Guides & Explainers

Intro to print on demand dropshipping

We discuss what exactly is print on demand dropshipping and why you should do it!
Published:
June 17, 2021

The general idea

Nowadays it is easier than ever to start a business because of two reasons: the Internet and the print on demand dropshipping model. In this blog we will cover the basics of print on demand dropshipping and ecommerce in general, so you will know where to start.

Let’s understand the terms first. Ecommerce is a very broad term for all business that’s done online. Usually it means that the company doesn’t have a physical shop that a customer could enter - it is all digital. This can be a big advantage, as you’ll see later. Print on demand (POD) means that products are only printed when they are actually ordered (shop has no inventory). Dropshipping is a business model which works as follows: a customer buys a unique product from your shop (like a shirt with a cool design that you drew), but it is made and shipped by another company that you have an agreement with. Basically, all products that you sell are physically made by someone else.

To summarize: print on demand dropshipping means that a shop sells items with custom designs on them, and these items are produced and shipped by another company. This company only produces items when they are actually ordered.

That may sound complicated, but really isn’t. By following the steps, you can start selling in no time!

Where to sell

First you need to have a place where to sell stuff. There are two big options for this: a website, or a marketplace. A website is usually made with a special platform / solution, such as Shopify, which allows you to easily create and customize a shop however you like. For this, you’ll also need to buy a domain name. A marketplace means a special website that has a lot of different shops under one roof. Our recommendation would be Etsy, specializing in handmade / custom products. When you search for something there, a lot of items will pop out from different shops - yours could be one of them!

There are a bunch of sales channel options to choose from

Products and suppliers

Next you have to choose your products and supplier/s. If you are an artist, for example, you need to figure out the best format to sell your art. Two popular choices are posters and canvas. Then you have to find someone who will produce them with your designs. Printseekers specializes in art prints, so we offer to produce and ship artworks in high quality.  Usually the partnership works via a contract. When a customer orders something from your shop, we will see that and will fulfill it quickly.

Posters are a classic way to display your art

Finishing touches

Finally, do some advertising and launch the shop! When you are ready to start taking orders, you have to get them somehow. That’s the main goal of ecommerce advertising - drawing people to your shop (a.k.a. generating traffic), and persuading them to make a purchase.

So, hopefully you get the general idea! Let’s discuss in short now why you should do print on demand dropshipping.

Advantages of POD dropshipping

  • The obvious one is obvious - it’s quite cheap. You don’t need to produce a lot of items and then sell them slowly. Instead, somebody makes them for you, and only when an order is made. So, basically, the only costs are marketing, a shop domain / marketplace place, and, sometimes, a supplier’s subscription (which Printseekers doesn’t have).
  • Print on demand dropshipping is also quite simple. When you set up a shop, get a deal with the supplier, a lot of things will happen automatically, like fulfillment, shipping, and (in some cases) even customer service. Because of this, you will be free to create new designs, run ads, develop social media accounts and more, without getting into all kinds of technical troubles.
  • Last, but not least, POD dropshipping allows great flexibility in how you do business. If some products are not selling well, you can just remove them with close to no consequences. You can experiment with different designs and ideas that won’t be expensive even if they fail.

Disadvantages of POD dropshipping

However, POD dropshipping may be not for you in some cases. Here are some things that you need to evaluate:

  • Profit could be lower than expected, especially in the beginning. This is because suppliers take their part for actually producing the item, and you receive what’s left. However, this is balanced by the fact that your running costs will be very low, too.
  • A POD dropshipping business is very easy to start, and that’s not necessarily a good thing. The reason is that many will try it, leading to a lot of competition. There are two basic solutions for this - you have to offer the best (shipping, quality, price), or you have to offer something that people actively want to buy (creating your unique brand, building its history and values).
  • Another theoretically good thing with a downside is that you have little control over the orders. You don’t have to do anything, but you also can’t do anything. If something gets stuck or lacks quality, you have to wait for the supplier’s reply instead of fixing the problem by yourself.

If these small things are not an issue for you, then contact us about our POD dropshipping services now! We'll be happy to tell you more.

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