Do you run a business that sells products with branding or other printed logos? It could be anything from tote bags to baseball caps to t-shirts. If so, you may have heard of print on demand – often as the acronym POD.
You’ve come to the right place if you’ve heard the phrase but are unsure what it means. Read on to learn everything you need about a service that will elevate your business!
What Is Print on Demand (POD)?
Print on demand (POD) is all about a partnership with a provider that takes your business to higher success than you could do alone. Essentially, the provider will be a supplier of blank products such as clothing or bags, and you will work with them to customize their products with your own branding/logos/design.
It’s all done per order, and they sort everything from sale to printing to shipping. And don’t worry; it’s all sold under your name!
How Does Print on Demand Work?
1. Choosing a Provider
There are several points to consider when choosing the provider to partner with, and those are the following:
- Integration: having a provider that can integrate with your website seamlessly is absolutely vital for the partnership to work
- Supplier policies: understanding the turnaround time, payment policies, etc., is paramount
- Fulfillment methods: get to know how the products are created, packaged, and shipped
- Cost: this one should go without saying – check the subscription fee!
- Product Catalog: ensure the supplier has products you want to use before agreeing to the partnership
2. Ordering Samples
It’s entirely reasonable – and expected – that you ask for samples before you agree to partner with a supplier. Take a look at the blank products, and also ask for samples of the products with your prints on them. You need to know precisely what your customers are getting, so be ruthless with your vetting process!
3. Creating Mockups
Most print-on-demand suppliers will offer what is known as a ‘mockup generator’ – this is invaluable, and you should use it when marketing your products. It’s essentially making an image of what your prints look like on the supplier’s products so that you can use them for your website and marketing purposes.
Allowing your customers to see what the product will look like before buying could make or break their purchase decision!
4. Selling Products
When it comes to actually selling your products, it’s as easy as having your e-commerce website up and running and integrated with the print suppliers. Really! List all the products you offer on your online shop; when a customer decides to make a purchase, they do so via your website. Due to the integration, the order is automatically passed on to the print supplier.
5. Order Fulfillment
When it comes to the order fulfillment part of your sale, it’s all taken on by the print supplier. That means less hassle for you! Because the order goes directly to the supplier once the purchase has been made, they will print, package, and ship it. You need to do nothing but enjoy the highs of a successful print-on-demand partnership.
What Are the Advantages of Print on Demand?
No Inventory Hassle
Because the supplier does all the printing and packaging, you don’t have to worry about inventory – at all! You can work out of your bedroom if you want because you need no space to keep products or equipment.
It also means you don’t have to watch stock when it’s getting low and reorder more. Or worry about shifting some leftovers that haven’t sold yet. Huge win.
Zero Fulfillment Efforts
Similarly, as the print designer, you do not need to worry about fulfillment efforts. For the same reason, really. In fact, working with a print-on-demand (POD) supplier requires minimal effort from you altogether. Create the designs, send them to the supplier, let the world rush to buy your incredible products, and let the supplier sort out the rest.
Quick Product Creation
Without a POD partnership, it would be quite a lengthy process, from creating your design to making it available and ready to sell. There’s the buying of the base product, the shipping time, and the time it takes to get the design printed.
With a supplier integration on your website, once you’ve created your design, it’s just a case of popping it on the website for sale and waiting for the buyers to flock in!
Shipping is Taken Care Of
Whether your business is something you do full-time or part-time, shipping can be a hassle. Do you wait for a whole load of orders before shipping them together? Do you ship every day for each individual sale? What if the post office is shut on the only day you’ve got time to post it?
With POD, this is a non-existent problem. You can go about your life knowing that people are buying your products and someone else is shipping them.
What Are the Disadvantages of Print on Demand?
There are, of course, some downsides to using print-on-demand services. One of the main ones is that the cost per item will be higher than if you were buying in bulk. That’s because discounts on bulk orders are very common. That being said, the money saved in other aspects of the print-on-demand (POD) partnership should outweigh the extra cost per item. And if all is going well, you’ll be so successful this will barely be a problem!
Less Control Over Shipping
While having someone else take care of shipping for you has its highs, it can be a double-edged sword. That’s because you have far less control over it than if you were organizing it yourself. Each supplier will have different cost models, so ensure you know all about that beforehand.
The other thing is that it means the unboxing experience for your customers will be far more standard than if you did it yourself, where you could include personalized thank-you cards, for example.
There’s also the issue of the limited control you have creatively. Hopefully, this won’t be too much of a problem as you can shop around before you choose your partner, but ultimately, you only have the choice of products that the supplier offers (e.g., bags, clothes, hats, etc.). Furthermore, options like sizing are out of your control, too. The best way around this is by researching and discussing it with the suppliers.
Best Practices When Starting With Print on Demand
Find Your Niche
Having a niche will allow your business to reach the success it might not otherwise have without one. That’s because having a target audience of – well – everyone is challenging to put it plainly. Everyone is a very large group of people, and chances are other businesses are doing similar things to you that might also want to target everyone.
Finding a niche means choosing a specialized or focused area of the industry – preferably one with unmet needs or a hole in the market – and specifically targeting that group of people. Statistics show you are much more likely to be successful if you do this!
Build an Audience
In this day and age, having a social media presence is a must-have for any business, especially when you are targeting a niche audience! Utilize the power of Instagram, pay for those Facebook ads, and don’t be afraid to send marketing emails to customers you have the details for (as long as you are following GDPR, of course).
Building your audience will make noise about your brand and products, and the more people talking about it (or even better – posting about it), the more successful you will be. Hold competitions, and create hashtags customers can use. Get yourself out there, and those extra costs due to the lower margins will be absorbed easily!
Partner With the Right Provider
This one is probably the most important takeaway from this whole article. Choose the right provider for you! This partnership is a relationship – it should be based on mutual trust, understanding, and values. Don’t be afraid to shop around and ask questions before deciding who to go with because this will hopefully be a long-term arrangement, so you must choose the right one.
Get to know the people and the products, and you should be well on your way.
Get Started With The/Studio Today
Hopefully, by now, you have a far better understanding of print-on-demand and how it works. If you are a small business, this service can completely transform your processes and lead you to massive success and profit!
By partnering with a print provider, you relieve all worries of inventory, fulfillment, and shipping, and instead, you can focus your efforts on what you are best at designing.
At The/Studio, we are passionate about working collaboratively with our partners to create incredible products that you and your customers will love. For more information, get in touch now to see how we can get started on transforming your business!