What is POD business?

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What is POD business?

POD is an abbreviation for Print-on-demand, which refers to a business model where products are finalized, typically with a printed design, only when a customer has placed an order. This business model allows selling a wide product range without stocking inventory or needing to invest in products upfront. POD differs from its cousin drop shipping in that you can make products unique by designing the designs yourself.

The print-on-demand business model is very popular and easy to start. Internationally, there are three extremely popular and large players, along with a slew of smaller service providers. The most popular print-on-demand service providers are Printify, Printful, and Gelato. They all have a wide range of products and operate internationally.

To start a print-on-demand business, you only need a computer and basic computer skills. Familiarity with image processing is also beneficial. Personally, I use Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator for designing. Initially, mastering these programs can be a bit challenging, but with time and by going through various tutorials, you’ll learn how to use them.

You can acquire ready-made designs from various sources. For example, Creative Fabrica offers an affordable membership that allows you to download unlimited illustrations to use in your POD products. By making slight modifications, you can create unique items. Editing designs is particularly important if you’re selling on Etsy, as the products you sell there must be self-designed and unique. Therefore, avoid using ready-made images directly. However, if you’re selling your products through your own online store, such as WooCommerce or Shopify, there are no such restrictions, and you can use designs without modifications.

The biggest challenge in POD business is indeed producing selling designs and, of course, competing with other sellers. For example, many companies sell t-shirts, so customers have plenty of options to choose from. On the flip side, POD products may not have as high profit margins as selling products from your own inventory due to higher unit costs for printed items.

A benefit of print-on-demand business is that your POD partner not only prints the products for you but also ships them to customers. POD partners have integrations with various e-commerce platforms and marketplaces, so all of this can happen automatically if desired. When a customer places an order, it goes directly to your POD partner’s system, they print the products, and deliver them to the customer. This means your role in the business is designing products, marketing, and customer service. Additionally, you may need to create product listings and maintain your online store, depending on the platform you use to sell your products.

Overall, one could imagine that the print-on-demand business is an easy way to make money without much effort. Wrong. This business model requires continuous effort, and it is not a completely passive source of income. You have to handle customer service on a daily basis and come up with new designs to make your store profitable. This business model is suitable for someone who enjoys doing things and wants to see the fruits of their labor. I definitely recommend trying to establish your own print-on-demand business if the subject seems interesting to you!


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