Design, Products & Trends

How to stay on top of the custom design print game

It's a long way to the top, and staying there is not much easier. Learn to stay the best in the world of custom prints!


Some print shops fail, others succeed

Have you ever gone to Etsy, clicked on a random shop and said "Wow, just a year old and sales already in thousands!"? Or, on the contrary, have you noticed that some household names in online shopping seem to become outdated / stopped growing? In the world of custom design printing, there are reasons why some shops fail and others succeed. Take a look at how you can stay at the top of the game!

Check out competitors

We cannot stress this enough: custom prints are a very competitive business. To stay on top, you need to use any help you can get. Thankfully and ironically, your competitors can help you. You need to analyze them, especially the big ones. The reason is simple - if they are big, then they are doing something right. One of the things you can analyze, are their products / designs. If a specific product got a lot of reviews recently, it means it is trending. Also, many shops have a 'featured' or 'bestselling' section, where the most popular products are in one place. Last, but not least, competitors' most successful / hopeful designs are often advertised, though not always. You can use these for inspiration - not copy, but it is allowed to create something similar to follow a trend. For example, we noticed that some wallpaper shops suddenly put up a lot of bright/sunny/yellow-ish floral designs. They worked! We're not saying that jumping on a bandwagon is always good, but a trend is a trend for a reason.

In addition to products, you can also check out different innovations from competitors. Some time ago Etsy allowed videos to be added to listings. A great way to showcase a product. But if you don't know how it should look, just take a look at what others are doing. Or, if you are on Shopify, competitors can help you find new visual tricks and scripts to make your shop look more attractive. One of our partners recently added a moving announcement banner on top of the website, and it is no secret that it was not their original idea.

The point is, you don't need always need to create new ideas and solutions from scratch, because often competitors will have done the hard part for you!

Check the news

The world is always changing, something always happens. Why should you care? Because it presents new opportunities! If you keep an eye out for interesting news, then you have a chance to be first or to take part in interesting trends / situations. For example, famous footballer Lionel Messi left his long time club Barcelona, which became a trending topic. Creating a Messi-inspired design is a possible way to get a bestseller! On subject of football, one of our partners created a unique discount code on their shop inspired by the European Championship, which was really in many peoples' heads at the time. These events are often unpredictable, but if you can catch them on time, it's possibly a big opportunity!

It is also important to be aware of any news related to your industry and take advantage of them if possible. Etsy Star Seller is a great new initiative, where your shop can earn multiple benefits and a special badge if you have a high percentage of 5 star ratings, fast fulfilled products and quickly answered messages. This is one of options which can give your shop an edge over competition. Note that news can also mean negative news. One big thing you might have noticed is the change to Facebook advertising. Now data gathering to setup and analyze campaigns is more difficult / imprecise. Advertisers were given a warning, however, so everybody who was paying attention was prepared for it.

Look for new, better opportunities

Just because your shop is doing well, doesn't mean that you can just sit and do nothing. Your competitors are constantly getting better, and your customers are constantly getting more demanding. You need to be on a lookout for new possibilities to make your shop better. For example, even if you are satisfied with your current supplier, you can try checking what other companies offer. Who knows, maybe you were missing out on a quick, inexpensive, high quality print on demand service. Or maybe your supplier has a limitation that another company doesn't have.

Even if you are satisfied with your current situation, there is always something that can be updated. Perhaps you didn't have any branding before, just a simple box with the product. So, you can try adding at least a little "Thank You" note to orders, which will add to the emotional value and create returning (loyal) customers. Little stuff like this gives you an edge in a business sector where many shops offer similar products.

Look for upgrades like these to make customers come back!

Be constantly excellent

As you do research and push the business forward, don't forget that the foundation should be rock solid. Some basic things should remain at the highest level, or else you will fall. Customer service - quick and polite; advertising - effective and regular; fulfillment - on time and high quality. The best example for this is Etsy, with its "Overdue" and "Star Seller" systems. If you have too many overdue orders, then your shop will be positioned lower in the search results, leading to less sales. And on the other hand, if you are constantly doing a great job, then the "Star Seller" status can bring you some benefits. Of course, this doesn't apply if you have your own website, but even there, a weak performance can be punished, such as with customer reviews and word-of-mouth critique.

Do low risk experiments

Print on demand dropshipping has one huge thing going for it - it is possible to try something new without ruining the whole business. You don't have stock and you don't have a brick-and-mortar store, so most changes and experiments can be quickly undone if they don't work. The classic thing to try is new artistic designs - you can simply add them to your online shop. If they become popular, great! If not, then you can easily delist them. This way you can try something which you are not sure will work. We have seen designs that feel like "who on Earth would buy this?" and they become bestsellers.

And it's not just designs - you can change titles, layouts, banners, descriptions, categories, discount codes and other things which are not very risky to change, but could help increase sales.

The bottom line

You are on top and will stay on top if you combine great foundations with up to date changes that push your business forward. Not much more to say, really. And if you want a print on demand dropshipping supplier that follows this formula, then feel free to contact us!

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