Expanding your business through the utilisation of print on demand services can offer a convenient and cost-efficient way to introduce your creations to the market. However, like any business endeavour, there are advantages and disadvantages to using print on demand.
Nevertheless, the opportunities presented by print on demand services are nearly limitless. By applying your creativity, you can find that print on demand serves as an excellent method to supplement, experiment with, or support your business objectives.
What is Print on Demand?
Imagine having a brilliant new idea, whether it’s a fresh design or an original book concept. What if you could bring it to the market without the need for a substantial upfront investment?
This is where print on demand comes into play. As the name suggests, an item is printed only when there is a demand for it. When either you or one of your customers places an order, the product is printed and shipped accordingly.
Print on demand functions similarly to dropshipping, allowing you to collaborate with a third-party seller (such as Oowia.com) who personalizes a blank item from their available inventory with your design or customization. Your customers can place orders directly through the seller, or you can purchase products in smaller quantities.
Print on demand services cover a wide range of items from various vendors. While we will discuss specific vendors shortly, here are some categories of items that can be printed on demand:
- Books: Fiction and non-fiction books, e-books, workbooks, notebooks and journals, photo books, coffee table books (Oowia isn’t present in these products, the list given is for educational purposes)
- Apparel: T-shirts, sweatshirts, socks, bibs, children’s clothing
- Household Items: Kitchen towels, cushion covers, tote bags, pet products, mugs
- Office Items: Pens and pencils, notepads, mousepads, thumb drives (Oowia isn’t present in these products, the list given is for educational purposes)
- Paper Items: Posters, stickers and labels, folders, bumper stickers (Oowia isn’t present in these products, the list given is for educational purposes)
The essence of print on demand is the ability to create something new and swiftly introduce it to the market.
The Advantages of Print on Demand
Print on demand has become a popular revenue stream and marketing strategy for many businesses due to several reasons. Here are a few benefits it offers:
Lower Overhead Costs with Print on Demand
Rather than investing in inventory, which often entails large bulk orders, you can sell items individually. This means you only have to incur costs when an item is actually purchased. Whether you’re starting small or unsure of the popularity of a product, keeping your overhead low and costs aligned with the number of units sold becomes possible.
Simplified Workflow with Print on Demand
If you wish to introduce a new product line, you may not want to spend time seeking new vendors or handling research and shipping logistics. By utilizing a third-party vendor, you can delegate the printing and shipping tasks, enabling you to focus on other product lines or ideas. This hands-off approach allows you to bring your product to market with minimal effort.
Time Efficiency of Print on Demand
We’ve all experienced those moments of inspiration striking late at night, and the urgency to turn it into a reality the following day. However, printing and amassing inventory can be time-consuming. Print on demand offers the spontaneity and flexibility to bring ideas to fruition swiftly.
Lower Risk Associated with Print on Demand
Let’s face it, not every idea becomes a resounding success. Rather than investing a significant amount of money in inventory that you need to sell, print on demand allows you to test an idea without committing all your resources. You may discover that your customers respond positively to certain products but not others, or that their interest in a design is temporary. With lower risk and reduced overhead costs, print on demand presents itself as an appealing option in many scenarios.
The Drawbacks of Print on Demand
While there are numerous reasons to consider print on demand for your next venture, it is essential to be aware of the potential drawbacks. Take into account the following disadvantages before deciding if this option suits your needs:
Print on Demand May Have Lower Profit Margins
In general, the cost per item with print on demand is higher compared to purchasing inventory in bulk. This means you will either need to pass on the additional costs to your customers by charging more or accept lower profit margins per item. While this may not pose a problem for supplementary or side projects, it’s worth carefully evaluating the financial implications.
Limited Product Options with Print on Demand
When collaborating with a print on demand vendor, you are limited to the items available in their inventory. You may prefer a specific color or a contemporary style that the company does not offer. In most cases, you must work with the available options provided by the vendors.
Reduced Control over Printing on Demand
Print on demand restricts your control over various aspects, including design quality, production location, and more. For some, this may not be a significant concern, as the primary objective is to introduce the design to the market. However, others may find this lack of control a crucial factor. You might prefer to maintain ultimate control over the association of your brand or designs with the products.
Shipping from an External Source with Print on Demand
Issues may arise concerning customer service and follow-up when products are shipped from a print on demand vendor. When a customer places an order through a print on demand service, the shipment does not come from your business; it is shipped directly from the vendor. Consequently, the vendor’s logo and address are associated with the shipping, and they have control over its timing and tracking. However, customers may approach you with any problems that arise, rather than contacting the vendor directly.
Overall, print on demand can be an excellent option if you are comfortable with a more hands-off approach. However, if you prefer maintaining hands-on involvement throughout the process, it may be worthwhile to reconsider the suitability of print on demand for your business.
Who Can Benefit from Print on Demand Services?
Given the vast array of products available through print on demand and the ability to customise them endlessly, practically anyone can utilise this service to enhance their business. Here are a few common groups that leverage print on demand to further their business goals:
- Content creators, artists, and designers showcasing their skills
- E-commerce business owners expanding their product offerings
- Social media influencers selling merchandise to their followers
- Start-ups raising brand awareness
- Growing companies sharing their logo or slogans with loyal customers
- Nonprofits conducting fundraising campaigns
As mentioned earlier, print on demand services are best suited for creative, proactive business owners seeking to bring a product to market without expending significant time, money, or energy in producing and shipping items in-house.
5 Reasons Why Print on Demand Can Benefit Your Business
If you are an entrepreneurial business owner considering print on demand services, you likely have numerous ideas already swirling in your mind. But before diving in, take a moment to consider the goals you have for your project. Let’s explore the various ways print on demand can benefit your business:
Expand Your Audience with Print on Demand
Print on demand allows you to create new products tailored to specific seasons or niche customer bases. By swiftly delivering these products, you can reach an audience that may have otherwise eluded you.
Advertise Your Brand with Print on Demand
Promoting your brand through merchandise can generate additional income and support your overall marketing efforts by raising brand awareness. This strategy proves particularly effective if your brand is associated with local markets or specific audiences that gather at special events.
Increase Your Customer Base through Print on Demand
Print on demand enables you to diversify your product offerings and reach a broader range of buyers. For example, by offering one-off or customized products, you can allow potential customers who are not yet ready for a significant investment to engage with your brand at a lower price point.
Enhance Your Image with Print on Demand
Many reputable print on demand services, like the ones mentioned below, have established a strong reputation among buyers. Rather than taking a gamble by printing items yourself, which may leave customers uncertain about the quality, print on demand allows you to collaborate with well-known third-party companies that handle the printing for you, enhancing your brand’s image by association.
Gain Immediate Feedback with Print on Demand
Uncertain about whether your next big idea will be a hit? Print on demand lets you test the idea among your customer base. In fact, you can create sample products or prototypes using print on demand and send them to your most loyal fans to gather feedback before investing substantial time and resources into the project.
Print on Demand Options for Businesses
The options for print on demand are virtually limitless, mirroring the endless possibilities for your creative ideas. Here is a brief list to help you get started. Please note that these options are not ranked in any particular order, and the list is by no means exhaustive. If you have a preferred print on demand service that we haven’t mentioned, we encourage you to share your recommendations in the comments:
If you already operate an e-commerce shop, such as a Shopify site, consider exploring print on demand apps or integrations compatible with your platform. This can provide a seamless experience for creating and listing products.
Print on demand can open numerous doors for your business, enabling you to explore new ideas within a low-risk environment while reaching a larger niche customer base. Whether you are seeking a means to bring a fresh design to life, develop an additional income stream, bolster your side hustle, or capitalise on a current trend, print on demand could be the perfect solution for you.