How Does Print On Demand Work? - The Best Answer In 2023

In the past, creating a small number of journals was difficult due to the limitations of printing technology. While large print jobs were manageable, reproducing a few pages with stencils and a mimeograph or similar device was inefficient during the early 20th century. However, with the progress in digitization and technology, as well as the expansion of the eCommerce industry in the 21st century, the print-on-demand business (POD business) model emerged as a solution. In this article, we would like to discuss How Does Print On Demand Work and more in-depth concerns relating to the POD business.

What is print on demand?

POD (Print-on-Demand) is a type of internet-based business model that involves collaborating with a printing service provider to personalize white-label items. You can then offer these items for sale under your own brand or label, but only when a customer places an order. This is similar to drop shipping in that you don't have to keep any inventory on hand. Furthermore, the printing provider manages all of the post-sale tasks, such as printing, counting, packing, and shipping. Using a POD company is also advantageous for evaluating new product lines or business ideas without the expense and danger of purchasing inventory.

What's the difference between POD business and Drop shipping?

To understand How does Print On Demand work, we first have to understand the difference between Print on Demand and Drop-shipping. Print-On-Demand (POD) and dropshipping are similar in that they both allow you to sell products without keeping inventory in stock. However, there are some key differences between the two models:

- Products

In a dropshipping model, you sell products that are already manufactured and in stock with a third-party supplier. In contrast, with POD, the product is only produced after a customer places an order.

- Customization

POD allows you to customize the product according to your own specifications, such as adding your own design or logo. With dropshipping, you are limited to the pre-existing options provided by the supplier.

- Control

With POD, you have more control over the product quality and delivery time since you are working directly with the printing company. In dropshipping, you are reliant on the supplier's inventory management and shipping processes.

- Upfront Cost

In dropshipping, you typically have to pay for the product upfront to the supplier, which can be a significant upfront cost. With POD, you only pay for the product after a customer places an order.

Overall, POD offers more customization options and control over product quality and delivery time, but it may also have higher product costs than dropshipping.

What are the benefits when you join in the POD business?

Print on Demand (POD) is a business model that relies mainly on dropshipping, which has many advantages for emerging eCommerce companies. Some of these benefits are:

- User-Friendly Accounts

POD platforms are generally straightforward to use. Sellers create an account to place their orders, which is often as simple as setting up an account with any other eCommerce site. Further details regarding the delivery of products are added as each order comes in.

- No Inventory Management Hassles

Since the POD company orders from a third-party merchant, the seller does not have to hold any stock. The printing company holds the items to be printed on, and completed products are only shipped after they are made. This eliminates the need for inventory management, and excess stock is never an issue since products are only produced when a customer places an order.

- Zero Fulfillment Efforts

The front-end company only needs to provide minimal input for each order. After receiving the order, the POD company takes care of printing and shipping the product.

- Low investment risk for the seller

With POD business, the seller does not have to invest upfront in inventory, which is a common risk for traditional retail models. Instead, the products are only produced and shipped to the customer after they place an order. This means that the seller does not have to spend money on producing and storing inventory that may or may not sell. By using the POD model, sellers can test out new product ideas and designs without risking significant financial loss. 

How does Print on Demand work? 

The process of selling print-on-demand (POD) products involves only a few steps, but the first step may differ based on the platform you choose. 

Here's the thing: If your choice is to go work with a print provider, you'll need to select their preferred service and create an account. Once you have an account, you can upload designs and choose the products to sell on that company's website. The third-party print-on-demand company will handle the selling and fulfillment of items on your behalf. 

On the other hand, if your choice is to work directly with a fulfillment service, you'll need to find a POD platform, integrate it with your site, and choose the products and designs to sell on it. After having done all of those steps, you'll be responsible for handling advertising and order processing.

To answer the question "How Does Print On Demand Work", you just need to bear in mind that the biggest difference here is: if you're working with a print provider, they will take care of most of the sales and marketing for you. Otherwise, if you're a solopreneur running a POD business on your own, you'll need to take responsibility for marketing your products and attracting customers to your website.

Whenever there is an order placed through the POD platform, the product will then be immediately printed, packaged, and shipped to the customer. Payment finally goes to the seller, and the customer receives their goods.

Popular Print on demand products that you can sell

There are a wide variety of customizable products available in the print-on-demand (POD) model, ranging from mugs to hats to t-shirts. Sellers can add their own designs or artwork to these products, or even include sentiments or messages to make them unique. Whether you want to focus on one type of product, such as t-shirts, or offer a range of products on your website, the choice is entirely up to you.

To give you some ideas, here is a list of SOME popular Print on demand products you can sell on your Print on demand stores: 

- Print on demand shirts

- Print on demand mugs

- Print on demand shoes

- Print on demand books

- Print on demand jewelry

- Print on demand carpets

- Print on demand stickers

- Print on demand candles

- Print on demand canvas

- Print on demand journals


If a product can be customized with your label and designs according to your customer's order, it can be an excellent POD product.

However, it's important to consider shipping costs when selecting products. Heavier products may cost more to ship, which can subtract from your overall income. It's also essential to ask your POD supplier which products can be customized with specific designs.

Some tips for newcomers: Think out of the box 

We aim to discuss crucial factors that are often overlooked when starting a print-on-demand business. These aspects may come as a surprise to you, and some may lead to losing money due to unsuccessful advertising campaigns. Furthermore, some can result in significant customer service issues that can cause headaches.

  1. Prioritize your market and niche

To succeed as a newcomer in the POD business, it's crucial to prioritize your market and niche. Always remember, your audience's demand is a crucial factor in e-commerce, as they are the ones who will be purchasing your products.

As a beginner in print-on-demand marketing, it's highly recommended to identify a niche and maintain focus on your goals. While it may be tempting to quickly fill market gaps with generic products and poor designs for short-term profit, it's easier to stay motivated and committed if you genuinely believe in the value of your offerings.

For example, it's common to see a slew of print-on-demand stores selling tees with similar graphic designs, resulting in a saturated market. If you follow the same path, repeating the same old images or quotes, you will become nothing more than another small player in a vast and highly competitive market. And no wonder that your business will fail sooner or later not leaving a single impression in customers' minds. 

  1. Focus on making an effective marketing strategy 

Creating an effective marketing strategy is essential to the success of your print-on-demand business. It's crucial to establish a unique brand and promote it both online and offline, all while competing with other businesses. A well-planned e-commerce marketing strategy can make or break your business.

Fortunately, you don't need a marketing background to establish a strong brand identity or unique selling point. With a clear understanding of your products and your target audience, you can reach your customers and drive profits.

  1. Constantly test and modify your Facebook ads 

It is undeniable that Facebook ads can be highly effective for e-commerce, especially in print-on-demand marketing, to drive traffic to your website and product listings. However, some newcomers may hesitate to invest in Facebook ads before seeing significant profits.

Unfortunately, using Facebook ads does require a learning curve, and experimenting with paid ads will require some initial investment. It's essential to test and modify your Facebook ads continually to achieve optimal results.

  1. Provide customers with realistic mockups

In terms of products, many print-on-demand companies offer website mockups, but they often feature plain white backgrounds and can appear dull and unappealing for advertising purposes. Therefore, it's crucial to obtain realistic lifestyle mockups to effectively promote your products.

Here are some excellent sources where you can find free mockup images:

- Pixeden

- GraphicBurger

- FreePik

- Mockup World

- Placeit

- Mockup Zone

Wrapping up

Now you have a better understanding of How Does Print On Demand Work and get in your hand the useful tips to think out of the box to make your POD business stand out. If you are interested in this field and want to know more about it, you might also want to read these articles from Printerval: