Increasingly popular over the last 10 years, print on demand is a real revolution in the world of e-commerce.
Also known as POD or Print on Demand, is a business model that allows you to sell your own custom designs on different types of products (T-shirts, mugs, tote bags, caps...) under your own brand name. Your print on demand supplier prints your design on a product only after receiving the order. This means that you don't pay for the product until you have sold it, so you don't need to keep stock and make an initial investment. Furthermore, once the sale is completed, your POD provider takes care of everything from printing to shipping. The process is 100% automated.
Just like in dropshipping, with print on demand you don't need to buy large quantities of products when you start: products are printed only once after they have been ordered. So what is the difference between these two methods of order management? Dropshipping is a model of selling products online without having them in stock. This order management system does not necessarily involve personalization. It can for example consist in reselling watches bought at low prices on Aliexpress. Print on demand consists in selling personalized products with your own white label designs without having them in stock. For example, it can consist in selling mugs with personalized messages. Unlike dropshipping, POD involves a process of printing a design on clothing or accessories. Print on demand is therefore a variant of dropshipping with a higher degree of personalization. In recent years, more and more brands have been offering personalization options to their customers. This is particularly the case for Louis Vuitton, which offers the possibility of adding a personalized monogram on its luggage. Like dropshipping, POD is a launch pad for entrepreneurship because of its ease of access. But is it really for everyone?
Print on Demand is not just for one type of profile: companies, individuals, celebrities... The profiles are very varied: anyone who wants to earn more money can start print on demand.
Print on demand is ideal for creating merchandising (or merchandising products) for creators (Youtubers, influencers, gamers, etc) who already have a fanbase. It's a great way to monetize your audience.
Do you want to become an entrepreneur without taking too many risks? You are a freelance graphic designer and want to market your designs on customized products? If you are creative and a marketer at heart, the POD is ideal for you: all you need is a niche and/or design idea to get started!
Print on demand allows you to create unique personalized gifts with your own designs or photos and no minimum order quantity. Give a personalized body to your nephew or a personalized mug to your grandmother as a Christmas or birthday gift!
Every printing technique has its advantages and disadvantages and POD is no exception.
Let's start with the main advantages of print on demand:
-No stock. The concept of print on demand is the opposite of the logic of mass production. Each product is printed only after it has been ordered. This means that you will never end up with a stock of unsold products.
-A reduced investment. With POD, you don't need to invest in expensive equipment such as a printer. The supplier takes care of the entire production part, which consists of printing or embroidering the designs on items. You only need a computer and an internet connection to fine-tune your showcase site and promote it through a marketing strategy.
-Little risk. Having no physical stock gives you great flexibility to test new design ideas because you have nothing to lose if you don't make any sales. You can experiment with different designs or product types.
-Order management and logistics are handled by the supplier. Your POD provider is more than just a supplier: he takes care of printing, packaging and shipping for each order. The degree of personalization varies from one supplier to another, but everything is done so that your end customer does not realize that his order has been processed by a third party provider.
In short, by working with a print on demand supplier, you have more time to focus on your marketing strategy.
Now, let's move on to the main disadvantages of print on demand
-A higher price per item. Since print on demand is based on the principle of unit or small volume orders, the cost of the products is higher than for bulk orders. Nevertheless, you set your prices according to the sales margin you wish to achieve. It is up to you to propose attractive designs and to promote them effectively.
-Longer processing times. Products must be manufactured before being shipped. Therefore, the delays are longer because the order processing time must be added to the delivery time. Our average order processing time is 3 days plus shipping time, which is 4 days on average.
Now that you know the advantages and disadvantages of print on demand, let's go through the different steps to get started with print on demand.
The choice of a good POD supplier is essential for success in print on demand because its role goes far beyond the production of the items.
Criteria for choosing a POD supplier
We have selected 5 important criteria to help you choose your print on demand supplier:
The degree of personalization
The user experience
The product catalog
Before you start creating your designs, identify your target audience. Who do you want to sell your products to?
Here are a few tips to find a profitable niche in print on demand:
Position yourself on a community you are part of
It's always easier to sell to a niche you already know: you already know its codes, jargon and the consumption habits of its followers.
Position yourself in a niche market that is not very competitive
You need to conduct market research to be able to anticipate trends. For example, analyze the search volume for certain keywords by simply entering them in the Google search bar.
It's all about making the right trade-off: if your niche is too large, you won't be able to target it effectively; if it's too small, you won't have enough buyers. In short, identify the commercial potential of your niche.
Explore the product categories of the marketplaces
You want to position yourself in the car/motorcycle world? It's a good start but this target is still much too wide. To explore this theme, take a tour of the main marketplaces (Amazon, Cdiscount, Aliexpress, etc.) and explore the sub-categories and best sellers.
Let's say you are interested in the sub-category "scooter" and more specifically electric scooters.
You can search Google trends to assess the evolution of interest in scooters over a given period of time.
Design plays a crucial role when it comes to creating customized products on demand. The most difficult thing is to find a design that is both original and has good commercial potential. But the good news is that you don't need to be a graphic designer to create designs.
If you already have some knowledge of graphic design, you can create your T-shirt designs with Photoshop or one of its many alternatives.
If you're not comfortable with Photoshop but your design idea is simple enough, use Techtoprint's Builder to create Templates. It has many designs, fonts, illustrations, clipart and symbols that can be used freely. Ideal if your design idea is simple!
Finally, you can always hire a freelance graphic designer to bring your design ideas to life.
There are multiple marketing strategies to sell online.
The most effective techniques are not necessarily the most expensive.
Here are 3 free (or almost free) marketing strategy ideas to promote your online store :
Influencers on instagram
First, identify influencers in your niche who share your vision. The strength of an influencer lies in the commitment they generate. Calculate the engagement rate (number of likes and comments divided by the number of followers) of influencers using free engagement calculators like Tanke. If it is higher than 5%, the engagement rate is high. Then, contact them directly in a private message on Instagram or by e-mail by offering them a free product in exchange for a post or a story on their Instagram account.
In order to create a buzz around the launch of your store, you can earn one of your products on your social networks. For example, to generate maximum interaction on Instagram, ask your subscribers to tag 3 people as comments to have a chance to win the gift.
Here are a few tips to help you put all the chances on your side and succeed in print on demand:
-First of all, learn: read everything you can about print on demand (testimonials, tips, articles, etc.) and marketing techniques.
-Get closer to other POD entrepreneurs to ask questions, exchange tips and stay motivated.
-Before promoting your store, order samples of your products. This will allow you to make sure of the printing and product quality and you can take advantage of it to take pictures of them to illustrate your product sheets.
-Work on your SEO. Perform a keyword search, detail your product sheets and create content optimized on your keywords through blog posts. If writing content is not your cup of tea, you can call upon editors via platforms such as Redacteur.com or Fiverr.
When creating your designs, be bold while respecting copyright rules. Stand out from the competition. For example, you can emphasize the storytelling (the "why") of your brand or your graphic charter.
Be transparent in your communication. This is particularly important in print on demand because you have to add product processing times to delivery times.
Ready to get started?