What is Print on Demand?
A Print on Demand, or "POD" fulfillment method is one in which sellers create graphics for items, and then the items are sold to the customer via a third party platform with you, 'the seller' only having to pay for an item to be printed once the order has been placed and paid for by the customer. These items can be t-shirts, sweatshirts, mugs, towels, art prints, pillows, and much more.
Since a physical retailer does not need to hold on to the item, the supplier will deliver it to the customer with your graphics or design printed on it. You don't even handle it at all!
With no minimum orders, print-on-demand fulfillment method prints items immediately after purchase. POD is frequently used in conjunction with drop shipping to describe an order fulfilment service that prints items to order and ships them directly from the manufacturer to the client on behalf of the seller.
Here is an example of the process:
The Print on Demand Model
A POD business model has many advantages, including fast product creation and printing from blankets to books.
You don't need to own printing equipment to create and print products.
Excellent passive income option.
Digital printing and offset printing are available.
The packing and shipping are handled by a third party.
Free shipping may be included with this printing model.
The investment risk is fairly low.
You don't have to maintain inventory for printing.
While it's good to take into account the advantages of any e-commerce business model, you should also be aware of the drawbacks. Here are some downsides to print-on-demand printing services to consider.
Lower profit margin.
Less control in printing, packing, and shipping.
Customization issues, and what can be customized.
Gift notes generally not possible unless premium cost.
Shipping expenses could be high.
You are still responsible for customer service if any issues occur.
You will be able to determine if a business such as this is right for your e-commerce website or if another type of sales model is better after taking these pros and cons into account.
Choosing your Print on Demand Supplier
Once you've decided to work with a print on demand supplier for your ecommerce store, fulfilling t-shirt orders or customised phone case orders is the next step. Choosing the right provider is critical. There are many variables to consider when selecting the right demand print company for your business. Some items to consider are:
Products able to be printed on, such as books, t-shirts, mugs, etc.
Print on demand services offered.
Order quantities required.
Customer experience reviews.
Quality of products.
UI/UX and Platform ease of use.
Some of the main POD suppliers are Printify, Printful, Redbubble, Amazon, Spreadshirt & Spring (formally Teespring). Here is a quick breakdown on the main players.
Printify is a well-known POD service supplier in the industry, and they've built many new business connections over the years. With Printify you have the ability to integrate your shop directly with the platform allowing you to create products on their platform and then push them directly to your store whether it be Etsy, Shopify, Wix or Woocommerce website.
You can also have multiple stores connected to Printify allowing you to sell different products, and/or have stores in different niches, so the possibilities are endless!
Printify is one of the main suppliers I use personally in my Etsy & Shopify stores due to the customer service, product range and quality.
Printful is the other major player in the print on demand world for a lot of people. They have more embroidery options than Printify, but I've found that generally items take longer to be made and shipped out than the other providers. I've also found that the costs of the products themselves are also a LOT higher than with Printify, although the quality of the embroidery is definitely superior, so if you were looking into embroidered goods then this would definitely be a good option for you.
With Printful's ecommerce integrations, you can link to the services they offer with ease. Some of the ecommerce platforms that Printful connects to include Shopify, Wix, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, and Adobe Commerce so if you use one of the platforms Printful connects to, you may find that Printful is the right company for you.
Redbubble is slightly different to the other two companies due to the fact you design your products and then sell them directly through the redbubble platform. This also means you don't get charged any production costs, nor do you need to do any customer service as that is all taken care of by Redbubble.
This is possibly one of the best platforms to start with if you were thinking of getting into print on demand as it requires minimal effort apart from uploading the design and writing the description, there are no hidden costs, it's risk-free and is a great way to make some passive income.
Finally I want to briefly touch on one of the biggest platforms - Amazon! or now as it's known - Amazon Merch by Demand. This platform is similar to Redbubble in that you are only responsible for uploading the initial design and then Amazon deals with the rest in terms of customer service and shipping.
The difference with Amazon Merch on demand however, is that you need to apply to become a seller, and a lot of people get declined when applying. If you do manage to get on the platform then you have to get through the tier system so initially you start off with 10 listings only and you can only upload one listing a day. Then when you have sold 10 products, you move up to tier 25 and then when you have sold 25 products you move up to tier 100 where you can upload 100 different designs and so on. There are a ton of Youtube videos out there explaining this, you just have to take the time to write your descriptions well and be on point with your keywords in order to have your items show up in search.
So there it is! My breakdown of the top POD suppliers for you to try, but remember that you don’t have to stick to just one, you could sell on them all and take advantage of multiple sales channels.
Thanks for reading and I hope this is helpful to anyone thinking about starting with print on demand to earn some extra income. If you have any questions about any of these platforms you would like to ask then please feel free to comment below and I'll try and respond as soon as possible! :)