Print-On-Demand for Dummies (Part. 2): 6 Steps to Get Started with POD
In recent years, print-on-demand has risen as one of the most developed sectors of the Dropship market. After Grand View Research, the custom t-shirt printing is worth 3.7 billion U.S. Dollars last year in 2020, since everyone tends to purchase aesthetic item and this trend is definitely growing.
So, what do you need to prepare before entering Print-On-Demand (POD) market?
If you want to know the answer, then keep scrolling down. This article can help you to understand what print-on-demand is and tips to get you prepared with this field.
Table of Content
What is Print-On-Demand?
Print-On-Demand (POD) is a process where you (as a merchant) work with a supplier to customize white-label products (like t-shirts, mugs, or tote bags) with your own designs to promote and sell them on a per-order basis under your own store brand.
It means that you don’t have to pay for the product until after you’ve actually sold it. This helps you to reduce the inventory cost and also the risk for backlogged goods.
Furthermore, because of the easy process and services (from printing to shipping) that are offered by providers, which are also called fulfillment services, POD merchants can focus on selling the products and generating as many orders as possible. Basically, you’re selling design and all the production and shipping processes will be executed by your fulfillment provider. This definition can also be comprehended as a mutualism model in business when one party can find customers and generate orders (retail merchants) and the other party can provide products and add-up services (fulfillment providers).
How to start a business with Print-On-Demand?
So now that you understand what print-on-demand is. You need to get started on preparing yourself and your business to adapt to the market. To quickly help you in adopting this model, let’s dig in these 6 steps.
Step 1: Find a print on demand niche
You must be wondering why you shouldn’t try all the niches? Well, here are some convincing facts that you need to know:
1. A niche can help you to focus better.
I’m saying this because if you’re trying too many product concepts at a time, you can easily be overwhelmed and also confused by the wideness of this market. What I would suggest is you can research for design concepts or products that are regular on-trend.
Furthermore, when you focus on one niche, it will help you to develop your design concept at your best. Simply by targeting one field, you will expand the imagination of your work to that one concept instead of dividing your intellectual source into different niches and designs.
2. You will find it easier to target the right audience.
Marketing activities need a clear audience. If you have a wide range of products or concepts, I can be closed to certain that your target audience will be a mess. Identifying one audience, its regular routine and favor is already a challenge, now, imagine you need to replicate that process 3 times or even more. The more specifications you have for your store, the more you will get confused easily because of all the different customer personas that you need to deal with.
3. Your customers can understand what you offer.
Think of your customers, if you visit a store for the first time and you see they provide a really wide range of products or services, will you count on them to place an order? Well, you can say that you will but that can only happen if your store is already popular with what you’re selling. Otherwise, the conversion rate might be really low. Moreover, if your store contains too many product types, it can easily confuse your customers whether they should buy. The more they got into confusion, the more chance they will abandon the cart or the purchase intention.
A niche can be any concept, product or design or even just a concept in theme. For example, if you choose pet to be your store product concept then your design will focus on pet ideas and your products should include pet design, or it should relate to pet like collar bone or bedsheet for pet, etc. Most importantly, a niche market is certainly the first thing you should consider to decide what kind of print-on-demand product you will be selling.
Step 2: Find providers and product base
After you finish choosing a niche, it’s time for you to look for fulfillment providers that you want to work with and provide the product base that your niche needs. On the market, there are plenty of providers that you can look up “print-on-demand fulfillment services” easily on Google.
There are a few important criteria that you can use for your assessment. Because there are too many of providers, you need to dig in information to assess their performance whether it meets your requirements on supplier quality. These criteria are the factors that can directly influence your customer's experience and satisfaction with your store, they are:
- Product quality
- Delivery time (including both production and shipping times)
- Product prices
- Fulfillment location
- Shipping available destination and time
- Refund policy
- Customer support system
Amongst the 4 factors, you need to have attention to product quality and delivery time the most. Because not only it can affect your customer satisfaction, it can affect your brand reliability as well. If one fulfillment provider can have 3 out of 4 factors (including 2 compulsory factors mentioned) with a quality rate above average, then it certainly matches your store.
Nonetheless, remember that don’t limit yourself to just one provider. You can sell various products from different providers, in order to take the initiative in controlling all situations that can happen to your store and customers.
Some qualified providers that I recommend you to look into are Printful, CustomCat, Dreamship, Picanova and Printify. These are the providers that offer a large range of common product base, such as t-shirt, hoodie, home décor, mug, facemask.
Step 3: Create your own design
Moving on to the next challenge. Now after you finish choosing a niche for your store, you will need to come up with some unique designs for your product.
Since you are selling product design so this is the part that you should focus on the most. Not only do you need to catch up with product trends, design and style are also crucial. The easiest way that you can do is to observe what others are doing, I would recommend you to use Pinterest or Etsy to research the designs.
Simply by typing in some keywords like “gift ideas”, “personalized gift”, “artwork for print”,… you can easily find very cool ideas on these two platforms.
Another channel that you can look for more design ideas is Facebook Community. Since beginners will tend to seek information and knowledge about the field where they’re going to enter, many communities related to print-on-demand have been created to gather all POD merchants together to grow as a place where everyone can ask for help, share knowledge and seek new information about the field.
Here are some Facebook communities that you can take a look at:
- ProfitBusters - Print On Demand Trends Daily
- POD Life Design & Photoshop for Print On Demand Merch
- Print on Demand Community
Last on the recommendation list, “spy” tools. These are the tools that can provide the winning products or designs directly for you to search easily. You can just look up for “print on demand research tool” on Google and it will suggest to you some good tools for research. A tiny minus is this method will cost you more, since you will need to pay for these services.
Make your own design
Those are the research channels that you can look for, but remember one thing: Research is research. You still need to come up with your own unique design in order to win the whole race. If you’re just a follower, maybe you can end up as a runner-up but that is just it. You won’t be the champion if the design is not yours, so keep this reminder close to your heart and create something that is inspired by you only.
Step 4: Create and set up your store
Next up, you need now is an actual online store. You can hire some developers to build your dream store, but there are multiple platforms that can help you create an online store quickly and at ease. I will name some highly stood-out based on market share and quality that you can check out: Shopify, Woocommerce, Amazon, Etsy, or Teespring. These are some of the most popular online stores platforms that can support you with designing your own brand for print-on-demand. But if you ask me, I would choose Shopify. Why? Because many providers have already integrated with Shopify. Plus, their interface is super easy to use that even non-tech-savvy beginners can learn quickly.
Moreover, Shopify is also having a 14-day trial for every new sign-up so you will have extra time and money to set up your store perfectly. If you wonder how to sign up, just go to this link: https://www.shopify.com/signup and fill in the required information.
Remember, you should come up with a unique store name because Shopify needs will generate your domain based on the store name you provided.
Step 5: Add-on services and experience
This is another competitive part that you can consider to set up on your store is extra services or experience for your customers. This can help to differentiate your store from other POD stores in the market. It can be a unique promotion deal, gamification campaign, or product personalization.
No matter what your add-on services are, as long as it keeps close to the store concept and goal, it can actually give out good results in generating more sales.
Step 6: Consider your marketing plan
All the above steps can help you to launch a qualified store for print-on-demand. But if you want to advertise your product and your brand, you need to come up with a strategic marketing plan.
Marketing can actually solve this question for you. By delivering the right message to your target audience, you can make sales out of it. Since you will have an online business, digital marketing knowledge and skills are required for you to take action in learning and comprehending. Digital marketing for online stores can include advertisements via Facebook, Google, etc., search engine optimization (SEO), content marketing and email marketing. If you’re new to this field, I would suggest you to look up a quick course or Youtube video that can help to guide you through the basic of digital marketing.
Above is a quick step-by-step guide to help you in scratching print-on-demand market field. Do you think there is anything missing out on in this article? Comment to me below and we can discuss it. In my next article, we will be watching the personalized print-on-demand trend and guide you further in each step.
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