Print on demand is a print technology in which you don’t print on products until customers place the order. It started with digital printing possibilities in the publishing industry (“Everybody is a writer”). Digital technology allows us to become self-published authors and to sell books worldwide. All one need is online bookstores, with zero up-front printing cost and no books inventory to think of.
Very soon after books, other products used all the benefits of the print of demand, too. You may have a quote or two to share with a world, or you’re an artistic soul that can create exciting and visually appealing works to be printed. Maybe you are none of these two but have a good business sense to collect attractive things for printing. In all cases, this is a great way to make money from your home. With good ideas, NO coding knowledge and good looking WordPress theme with WooCommerce on it there is nothing that can stop you to run successful POD business without some huge investments.
It sounds like dropshipping; it smells like dropshipping….
Because it is a dropshipping! Kind of.
This is how it works. There are websites that offer print on demand (POD) service, meaning that after an order is placed by the customer directly to your online shop, these sites are automatically informed as they are linked to your shop. They print the ordered product (t-shirt, socks, mug, hat, poster…) and send it directly to the customer. And that’s it! So the similarities to dropshipping are obvious:
- No upfront costs for you related to goods, meaning you don’t have to buy the goods upfront and to wait for the customer. Therefore the second similarity:
- No inventory. The supplier is shipping the product directly to your customer.
- Order processing is automated, all you need to do is to send customer details to your provider
- In both cases, you need to know your way around in marketing, especially online promotion
But, there are some significant differences between dropshipping and POD:
- In the POD, you have unique; custom made products based on your artwork uploaded to POD service providers.
- In dropshipping you have more options to predict what can be trendy and somebody already “invented” the products, you are just selling them. In POD business you can not predict trends as these are custom made products, you may rely on your sense of humor for phrases or artistic nature (you might want to ask few friends to give you their opinion on your work before you start POD business). Although, timing in POD business might mean a lot, for example, season thematic, or some special event like elections, etc.
- You will often hear that for POD you need more graphic designer knowledge. I do not really agree with this as you do not have to create some high-level art for the POD, but at the same time for successful dropshipping business, you will as well need a level of design knowledge, photo editing and website polishing from time to time.
- In POD you have as many products as you can create, so it depends on your inspiration. In dropshipping, there are millions of product that you can sell (as well as thousands of other dropshippers that can sell the same products)
When do you want to use Print on Demand service?
Two most usual cases:
- You have your own brand online shop, and you do not want to have stocks or to invest in product printing before customers order some goods
- You want to, or you are already selling customized products on some of the online marketplaces that connect sellers and buyers like Amazon or Etsy.
Print on demand with WordPress
Starting a print on demand with WordPress is easy and won’t take much of your time. Like we said, with the right WordPress theme and the right set of tools, you’re on the fast track! All you need is a good idea and a will to start your business.
What to think about when considering POD business
Customers: who are they, where will you find them and how will you process the orders
Targeting and segmentation, even POD cannot go without this. Today’s digital world gave everybody opportunity to work worldwide, but this is an as big obstacle as it is an opportunity. If you do not segment the markets and target wisely and narrow enough, you will for sure miss your desired target group.
Once you decide who you are selling your products to, you need to find them. Again, you will need some social network promotion skills and tools, something WordPress is rich with (plugins and widgets, marketing). As well you will need to create your marketing strategy and promotional plan, in line with your target group.
In the end, when you know your Target Group and where to find them, you need to make sure their potential orders are processed. This can be done (preferably) automatically by POD providers, or you can set some of the steps to do manually (unless you have extra time to spend on it, keep that automatic button on and focus on marketing)
Profitability: How much will it cost you to create a product ready to be sold, and how much will it cost the customer? The difference between is your profit.
Don’t expect hundreds of percentages margins in POD business. You will have a fixed price for the product and the printing from the POD provider, and on top of this, your customer will have the delivery expenses. This is where you should think once again about where your customers are. Most of the POD providers are in the USA so selling products in Europe (or Asia, Africa…) will increase delivery costs. There are some POD providers with offices in Europe like Allover print or Printful, and you should reconsider them for customers in Europe.
In the end, nobody wants to buy 60 USD jar unless there is some 12 years old Whisky in the Jar.
TOP3 POD providers and WooCommerce installation
The leader of the pack, already mentioned as a provider that you can use both in the US and Europe. Almost a decade of experience in the business, highest domain authority in the industry, easy integration with WooCommerce and one extra-cool option is their profit calculator.
And here is how they work:
What you need to prepare for “Garry” is a nice looking WP shop running WooCommerce, to upload your unique designs and of course, you need to find Garry online and point him to your WP shop. Garry will be blown away by your products, and usually purchase it. Printful automatically receives the order, process it and ships it. In 4 to 10 days, Garry is happy.
WooCommerce integration is easy. First, you install the Printfull plugin to Wp site, connect your store to Printfull, add products to Printfull, set up shipping and taxes and that’s it!
WooCommerce merchants have already earned over $2,643,385.00 through Printful since the integration launched
Another POD provider with worldwide delivery, although they have their offices only in the US. They provide some reasonable delivery costs.
With Print Aura your items are fully branded with your logo, stickers and brand alike with each shipment. It’s like you are running an industry giant, not actually managing your Print on Demand business from the laptop.
And again, WooCommerce integration is a piece of cake. You’ll need to upload Print Aura (not available via WordPress), and you can find details in the video below:
The way Printify works is totally different than two providers we talked above. These guys have no printers. So you have no printer, they have no printer, and we’re all in the printing industry!!??
Well, you want a digital world now get used to it. Airbnb has no hotels, Uber owns no cars (at least none with the driver in it), and here we have a print on demand provider with no printers! Once you connect your WooCommerce shop with Printify, it allows you to choose a print shop located as close as possible to your target audience. So we go back at the beginning targeting. You need to do proper segmentation and targeting to be able to choose best (least expensive to deliver) printing location. Printify lets you choose not only print location/shop but as well quality and t-shirt models. The final price of the product will depend on several variables.
There are no monthly fees; you pay only for the ordered goods.
WooCommerce integration is done via a plugin, and with Integrations, all order operations are automated, and users only need to worry about selling and marketing their products. Detailed instructions in on their (very useful) YouTube channel:
All of these POD providers are not offering just t-Shirts. You have a vide product portfolio to work with like Long-sleeves, Sweatshirts, Hoodies, Kids Apparel, Phone Cases, Bags, Laptop Sleeves, Mugs, Home Décor, Stationery, Canvases, Posters, Accessories, Socks….
As POD business is only growing, there are numerous suppliers that are not among our TOP3, but that doesn’t mean you won’t like it better. To name just some of them:
Start with choosing a perfect theme and installing WooCommerce. After you make your first million we want a T-Shirt: THANK YOU FOR MAKING ME A MILLIONAIRE! 🙂