How to start a print on demand business

Learn the essential steps and strategies for launching your own print on demand business. Discover key insights and actionable tips here.
· 12 April 2024 · 6 minute read

What is print on demand

Print on demand, commonly referred to as POD, is a business operations method for fulfilling retail orders. Products are printed and produced only after an order has been placed. Similar to dropshipping, this eliminates the need for businesses to store inventory.

POD allows for customised products and personalised designs, catering to niche markets and customer preferences. One of the biggest benefits of print on demand is it’s cost effectiveness. This is because it enables business owners to launch products with little upfront investment.

Learn more about print on demand

Below we walk through some important steps to help you hit the ground running when starting a print on demand business.


Choose the right print on demand supplier

Selecting the right print on demand supplier or suppliers, is probably the most critical step when getting started. It can be the difference between launching a successful POD business and not. For print on demand businesses, dependency on suppliers is high.

Choosing POD partners who offer quality and reliability can help boost help boost customer experience, brand reputation and help encourage repeat business.

Below we break down several factors you should consider when determining which POD supplier is right for you.


Product quality

The quality of prints and products can significantly impact customer satisfaction. It's imperative to assess the provider's printing technology. You can examine factors before making a decision, including:

  • Product durability
  • Image resolution
  • Colour accuracy


Product range

A diverse product range allows businesses to cater to varied customer preferences and niche markets. Evaluate the breadth of products offered by POD partners to ensure alignment with your brand and target audience. Consider not only the types of products available, but also the customisation options and material quality.


Order fulfillment speed

In the fast-paced world of eCommerce, prompt order fulfillment is important to help boost customer satisfaction.

Look for a POD partner with efficient production and shipping processes to help minimise turnaround times. Quick delivery can help enhance the overall shopping experience and foster customer relationships.

Learn more about ways to help improve your customers’ shopping experience


Integration with eCommerce platforms

Seamless integration with eCommerce platforms can help streamline order fulfilment and enhance operational efficiency.

Choose a POD partner that can integrate smoothly with your chosen sales channels, whether it's Etsy, WooCommerce, your business website or other platforms.

Learn more about starting an eCommerce business


Craft designs for print on demand success

Great designs are important to the success of your print on demand business. You should aim to find products and designs that offer a point of difference. Or cater to a specific market or audience. Below we outline three simple design tips for you to think about.

1. Find design and product inspiration

It’s time to get inspired and think about the products and designs you want to offer. The sky is limit. You can gain inspiration on platforms like Pinterest, Facebook and Subreddits by using keywords relevant to your ideas and target audience.

Start by exploring trends, study successful campaigns and connect with customer preferences.

2. Outsource designs

You can outsource your graphic design needs. This can help you tap into creative expertise and develop a design that stands out in the crowd. Consider helpful platforms like Fiverr, Upwork and Design Crowd.

3. Prepare design files for your POD supplier

Package up your design files for high-quality printing. This is an important step before you hand the designs over to your POD supplier. Seek requirements and specifications from them for optimal results. This can include preferred image resolution, file format and optimal size dimensions.


Mitigate risk with strategic print on demand

Exploring print on demand for your small business brings exciting prospects, but there are some important steps you should take to help mitigate risk. Below we consider three actionable tips to help you address some of the challenges that could arise.

Order samples

Before diving into production, request samples of your chosen products so you can assess the quality firsthand. This can help you make informed decisions about your offerings and ensure the finished products meet your expectations. 

Set expectations and cost absorption

Set clear expectations with your customers around delivery times and costs of your products. You can also consider strategically absorbing some of the shipping costs into the price of your products to help balance customer satisfaction and operational expenses. Additionally, it's important to agree on specific terms and expectations with your POD suppliers. This can help enable alignment, clarity and accountability throughout the order fulfilment process.


Target niches

Being strategic about how you position your brand and offerings in the market is another important step in the print on demand model. This can help you get more bang for buck from your marketing spend using precise targeting.

Finding your niche makes it easier to grow an engaged audience that you can effectively market to. Tailor your offerings by catering directly to customer needs and preferences. This can help set you apart from competitors and help foster a loyal customer base.

Build an online storefront

Your online storefront is more than a virtual shelf for your print on demand products, it's essentially a home for your brand. By investing time into building an easy to use, informative and engaging checkout experience, you can better connect with your customers.

Consider what platform you’ll use to sell your print on demand products. This could be your business website, third party eCommerce platforms, or social selling on the Facebook, Instagram and TikTok store.

Regardless of how you choose to build your online storefront, remember to showcase your products, tell your story and create an immersive experience that keeps customers coming back for more.

Track performance

Once your POD business is launched, regularly track, measure and analyse your sales data and customer feedback. This can give you valuable insight about what’s working well and where there’s opportunities to improve.

You can use these insights to refine your product offerings, business operations, digital presence or marketing and promotion techniques.

In the evolving world of eCommerce, print on demand can be a dynamic strategy. It’s important to cultivate an engaging online experience, loyal customer base and offer products aligned with their interests. This can help you build a resilient business both now, and in the future.

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