Business Strategy

5 Print-on-Demand Mistakes (and How to Avoid Them)

by Rita Sengupta on Jul. 30, 2020


There isn’t a perfect formula for running an online store. As a business owner, you have to test new ideas, see what works and doesn’t work, and test again. Mistakes are bound to happen. However, after helping grow thousands of print-on-demand companies, we’ve noticed a few common mistakes stores can make that can cost them paying consumers.

We’ve compiled those 5 common print-on-demand mistakes below. Plus, we’ve included some helpful advice from Gooten’s Account Management team on how to fix them.

1. Neglecting to set expectations with consumers

As the name suggests, print-on-demand products are printed on-demand when the consumer orders it from your store. Because each product is made to order, there is an additional production time that not all consumers are accustomed to. In an Amazon Prime world where products are shipped in 2-days (and sometimes, the very same day), many consumers expect to receive their products relatively quickly. That’s why some consumers can get frustrated by how long it takes for their print-on-demand product to arrive. It’s important to properly set these production and shipping time frames on your online shop so your consumers don’t get upset.

At Gooten, we update our merchant partners on a weekly basis of the current average production and shipping times for our most popular products so they can then communicate with their consumers and manage their expectations.

One way to set expectations is to make a detailed announcement on your shop like Gooten Partner, bee + ella, did on their Etsy shop:

2. Not ordering samples of a product

While one of the benefits of print-on-demand is that you never have to worry about carrying inventory, it also means that it’s very easy to never see or touch your product. As a product-based business, it’s incredibly important to physically interact with the products you sell to ensure it is a worthwhile investment for you and your consumers. Ordering product samples can help you determine if a product is aligned with your brand, fits your quality standards, and will fulfill your consumers’ expectations.

We highly recommend that our merchants invest in some samples before creating products in their stores. Here is a guide on how to place a sample order for yourself or on behalf of your consumers.

3. Not offering free shipping

The checkout page is a major drop-off point for many consumers. So why do consumers ditch their orders at checkout? According to a recent Baymard survey, 50% of consumers abandon because of extra shipping costs. Consumers love free shipping so much that 83% of US online shoppers are willing to wait an additional two days for delivery if shipping is free, according to a study by Comscore.

One way to offer free shipping is to implement the cost of shipping into the final price of a product. At Gooten, we offer flat rate shipping, which helps our merchant partners simplify the time-consuming process of figuring out the best way to set up the shipping costs in their stores.

Once you incorporate free shipping into your business model, it’s important to market it to your consumers. Check out Gooten Partner, Code Switch, who promotes free shipping via a website banner on their homepage.

4. Poorly written product descriptions

For online stores, consumers can’t check out your products in person, so product descriptions are crucial to help them make educated purchasing decisions. A poorly written product description can frustrate consumers, causing them to leave the page and never make a purchase.

When crafting a description, step into your consumer's shoes. Help them envision exactly how your product will benefit them and improve their lives. Each description should be:

  • Concise and easy to scan
  • Full of any critical, necessary information
  • Free of any confusing jargon
  • Answering any relevant questions
  • Addressing any potential objections

When adding a product to your store from the Gooten Product Hub, it will automatically populate a product description. While this a great starting point, make sure to take the time to draft a clear, compelling, and relevant description that keeps your consumer top-of-mind.

5. Trying to sell to everyone

In any business, online or not, if you try to sell to everybody, you end up selling to nobody. Especially in the extremely competitive world of print-of-demand, it is important to find your niche target audience in order to stand out and be successful. If your store is already up and running, a great way to hone in on a niche market is to survey your current consumers. This research can help you find in-depth information and discover any commonalities amongst your consumers which can help you narrow your niche even further.

While many stores offer custom t-shirts, very few target feminist true-crime and horror fans. Gooten Partner, Murder Apparel, serves this unique and highly engaged audience by creating t-shirts that feature cheeky and witty phrases with spooky, retro designs.

Share your tips with us!

Do you have any print-on-demand success stories or mistakes you’ve learned from your time in the eCommerce industry? Share them with us! Email your tips and stories to hello@gooten.com.

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