As an apparel decorator, maximizing the capabilities of your printing technology is essential for success. A popular service being adopted by a number of DTG printers is On-Demand Printing, often referred to as “Print On Demand” (POD). In this article, we’ll provide an overview of what POD is, how it works, and how you can begin your own POD offering to harness the latest advancements in printing technology.

What is Print On Demand?

Print on demand is a process where you partner with online retailers to customize white-label products for them like shirts, hats, and other apparel items with artwork and designs provided by the retailer. These products are sold by the retailer and printed then shipped by you as the printer on a per-order basis. The most important piece of print on demand is that retailers expect no order minimums.

For retailers, this is an attractive business model due to the fact that they do not pay for the product until after they’ve made a sale, allowing for room to grow and scale their business without holding any inventory themselves.

How Does Print On Demand Work?

The process is pretty simple: a customer places an order with a retailer, you print the product(s) in the order for the retailer, and then you ship the order directly to the customer. It’s that simple.

Traditionally, DTG printers will work directly with retailers to set up an order management system. This usually involves retailers sending emails and Excel files with their order information and links to artwork files for their orders. Keep in mind that as you grow your POD program, this method of order management will become unmanageable and you’ll need to automate the process. Many printers are investing in e-commerce integrations to streamline their relationship with retailers.

What Do Retailers Expect?

If you’re planning on introducing a POD offering to your retailer clients, it’s important to be aware of their expectations to ensure you’re able to meet their needs. Here are the most important expectations retailers who utilize POD services have:

Fast Turnaround

While traditional wholesale or bulk orders have longer fulfillment times, print on demand requires a quicker fulfillment time. Generally, POD orders should be shipped within 2-5 business days after the order is placed. Remember that your fulfillment times will affect the retailer’s experience and the end customer’s as well.

Low Prices

Over the last few years, competition in the POD space has grown immensely. Many different printers are now offering their own print on demand program, which means you’ll need to find a way to be competitive. If you can’t compete with faster turnaround, product pricing is just as important to retailers.

There’s no perfect price point for a POD program, but keep in mind that retailers will need to make a profit on their orders, so the lower your prices are for garments and shipping, the more room retailers will have to make a profit.

Extensive Catalog

Aside from turnaround time and pricing, the size of your POD catalog will matter to retailers as well. Offering a handful of shirts won’t cut it. Retailers expect a variety of different apparel products including shirts, hoodies, crewnecks, and tanks. Having multiple colors available in your garment catalog will entice retailers interested in your print on demand program as well.

How Do I Start a Print On Demand Program?

Starting your own POD offering is not that difficult. The first step is ensuring you have the capability to offer POD to retailers. Reflect on the expectations listed above and decide if you can offer fast turnaround, reasonable prices, and an extensive catalog.

From there, it’s a matter of finding retail partners and spreading the word about your print on demand program. Take into account how retailers will send you orders, artwork, and payment for your services. Be honest with yourself about your capacity and resources available. Delayed orders and inefficient order management processes are the main reasons retailers will leave a print on demand program and search for a new one.

The best way to get started is by investing in your own POD app that integrates with a retailer’s e-commerce platform. F13 Works offers white-label POD apps to DTG printers interested in starting or expanding their own print on demand offering. Complete with an easy-to-use design tool, seamless order management system, and automated payment collection, a POD app is the most efficient way to launch your print on demand program in 2019.

Ready to get started? Fill out the form below to learn more about how F13 Works can help launch your own Print On Demand offering.