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How to get started with Print on Demand (POD)
Learn the basics of Print on Demand.
Print on Demand (POD) is a low-risk business model that has become quite popular over the last years. This modality of dropshipping allows sellers to generate an income without assuming significant costs.
As in any business, it’s good to have some previous knowledge. In our Ultimate Print on Demand Guide, you’ll find all the information you need to take into account if you consider starting a POD business.
In today’s post, we’ll tackle the basics. Keep reading to discover what is Print on Demand, what business alternatives exist, and the main pros and cons of creating a store through this model.
On this article:
What is Print on Demand?
Print on Demand is a business model that allows sellers to produce the items of their catalog only when a customer demands them. Whenever a client makes a purchase, a manufacturer creates the product and manages the delivery.
There is a wide variety of articles that you can personalize for a Print on Demand store. The most popular categories are apparel, stationery, and wall art. This model also allows you to print self-published books.
The most significant advantage of Print on Demand is that there is no need to produce a minimum stock: you only create an article whenever a client demands it. Therefore, the initial investment is low compared to other business models. The risk is also lower, as you will only assume costs for the units of product that you sell and deliver.
Types of Print on Demand services?
There are two main types of Print on Demand companies: POD Fulfillment services and POD marketplaces.
POD Fulfillment Services
A Print on Demand Fulfillment Services company is a strategic partner that manages all the logistics related to a Print on Demand Store. These providers are in charge of printing your designs in the products that you choose from their catalog. They also manage the delivery and shipping part of the purchase funnel.
If you choose to work with this kind of partner, you have to take into account that it’s your responsibility to create your store’s website. You will be the “seller of record.” This means that other business aspects, as customer service and tax management. Your partner is only in charge of logistics.
Print on Demand Marketplaces
A Print on Demand Marketplace is an e-commerce platform that allows you to sell your Print on Demand products as part of their catalog. This means that the site is the “seller of record,” so they will manage production and dropshipping, but also taxes, and customer service.
The only thing you need to do in this case is to create or legally purchase your designs. Once you upload those designs to the platform, you will receive a royalty every time a customer makes an order. Some marketplaces also promote your products. This way, they will be visible for your target without any investment from your side.
Who is Print on Demand for?
Beginner retailers. Print on Demand is perfect for those who don’t have any experience in dropshipping or retail but want to try a new business idea. As this business model does not require a significant investment, rookie mistakes won’t cost you a big loss. You will also be able to do useful market research at low risk.
Artists No matter if you are an amateur that wants to turn their passion into profit or a professional searching for a new source of income. If you are creative, you should take a look at Print on Demand. By uploading your designs to a marketplace or store, you will be able to turn them into products and reach a growing audience.
Business experiments. In 2020, scaling your business requires giving up on gut-feeling decisions. Rapid experimentation is the best way to make wise and practical choices. Is it worth investing money in creating a stationery collection? Give it a try with Print on Demand and let real data help you make the right decision.
Passive income. If you’d like to earn some extra money without making an investment or committing to a conventional job, Print on Demand is an excellent source of passive income. You just need to upload your designs to a marketplace. They will manage the promotion, the production, and the delivery of the final projects. You’ll only have to worry about getting paid.
Book authors. If you have a book that you’d like to publish, but you don’t have the support of an editor, Print on Demand gives you the chance of self-publishing. The provider will only print your book every time a customer demands it, so you won’t have to print a minimum stock.
Pros and Cons of Print on Demand as a business model
The perks of Print on Demand
- There is no need to generate a minimum stock. This means that you won’t have to invest money in creating products that you won’t sell. Also, you won’t need to have a physical store or a place to put the stock while you are trying to sell it. This model allows you to reduce not only the risk but the cost of selling your items.
- You don’t need to invest in machines to produce your personalized items. Industrial printers, cutting machines, and sublimation devices can be costly. With Print on Demand, you won’t need to buy these resources before knowing if you’ll succeed. You can create a successful business without having this equipment.
- Print on Demand allows you to make better use of your time. You don’t need to manage production, shipping, or logistics, so you’ll have more time to invest in design or marketing. You can focus on growing your business.
- As we said before, Print on Demand is perfect for rapid experimentation. You can get a real impression of your target’s preferences without risking to lose your money.
- Print on Demand allows you to offer a wide variety of products by contacting just one provider. This way, you can create a big catalog without having to manage several partnerships at a time.
The disadvantages of Print on Demand
- Your partner will be in charge of manufacturing. This means you’ll have less control over the whole process (almost any). You won’t see the final products before shipping, so you will have to trust that they reach your quality standards.
- Your products’availability depends on your partner’s stock. If your provider runs out of a product (e.g., mugs), your customers won’t be able to buy a version with your design printed on it.
- Some processes, as devolutions or reimbursements, can become more complicated.
- Once you pick a fulfillment services provider, you will have to stick to a limited catalog. If your provider does not give you the option to print your designs in some objects (e.g., hoodies), you won’t be able to sell them.
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