Print On Demand VS Dropshipping - Which One Is Better For You In 2023?

No matter whether you are a newcomer or an experienced 'player' in the e-commerce world, it is undeniable that the present economy is under the drastic influence of the pandemic, which means that there are a lot of changes in the way e-commerce operates. Hence, many business owners may have to deal with reconsidering their choices in business models. Should they stay the same or be in need of a new business model to be successful in this field? Two of the biggest choices to put on the scale is "Print on Demand" and "Dropshipping". 

As we move forward in this article, we will delve into the definitions of these approaches and present the pros and cons to help you decide which option (print on demand vs dropshipping) is more suitable for your requirements. Let's continue reading! 

What is print on demand business? 

To differentiate Print on demand vs dropshipping, we would like to start with Print on demand. So basically, Print on demand, commonly known as POD, is an innovative approach that allows customers to have personalized products tailored specifically to their preferences. It revolutionizes the traditional order fulfillment process by printing items on-demand as soon as an order is placed, and the intriguing aspect is that there are typically no minimum order requirements.

This unique print on demand fulfillment method is often seamlessly integrated with the dropshipping model, sharing a common feature where holding a stock of finished products becomes unnecessary. With print on demand, the product is perpetually "in stock," ready to be created whenever an order is received. This opens up a realm of possibilities, as it empowers you to collaborate with a supplier to customize and print white-label products. Think of customized T-shirts or stylish tote bags bearing your own distinctive designs.

source: ecommerceceo

What is dropshipping?

In essence, to tell off dropshipping vs print on demand, dropshipping is an eCommerce approach that allows you to establish a business with minimal or no upfront investment. It provides the flexibility to outsource inventory management to third-party suppliers, freeing you up to focus on growing your business and devising strategic plans.

With dropshipping, you have the freedom to construct your ideal website independently. The product options are virtually limitless, and you can effortlessly introduce new products whenever desired. The cost of products is generally lower, but it's important to note that selecting an inappropriate supplier can lead to inventory shortages. Therefore, it is crucial to maintain a strong working relationship with your suppliers and ensure smooth cooperation.

Top-tier dropshipping suppliers often possess their own warehouses, where they handle product selection and packaging. Experienced dropshipping companies may even offer additional services, such as the option for white label products. This exciting feature enables you to have your products packaged with your unique branding, adding a personalized touch to your business.

The difference between print on demand and dropshipping

Now that we have briefly explored the essence of print on demand and its parallels with dropshipping, let's delve into the intriguing differences between the two methods.

The pros

We would like to embark on the pros that these two business models - Print on Demand VS Dropshipping bring to sellers.

Print on Demand


  • Customization: POD allows for customization and personalization of products. Customers can have unique designs, graphics, or text printed on various items, such as t-shirts, mugs, or phone cases, providing a more personalized shopping experience.
  • Reduced upfront costs: Since products are printed on-demand, there is no need for large upfront investments in inventory. This lowers the financial risk for businesses, particularly for entrepreneurs or small-scale operations.
  • Flexibility and scalability: POD allows businesses to easily add or remove products from their catalog without worrying about inventory management. This flexibility enables quick adaptation to market trends and customer demands. Additionally, as sales increase, the production can be scaled up seamlessly to meet the growing demand.
  • Wide product range: POD offers a wide range of products to choose from, allowing businesses to cater to various customer preferences. From apparel and accessories to home decor and stationery, there are numerous options to offer in a POD store.
  • Low startup costs: Dropshipping requires minimal upfront investment since there's no need to purchase or manage inventory. This makes it an attractive option for entrepreneurs with limited capital or those looking for a low-risk business model.
  • Time and location flexibility: Dropshipping allows for location-independent businesses as there's no need to handle physical products. Additionally, it offers flexibility in terms of working hours since the business can be operated online, giving entrepreneurs the freedom to set their own schedules.
  • Wide product selection: Dropshipping enables access to a vast range of products from various suppliers. This allows businesses to offer a diverse product selection to cater to different customer preferences, without the need for extensive inventory storage.
  • Easy scalability: As the business grows, scaling up operations in dropshipping is relatively straightforward. Suppliers handle the inventory and shipping logistics, allowing businesses to focus on marketing and expanding their customer base.



The cons 

Now it’s a very significant angle to take when considering which one - Print On Demand VS Dropshipping - is your ideal option.

Print on Demand


  • Longer shipping times: Since products are created on-demand after an order is placed, it can lead to longer shipping times compared to having pre-made inventory. This can potentially result in customer dissatisfaction, especially for those expecting faster delivery.
  •     Limited quality control: With POD, the printing and manufacturing of products are outsourced to suppliers. This reduces direct control over the production process and quality control. The inconsistent print quality or variations in product materials may occur, affecting customer satisfaction and brand reputation.
  •     Lower profit margins: The cost of producing individual customized items through POD can be higher compared to bulk manufacturing. This can result in lower profit margins for businesses, especially when factoring in the cost of printing, materials, and shipping.
  • Dependency on suppliers: Dropshipping relies heavily on suppliers for inventory management and order fulfillment. Businesses are reliant on their suppliers' reliability, responsiveness, and ability to maintain stock levels. If a supplier faces issues, such as inventory shortages or shipping delays, it can negatively impacts customer satisfaction and the business's reputation.
  • Limited control over product availability: Businesses have little control over product availability and stock levels in dropshipping. If multiple sellers are using the same supplier, competition for popular products can lead to inventory shortages or increased prices, affecting the ability to meet customer demand.
  • Lower profit margins: While dropshipping eliminates the need for upfront inventory costs, it often results in lower profit margins. This is due to the higher production costs associated with purchasing from suppliers at a wholesale price and the additional costs involved in dropshipping, such as shipping fees and handling charges.



Need more suggestions?

If you still have no clue which one is for you, bear in mind this thing: the choice between print on demand vs dropshipping is mostly up to your long-term target and what you are capable of. Below is our guide for those who are in need of a piece of advice. 

- Let's say you desire to establish and promote your own brand, you have, somewhat, a talent for designing and creating new things, and you have a really good sense of artsy things, print on demand is unquestionably the ideal option as it allows you to create unique and personal-touched products that reflect your very own designs and artistic vision.

- Suppose you position the profit at the top place, which means that your wish is to generate profits quickly, then dropshipping can change the whole game. It genuinely enables you to start selling products swiftly without the need to invest heavily in inventory or production.

Indeed, print on demand vs dropshipping, both of them hold the ultimate potential for one to start a significant business, you can choose one of them but always remember that, you have another option, which is to combine both models within a single online store or even run two separate businesses simultaneously. It's just that managing both approaches simultaneously surely requires extra effort and resources.


Ultimately, success in e-commerce hinges on thorough research, strategic planning, and continuous adaptation. For the question "Print on demand vs dropshipping, which one is better for you", there is no specific anwer here but it's all up to your preference and capabililites. Stay attuned to market trends, customer demands, and evolving technologies to make informed decisions that align with your business goals. Whether you opt for print on demand, dropshipping, or a combination of both, with careful consideration and dedication, you can navigate the dynamic e-commerce landscape and carve out a thriving online business in 2023 and beyond.

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