According to the United States Department of Commerce, the e-commerce industry has recorded an estimated year-over-year growth of 44.5%. Print on Demand (PoD) businesses contribute heavily to this recent uptick.
However, despite how profitable the Print on Demand business seems, most merchants still struggle to make sales. One of the reasons is that they do not know how to find the ideal fulfillment partner for their label.
This post will show how to find the right supplier for your PoD store and offer examples of popular fulfillment companies you can choose from.
Let’s get started.
- Why Should You Care About Finding the Ideal Printing Partner?
- What Should You Look For
- Recommended Companies for Your PoD Store
Why Should You Care About Finding the Ideal Printing Partner?
You need to find a great printing partner because the success of your PoD store rests heavily on the suppliers and manufacturers you work with.
You may have lovely designs, but they will count for nothing if printed on low-quality products.
Consider this practical example. You sell customized merchandise, and you spend hours creating a special design. After your design is ready, you send it to a fulfillment company to print on plain tees. Unfortunately, they use low-quality tees that lose threads after three washing sessions.
Now you have customers who are dissatisfied with the products and, if you’re unlucky, may leave negative reviews about your store. What happened?
Your design is great, don’t get us wrong. But thanks to your printer, the customer got a second-rate product.
This tells you that, as a PoD store owner, creating nice designs is not enough. You also have to find an ideal fulfillment company to partner with.
What Should You Look For
That’s easier said than done. This is because there is no one-size-fits-all model that works for all stores. Here is a checklist of factors to consider while hunting for the ideal manufacturer for your business.
One of the most heralded strategies in business is exclusivity, more commonly called scarcity.
Customers experience a special feeling and intrigue when purchasing a limited edition item — it’s just the way the human mind works. As a Print on Demand store, you must find a manufacturer that can adequately leverage this strategy.
Partnerships offer proof that a company is legit. So, it’s wise to look for manufacturers that partner with reputable brands.
Suppose you saw a manufacturer that partnered with a big brand, for example, Disney, and one without any notable partnerships. Which would you expect to be more dependable? Your answer is probably the manufacturer partnered with Disney; that’s ours too.
If multiple reputable brands are willing to partner with the manufacturer, it must mean they are doing something right.
Marketplace vs. Dropshipping
Before choosing a manufacturer or supplier, ask yourself if you prefer a marketplace (like Amazon Merch) or dropshipping service (like Printify).
Marketplaces don’t require any significant amount of effort to operate. Many sellers just upload products and never return to them, leaving the marketplace platform to handle all the necessities. This is in stark contrast to dropshipping services, where the seller still needs to do a lot of work, like marketing the business.
While marketplaces seem to have the edge, vendors should note that the potential profits are not as great as with dropshipping services.
Applying for a particular manufacturer for your Print on Demand store should be brief and seamless.
However, this is a far cry from what happens in many companies. Some applications have to be reviewed for months and even years, which, frankly, is too long.
Even though you want to work with the best manufacturers, it’s crucial to prioritize suppliers that process the application quickly. You can look for suitable ways to speed up the application process yourself as well. For example, you can use a e-signature tool like Signaturely to sign documents in seconds and directly send them back.
Commissions and Cost
Always consider the financial implications on you and your store. You know what you want, but does your bank account approve? When choosing a supplier, consider how much you have to pay and how much you stand to earn. Compare the risks and rewards, and decide if it’s worth entering into business with that supplier.
Recommended Companies for Your PoD Store
Dropshipping and marketplaces are the most common business models operated by Print on Demand stores. As such, this list is a bird-eye view of the top manufacturers in each category.
You cannot sync your store with the Print on Demand site with marketplaces. Instead, the site provides an avenue for you to sell your products. Here is how it works.
Each vendor chooses the product they want to sell, adds the design, and posts it on the Print on Demand site.
These platforms are usually relatively stress-free, but they are not as profitable as dropshipping services.
In contrast, you can connect your online store to the PoD service by dropshipping services. When a customer places an order, it will be sent directly to your PoD for printing. However, customer service, branding, and advertising are all your responsibilities. The benefit, compared to marketplaces, is a better profit per product sold.
Amazon Merch is one of the more profitable companies to work with. We’ll admit that making profits on Merch isn’t as easy as many other marketplace companies, but once you get it right, the profits keep rolling in.
There’s so much competition to get into Merch by Amazon that many people wait months to have their applications reviewed and processed. This is long by any standard, but that makes sense as it prevents spammers from getting through.
The company also “weeds” bad products and designs. If you upload something on Merch and don’t make any sale after some days, it gets deleted. That may seem harsh, but it ensures only quality products remain on the platform. If you are confident in the quality of your designs and products, you should strongly consider Merch.
With a name like this, it has to be good, right? Scrolling through Zazzle’s products will leave you dazzled (sorry for the pun, we couldn’t help ourselves!). Zazzle has many products — and a wide variety of them too.
The company partners with Disney, further confirming its legitimacy. The platform isn’t the most user-friendly, but making profits is a breeze once you figure it out.
What’s more, Zazzle’s registration process is free. Also, you have control over the retail price of goods, and you can price goods with better designs higher. But be careful not to overdo this, as that’s an easy way to tick off your customers.
Spreadshirt is another great PoD marketplace platform with a similarly outstanding design and structure. Contrary to what the name suggests, you can sell mugs, bags, backpacks, posters, stickers, and many other products on Spreadshirt.
Opening an account with Spreadshirt is straightforward, but the actual selling of products is even more so. You create a design, upload it to the marketplace, and earn.
TeePublic allows you to quickly and easily upload designs, and we should probably emphasize the “quickly” bit. This company doesn’t offer as many products as other marketplaces on this list, but its uploading speed makes up for this.
After you upload your designs, they remain for a very long time, improving your chances of making profits on the platform.
There’s a downside, though. TeePublic’s pricing structure isn’t the best and can be confusing. It also doesn’t allow for manipulation on the seller’s side. Then there’s the fact that your profits may seriously drop, depending on what you’re selling.
With that settled, here are the top 5 manufacturers for PoD dropshipping stores.
Calling Printify the best among the dropshipping PoD services wouldn’t be a hot take at all. They are regarded very highly in the industry, and it makes a lot of sense when you consider how much they do for sellers.
To start with, you are entitled to a catalog of 300+ products containing printing services from several locations. Furthermore, this company allows for easy integration of your online store with major e-commerce companies, like Shopify.
You can use Printify for free or subscribe to paid plans. The difference between the plans is the number of stores you get, and Printify offers a wide variety of products at low production costs.
With Printful, you only have to do minimal work regarding printing, inventory, shipping, and handling orders. Nevertheless, the order handling system is completely automated.
You can integrate your online shop with multiple e-commerce platforms. Registration is free, and there are no monthly fees. One of the underrated features of Printful is the mockup generator that enables viewers to see how the printed final product will look.
There’s a strong preference for ease-of-use with online platforms, especially in this age, and Spocket excels in this category, as it does in many others. Aside from its ease of use, it is fast for uploading product designs.
Spocket’s registration is free – that’s always good to hear, and there’s a free plan and different paid plan options. The most distinguishing feature of Spocket is that it allows you to deal with suppliers from several countries around the world, particularly in North America and Europe.
Oberlo is another great dropshipping platform to consider, especially when used with Shopify. This company offers an intuitive design, making it easy for beginners to catch on. There have been complaints here and there about Oberlo’s app, but nothing out of the ordinary. Oberlo is free to use and has a free version you can hop on.
However, we’d say the most significant issue with Oberlo is their customer service. While it isn’t bad, we’ve seen better.
As Oberlo is to Shopify, WooDropship is to Aliexpress and WooCommerce. This platform allows for the easy importation of products from Aliexpress into your WooCommerce store. Even better, you have the opportunity to dictate the pricing of the products you want to sell. This allows you to rake in a decent profit while keeping customers close to your store.
Speaking of money, you do need to pay to use this platform. However, you can try the company out for seven days to determine if they’re worth paying for.
Choosing the ideal manufacturer for your PoD business is critical to your business’s success. Luckily for you, we have taken the time to create an excellent list of companies you can choose from and factors to consider before choosing them.
But the manufacturer is not the only aspect you have to optimize in your business. You need to create incredible designs, and we know just the right company.
With the right manufacturer and designs, your company will thrive in no time.