What is it & How does it work?
Print-on-Demand (POD) is a business practice where items are printed as orders are received, allowing prints of single or smaller quantities. This strategy is chosen by companies who don’t have the resources or desire to maintain inventory or handle production. POD works most efficiently by linking your website directly to a third-party fulfillment center of your choice. When your customer makes a purchase, your POD fulfillment partner creates the individual product on site and sends it directly to your customer so you don’t have to buy or carry inventory that might never sell.
POD is a wonderful option for small businesses just starting out or larger businesses who don’t have the time or resources for in-house production. It eliminates the need to buy expensive equipment, train production employees, and analyze your sales for efficient inventory purchasing. POD is a low risk business model that will save you time and money. It is also an effective way to generate extra income with reduced time-investment because all you have to do is design the items and post them to your website. POD also makes it easy to test new ideas without having to spend money on products that might not be popular with your customers.
Pros of POD:
No printing in bulk
Your POD fulfillment center only prints on a product once an order is placed. This way you don’t have to carry stock of all your products on hand.
No need to buy expensive equipment
Your POD fulfillment center carries all the equipment needed to print on your products. This saves you the money and manpower of having to purchase and use it yourself. Sit back and relax while you watch the orders roll in.
Easy to experiment with new designs and products
Selling a new design or product is just as easy as adding it to your online store. There is no need to purchase a large quantity of items that might never sell. If a product doesn’t sell well you can just remove it from your website without having to hold onto a bunch of unwanted products. POD is always expanding their product lines as well.
Easy to customize designs
POD centers are continuously improving how they print on products which means you can get more creative for you customers.
Easy to establish your brand
POD centers are now starting to use ‘white labeling’ which means you can place your brand name on a product so it appears it came from you, instead of a third-party company.
Endless services and resources
Your POD fulfillment center wants you to succeed just as much as you do. That is why they are always putting out new blogs, videos, and social media posts to help your business soar.
Cons of POD:
Less control over the fulfillment
An easy way to test how the product is to order a sample. This way you can wear or try out a product before posting it to your page for your customers to buy.
You depend on the POD center to carry stock
It is possible that your POD fulfillment center might run out of an item you sell on your website. Good news though, these companies are used to dealing with multiple businesses so they carry large amounts of stock on hand to avoid that exact issue.
Longer shipping time
Because your product is printed on after an order is completed it may take slightly longer for your customer to receive their product. CustomCat, however, has one of the fastest shipping times for POD and will have products mailed within 2-3 days.
Tips for starting a POD business:
Choose Your Print Provider
There are many options to choose from when deciding what POD company you want to work with. Before making your final decision make sure to do your research. Different companies will have different products, prices, suppliers, locations of production facilities, and subscription plans. Determine whether the companies you’re considering have adequate user support, carry the products you want to sell at prices you can work with, and ship to/from areas that will be beneficial to your customers. Doing research beforehand is the best way to make sure you are happy with the production partner you choose.
Focus on a Niche
When creating your website, determine what your company’s niche will be. Focusing on a smaller market will make it easier for you to advertise your products & stand out when users are trying to find products like yours. It may be tempting to sell a little bit of everything, but it may be tough to advertise & compete for customers in such a broad market. If your designs are catered to a more specific audience, you will have an easier time linking up with the individuals who are looking for products like yours.
Always Order a Sample
Ordering a sample helps you understand the products your customers will be receiving. You can feel, try-on, and test out a product before you post it to your site so you can accurately describe it to your customers. This will help you determine whether a customer’s issue is related to a deviation from expected product quality or by inaccurate expectations of what you’re selling.
Creating mockups of your products allows the customer to see what they are purchasing. Make sure to post images on different angles and distances to get in specific details.
Define your return guidelines
When deciding on your return guidelines make sure they align with your POD fulfillment centers guidelines. This allows for better communication between you, your customer, and your POD.
Why CustomCat is the best choice for Print-on-Demand.
CustomCat is a mass customization print-on-demand fulfillment service located in Detroit, Michigan. We have over 500 unique products for user customization and ship more than 40,000 customized items per day. Your designs can be applied to these items via direct-to-garment printing, sublimation printing, or embroidery. Orders placed in your online store can be transmitted to CustomCat’s system for production and white-label shipping through integrations with Etsy, Shopify, WooCommerce, BigCommerce, API, and through CSV ordering. This means you don’t need to carry inventory — we create and ship orders on your behalf.
We know how important it is to get the product out of the door into the hands of your customers hassle-free. Orders go from your screen to our machines and out the door in 2-3 business days on average.
Plus, we are the only digital printing company in the US who is able to offer 1200 dpi resolution on apparel with a soft-hand feel quality that is unmatched in the market!