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Print-on-demand products: pros, cons and tips for selling

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Meet the demand

Over the past four years, the print-on-demand (POD) industry has grown by 12%. And if you think it’s slowing down, think again. With the growing demand for one-of-a-kind and customization, 36% of consumers have expectations for personalization, and 48% are willing to wait longer for them to arrive.

While running a print-on-demand business has its ups and downs, it can be a very profitable business. Know the pros, cons, and tips before selling print-on-demand products to ensure you’re prepared and well-equipped to run your business.

What is print-on-demand?

Print-on-demand is a process where you work with a supplier to sell white-label items with customized designs under your own brand name. Selling POD products is ideal if you are starting an online business. How so? The fulfillment method takes place per order and begins as soon as customers complete their orders.

Some common print-on-demand products include T-shirts, hoodies, baseball hats, tote bags, yoga pants, engraved jewelry, and mugs.

T-shirts, in particular, are the most popular — with a marketing value of $3.64 billion in 2020. Print-on-demand T-shirts are becoming a part of a corporation’s business strategy to market its company, products, or offerings.

But like any type of ecommerce business you encounter, there are pros and cons to the process of selling POD products.

You don’t want to be in charge of full customization — designing merchandise from start to finish. By opting to print-on-demand products instead, you won’t have to. POD is cost-efficient, involves lower lifting, and allows you to have control over what your products look like.

Pros: 3 benefits of selling print-on-demand products

Print-on-demand products are ideal for sellers who are short on time. You let a third-party platform handle storing, shipping, and fulfilling inventory, among other tasks. In turn, you can focus more on the creative aspects and marketing your brand to gain more customers and sales.

1. Design customization is simple

Design customization is easy because print-on-demand platforms handle making the product variations. As a seller, all you have to do is upload your product and offer designs for customers to choose from.

And if customers are looking to add their name or specific lettering to a product, great, you can do that easily through your POD provider.

Merch38, for example, is a print-on-demand service provider. It aims to help sellers help people express themselves through ultra-personalized clothing.

Below, you can see how Merch38’s platform offers a variety of printing locations for a white-label hoodie — front, back, or both.

print on demand products

 

Photo: Merch 38

The variety of printing location options on the clothing allows buyers to make their hoodie one-of-a-kind.

2. No required investment in your own inventory

Unless you’re still selling non-print-on-demand items, we have good news for your business. The days of storing a load of your own inventory are over. That responsibility is on your POD platforms, too.

For POD products, inventory is ordered on an as-needed basis. That means you don’t have to worry about keeping old items that will likely go to waste.

Fortunately, the best-selling products used for print-on-demand are popular in the selling market, so there are typically many vendors to choose from. So thankfully, you’re not limited to a specific vendor that may or may not have your product available when ready to order.

Not having to invest in your inventory is a gift from the heavens, especially if you are a new business with limited capital. The reduced overhead allows you to test the market with different designs and lowers risk.

3. Freedom from the responsibility of fulfillment and shipment

As the seller, your main focus is attracting customers to your website to make purchases and grow your brand. Leave the logistics of fulfillment to your print-on-demand platform.

With the right supplier on your side, they’ll deliver fast results — leaving your customers satisfied and ready to continue doing business with you.

Since you won’t have to worry about fulfillment and shipping, you can focus on fostering stronger customer relationships to ensure customer satisfaction. According to Forbes, costumes are glad to pay 17% more for products from businesses with excellent service.

Also, those who leave satisfied are five times more likely to make a purchase again and four times more likely to make a referral.

Cons: 3 print-on-demand product challenges to keep in mind

Print-on-demand providers helping your business are great. But at the same time, they cut into your pockets. You can’t keep all the profit you generate. Rightfully so, some of the gains go into the hands of those who are helping keep your business afloat.

So before you go all in, take a moment to consider some of the challenges below before including print-on-demand products into your inventory.

1. Order fulfillment can take a long time

Because print-on-demand products are made after a customer purchases, the process to create and deliver will take longer than shipping an item that is already completely made.

Between you and your buyers, be the first one to set the expectations for your buyers. Reduce the number of customers reaching out about estimated times of delivery. Make a visible note on each product or checkout page to notify customers about the extended delivery times.

The more information they know ahead of time about their purchase, the more patient they will be when waiting for their customized products to arrive at their door.

According to Printful, a typical POD order can take two to seven business days to fulfill.

On the other hand, fulfillment for non-print-on-demand products can be at customers’ doorsteps much faster. Through Amazon Prime’s Same-Day Delivery, for example, consumers can expect their merchandise to arrive the same day they purchase.

2. Profit margins are low

Because print-on-demand products are often custom, you can’t buy items in bulk for wholesale pricing. As a result, profit margins are lower than non-print-on-demand items.

And unfortunately, because your printing company handles shipping and handling, a large part of your profit goes into their hands.

But to help make bigger profits, consider negotiation shipping rates with your supplier.

3. Returned items are hard to resell

Because print-on-demand items are tailored to individual customers, it can be challenging to resell returned items.

To decrease the number of returns, add a sizing chart and encourage previous customers to leave reviews with photos modeling the product. Have them include measurements and the size they purchased to offer as much accuracy as possible for the next potential buyer.

To decrease the number of items coming back to you, ensure your third-party provider is on the same page about return policies.

4 tips to generate sales for print-on-demand products

As a print-on-demand product seller, you’ve got the advantage of easy customization. Embrace that aspect of print-on-demand to win over shoppers. At the same time, you have to work extra hard to maintain quality because your print-on-demand platform controls so much of the ecommerce process.

By implementing the four tips below after starting your POD business, you’ll be able to gain more recognition, be confident in the products you sell, and ensure higher customer satisfaction.

Tip 1: Give out swag to generate public awareness

Swag is promotional merchandise — goodies like mugs, T-shirts, notebooks, pens — you name it.

It’s common for companies to give these particular products to new hires or pass them around at trade shows to increase brand awareness. And as a print-on-demand product seller, you can give customized products to your existing and potential customers to generate leads.

You have the tools and processes to do so easily, so why not?

Not only will your invested gifts to customers encourage them to come back for more, but they’ll turn into walking billboards whenever they rock what you gave them.

Tip 2: Order samples to check for quality

It can be easy to go without seeing your products since they go straight from your print-on-demand provider to customers. Create a habit of ordering samples beforehand to ensure you’re offering excellent quality.

It’s also good to order samples because what you see online doesn’t always match the real deal in person. So seeing the quality of products for yourself before customers purchase will boost your confidence in selling them.

Tip 3: Send surveys to customers to discover satisfaction level

The opinion on your products shouldn’t stop at what you think about them. Reach out to customers to see what they think about purchasing. Based on their feedback, you’ll know if you should continue with the same suppliers or switch to someone new.

Also, because you may be in the dark about the fulfillment and shipping services between your print-on-demand supplier and customers, you can send surveys for that too as a way to check on how well your POD provider is doing.

Tip 4: Create POD content to drive website traffic

Through print-on-demand content creation, you can distribute consistent, relevant, and valuable information on your website that connects to the unique products you sell. And according to WPForms, small businesses with blogs get 126% more lead growth compared to those that opt out.

Include blog posts on trending print-on-demand items — including the ones you sell. With a strong content strategy and SEO efforts in play, your brand’s writing piece can make its way on Google’s search engine results page.

In addition to blog posts, share Twitter threads about print-on-demand products, benefits of selling, customer success stories — linking your content back to your store’s website.

The more information you offer, the more knowledgeable you will seem. With those two factors in play, you’ll likely attract new buyers.

Offer a variety of print-on-demand products to grow your business

Print-on-demand products not only allow you to play around with different designs, but you can also explore different products to expand your offerings.

If you’ve been selling customizable T-shirts and they have been selling quickly, you may want to consider venturing out to similar items like long-sleeve shirts or hoodies (especially when seasons change).

Shift your mindset to be data-driven to experiment with new products. Throughout the process, you’ll discover what additional print-on-demand products are worth keeping and which are not adding value to the business.



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Growing a Business

Shopping Video – New Marketing Trend

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One of the best ways for marketers and business owners to increase sales and engage customers is video shopping. This new marketing trend involves using video content to promote and sell your products.

Here is everything you need to know about shopping videos for business owners.

What is Video Shopping

Video shopping involves using video content to promote your products/services with the aim of increasing sales. With a shopping video, business owners can show off their brand and give relevant information about their products and services. Also, videos help influence the decision-making process of buyers and increase sales.

Types of Shopping Videos

There are two main categories of shopping videos, and they are:

Live Video Shopping

This type of video shopping involves creating a live presentation of your products. It is not pre-recorded, thus making it easy for customers to interact in real-time.

Non-Live Video Shopping

In this case, you record the video and then upload it on platforms where customers can find them. While you can’t get real-time responses from customers, non-live videos are easily accessible, unlike live videos.

Engaging social video ads

Benefits of Video Shopping

Video shopping can provide many benefits for business owners and their customers. Some of the advantages of video shopping are:

1. Engaging Visuals That Increase Sales

Consumers generally prefer video content over text because they are a more expressive form of content. With video shopping, business owners can create an interactive environment where customers can engage. This form of engaging content increases your chance of converting visitors to actual customers.

2. Increase Brand Awareness

Business owners can increase the chance of being seen by their target audience through impressive shopping videos. Shopping videos prove to be a convenient way to promote your business and increase brand awareness.

3. Convenient Customer Interaction

Video shopping helps engage with customers in real-time, thus making them feel seen. You can chat with customers one-on-one, which makes it easier to serve their needs. Whether it’s a car dealer chat or a skincare consultation, you can count on video shopping to improve rapport.

4. Bring Products to Live

With video shopping, shoppers can easily browse products in real-time. For example, fashion brands often bring clothes to life by making a video of how it looks on a real person. This will help customers have a feel of how the item will look on them, and this can increase sales.

5. Easy to Create

Creating shopping videos doesn’t have to be a long and complicated process. Shopping videos tend to be short and easy to make without requiring a professional. With a smartphone or camera, anyone can make a marketing video that converts. Also, there are many channels and platforms available to create videos that will persuade visitors into being actual customers.

6. Increased SEO Ranking

Videos tend to perform better than other forms of content, and having them on your website will increase your SEO rankings. This makes it easy for customers to find you and do business with you.

Video marketing

If you are running an online business, you need to keep up with new marketing trends to boost your brand. One of the latest marketing trends to implement is video shopping. When done correctly, video can help provide valuable information for customers, boost engagement, and increase sales.

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In Business, Image Matters. How to Improve Yours?

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Your business may boast of excellent products and/or services. However, nowadays, excellent products and services simply aren’t enough to help a business survive and thrive in the long run. What your business also needs is a strong image – one that can help it stand out from its competitors.

But how exactly do you go about improving the image of your business? To know the answer to this question, read on as we take you through all the steps you can and must take to take your business forward towards success.

photo credit: August de Richeliu / Pexels

1. Face-to-face interactions with people

We may be living in the digital age, but nothing can beat face-to-face interactions when it comes to telling people about your business. Here are some ways through which you can inform people about your business and what it’s all about:

Meet people and start conversations

It’s unrealistic to expect that people will know about your business if you don’t reach out to them. So, start going out and attending events.

Business-centric open meetings and conferences would be the best place to start. At these events, you’ll run into several businessmen like yourself. You should make the most of these opportunities to start conversations with others from the world of business. This will gradually let people know about your business and the products and/or services it has to offer.

Prepare a pitch

When you meet potential customers, you have to be prepared to speak spontaneously about your business. At this juncture, it’s important that you don’t fumble or sound unconfident. After all, what you tell people about your business will form impressions in their minds – and you’d want those impressions to be positive, wouldn’t you?

This is where preparing a pitch can come in incredibly handy. Write it down first and then keep practicing it out loud, and make changes where necessary.

Participate in community events

Your local community is the first pillar of support for your business. So, get out there and try playing a role in all community events. At these events, you should promote your business in a friendly and welcoming manner.

This should encourage members of your local community to take an interest in your business and what it has to offer. Sure, this may not result in immediate sales, but it will definitely improve your business’s public visibility.

Businessman in a fancy coffee shop

2. Make your business appear professional

A surprising fact is that the modern-day consumer values professionalism more than the quality of products and services. Of course, product and service quality is important, but if your business lacks professionalism, it will lose out on customers.

So, to make your business appear professional, you can put the following steps into practice:

Invest in a business website

The internet is arguably the biggest platform for businesses nowadays, which is why you should invest in a dedicated website for your business. We recommend hiring professional web developers and designers to curate your business website. This will ensure that your website looks and feels professional.

Apart from setting up a website, you should also pay attention to its content. Quite simply, it should have all the information that your target audience may want to know, i.e., contact information and information about the business. Your business website should also have a blog with consistent posts. This can go a long way towards ensuring your expertise within your niche.

Set up a dedicated email account for your business

Using your personal email account as your business’s email account is nothing short of a criminal offense. That’s why you should set up a dedicated business email account. It’ll help you achieve consistency with your branding, and it’ll also allow your business to look professional to the people who subscribe to your business newsletters.

To set up a business email account, you need to first create a domain name and then get in touch with an email provider. Two of the best email providers out there include Office 365 for Business and Google Apps for Business. Both options provide business-class email along with features such as online storage and document editing. The best thing about these options is that they’re quite inexpensive.

Provide 24/7 Customer Service

These days, consumers expect the companies they buy products and services from to be available for them 24/7. Fortunately, the widely availble virtual assistant and reception services such as those provided by www.virtualreception.com.au can do that for you – both on and off office hours – to any types and sizes of business, from freelancing digital nomads to multinational corporations.

Social media manager

3. Set up your social media for success

Social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook are excellent places to market your business and its products. Here are a few ways to make your business succeed on social media:

Create business profiles

On all major social media platforms, you have the option of setting up personal profiles and business profiles. It’s best to create the latter type of profile as it is designed specifically for business purposes.

During the setup process, make sure that you include relevant info in the bio sections. Don’t forget to add links to your official website and other social media handles as well.

Post relevant content regularly

All social media algorithms tend to favor accounts that post relevant content on a consistent basis. So, irrespective of the social media platforms you’re active on, make sure that you’re posting new content as much as possible.

Not posting regularly can limit your business account’s reach and stall its growth on social media.

Keep branding elements consistent across all platforms

If your Instagram page looks drastically different from your Facebook page, your target audience is bound to get confused. That’s why it’s vital to use similar branding elements across all social media platforms.

The branding elements you should focus on keeping consistent include your business’s logo, its imagery, and its voice, i.e., the tone of communicating with your audience.

Encourage users to engage with you on social media and interact with them: Through the use of call-to-action (CTA) messages, you can encourage your followers on social media to engage with your posts. You should also spare time to respond to your followers’ comments.

Business owner in the Portugal-based office
photo credit: Fauxels / Pexels

Takeaway

There are quite some things to consider in your endeavor to increase your buisness image. However, focusing on the three above is more than sufficient to get started: Meet people and tell the about your business; make an effort to be professional, especially in your online presence; and lastly, make use of social media platforms to your advantage.

Be sure to do a lot of trials-and-errors so that you can form the best practices for your company.

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5 Ways Virtual Headquarters Pandemic-Proof Your Business

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The coronavirus pandemic battered many businesses to the ground. At its peak, we saw businesses either shutting down or struggling to make ends meet. We had job cuts and salary cuts left, right and center. Businesses across the world, especially small businesses, are still suffering from the economic shock of the coronavirus pandemic. Even now, with things finally opening up, many businesses are skeptical of the times and have gone into planning mode.

Every business now wants to create a contingency plan for when things start to go out of hand. Many businesses which were able to survive the pandemic were the ones that were prepared. The ones that had a contingency plan and a disaster management plan ready to roll out.

photo credit: LinkedIn Sales Solutions / Unsplash

Taking a cue from this, all every company wants to plan for right now is this: What to do if and when a pandemic hits again? Is there a way to pandemic proof your business?

One step that most businesses have taken is setting up a virtual headquarters.

What is a Virtual Headquarters?

Virtual headquarters or a virtual office is a physical address of your online business. At this physical address, you can create shared workspaces, meeting rooms, and set up a virtual assistant. You and your employees can continue working from home, but you still have a physical address for your place of work.

But why would you go to all that trouble when everyone is working from home? A number of factors come into play here, the biggest of them being the pandemic. As more and more businesses attempt to pandemic proof their businesses, they are striving to find the right balance between remote working and having a physical office. For a lot of businesses, a model that works better is having a watered-down version of a physical space up and running.

Remote working

 

photo credit: Karolina Grabowska / Pexels

Here are some of the main advantages of opting to have a virtual headquarter for your business in order to keep it as pandemic proof as possible.

1. You get a prestigious office address

First impressions matter. And having a prestigious office address on your business card certainly makes the right impression. This point becomes even more significant if you are a small business that’s trying to make it big. A calling card with a flashy office address sends a positive sign to potential clients — about your seriousness regarding the business and your credibility and professionalism. A prestigious office address is also something your employees will be proud of.

So you get a great address without the long lease and the major utilities and upkeep costs involved. An absolute win-win.

2. Expansion is easy

It is a lot easier to expand or even downsize your business when you have a virtual headquarter. This is because you do not need to think about the physical space aspect of it. Need to hire more people? Go ahead without worrying about where they will sit, if you will need to lease a new floor, or if the office space is enough.

Thinking of moving a department offshore? No need to redo your office space lease to physically downsize. Having a virtual headquarters gives you the flexibility without the constraints.

3. Your employees can keep working remotely

Having a virtual headquarters does not mean a proper office space that employees will eventually return to. You and your employees will continue to work remotely while being associated with that one physical address.

Depending on how big or small your virtual headquarters are, you can make room for monthly in-person team meets. You can even give some employees to have the option to book up a terminal and work from the office once a week. Or you could simply reserve your physical address as a place to forward mail and work calls. The possibilities are endless.

Excellent customer service

4. Customer service are made easy

When the pandemic hit, too many companies had to suddenly shut shop and move everything online. While the transition came with its own hurdles, one of the bigger issues was customer service.

Shutting shop completely may cause some technical issues with providing customer service. Having a virtual headquarters means that you can now use the available virtual services, such as 24/7 customer service – which can be a critical success factor in winning customers during the pandemic.

5. Better work-life balance

Just knowing there is a demarcation between your work life and your personal life helps a lot in trying to strike a balance. As great as working from home is, many find it very hard to disconnect completely from work. This happens when the place you work from and the place where you relax overlap.

A lot of employees are prone to giving out their personal details more easily while working from home. This may be to receive official correspondence via postal mail or receive calls on their personal mobile number. While this may seem like part and parcel of remote working, it makes disconnecting difficult. Things seem tougher when you proceed to go on leave or a holiday but are constantly being bombarded with work calls, emails and postal mails.

When you have a physical headquarters, employees are able to make use of the virtual receptionist to handle calls and also have an address to forward relevant mail in their absence. This provides a much-needed demarcation between personal and professional life.

Business team meeting in a Virtual Headquarters

Takeaway

A virtual headquarters may not work for a particular business type. On the other hand, it may be the thing another business needs to flourish. It is important to evaluate all the pros and cons before you make a decision for your business.

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