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Dropshipping vs. Print-on-Demand

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By Becca - February 13, 2018- in Go-Getter Blog

We totally get it. Ecommerce can be confusing. All the new jargon that you gotta learn to have a chance to succeed. To make it a bit less intimidating, in this blog post we’ll break down the main differences between Dropshipping and Print-on-Demand. So, hopefully, at the end of this article, you’ll have a better idea about which method you want to use for your biz.
Let’s jump right on in.

What is Dropshipping?

Dropshipping is a retail method where you, as a seller, don’t have to keep an inventory in stock. But instead, a wholesaler ships the goods directly to the customer. Ultimately, you are selling products that already exist through a platform as is.

What happens when a customer makes an order?

When you receive the order, you then have to essentially buy the product(s) from a wholesaler or a manufacturer on your customer’s behalf. So every order is made of two parts – your customer buys the product from “you,” and then you buy from your wholesaler or manufacturer.
Unlike Print-on-Demand, where everything runs on the back end, you have to do the manual work yourself. Unless you hire a virtual assistant to help you with the workload.
Let’s take a look at some dropshipping pros and cons:


Add new products quickly

You can test as many items as you want without having to put time and effort into creating new designs. For example, if a specific product that someone sells is doing well, you can immediately add it to your list.

Start-up cost is lower

The traditional model for ecommerce often requires you to start your business with some capital, like creating a logo, building a website, etc. With dropshipping, you can eliminate those costs, and spend more money on promoting sales.


No room for personalization

Unlike print-on-demand, dropshipping doesn’t give you a lot of wiggle room in terms of customization. For this reason, it’s hard to establish a reputable brand.

Dropshipping is competitive

The bar for entry is set at an all-time low, anyone can decide to enter on a whim. You are likely to be faced with an overwhelming amount of competition, even when you choose to specialize. There will be sellers who are selling the same exact product, which means that you’ll want to price your products for less, thus not making too much profit.

Who’s Dropshipping for?

The dropshipping model is ideal for a seller who is testing the ecommerce waters. This model gives you the means to experiment with a variety of products, but it doesn’t give you the upper hand.
Pro Tip: If you choose to go ahead with dropshipping, we recommend to pair your product offerings with print-on-demand.

What is Print-on-Demand?

Print-on-Demand is a process where you work with a supplier. Personalize products, like tees or hats, with your own designs to sell them under your personal brand.

What happens when a customer makes an order?

When you receive the order, the order is automatically received on the back end by your designated supplier, so essentially you can sit back and watch the money come in. Occasionally, you will have to answer some customer questions.
Let’s take a look at some print-on-demand pros and cons:


Fulfillment & Shipping

Unlike dropshipping, print-on-demand offers much faster shipping. However, as a store owner, you have to manage your customers’ expectations. It’s your responsibility to let your customers know that you are in the print-on-demand business and that it takes longer than sending out an already made product.
CustomCat is a centrally located, U.S. based supplier, so for your product to be shipped to neighboring states, it takes about two days.

Customizable designs

With print-on-demand, you can add customized text, such as names, year, etc.

Automatically fulfilled orders

Since everything is done automatically, you don’t have to worry about or allocate time to manually ordering products through your warehouse.


Higher barrier to entry

Not every person who is ready to get started in print-on-demand is a designer. Some of us are not knowledgeable of programs like Photoshop and Illustrator. For best return on your investment (time), we always encourage anyone who is thinking about adding POD to their income to check out Skillshare or YouTube. These resources will give you a better idea of what design entails before you go all in.

Inventory selection is limited

Unlike dropshipping, where you can sell absolutely anything, with print-on-demand, you are tied down to clothing and accessories.
Just to let you know, with CustomCat you can choose from thousands of products: shirts, hats, mugs, etc. These products are stored in our warehousing facility and are immediately available for print.

Who’s Print-on-Demand for?

If you’ve always wanted to create your very own brand, you can do that with print-on-demand. Not only can you finally put your creativity to use, but you can make a lot of moola selling products online. POD gives you the freedom to do whatever your heart desires, in terms of the designs that you choose to print. If you want to sell highly-personalized products…
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With that said…

If you are thinking about starting an ecommerce store, we advise you to do more extensive research on the most popular ways to do so. I’d recommend that if you have any questions or concerns about print-on-demand, don’t hesitate to contact us. Or, better yet, feel free to drop your thoughts in the comments below. After all, we are in the business of POD. Whatever you decide, we wish you good luck. And we hope that you can find the right model for your needs.

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