Print-on-Demand (POD) is a business model where a POD company makes customer orders as they are placed.
POD is a rapidly growing industry and is used for many types of products from clothing to accessories to even books. It’s used by many people in the Disney small shop community.
When we started our shop in 2018 we saw a lot of shops offering a mass assortment of items and we had no idea how they were doing it. After many months and research we realized they were using a print-on-demand third party service.
There is nothing wrong with using a POD service for your shop – we did for a year – but my belief is that it shouldn’t be hidden from customers.
Advantages to Using Print-On-Demand
- Great if you like to design but aren’t as talented with DIY projects
- Cheaper because you don’t have any upfront costs for manufacturing and shipping your products
- Don’t have to manage an inventory
- Allows you to have a wide assortment of products (I.e. apparel, drink wear, stationary, bags, hats, phone cases, home decor, etc.)
- POD sites are fairly easy to use and it’s easy to try new things
- They take care of fulfillment (packaging and shipping)
- Can order your own items at cost
- Instant. You can design, upload and add a product to your shop the same day
Disadvantages to Using Print-On-Demand
- Don’t have an inventory for doing giveaways, gifts, extras, your own product photos
- More expensive to sell; remember you’re wanting a profit and the POD company is also taking a cut
- Your inventory is dependant on what the POD company carries (they could discontinue products at anytime and items can go out of stock anytime – this will then affect your store) [This happened to us with multiple items we had in our shop]
- If you want product photos you have to use the mockups they provide (limited) or wait to order the product to yourself. You then have to wait for it to be made, shipped to you, and take photos before you can list your new product
- Less personal. Your packaging will be standard without your own note, logo, colours, etc. Some PODs offer “customized packaging” where you can brand your orders – some branding is free, some you have to pay for
- No control over shipping costs or discounted shipping sales. If you offer a discount or free shipping, you will have to cover the cost
Is using a Print-On-Demand company a bad thing? Is shopping at a small shop who uses POD bad?
The quick answer is “no”. But keep an eye out for our “Print-On-Demand” blog series where we explore these questions further.