Isabella aka Baddie In Business has built two different six-figure ecommerce stores. Here’s her take on the pros and cons of print on demand as opposed to buying in bulk and shipping it out yourself. POD is basically a type of drop shipping, right? You promote products, someone else fulfills. Hands-off, cheap to start, which is why it’s so appealing. And there are a ton of different companies you can partner with, if you wanna do this model. But what are some of the downsides? Read on.
The biggest negative with print on demand is you’re gonna profit less per sale. Like, say you’re selling custom tank tops. If you order a bunch of them in bulk from your supplier, you might pay four bucks per unit. You list it on your Shopify store or whatever for twenty bucks. Assuming you didn’t run paid ads, your profit in this case is sixteen bucks. (Customer pays shipping.) Okay, cool. Not bad, right? But how much less would you make if you sold those same tanks via POD?
Isabella shows how, if you designed your own custom tanks using a print on demand company like Printful, you could expect to pay them about fifteen bucks per unit. So again, if you sold each one for twenty bucks a pop, in this case you’d only make five dollars per sale. Eleven dollars less. Ouch. But here’s where design and branding and marketing and copywriting and all that stuff would come into play. If you can justify a thirty dollar price tag, you could net about the same with no inventory and no shipping headaches.
Something else to think about, though? Isabella points out how you’ll have way more marketing content if you do the fulfillment yourself. Because you can show pictures and video clips of you and your team doing all that stuff on your social media accounts. This would probably increase conversions, too, because who doesn’t wanna support the little guy or gal, right? It’s more personal, your customers get to go behind-the-scenes with you; they can feel all the TLC that went into it.
Then again, messing with inventory and shipping, on top of being annoying and labor-intensive, is risky, right? Like, you gotta really believe in what you’re doing to spend big bucks before you ever make a sale, don’t ya? Because, if you’re not careful, you could be five or ten K in the hole, with nothing but a garage full of unshipped boxes to show for it. So there’s really no right or wrong here. And there’s certainly no clear winner. Just pros and cons you gotta weigh; and it comes down to personal preference.
For Miss Baddie In Business, she says, “The profit on the print on demand stores just doesn’t do enough justice for me to actually spend my time to do it currently, but I understand it’s kinda like dropshipping where if someone doesn’t want the hassle of really ordering a lot of inventory and diving deep into it, this [POD] is a great alternative. But I just don’t want you guys to think of it as a long-term business model. Just keeping it real with ya.” Wait, why does she say that?
Well, it could’ve been purely Covid-related, but when Isabella tried print on demand, her orders took forever to ship. Customers were emailing her, big mad, and it was just a mess. So that experience was a huge turnoff for her. She likes to have control, to be able to confidently tell her customers how soon they can expect their package, and then make good on that promise. And yeah, there’s more marketing opportunities, and more margin, which opens up all kinds of traffic sources.