Print-on-demand: An Ultimate Beginner’s Guide

Alex Galindo

4 mins read

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Have you heard about print-on-demand (POD)?

Print-on-demand is the newest trend in printing and has many benefits for both businesses and consumers. The introduction of print-on-demand services has revolutionized the printing industry, and it is now easier than ever for people to order custom products.

Let’s dive into everything you need to know, from how it works to the pitfalls to overcome and to answer if it’s the suitable fulfillment model for your business.

What exactly is Print-on-demand (POD), and how does it work?

POD is a business model in which customers can place an order online via email, or over the phone, for example, customize products according to the desired specification and dropship them to your customer. POD systems offer print-on-demand fulfillment services that allow businesses to make money from apparel, home decor, and other items with no inventory requirements.

Why you should use POD services

POD is an eCommerce business model that typically includes private labeling. A retailer hires or subscribes to a manufacturer that creates unique products for them to sell exclusively. With POD, you can create your products without worrying about ordering large quantities of inventory upfront. You don’t need to worry about what will sell with POD because you only order when a customer orders an item.

POD companies VS Traditional printing companies

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There are huge differences between these printing companies. Compared to traditional models, print-on-demand businesses are:

  • Easy to build. Getting started doesn’t require significant capital investment, unlike traditional printing businesses. You don’t need equipment, stock, or even a storefront. Just sell online, and you’re good to go.
  • Affordable. Compared to traditional printing companies, print-on-demand business is much cheaper. Lack of equipment and space is a reason, but an account and a set of designs are cheaper than a physical business.
  • Inventory-free. Because a POD business only relies on a print provider to ship physical products, inventory is not required. You don’t need to store the product you made in stock.
  • Providing total control of products. What goes in and out of your website is easy to monitor and control. Every design is available, and you can make changes quickly with a click.
  • Quick and has low waste. Once you’ve got your templates, designing and ordering print-on-demand products just takes minutes. Since there’s no inventory involved, there’s less waste of the product for unsold orders.
  • Able to scale up quickly. Once your templates are designed, the process is easy and quick to do again for more designs and products sold online.
  • Flexible to versatile requests. Since you can create any theme or design that fits your customer’s request, this is perfect for creating a personalized product.

Benefits of using POD services

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Print-on-demand is the newest trend in printing and has many benefits for both businesses and consumers because of its several benefits. This quick customized service offers a great way to sell locally, globally, integrate with eCommerce platforms, automate order processing systems, and more!

  • Selling locally and globally. Print-on-demand services let you send your products all over the world! All you need to do is find a POD company that can manufacture your item and ship them to your clients’ locations. It also makes it more feasible for you to get customers across various social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
  • Integration with eCommerce platforms and marketplaces to sell on. You can connect your existing online store with your POD business. Print-on-demand services also let you sell on marketplaces like Amazon Prints, Etsy Prints, and other websites at no extra cost! It means you can retain your existing customers and accounts without hassle.
  • Automated order processing system. Print-on-demand saves you from the hassle of manually listing down the orders, negotiating with suppliers, finding couriers, etc. It allows you to automate your business and make your operations more efficient.
  • No need for inventories. Investing in an inventory can be expensive and difficult at first. Print-on-demand services produce one copy or several copies and send it to customers when they need it. You don’t have to worry about planning production, managing quantity discounts, or storing products in your warehouse or storage facility. Print-on-demand services let you focus more on developing your brand!

What Print-on-demand Struggles With (Cons)

Even the best things have their flaws, and that also applies to print-on-demand (POD). It’s still a reasonably new process compared to traditional printing models. So to prepare your business for this new business model, you need to be aware of some possible cons that you may encounter.

Lose control over the fulfillment process and quality of the products.

The print provider you’re working with is the one who has control of the print quality. You can only ask them to work carefully and check reviews about their products and services.

Returns management may require more attention.

Given that the fulfillment of the orders is all up to your chosen POD company, it’s more difficult to manage returns and address the customers’ concerns. To keep this at the minimum, it’s a must to choose a reliable print provider or POD partner. You can also try ordering samples of your products before releasing them to gauge their quality and how your customers would perceive them.

Product and availability depend on your printing partner.

You’re also dependent on them for potential backorders and other issues. Usually, they have limited material stock, and if you come in too late, they need to replenish their resources. Furthermore, if your product cannot be produced using their printing technique, then it’s an automatic no for them. You can avoid this scenario from happening by choosing a versatile printing partner.

Order fulfillment can take longer.

Since fulfillment is in another company’s hands, your customers have to wait for them to deliver your order. You won’t be able to control the process, so do note this factor when choosing a print-on-demand provider.

Nonetheless…

The benefits of POD still outweigh its cons. After all, running a business entails risks and challenges you can barely see coming. You just really need to be smart with your choices and take bold but calculated steps. And if you’re now leaning towards using POD, part of these decisions is finding and picking a Print-On-Demand partner that suits your business goals.

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