potential, but not all designs may sell.
So if you sell between 2 to 10 designs a month on a rough account, it will average to $100 profit. If there are 100 active designs on your account, then the average earnings would be $1 per active design.
4. Can I Do Print-On-Demand For Free?
Yes. If you have unique designs and have a knack for creating products, you must approach a print on demand company with excellent Dropshipping service to test your product design.
However, once the design is approved, the company may charge you for a sample before final production. You can add this cost to the total order and charge it to the customer.
The best way is to charge an advance from the end-user while securing the order and then paying forward to maintain a relatively investment-free business per order.
However, if you do not have a design ready, hiring a designer or buying a design online may incur charges.
4. How Much Money Can You Make With Print On Demand?
There is an endless potential to generate money through print on demand businesses and with the different printing methods. However, the amount one makes is determined primarily by the designs one uses and how popular it is in demand.
Depending on the volume, a print-on-demand business can make a good profit margin if white-labeled items are purchased in bulk and then sold individually or at a retail price after printing.
Remember, the more the number of processes (like sewing, printing, embroidery) in this business model, the more the retail price, which in turn reduces the profit margin.
Uploading new designs every month enables businesses to test them and discover their market reception. This can also increase the overall money-earning potential for print on demand businesses.
- Lulu xPress
- JetPrint: Print on Demand
The challenge with print-on-demand enterprise is the patience required to nurture it into a thriving business.
Since the business consistently creates distinctively unique designs to make its mark in the market, the print-on-demand business might require ample time to make its mark as a successful brand due to its distinctive business offering.
Nonetheless, with the variety of printing options available, the entire process can be simplified.
However, the print on demand model has been on the rise in the past few years and has shown significant potential to become a reliable business with the help of third-party manufacturers.
With strict quality control measures, better designs, innovative production methods, low turnaround time, marketing automation and integration on online platforms, and dropshipping across the globe, the POD model has generated a unique business footprint in the market.
Due to the powerful aspects attributed to this business model, print on demand is highly sought out by many companies in sports, fashion, accessories, etc.
To sum it up, the print-on-demand business model is here to stay as more businesses realize its potential. With the ‘right’ partnership, online merchants and small businesses can use print-on-demand services to ensure their brand value, carve a niche in the market with relatively minor investment, and be part of the extensive eCommerce landscape.