How to start Print on Demand eCommerce

How To Start A Print on Demand eCommerce Business In 2022?

The idea of the Print on Demand ecommerce business is rapidly growing due to minimal investment, an inventory-free model, and heavy growth potential. But do you have a well-laid plan to start a POD eCommerce business that generates hefty profit over time?

Starting a POD business requires selecting a profitable niche, a reliable POD partner, a well-designed store, and efficient marketing strategies. The process might seem intimidating initially, but with the actionable steps and knowledge, you can generate a consistent revenue stream. Ecommerce businesses have huge growth potential, and here’s a statistic backing up our claim.

In such a scenario, understanding how to start a Print on Demand eCommerce store becomes important. This article tackles every query you might have to successfully run a POD Business in 2022. Before moving to suitability, let’s start by understanding how this business model works.

Retail ecommerce Data

How Does A Print On Demand Business Work?

A print on demand ecommerce model initiates the production process after the customer places an order. It eliminates the need to maintain inventory and produces products per specific requirements. Businesses save a lot of money as they don’t have to make purchases in bulk. Here is how the business model functions:

  • The customer visits your store, reviews the available products, and clicks on the buy button.
  • Your selected print supplier gets notified and debits a certain amount from your account to accommodate production and other associated costs.
  • The production process initiates, and the product is shipped to the assigned location upon completion.

Note: The supplier handles every post-sale activity (packaging to shipping) only. It’s a great option for first-time entrepreneurs experimenting with their business idea.

Is A Print on Demand Business Model Suitable For You?

A Print on Demand (POD business) allows you to establish your brand while remaining free from the burden of maintaining inventory. But it requires handling various tasks, including targeting your ideal audience, creating enticing designs, efficiently marketing your product, etc. In such a scenario, understanding whether or not this model is suitable for you plays a crucial role. Here are some pros and cons of a POD business model to help you make an appropriate choice:

Pros Of A POD Business Model:

Let’s look at some positive aspects of selecting this business model. 

  • Enter into eCommerce business with minimal budget

The POD business model doesn’t require a physical location or inventory to start. You will save a lot of money to set up a physical store, purchase equipment, etc. It also eliminates investing time in packaging, shipping, and other selling-related tasks. Lastly, you can invest this time in promoting or marketing your store to develop a loyal customer base. 

  • Minimal risk involved

No risk is involved as the process initiates the moment a customer places an order. It eliminates the burden of clearing excess stock. Moreover, there is always room for experimentation if certain selected designs don’t work out as planned. 

  • Suitable for beginners

A POD business doesn’t require an experienced individual with technical knowledge who spent years in the eCommerce industry. Most tasks are automated once you pick a reliable platform to start your business, making it suitable for beginners. 

  • Enter any niche of your choice

POD products are available for any niche you prefer, whether it’s clothing, shoes, accessories, or any other area of interest. Niche selection becomes easier once you focus on your interests and the possibility of growth in the preferred area. 

Cons of POD Business:

Here are some drawbacks of selecting this business model. 

  • Limited profit margin

Due to heavy production and advertising costs attached to a small or limited profit margin in the initial stages

  • Delayed shipping

The products are printed on demand, often preventing suppliers from providing quick delivery. It can take a week to ship out an order, which might cost you some customers. 

  • Poor communication/support

POD partners are not always active communicators. Sometimes they take an entire day to provide a vague response to your queries. Furthermore, little control over the printing and shipping process makes it harder to handle customer complaints during busy days.

  • Restrictions on returns 

Customers often purchase products from businesses with a solid-return policy. Returning products is not simple in a POD business. For instance, you cannot return products solely because a customer didn’t like the print in real. Returns are generally acceptable only when they are defective. Therefore, the burden or cost is borne by you in case of returns.

6 Steps To start and run your Print on Demand Business:

Let’s now look at the steps required to open and run a Print-on-Demand (POD) business successfully.

Step-1: Brainstorm and Select a Profitable Product Niche

A product niche helps businesses target a specific type of product(s) that appeal to a selected customer base. It’s better than opening a generic store as it helps you prove your expertise in a certain area and build trust. A niche-specific business limits the competitors you need to face and improves your ranking in SERPs through targeted marketing. 

But how do you select a niche?

(A)The products that you are passionate or knowledgeable about.

OR

(B)The products that have the potential to make money. 

Combining the two will give you the answer you need. You must select a niche you are interested in with heavy growth potential, aka a profitable niche.

Search Trends
  •  Jot Down your Interests

It’s incredibly simple to initiate with the things you are passionate about. Start by writing down your areas of interest, the products you love to buy, the products you frequently purchase, or the type of products you believe aren’t available in the retail space. 

  • Identify the profit or growth potential

What are the current market trends associated with your interests? 

Awareness of current trends is one of the core aspects of selecting your niche. Google trends is a (free) great tool for identifying the popularity of your selected niche. Just type in keywords relevant to your selected niches and compare their popularity by location, interests, etc. You can also explore related searches to understand your options. 

Next, you can rely on paid options like Google Adwords and trend hunter to better understand your selected areas.

After successful brainstorming and researching, you can finally make the right choice for your POD business. 

Top Print-On-Demand Niches 2022

Exploring the most popular niches is always easier if you lack ideas. Here are some POD business niches depicting growth potential over the years:

Trends

Apart from apparels, footwear, bags, and accessories, here are some more niches you can explore: 

  • Pets 

People love spending money on their fur babies. Starting a store that works on creative designs for animal products is the way to go. Invest in creating accessories, beds, funny clothing items, etc. 

  • Families 

We all are trying to find the right ways to express our affection for our loved ones. Start a store with a wide range of products, including father-daughter hoodies, t-shirts, frames with quotes, etc. 

  • Meme Clothing 

Funny jokes, slogans, and graphics on t-shirt, hoodies, or mugs is a great idea. People love keeping up with trends which makes selling them easier. All you need is some meme knowledge and the right marketing strategies on relevant platforms. 

  • Seasonal Events 

Target events like Valentine’s Day, Christmas, Halloween, etc., to show your creativity. This niche allows you to make a huge amount of money in a short period. But as they are seasonal events, you can’t continue them year-long. 

Some more niches to experiment with include health and fitness, travel, jobs & hobby-related niches, social causes, etc. 

Step-2: Creating Or Outsourcing The Design Process

Are you holding the thought of starting a POD business solely because you lack design skills?

To start your own POD business, you don’t have to be a professional designer. Either you can outsource the design process or get your first design in action with these basic tips: 

  • Understand your audience 

To create a design that sells, you need to understand the people you are selling to completely. Make different segments if you have a varied customer base to understand them separately. Jot down their   interests, traits, needs, location, age, gender, etc.

  • Get creative design ideas 

Use websites like Pinterest, Dribble, etc., to get design ideas. You can also go through marketplaces like Amazon to get inspiration from your competing brands. Remember that design ideas are everywhere to get your creative juices flowing. 

  • Selecting a graphic design tool 

Choose a graphic design tool to avoid creating designs from scratch. Canva is a beginner-friendly tool assisting you in creating any type of design you want. Create aesthetic designs with the free version before investing in the pro version to make the most of your design process.

Canva
  • Have a visual aesthetic in mind

Decide on a visual aesthetic and learn to create consistent designs. It includes colors, graphics, objects, fonts, etc. Put effort into these areas to establish your unique identity. Remember that no one recognizes brands with inconsistent designs. 

  • Generate mockups 

Create a mockup to study various areas, including spacing, layout, and the overall composition. Next comes taking feedback from your friends, family, and even random people who fit your ideal customer persona.

Mockups

Outsourcing the design process:

Lastly, explore the free resources available on the internet to create your designs. You can also take paid courses to create exceptional designs for your brand. 

Sometimes you have great ideas in your head, but the designs don’t align with your expectations. Bring those ideas into reality by outsourcing your design process to professional graphic designers. You can search on marketplaces like Fiverr or Upwork to connect with premium designers. Or you can do a LinkedIn search to come across the right individuals.

Step-3: Choosing An Effective POD Service

The right Print-On-Demand service ensures you sell quality products to customers with an exceptional experience. Carefully selecting a POD partner is crucial to ensure you don’t come across the hassle of switching partners once you decide to scale up.

Here are the three most crucial areas you must analyze before choosing your POD partner:

  • Pricing

Identifying and comparing the product, shipping, and other miscellaneous costs associated with the service providers is crucial.

But should you blindly choose the cheapest available option?

Sometimes higher prices lead to better quality products and additional benefits that align, intending to increase sales. Quality products will also help you develop a loyal customer base.

Some companies will go for a monthly fee, while others charge a specific percentage of your overall sales. The former isn’t a great option if you are just starting. Select a provider with a flat shipping rate or a consistent rate throughout. It ensures your product price doesn’t suddenly rise around certain periods.

  • Product Quality

The quality of material and print affect sales or repeated sales to a huge extent. A unique brand identity is built based on exceptional designs and print. Do not be quick at making a design and initiate by ordering samples. You’ll also glance at your customer journey between ordering and order fulfillment. This entire experience plays a vital role in getting multiple sales. Analyze various aspects, including color, material, print, texture, etc., to see if partnering with that service is worth it.

  • Shipping Speed

On-demand fulfillment generally takes longer as the process initiates after order placement. You can have an edge by partnering with a service provider that delivers quickly without compromising product quality. A good print-on-demand partner delivers the product effectively, providing a great customer experience.

Lastly, make a quick internet search to check the online reputation of the print-on-demand services you target. Good social proof will help you make informed decisions to avoid the trouble of changing partners frequently.

Step-4: Create Your Online Store

Create your online store using a platform like Shopify or WooCommerce. They assist you in creating your store in a few simple steps. These platforms have many free and paid templates to help you create a premium-looking store and start selling.

Ensure you have all the right pages on your website providing information related to the products, shipping, payment details, brand story, etc. Remember that spending time on creating a professional eCommerce website or store will affect the success of your POD business.

Step-5: Identify And Research Your Specific Competitors

You cannot blindly design products and expect them to grow substantially over time. Researching and understanding the top competitors in your niche will help you present better products to your target audience. Understanding your competitor’s strategy is key to creating one that outruns them. Here are some areas you need to focus on:

  • Invest your money in a competitor analysis tool to identify and analyze top competing brands in your niche. 
  • Go through their content strategies and target channels to attract traffic. 
  • Sign up for their newsletters to take a glance at their promotional strategies. 
  • Go through their offerings and present a better one to your audience. 
  • Understand how their products are better than yours. 

After a detailed analysis, brainstorm with your team members to come up with solid strategies. Target all crucial areas like content, SEO, promotional tactics, etc.

Step-6 PROMOTING Your Store With The Right Marketing Strategies

Let’s take a look at some necessary marketing strategies to grow your store:

  • Segmentation and personalization 

Segment your target audience (younger and older age groups) to create a tailored marketing strategy. Personalization plays a key role in gaining and retaining your audience’s attention. For example, your t-shirt with quirky memes requires a strong presence on platforms like Instagram. You are likely to find and attract your audience on the platform. Creating a solid Instagram marketing strategy consisting of regular posting, user-generated content, quiz, giveaways, etc., is the way to go. 

  • Targeting the right social channels 

A strong social media presence on the right platforms. What are the platforms where you find you find your audience frequently? Instead of targeting all social platforms available, start with a strong blend of two. Consistently posting and engaging your audience helps you develop brand loyalty. Keep your content engaging and fun. For example, give them a glance at the upcoming designs. Or take their design suggestions to keep them involved. Conducting frequent Q&A sessions is a great way to engage. 

  • Developing a strong mailing list 

Email marketing keeps your audience updated about your products, upcoming sales, current discounts, etc. You can also drop-down reminders about the products waiting in their carts. Work on creating a solid email list but do not spam their inboxes with ten emails daily. 

Additional Tip: connect with influencers in your niche to get the word out there. Start by targeting influencers with a small yet engaging audience. People are more likely to listen to them. Many influencers are happy to promote products with free samples, while others charge a fee for the same. Do your research and find the right individuals for promotion. 

Key Takeaways

  • Start by jotting down your interests and researching their popularity to choose a profitable POD niche. 
  • Learn basic design skills to start creating your first design or outsource the process using a website like Fiverr, Upwork, or LinkedIn. 
  • Select an efficient POD partner by analyzing factors like pricing, shipping speed, eCommerce integrations, etc. 
  • Create your online store using platforms like Shopify or Wix. 
  • Identify your specific competitors and research their strategies. Next, brainstorm with your team to harness the areas they are lacking. 
  • Segment your target audience and use personalization to market your store right. 
  • Build a strong social presence on relevant platforms and post engaging content consistently. 
  • Keep your audience updated with a strong email marketing strategy.