7 Helpful Tips To Start Print-On-Demand Business From Experts
This article is not about “you have to have a design with transparent background!”, instead, we want to go through some really important aspects to start print-on-demand business that are not often talked about.
Some of these may surprise you. Some can lose you money in advertising campaigns that were doomed to fail from the start. Some can cause a massive headache from customer service issues.
So, let’s get rolling!
Table of Contents
- Don't Just Opt for Selling T-shirts
- Utilize your Design on a Different Print-on-demand Product
- Have Realistic Photos, Not just Generic Mockups
- Avoid Adding too Many Color Variations
- Deal with the Refund Request
- Deal with Long Shipping Time
- Be transparent about the shipping time
- Choose fulfillment providers from the customer's country
- Check your print-on-demand provider options
- Trademark vs Copyright
1. Don't Just Opt for Selling T-shirts
Of course, selling T-shirts is a great niche, but they are not the only type of print-on-demand product out there and T-shirt actually only has limited front and back print areas.
Besides apparel, here are some best-selling print-on-demand products that you can sell to take your e-commerce brand to the next level.
Discover more products inspiration at Teeinblue Demo Store
2. Utilize your Design on a Different Print-on-demand Product
As we mentioned above, you can widen your product collection instead of selling only T-shirts. This is the best way to take advantage of your design and cross-selling it with another product to increase your customer order value.
Unfortunately, not all types of design work with all types of products so it would be great to keep in mind that when you apply a design to many products, you should follow your provider guidelines to create a design that can be adjusted to fit with the ratio of many print areas.
Here is an example of increasing conversion with cross-selling: Let’s say you are selling this design, you can have a mockup image with the model wearing a T-shirt and holding a tote bag that has the same design on it.
Cross-selling products with the same design
3. Have Realistic Photos, Not just Generic Mockups
Usually, some print-on-demand companies will provide you with some mockups from their website. However, they usually come with plain white background and, to be honest, look pretty boring and terrible for advertising. That’s why having realistic lifestyle mockups is the key.
Here is the list of some amazing sources where you can find free mockup images for your online store:
Realistic lifestyle mockup images from rawpixel
4. Avoid Adding too Many Color Variations
Do you know about the psychological term called Analysis Paralysis?
Nobody likes to be wrong, and it’s a basic human instinct with the desire to make the right choice and how we communicate with choices and others. According to Forbes, making the wrong statement or otherwise contributing in a wrongful way is about as fun as failing at a competitive sport.
When it comes to shopping, it’s pretty similar. If your customers choose something, it can feel like they are sacrificing something else, so giving them so many options to choose from is a pretty bad idea. Once they become overwhelmed, this often causes decision anxiety and will take longer times to choose, and finally, customers end up not choosing anything at all.
Analysis Paralysis (Image source: Internet)
5. Deal with the Refund Request
If you have a customer who just happens to request a refund because they’ve changed their mind, of course, the print-on-demand company has no reason to get involved. In most cases, the print on demand company will only refund you or send the customer a replacement if the received item had been damaged or ripped or the print was messed up.
So that it would be better for your store to come up with a clear return and refund policy. Before customers confirm their order, you could say something like this:
Let customer know about return and refund policy
You can ask follow-up questions and focus on how you can possibly improve to satisfy future customers, from this point, you may be able to offer another solution like sending customers an alternative item besides a refund so you can keep your money.
6. Deal with Long Shipping Time
When you have a print-on-demand business, it means that you will not spend money to own the inventory. However, if your targeted customers are living in the USA but you are using fulfillment service from a print-on-demand provider based in China, dealing with the long shipping time can cause you a headache. So, how do you handle the long delivery times?
The short answer for this can be these 3 following tips:
Be transparent about the shipping time
2-3 weeks are reasonable time that customers would be willing to wait for the product that they couldn't find at any local store. As long as you clearly state the shipping times on your site, they would buy from you. After you check the estimated arrival time from your providers, there are five places on your site where you can put your final estimated shipping times:
- FAQ Section
- Shipping Policy Page
- Product Description
- Order Confirmation Page
- Shipping Confirmation Email.
Be transparent about the shipping time (Source: merchant Lovebilly)
Choose fulfillment providers from the customer's country
If you are selling to customers who live in Germany, find a provider who is based in Germany, like Picanova. This way, you can drastically shorten the shipping time rather than having the products shipped from China. Also, the product prices might be higher than shipping the items from China but a little revenue less is better than spending so much on customer service and chargeback fees.
If you are looking for a print-on-demand provider that has the same location as your targeted customers, take a look at these top 8 print-on-demand services for Shopify in 2022 we’ve pulled together here.
Check your print-on-demand provider options
There is a common misconception that many sellers have that if you buy a product from a print-on-demand company, that’s the company who makes it. But in many cases, this isn’t true. Instead, many print-on-demand services contract out with a third party suppliers and manufacturers.
Take a look at Printify, you see a list of options from many third party providers based in different countries. Each of them has different pricing, estimated production time, and some of them even offer more color options.
So, it is important to check if your provider let you choose which manufacturer will make the product for you based on which country your customer is located at.
7. Trademark vs Copyright
Copyright vs Trademark
The first question is that “how do I whether my designs or quotes are copyrighted or not?” The answer is you don’t need to check. Because by default, and law, the moment a piece of art is created, it is indeed copyrighted.
Let’s say, you saw a best-selling T-shirt with a cool quote on Amazon, and you want to have it on your Shopify store. What you can do is use this design for inspiration and to make your own version of the design and it is 100% legal.
Don’t worry if you do not have any design experience, there are tons of tools out there that can be a great digital designer:
A small phrase or quote can not be copyrighted by redesigning but it can be trademarked. A trademark can be any word, phrase, symbol, design, or combination of these things that identifies your good or services. These would be things like the word Apple or the Apple logo or various other slogans that would represent a brand that would fall under trademark of another business. When it comes to print-on-demand we can't use any of that stuff.
So this leads to another common question “how do I know that a phrase is trademarked by anyone?”
Basically, when it comes to trademarks, it is pretty simple to check. Each country has its own trademark search engine:
- Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS)
- Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand
- Intellectual Property Office - the UK
- European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO)
- German Patent and Intellectual Office
Unlike the copyright that most countries agreed to protect by default, a trademark must be filed in each and every country. For example, just because something is trademarked in the US, it doesn’t mean that it would also be trademarked in New Zealand.
If you just start print-on-demand business or are actively looking for a help in implementation your personalized ideas to create personalized products on your Shopify store take time to try free plan from Teeinblue Product Personalizer. This is an “all-in-one” application that supports print-on-demand sellers to design, set up personalized options on product page, manage and directly send orders to integrated fulfillment provider.