How the print of demand business works

It is a great time for those who want to create their fashion and style with their own or unique designs printed on clothing. Designers and artists can treat custom clothing as the perfect canvas for displaying their creative talent and sell customized T-shirts, hoodies, and caps to individual customers or companies that use customized products for business promotion. If you have some design idea for creating any customized product like mugs or bottles or apparel that you want to gift to someone, you can get even a single piece done by a print on demand Company. These companies are retail suppliers of custom printed products and are ready to print any design on any product to satisfy customers. The most attractive aspect of the business is that there is no minimum order quantity, and you can even order a single piece of any item.

POD companies act as facilitators

POD companies help customers fulfill their needs for personalized products by playing the role of a facilitator with the resources to supply the chosen product/s duly printed with the customer’s chosen design. The POD company works with a third-party supplier to source the while label products they offer to their customers who can view them on the online shop set up by the POD company. The work of customization starts after customers select the product and choose a design for printing on it.  Companies that buy customized products mainly use it for business promotion and usually have the brand name, logo, and message printed. 

Online retail business

A close look at the POD business model reveals an online retail business selling customized merchandise.  Although printing is a major element of the business, retailers have no role to play in it except for partnering with a competent printing company ready to work with retailers. The retailer’s role is limited to selling the white label products only while converting it into a customized product by printing a specific customer chosen design is the task of the printing company. 

On analyzing the retailer’s role, it becomes clear that it coordinates the activities of two third parties – one set comprises suppliers while label products and the other set includes the printing company that does a lot more than just printing the products. 

The expanded role of the printing company

The printing company plays an expanded role in the POD business because it produces the finished item and arranges to deliver the products at the customer’s address according to the delivery schedule.  Since customers are susceptible to delivery schedules and expect to receive the ordered items in the shortest time, the business’s success depends a lot on ensuring timely delivery. 

Although the retailer interacts with customers directly and stays in touch with them until the fulfillment of orders, the printing company shoulders the responsibility of honoring the delivery commitments on behalf of the retailer. 

The front end of the business

The front end of the business is well visible and comprises the online shop that the retailer sets up on some eCommerce platform. The cheapest way to start a retail business is to subscribe to eCommerce platforms like Shopify, Etsy, Godaddy, Bigcommerce, etc.   The retailer displays all white label items in the shop and invites customers to choose whatever they like. In addition, the retailer maintains a catalog of designs and keeps updating it so that customers can choose some design that matches their style and taste.  However, since these are custom designs, the customer may ask the retailer to get some specific design done for them, which the retailer should comply with. In such cases, the retailer should have access to a pool of designers to create the design. Moreover, the retailer must work closely with customers until finalizing the design and highlighting the finer aspects like the suitability of printing the design on the chosen product.

The backend of the business

The backend of the business remains invisible to customers, although the leading player, the printing company, operates in this area. Customers often do not know that the retailer uses the services of a printing company to fulfill the order.  Every order placed online with the retailer triggers an alert to the printing company that starts collecting the items from the retailer and takes action about printing the design on the items. The type of printing depends on the design and the quality of the item’s surface on which it is printed. It usually takes about 1-2 days to complete the printing and arrange for delivery.

The printing company packs the item suitably and chooses the best shipping mode to ensure its safe delivery to customers. Interestingly, the name of the printing company is not mentioned anywhere on the packing but the customer gets what they wanted.

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