How to Run a Successful Print on Demand Business

by Gooten Editorial Team on Jan. 21, 2022

Running a print on demand business can often feel like a process of trial and error. It takes time to test different strategies and understand what really works. 

Luckily, Gooten’s Solutions Consultants are print on demand experts! They have worked with thousands of on-demand companies and have picked up many tips and tricks along the way. That’s why we brought them all together to share their favorite pieces of advice on running a successful, profitable PoD business!

Meet Gooten's Solutions Consultants

What are some common print on demand mistakes you see Print on Demand businesses making? And how would recommend avoiding them?

Kevin: The first common mistake is not setting proper expectations with customers in regards to fulfillment time. It is always best to notify customers that fulfillment/order processing typically takes 3-5 business days and orders will be sent out as soon as they are ready. T

The second common mistake for growing businesses is not having a dedicated support team or customer support agent to manage customer service requests. Especially as print on demand businesses scale, it becomes increasingly difficult to manage the support aspect of the business while also focusing on products and marketing. My recommendation is for all partners to have at least one individual dedicated to managing support requests. 

Sanja: A big mistake I see is not having a clear store theme. When designs are all over the place and tapping into several different niches, it can be unclear who the target customer is. 

Nemanja: I sometimes see partners going with super low cost providers in order to save a few bucks. The reality is that “affordable” can lead to costly consequences, such as unhappy customers and bad reviews. I encourage print on demand businesses to partner with trusted providers (like Gooten!) that fulfill quality products your customers will love, even if it means added an extra buck to the cart total. 

Quang: Mistake #1: When businesses are single-sourced. They have one manufacturer they’re going to for a product. This can lead to frustrated customers if that product goes out of stock and the business doesn’t have any other options. The best way to avoid this scenario is to work with an on-demand provider that is multi-threaded. Mistake #2: They try to manage a network of vendors on their own. A PoD business with multiple providers has to take on the burden of routing orders, figuring out shipping costs individually, and they have to go to multiple places for support and billing. The best way to avoid this scenario is to find a partner that can do the routing on your behalf so that you can focus on more important activities like sales and marketing!

Shelby: Mistakes with artwork is the most common mistake I see. I highly recommend always referencing the artwork spec template. Designing the artwork for each template/product will make all the difference when creating products in the Gooten Product Hub vs designing one really large file and trying to resize it when creating the product.

Pro Tip

Check out the Support Center on best practices for creating art for your Gooten products!

Pro Tip

Check out the Support Center on best practices for creating art for your Gooten products!
Learn More

What is your advice for established eCommerce businesses who are trying to scale their business?

Kevin: First, establish a list of core products and expand upon those products with unique designs. Then, advertise to their target audience through various social media channels. Keep running promotions and ad campaigns to increase brand exposure.

Sanja: It really depends on the type of the business, however, the most common actions a brand can do is: try new products (with print on demand, it’s very low risk and low cost!), reflect on the your business metrics to see what’s working and isn’t, and research your competitors so that you can stay current on the latest market demands.

Shelby: Define your brand, know your market, research your competitors and know what sets you apart and market, market, market! Meet your customers where they are at and have patience as you pave a path for growth.

Quang: Find out what are already hot selling products and expand your product catalog. In order to keep your store feeling fresh and to capture new demographics, you’ll have to add new products. 

Nemanja: Although ”why fix it if it isn’t broken” has a catchy tone to it, the rule of thumb for any business owner aiming to make it big within the print on demand eCommerce industry is to assure they’re not stagnating and thinking small. Stagnation equals regression. Your business will never scale up without your making bold moves, daring leaps of faith, and trusting your gut instinct when it prompts you to expand your product line, try out new designs, and explore fresh marketing campaigns to attract entirely new target audiences. Every proven strategy of today was yesterday’s risk, but innovative, smart risks are what dreams are made of, so what are you waiting for?

Srdjan: I would recommend automating any processes that can be automated with an appropriate tech solution or third party services. That would allow businesses to dedicate more time and resources to marketing and sales, things that can bring in more sales.

Pro Tip

Check out these personalization tools that can help you grow your brand!

Pro Tip

Check out these personalization tools that can help you grow your brand!
Learn More

What are some business metrics businesses should review when planning their strategy for the year?

Kevin: I highly recommend print on demands businesses review the following data when developing their 2022 strategy:

  • Month over Month (MoM) sales
  • Any news or information on the products/blanks they are offering 
  • Postage updates from shipping carriers 
  • What social media platforms are yielding the best ROI 
  • What were their best selling products? 
  • What were their best selling designs ? 
  • Customer data so they can better advertise to their target audience (i.e. age range, gender, location)

Sanja: Sales volume filtered by product and variant, monthly sales distribution, website traffic 

Quang: It’s important to know what are the current production and fulfillment times—this heavily impacts a store’s sales and customer satisfaction and retention. Also, understand what the top-selling products are and how can they sell other similar products that their audience will love. Look at how to increase the average cart value when their customers are checking out.

Nemanja: Past quarters are the key to safe predictions ahead, so analyzing with historic values and determining where your strengths and weakness lie is a good starting point. 

  • What are the error rates you’ve noticed? 
  • What were your top-sellers? 
  • Which products or designs have underperformed?
  • Where did you receive the most of your traffic from? 
  • If Google ads work don’t work for you, what is the more suitable option for your business? 
  • Is your messaging doing you disservice? 
  • How has your main competition faired during the holiday season? 

These are all valid questions. The toughest part is creating an algorithm out of these different calculations that can lead you towards the right direction in 2022, but once you crack the code, you’ll be unstoppable!

Ready to Scale your Print on Demand Business in 2022?

Talk to a Gooten Solutions Consultant today!