How To Start A Print-On-Demand Online Store
Print-on-demand (POD) is the process of applying your own designs to a white-label product. Due to its ease and convenience, this method has taken the ecommerce world by storm.
For example, the highly popular custom T-shirt market is expected to cross a staggering $10 Billion by 2025.
The top reasons why merchants are increasingly choosing this strategy include the following:
- You can design your own products from scratch, without buying inventory
- It’s a risk-free way to experiment with various designs before you commit
- Fulfillment is the responsibility of the supplier, leaving you free to focus on marketing
First Step: Choose Your Niche
When selecting your niche, it’s important to pick one you like or feel strongly about. It needs to be wide enough to capture a significant number of potential customers, yet the narrower the niche, the more dedicated your customer base will be. Striking this balance is key for success.
Here are the top tools to validate your ideas:
- Google Trends - With this tool, you’ll be able to explore what people are looking for within your niche and review its popularity over time.
- Social Media - Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and Reddit are great places to see what potential customers are seeking.
- Amazon - By checking out the Best Seller’s section, you’ll be able to get a good idea of what the most popular products are at any given time.
The Two Niche Types
There are two ways that you can choose your niche.
- A Product-Based Niche. This refers to products you want to sell. Here some of the most common POD products today:
- Masks and face coverings
- Mobile/tablet device cases
- Home decor
- Pet products
- Tote bags
- A Subject-Based Niche. This defines what subject your products will revolve around. Here are some examples of popular subjects in 2020:
- Bold inspirational messages
- Animal portraits
- Retro font and psychedelic numbers
Choosing one of these types will give your store a cohesive look and feel with a streamlined flow of like-minded customers.
Create Your Designs
Any reputable POD supplier you work with will provide a pre-built system to create your designs.
A choice of elements will be available, as well as royalty-free images.
You will also be able to upload your own artwork, created by a graphic designer or yourself.
The elements that make up the design process include the following steps:
- Selecting the color
- Choosing elements (such as icons, stickers, or your own artwork)
- Planning the placement and layout of elements on the product
In three easy steps, you can design your POD products with utmost ease and efficiency - no technical knowledge required.
Choose Your Supplier
There are around 40 POD providers to choose from. Here is an introduction of three of the most prominent providers - all of which are free and provide worldwide shipping.
This supplier is an end-to-end POD service that enables you to choose your products, design them, and have them fulfilled on your behalf.
Printify integrates with most major ecommerce platforms and has over 250,000 stores connected.
Here are its most striking features:
- Over 250 products to choose from
- 90 printing facilities around the world
- A mockup generator to get an idea of what your designs will look like
Like Printify, Printful is a comprehensive POD service which handles the entire process from design to fulfillment.
It also integrates with the major ecommerce platforms and marketplaces such as Amazon, eBay, and Etsy.
Printful offers some great features that helps it stand out:
- Low shipping rates due to Printful’s relationships with the biggest global carriers
- A handy app to manage your store on the go, available for iOS and Android
- In-house design services
Zazzle’s concept is slightly different as it functions as a marketplace. Bringing together artists and entrepreneurs, this supplier helps create the most unique items in the POD market.
Zazzle offers 300 million different products to choose from along with access to over 600,000 designers. Some additional features that underscore why Zazzle is a leading supplier include:
- A user-friendly dashboard is provided which enables you to manage all aspects of your account
- In-depth customization and personalization
- The useful “Quick Create” feature allows you to make products in only a few minutes
- You will be able to design your own storefront showcasing your products
POD is one of the hottest trends in ecommerce. This model is easy for merchants and entirely risk-free thanks to no upfront costs or hassles associated with fulfillment.
Customers love uniquely designed products, especially apparel, and artists too get a great opportunity to sell their work.