Is Print-on-demand Dropshipping? 12 Key Differences

Is Print-on-demand Dropshipping? 12 Key Differences

is print on demand dropshipping

Print-on-demand and dropshipping have several features in common. That's the reason why a lot of people wonder "Is print-on-demand dropshipping?". Curious to know the differences between these business models? Let's discover a detailed analysis of product, quality, shipping, and customization with Teeinblue now!

Is Print-on-demand Dropshipping?

No, print-on-demand is not dropshipping. Although they share some characteristics, they work as distinct e-commerce business models. The key difference is that POD merchants directly create custom designs to print on white-label products. Meanwhile, dropshipping sellers only offer designed products of specific brands.

print on demand vs dropshipping
Print-on-demand and dropshipping have both similarities and differences

To determine which model is the best fit for your business, let's delve into a deep understanding of each.


Dropshipping is an e-commerce concept that allows you to sell a myriad of products without any inventory or upfront cost. With dropshipping, as a seller, you work as a middleman between customers and brands.

Once a customer places an order on your online store, you relay that order to the provider. Then they will take care of production and delivery of goods to customers’ homes.


Being a form of dropshipping, print-on-demand enables you to customize design for white-label products and sell them under your own brand name. As a print-on-demand seller, you need to research and create unique designs for printable products such as apparel, accessories, home living, etc. When you make a sale, the order goes to third-party suppliers for printing, packing, and delivering directly to customers.

Print-on-demand Vs Dropshipping: In-depth Comparision

This section makes clear about similarities and differences between print-on-demand vs dropshipping. Take it now!

POD vs Dropshipping: Similarities in Common

Print-on-demand vs dropshipping share some commonalities, including:

  • No inventory/upfront costs: You don’t have to invest in warehouses, machines, or factories since third-party suppliers handle these aspects. All you need is a well-managed online business to start earning money.
  • No shipping management: Your providers take care of delivery directly to the customer's doorstep. The shipping fee is in the base cost, so it won't be an extra expense for you.
  • Wide product range: With no physical stock required, you can add as many items as you want from suppliers. Dropshipping offers a broader selection, providing ready-to-sell products, while POD focuses on customizable and printable items.
  • A trustworthy provider needed: Third-party providers control product quality, customer satisfaction, and your brand's reputation. It’s vital to research thoroughly to select reliable partners.
  • Easy to sell on multiple platforms: Due to great adaptability and scalability, both concepts work well with online channels, from e-commerce platforms and marketplaces to social media networks.
pod vs dropshipping similarities

You can easily start a POD or dropshipping online business in few steps

Dropshipping or print-on-demand is also the worthiest method to make money online:

  • Profitable business models: POD and dropshipping are known for competitive rates due to lower overhead expenses. You have control over setting margins to maximize revenue.
  • Opportunities for scaling: Versatility and minimal capital requirements facilitate easy adaptation to market changes. It’s more effective when you can allocate resources for business and marketing efforts.
  • Easy to start: You only need to select a specific niche, choose suppliers, set up an online store, upload products, and promote your products.
  • Low-risk and easy to experiment: You only invest in design and marketing, eliminating concerns about significant capital loss. Therefore, it's accessible for anyone to start selling or launching new test products effortlessly.

Key Differences Between Dropshipping and Print-on-demand

It’s important to clearly distinguish print-on-demand vs dropshipping. Each model possesses distinct features and benefits. Understanding the differences can help you choose the right ones to align with your business goals and resources.

This table covers the key differences between dropshipping and print-on-demand.

Feature Dropshipping Print-on-demand
Product range More ready-to-sell products, like apparel, accessories, health and beauty products, electronic gadgets and devices, etc. Customizable and printable products, such as apparel, accessories, home & living, etc.
Product's base cost Lower cost due to bulk production from brands. Higher costs justify custom production costs.
Quality control Brands/suppliers control product quality. Seller controls print quality by creating designs following POD companies' requirements.
Customization Limited customization due to selling pre-made products. High level of customization to create engaging designs.
Shipping time Shorter time in 1-3 days with distributions worldwide. 5-6 days including printing and shipping time.
Shipping costs Lower costs by shipping from nearby distribution centers. High fees when fulfill each product individually.
Earnings Higher margin by excluding branding or design expenses. Lower margin counting design and marketing fees.
Entry barrier Easy and straightforward to start with minimal upfront. Higher barrier, but only requires a basic design ability.
Branding Challenging to build a brand with assembled products. Easier to build a brand in long-term with consistency in designs.
Opportunities for scaling Easier to scale up with higher turnover and profit margin. Limited scalability due to the nature of customization and production constraints.
Market size Broader target audience due to the wider range of products available. Smaller niche markets for customized or personalized items.
Competition Intense competition exists due to the abundance of similar products. Less competition, especially in unique or niche markets.

💡 You may also like: Critical Pros and Cons of Print-on-demand for You to Consider

Dropshipping or Print-on-demand: Which is Better for You?

When it comes to the question “Which is better: dropshipping or print-on-demand?”, the answer depends on your strengths and business goals. Dropshipping often yields a quicker balance with pre-manufactured products from suppliers without the need for customization.

Meanwhile, print-on-demand is more suitable if you want to build a brand in the long run. This approach allows you to sell creative customized products and increase interest over time.

In fact, having both dropship and print-on-demand products within a website is totally doable. As an online seller, you can work with print-on-demand companies to sell custom POD products or dropship items from other brands.

Note: It’s important to note that certain print-on-demand companies such as Printful, Printify, etc., are different from other dropshipping suppliers. They receive orders from brands worldwide, produce customized products, then package and deliver them.

Dropshipping or Print on demand to start
Sell products under your own brand with the print-on-demand business model

Start a Print-on-demand Dropshipping Business With Shopify

Shopify is a popular and versatile e-commerce platform to initiate a website with print-on-demand or dropshipping. By combining both methods in a Shopify store, you capitalize on benefits, including:

  • Own a website and have full control over creating a unique online store tailored to your vision. A cohesive branding and design across your website can significantly enhance the customer experience.
  • Integrate print-on-demand and dropshipping in one place helps streamline your operations. It simplifies product management, order processing, and logistic tracking, which saves time and reduces complexity.
  • Easy to set up a professional online site with Shopify's intuitive features, such as drag-and-drop website builders, pre-designed themes, straightforward product listing, and management tools.
  • Enjoy cost-effectiveness with a reasonable pricing plan and myriad cost-saving applications on Shopify. You can find a plan that aligns with your financial resources and business needs, starting from $29 per month.
  • Sell customized products with live previews with product customization apps such as Teeinblue Product Personalizer. This powerful function lets customers visualize the customized product before making a purchase.

Teeinblue Product Personalizer is a comprehensive solution for custom print-on-demand sellers on Shopify. Leverage your print-on-demand Shopify store with this top-rate app now! 

In summary, this article hopes to help you address concerns related to the question: “Is print-on-demand dropshipping?”. It's crucial to have a clear understanding before choosing the right one or combining both print-on-demand and dropshipping for your business. If you have any further queries about this topic, join Teeinblue Global Community now to get helpful insights!


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