What Is Print On Demand?

Written by

Darren DeMatas



Written by

Darren DeMatas


Reviewed By Our team of writers and content creators are experts in ecommerce and we fact-check every claim in our work to ensure it’s accurate and up-to-date. (Learn about our editorial guidelines.).

Ecommerce businesses come in all varieties. From straight-out product sales on ecommerce websites to subscription box services, you can choose an online business that you’re interested in and, most importantly, provides you with an income. When wondering what to sell online, one type of ecommerce option you’ll come across is print on demand

Print On Demand Business 101

Print on demand, or POD, is where you work with a third party supplier and customize white label products by adding your own designs to them. Print on demand services involve products sold on a per-item basis with your own brand name attached or customized design printed on the items you’ve sold through your website. 

With print on demand sales, you won’t pay for a product until an order is placed and the third party supplier prints it up. After your customer places an order with you, your print on demand supplier will handle everything from that point on, from printing services to shipping. 

Print on Demand Vs Dropshipping

How Dropshipping Works

Print on demand is a type of dropshipping model. However, print on demand and outright drop shipping differ in that with print on demand, items are only printed up and shipped once each individual order comes in.

Print on demand can be described as white label dropshipping. It provides a way to put your logo and custom design on apparel, accessories, and other products when each customer places an order.

Dropshipping models are a bit different. Dropshipping businesses and their dropshipping models have products stocked and ready to go as soon as it’s time for them to be shipped out the door. Once your dropshipping company is contacted with an order, the dropshipping entity will find it in the warehouse, package it up, and ship it out to the customer. 

When you compare dropshipping to print on demand, you’ll find dropshipping is often a quicker process than outright print on demand because in the dropshipping model the items are already in finished form and ready to go. Print on demand items have to be printed with custom designs prior to shipping. 

With both print on demand and the straightforward drop shipping model, the ecommerce owner doesn’t store or hold the inventory. This is the responsibility of a third party who fulfills the order. Dropshipping businesses make it possible for ecommerce business owners to handle the initial sale but hand over the rest of the duties to the dropshipping company. 

It’s important to know the difference between a drop shipper and POD service before you sign up with either of these companies. Knowing the difference between dropshipping and print on demand makes it easier for you to choose the right dropshipping company. 

How Does The Print On Demand Business Work

How Print On Demand Works

The print on demand is an easy system to understand. With this type of fulfillment service, your store takes orders for specific products. Once the order is placed with your store, such as a custom t-shirt, the job is handed over to a third-party provider that prints each product to order, packages the product, and then it goes into shipping mode and into the hands of the customer. 

What Is Print On Demand

In this type of fulfillment services setup selling print on demand, the ecommerce company handles the beginning of the transaction. Once the initial sale is complete, the print on demand business takes care of the rest. 

When you start a business, you always want to consider the base cost, inventory needed, target audience, and profit margins. In addition, you should always consider the pros and cons of a business model when figuring out what will work best for your store. 

Here are some pros and cons of a POD business:

Pros of POD

There are many benefits of POD businesses including:

  • Quick product creation and printing, from blankets to books
  • No need to own printing equipment
  • Excellent passive income option
  • Various digital printing and offset printing options
  • Packing and shipping is the responsibility of a third party
  • Free shipping is sometimes included
  • Low investment risk with this type of printing model
  • You don’t have to store inventory for the printing

Cons Of POD

While it’s good to consider the pros of any ecommerce business model, you also want to look at the cons, too. Here are some less beneficial aspects of print on demand printing services to consider:

  • Lower profit margin
  • Less control over printing, packing, and shipping
  • Customization considerations and what you’re able to customize
  • Shipping fees could be high

Considering both pros and cons will help you to decide if a business such as this one is right for your ecommerce site or if another type of sales model is best. 

Types Of Products

There are many types of print on demand products that can be customized and made to order. From mugs to hats to t-shirts, if you have a favorite product to include on your website, chances are strong that the item can be customized and sold in a POD format. You can come up with sentiments to add to the t-shirts or tote bags or, if you’re an artist, have your artwork added to the custom products, such as t-shirts or glassware. 

Print On Demand Products You Can Sell

Maybe you just want to start up a shirt business and focus on that type of product or maybe you want to include a wide array of products on your website. Whatever you choose, remember the choice is completely yours to make. 

To provide you with some ideas, here is a list of some top POD products to sell: 

If you find a product that can be customized with designs according to your customer orders and with your label attached, these are products that are exceptional print on demand products. 

Just be mindful of shipping costs when selecting products. If the print on demand third party supplier charges shipping costs, heavier products will cost more and subtract from your overall income. And always asks about which products can be adorned with certain types of designs.  

How To Choose a POD Supplier

When you decide to pursue a print provider for your ecommerce store, the next step is to pick a print on demand supplier to fulfill the t-shirt order or customized phone case order. Choosing the right supplier is essential. There are many factors that go into picking the right demand print business to help your business succeed. 

Here are some factors to consider when choosing the best print on demand supplier:

  • Products able to be printed on, such as books, t-shirts, mugs, etc. 
  • Print on demand services offered
  • Order quantities required 
  • Quality of products
  • Self publishing options
  • Customization options
  • Customer experience reviews
  • Total cost
  • Retail price
  • Shipping cost
  • Shipping requirements
  • Free shipping potential
  • Order fulfillment timeframe for product designs
  • Locations able to be shipped to
  • Order samples available
  • Profit margins per item 
  • Experience level of the company

All of the previously mentioned factors should be considered when you choose a quality demand print provider and start a print based business. You can ask about these features, such as shipping rates, provided by the various print on demand businesses and pick the one that meets your multifaceted needs best.

Here are some quality POD options to consider:


Printify POD

With Printify, ecommerce shop owners can sell products in their own store with their design ideas and have Printify print, package, and ship the finished product to customers throughout the world. Printify will take the process from the order placement and fulfill the customer’s order going forward. 

When you join Printify and use it in conjunction with your store, you’ll have access to a print provider network of businesses in the United States, United Kingdom, Europe, and Canada. Printify works with many different companies around the world to ensure that your products are created right. 

Printify offers over 250 custom products, ranging from custom t-shirts to customized wall decor to notebooks. With so many products offered by Printify, you can create a wide array of customized items for your customers. 

Some of the added benefits of using Printify for your print on demand provider include access to the Printify Mockup Generator and multiple store integrations Printify offers, such as WooCommerce, Shopify, and Etsy. 

Printify is a well-known POD service supplier in the industry and one that has forged a lot of new business relationships over the years. Selecting Printify as your POD company means you are entrusting Printify with important duties of your business. Therefore, you want to make sure Printify is the reputable and professional company you’ve been searching for all along. And, you’ll be likely to agree that Printify is. 


Awesome Products Designed By Independent Artists Redbubble

Another well-known print on demand provider that you can join forces with to have your custom products printed and shipped is Redbubble.

With Redbubble, you can customize a wide array of products, such as hoodies, notebooks, scarves, and stickers. 

Redbubble has fulfillment centers in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Europe, Germany, and the Netherlands. 

Other benefits of Redbubble include they ship to most places around the world, the company has an easy-to-use platform, expansive shipping options, and offer responsive customer support. 


Printful On Demand Print Embroidery Fulfillment And Warehousing Services

Printful makes it easy for you to sell customized products through your ecommerce website. You can choose from a large list of products that can easily be customized by Printful and offer these items created by Printful to your customers. 

With Printful, you can have custom printed clothing created as well as many different logo accessories, including posters, coffee mugs, backpacks, and blankets. Printful has a large inventory of customizable products and the tough decision will be narrowing down the Printful options to a smaller list of your favorites.  

Printful also integrates with many different ecommerce platforms, which helps to ensure that you can easily link to the services Printful provides. Some of the ecommerce platforms Printful can link to include Shopify, Wix, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, and Adobe Commerce. If you use one of the platforms that Printful integrates with, you might find that Printful is the company for you. 

Printify, Redbubble, and Printful are three of the more popular print on demand businesses that many ecommerce business owners use to fulfill their product orders. Some of these businesses may even offer helpful marketing tips for their customers through their company blogs. 

For more provider options, be sure to check out an additional comprehensive list of print on demand sites.  

Best Platforms For POD

Now that you know some of your options for print on demand businesses, you should also explore the best ecommerce platforms for POD. You want to choose a platform that makes the overall customer experience as easy as can be and produces the optimal results you would want from your business in the various sales channels.

The following offers some insight into the best platforms for print on demand sales:


All In One Commerce Solution Ecommerce Software And Point Of Sale Shopify

Shopify is a well-known ecommerce platform that ecommerce businesses can use when they sell their products online. Shopify has everything you need to get your online business up and running. 

Fast Loading & Easy To Use
Excels With Multichannel Sales
1-Click Selling Apps Available
Weak at SEO/Content Marketing
Checkout Not Customizable
Apps Are Expensive
Value 4.0
Features 3.8
Performance 3.9
Ease of Use 4.9
Design & Themes 4.0
Integrations 4.6
Overall Score
User Rating
28 reviews

From small online companies to large ecommerce businesses, using the Shopify platform will help make online selling easy as can be. 

You can use Shopify as your ecommerce platform and then link it up with your chosen fulfillment company. And Shopify offers its Shopify app which makes it even easier. Once you use the Shopify app, you’ll see why it gains rave reviews. 


Ecommerce Website Builder Create An Online Store Wix.com

Wix is another high quality ecommerce platform you can use and link with your print on demand supplier. This cloud-based platform makes it easy for you to set up your online store with all the resources you need and an easy setup process.

When you use Wix, this can often be linked with a variety of print on demand companies so your product orders are efficiently sent to your POD provider. Once your POD provider receives the orders, they can start printing up the products and send them out to your customers. 

Tons of Free, Amazing Themes
Simple to Use and Set Up
Includes Marketing Automation
Poor SEO Performance
Weak Upselling Capabilities
Weak Integration with Amazon
Value 5
Features 3.7
Performance 3.9
Ease of Use 4.2
Design & Themes 4.7
Integrations 3.5
Overall Score
User Rating
6 reviews

You just manage your site via a web browser and through the Wix website. 


Ecommerce For A New Era Bigcommerce

BigCommerce is another popular ecommerce platform online businesses use to meet all their ecommerce goals. This easy-to-use interface has many advanced built-in features such as customizable site templates, where you won’t need a graphic designer, marketing and conversion tools, and built-in SEO.

This platform also boasts 99.99% uptime, which means optimal access for you. And with integration with approximately 38 payment gateways, you can rest assured when you sell your products, you’ll get paid easily and quickly with this high quality platform. 

Try For Free Review
Flexible and scalable.
Excels with multi-channel selling.
Strong SEO Performance.
Inconsistent loading speed.
High volume stores pay more.
No 1-Click Selling
Value 4.0
Features 3.9
Performance 4.5
Ease of Use 4.8
Design & Themes 3.8
Integrations 4.2
Overall Score
User Rating
27 reviews

Many POD companies offer integrations for the BigCommerce platform which makes integrating your online store with the print on demand business a flawless venture. 

Tips For Starting a Print On Demand Business

If you’re ready to start your own print on demand business, here are a few tips to keep in mind along the way:

Research to Choose the Best Product Niche

Before you roll out your ecommerce store, you have to decide what product niche you want to focus on. From clothing to accessories to technology, there are plenty of ecommerce ideas to consider. 

Do the research to figure out what product niche business models have the best selling capabilities and enable you to earn the most money. You can find out a lot by using search engines and social media. Also, make sure you can effectively sell within this product niche and feel comfortable doing so. 

After you’ve done an exhaustive amount of research, create a business model to guide your path. 

Select Products That Will Sell

After you decide on the product niche that you want to be the focus of your ecommerce site, the next step is choosing products to which you’ll be adding your designs. Again, do your research and determine what products will be the best ones to sell and choose ones that will make you the most money. 

You want to find a few different products to sell to start and then expand your inventory offerings once you get the hang of your new POD services site and selling POD products and designs online. The more experience you have, the more you can expand your product line and the  more money you can make.

From phone cases to wall decor, your print on demand inventory options are practically endless as are your designs. 

Set Up an Ecommerce Website That’s Easy to Navigate

To help improve your sales and turn first-time customers into repeat customers, make sure your ecommerce store website is easy to navigate. You want customers to have a flawless experience using your website and making their purchase, such as a t-shirt order. 

And, remember, many of these ecommerce platforms offer templates and easy-to-use graphics for online stores so you don’t even need to hire a graphic designer if you don’t have one or don’t want one. You can create the website pages with the help of the ecommerce platform provider. 

Many providers offer helpful tutorials and blog articles to provide you with assistance as you set up your new site and all the time thereafter as you run your ecommerce shop on a daily basis. Customer support is often available as well from these third party providers who want to do all they can to help you sell products and fulfill orders for your customers. 

Another good idea to keep in mind is selecting a platform provider that offers a mockup generator. This type of feature is well worth it as it will make setting up your online store much easier than you could ever imagine. 

In addition, you should ask about cookies and what cookies the ecommerce platform provider uses to bring customers back to your site. These handy features help your customers return to your site and make it more likely that they will buy products from your online store and do so often. 

Choose a Print on Demand Service That Offers Integrations for Your Ecommerce Company 

When the time comes to choose a print on demand provider to fulfill customer orders and offer print on demand services, make sure your print on demand provider offers integrations that accommodate the POD platform that you use for your sales site. 

You want the customer purchases and order fulfillment processes to flow easily and allow your customer to receive their products quickly and efficiently. When your print on demand company integrates with your ecommerce website store, the sale and fulfillment processes will be executed in the right way. 

When choosing a print on demand partner for your store, inquire about the things mentioned earlier, such as shipping costs, fulfillment process, demand services, fulfillment time, and more. 

Set Up Your Print on Demand Business 

Now that you have a better understanding of what print on demand is, you might be ready to start a business and start selling. Whether you’re a sole entrepreneur or have a company with many employees, setting up a print on demand product business is a good option to consider. 

By following the tips above and keeping the previously mentioned information in mind, you can start an online business with the proper amount of knowledge in place. You can take the steps necessary to operate a print on demand online store with the help of a third party print on demand provider as well as your extensive social network which you’re sure to have. 

So, what are you waiting for? Now’s the time to get to work, start selling, and make some money!  

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