12 Pros and Cons of Print-on-demand Beginners Should Notice

12 Pros and Cons of Print-on-demand Beginners Should Notice

Pros and cons of print-on-demand

It’s crucial to weigh the pros and cons of print-on-demand before diving in. While POD is a profitable and relatively easy-to-start venture, it may come with lower profit margins, limited access to customer data, and a dependence on third-party vendors. However, with a well-thought-out strategy, you can still earn money from POD. Let’s uncover details and tips to thrive in this industry effectively.

7 Advantages of the Print-on-demand Business Model

If you're a new entrepreneur, print-on-demand can be a great choice for you. Here are seven benefits of why it is so attractive!

Profitable Business

Can you really make money doing print-on-demand? The answer is definitely yes. With a CAGR of 26.71% during 2023-2032, the print-on-demand market size may reach 67.59 billion by 2032 (Precedence Research), making it a lucrative opportunity. Many entrepreneurs have found success in this industry and have made a considerable rate.

Print-on-demand market size

Experts predict that print-on-demand will be profitable in the next 10 years

The profit margin of print-on-demand varies depending on the niche you choose and your marketing cost. Here are some great niches:

  • T-shirts: 15% – 60%
  • Phone cases: 25% – 60%
  • Mugs: 15% – 50%
  • Hoodies: 15% – 60%
  • Posters: 15% – 40%

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Low Barrier to Entry

Starting a POD store requires minimal financial investment. You won't need to spend money on inventory, manufacturing equipment, or warehouses. Everything you need to take part is an internet-connected computer.

Besides, POD eliminates expenses associated with storing and managing physical stock. You also don’t need to worry about inventory depreciating or going out of style.

To start selling print-on-demand products, you just need to follow these 5 simple steps:

  • Step 1: Establish an online store.
  • Step 2: Link with a POD provider.
  • Step 3: Fill out your profiles.
  • Step 4: Upload your artwork and products.
  • Step 5: Market your products for sales and process orders for fulfillment.

For example, you can create an online store on Shopify for $1 per month for the first three months. And you can sell unlimited POD products without additional charges until sales begin.

Creative Freedom with Passion

Print-on-demand provides you with the gift of flexibility to express yourself freely. So you can enjoy the liberty to design products that align with your passions. Whether your hobby is gaming, travel, or music, POD allows you to turn enthusiasm into a business venture.

This benefit helps you to:

  • Experiment with ideas without risks since you can avoid upfront costs for production.
  • Continually acquire new skills and evolve your craft through constant learning and trial and error.
  • Turn your hobbies into money by monetizing your own artistic talents and interests.
  • Discover unexpected opportunities by responding to changing trends or feedback in a swift, agile manner.
Following your passion is one of the benefits of print-on-demand

Print-on-demand allows for creative freedom with passion

Note: Your passion alone may not ensure success. Remember to combine your interests with market trends and needs. Conduct research to identify popular niches and design styles your target audience prefers.

Sell Products Under Your Brand

POD enables you to easily print logos and showcase your style through different artwork. Establishing your brand in the market brings you various benefits:

  • Brand recognition: Customers are likely to remember and come back to your store if you offer a unique, engaging, and consistent design style.
  • Increased credibility: When you have a strong brand identity, shoppers are more confident to quickly purchase your offers.
  • Differentiation: Offering a distinct style allows you to attract a specific group of buyers. It also separates you from competing sellers in the market.

Hassle-free Operations and Logistics

With POD, you can concentrate on key aspects that you excel at, such as design, marketing, and sales. Here are things you don't need to control by using a print-on-demand service:

  • No need to contact delivery companies: With POD, the supplier handles all logistics, including shipping and tracking. This allows you to avoid delivery burdens that would consume time and effort to resolve.
  • Don’t need to resolve troubles relating to production: POD fulfillers cover everything from the printing process to quality. You can rest assured issues relating to machine setup, materials, technology, etc.
  • No need to worry about labor management at the start: You can begin yourself or with a small team, covering store setup, design, and order management. When you achieve more benefits, you can widen your store gradually.
advantages of print-on-demand Easy operations and logistics
You don’t need to manage stocks, printing processes, and delivery

Easy Product and Design Testing

With print-on-demand, you can change products and designs flexibly. You can test out multiple artwork and items with minimum investment.

Testing designs is low-risk and cost-effective. If shoppers love a particular design, you can scale up production and sell more. On the flip side, if a design doesn't resonate, you'll incur fewer orders, but you've only invested in marketing costs. This approach is an excellent way to gauge the market and identify which one has the potential for focus and expansion.

Similarly, experimenting with various goods becomes a breeze with print-on-demand. You can personalize white-label items with your artwork, and the best part? You only pay when orders roll in, freeing you from inventory worries.

Seamless Personalization for Products

POD allows you to benefit from personalized products, boosting customer satisfaction and sales. It lets shoppers express their individuality, create unique items, potentially repeat purchases, and spread the brand through positive word-of-mouth.

To offer personalized items, you can sell on marketplaces with personalization options, such as Zazzle, Etsy, etc. You can also create a Shopify website and install a product personalization app to allow buyers to customize their orders with live previews on your website.

Easy product customization is a benefit of print-on-demand
You can publish customizable POD products (A demo product of Teeinblue)

5 Disadvantages of Print-on-demand

Print-on-demand offers several advantages for entrepreneurs, but be sure to consider some disadvantages before fully committing to it.

Lower Profit Margins

POD often comes with a narrower profit margin compared to digital products and dropshipping, and here's why:

  • Production on-demand results in higher per-unit costs than bulk printing.
  • E-commerce platforms may take a commission or percentage of each sale.
  • Few economies of scale since minimum orders are typically higher.
  • Limited pricing power for creators as consumers expect lower costs.

Unlike manufacturing, wholesale, and retail models, which can boast higher margins due to negotiated bulk discounts, POD may involve more costs. However, it's an attractive option for those seeking flexibility without the need for substantial upfront investment. Many entrepreneurs find that the convenience it offers outweighs the slightly slimmer rates.

Limited Customer Data

In the realm of print-on-demand, you have less access to customer data compared to handling fulfillment yourself. As a seller, it becomes a disadvantage to gauge their satisfaction upon product receipt. And you might miss out on valuable feedback since you aren't directly involved in the order delivery process.

Moreover, you may experience reduced visibility, as POD companies typically wrap and label packages with their own brand name and logo. This can result in fewer people recognizing and visiting your store.

disadvantages of print-on-demand Limited customer data
POD limits your access to your customers’ data

Reliance on POD Companies for Quality, Variety, and Availability

When you use print-on-demand services, you depend on the POD companies for the quality, types, and availability. You don't have control over how well they make the items. So, if they make low-quality stuff, it can hurt your brand and get bad reviews.

Furthermore, not all POD companies provide a diverse range of products, prompting the need to diversify suppliers. This diversification, however, may lead to variations in product quality.

Also, relying on their stock has its risks. In the event of stock shortages, you may miss out on sales and upset purchasers, especially during high-demand periods.

Longer Production and Delivery

Print-on-demand can take longer to produce and deliver orders compared to drop shipping. This is due to the reliance on third-party printers and suppliers to fulfill orders, which can add extra time to the process.

Moreover, supplier problems, like running out of materials, can still lead to delays beyond your control. This might upset your customers, but it's not something you can fix directly.

Disadvantages of print-on-demand on producing and shipping
Print-on-demand production can cause delays

Difficult Customer Service and Returns Management

Dealing with returns and refunds can be a major challenge for print-on-demand sellers. Managing returns, especially those unusable or damaged, can significantly cut into profits.

Besides, you may face challenges with customer service. Since you're partnering with a third party, if buyers report faulty products, you need to work well with the POD company to understand the issue and find a solution.

Note: You may also have to face print-on-demand copyright issues. Remember to spend time determining if your design resources are available for commercial or not.

Succeed in Print-on-demand Despite the Drawbacks

Weighing the pros and cons of print-on-demand is crucial before starting. While it offers multiple advantages, it also presents certain drawbacks. But don’t worry, you can overcome these challenges by following these tips:

  • Choose a high-profit niche with strong, consistent demand, for example, customized products. Research trending markets like apparel, accessories, or home goods to find a gap for success.
  • Collect customer data and launch marketing strategies through in-depth surveys, feedback forms, social media, and email newsletters. Analyzing purchase histories and demographic information through your website and apps can also provide valuable insights to enhance your strategies.
  • Choose POD suppliers carefully, evaluating key factors such as product variety, production quality, average fulfillment time, manufacturing locations, customer reviews, sample ordering policies, return procedures, etc.
  • Consider services with fast fulfillment to meet expectations and build loyalty. Some fast-shipping print-on-demand suppliers are Dreamship (2-8 days in the US), merchOne (2-7 days), and Gelato (1-4 business days).
  • Publish a clear return and refund policy in the store to minimize complaints and disputes. Communicating this information transparently on your website and in marketing can ensure a hassle-free shopping experience for your customers.
Entrepreneur weighs pros and cons of print-on-demand

Navigating print-on-demand challenges to attain success with the right strategies

In conclusion, if you are seeking low-risk entry into e-commerce, POD remains a good option. While the pros and cons of print-on-demand are evident, strategic planning can leverage its advantages and mitigate drawbacks. Don’t forget to join our Teeinblue Global Community to get valuable industry insights from enterprises.


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