How To Turn Your Small Printing Business Into An International Network


Mary Fedkovich, Client Manager in Multi-Programming Solutions  •  11 min read

Many small e-commerce entrepreneurs, be they retailers or print on demand companies, are wondering how to set up a scalable printing business to grow and reach an international audience. And that is quite a reasonable and possible task with a solid foundation and overall understanding of how global sales work best. Going worldwide nowadays seems like a natural step for those small business printing companies which already successfully serve their native country.

The idea of the world community united by innovative media technologies was first described by the Canadian theorist Marshall McLuhan. And now, we have become increasingly interconnected due to innovative approaches in such spheres of life as software and personal gadgets development, production, and shipping. So the rise of global e-commerce is more than expected.

This article will explain how to turn the printing business into an international selling network. You’ll also find the example of a small POD company's success and learn the key ideas it followed while developing a recognizable and profitable brand.

Table of Contents

Plan a marketing campaign to attract new partners

Set up business processes and promote your brand

Be pragmatic: calculate the cost of scaling

One company's success story that went global


If you own a POD company with production facilities, you may be interested in foreign resellers to expand your sales globally. It might be entrepreneurs who work in the pure form of the dropshipping business model, gathering orders from local customers and transferring them to your fulfillment center. Or you can successfully partner with a brick-and-mortar store, providing wholesales of your printed goods abroad. You should consider some factors while opening a small printing business and expanding it worldwide.

Make a new market research

Even if you have already established a recognizable print on demand brand in your country, you should ensure you can compete with sellers at another location. A unique product value - that’s the key factor that can highlight your stuff among familiar companies. 

Examine whether a new market has a demand for printing services. Differences in religion, culture and climate can greatly affect foreign customers' desires. Also, standard products in your native area may refer to luxury ones in another country. That means you will count only on a narrow target audience.

If you have a website to interact with clients, use Google Analytics to define what geographical area clients are already interested in your stuff and direct your efforts on searching for new partners there. Check the referrals foreign users follow to enter your website and use small business print marketing ideas for global promotions on this channel.

In general, going online is a necessity for all modern businesses to survive in the highly competitive environment and expand their brands' popularity worldwide. Creating a digital presence for your POD enterprise and using catchy names for printing business will allow you to reach the target audience in the countries you want to work with and organize a successful promotion.

Become “local” for “foreigners”

Users should feel comfortable buying from you. That’s why you should print a product with respect to the target consumers' culture and way of life. If you make a mistake suggesting inappropriate stuff, you risk losing a client and getting a bad reputation. That’s why previous research is one of the crucial principles to improve your printing business.

Hiring a local employee will also benefit your POD company. Thus, you’ll provide customers support in their native language and receive reliable advice on small print business marketing and brand popularization from the first hand.

If you have a website allowing you to manage the print services of your small business, you should think of its renovation. Make page copies translated to your new target users. Research shows that they will be more likely to interact with a brand in their native languages. Online stores with localized websites face a  70% conversion rate growth. 

While adapting the online store to a foreign customer, it’s crucial to pay attention to their specifics. Thus, if your small business print solutions are oriented toward a young generation, it would be awesome to add a more casual style to your multilingual website content or, probably, even use slang to support the vibe of your audience. 

Focus on quality and clients satisfaction

Try to give global customers the same (or even better) experience as they have from local sellers. Your stuff should be of good quality but have accessible prices simultaneously. Don’t forget to add shipping expenses and taxes and analyze whether this type of item will be in demand and could bring good profit margins to the POD business, not a loss.

While managing a printing company with a foreign dropshipper, ensure you can accept orders at any time, give real-time feedback about your stocks or send an automated response to the frequently asked questions. Software streamlining your business operations is available for Shopify and Etsy store owners. 

Creating several selling channels will give you more opportunities to become globally recognizable. For example, you can connect your store with Amazon and take advantage of the Global Selling program, allowing you to grow your printing business internationally.

When you determine the target audience specifics and prepare the digital environment for work, it’s time to organize your business flow to sell printing services products without delays. Here are the main processes you should handle while providing international sales:

  • Order management. You should prepare to accept purchases from a dropshipper you partner with or a foreign online store that buys your goods in bulk. Your task is to reduce redundant operations, avoid mistakes in offer acceptance, and efficiently receive data from several channels. In short, the goal is to reach a streamlined process.
  • Inventory management. To ensure an unceasing sales flow, the POD company should organize a careful accounting of warehouse balances and timely purchase of materials. The next issue to reduce is the order cancellations due to “out-of-stock” products.
  • Packing and printing labels. While you are responsible for the whole fulfillment chain, you should provide all the necessary operations before transferring the parcel to the carrier. Shiphero or Shipstation integration here will help you to automate the last stage of your business processes and organize quick and reliable delivery at the most reasonable cost.
  • Providing analytics. Reports are an essential part of checking the profitability of your printing business. Comparing data on the sales number, expenses, margin, and other vital characteristics, you will optimize bottlenecks in your company's work and reach the maximum outcome.

Make an excellent promotional campaign to market a printing business and attract more clients worldwide. Modern e-commerce enterprises use such ways to raise their brand popularity as social media channels, advertisements during public events (technological conferences, trade fairs, etc.), mobile apps, referential links, SEO website optimization, influencers’ partnerships, and others.

To ensure your business plan doesn’t exceed your budget and all the expenses can be reimbursed soon, make a list of possible costs. Of course, your end goal is to go global, but don’t hurry to provide all the tasks at once. It’s a massive undertaking, so it would be wise to divide your plan into several stages.

Don't try to grow the printing business faster than you can. Instead, consider your budget and resources at the initial step. You can find out that some expenses may be excluded or changed by other cost-saving options. For example, examine possible carriers you can do international print business with and choose the one with lower taxes. Or select the software with an optimal set of features that will serve your object as the premium ones. 

Still, cutting your expenses, don’t save on products and customer service quality. These are the key to a successful entering the global market because selling bad stuff can reflect on your brand reputation.

It would be better to start expanding to the global printing industry market in one geographical area. Avoiding aggressive steps in global conquest will wisely distribute your attention, resources, and time to establish a profitable sales channel in another country.

We have an incredible story of how one POD company grew a print business and did a global coming out. It may ensure you start your business, but take one step at a time and prioritize efforts correctly. So, follow the next chapter of our article to get more motivating details.

growing a printing business

MOO, an international printed cards company, started a successful POD business path in London, UK, in 2006. As small organization managers, first oriented on the internal customer in marketing their printing business, they couldn’t even think that they would sell printed stuff to 80 countries and will grow its number to 200 in just a few years!

By 2013, had a UK headquarters, a separate US platform, and international employees to serve customers worldwide. From the beginning, they had a printing business license on a single product and one partner to cooperate with. But their unique items soon became recognizable and attractive to individuals and enterprises from all over the world.

Paul Lewis, the marketing director, reveals the simple secret of brand success - quality and customer experience at every stage of order maintenance. Companies' digital platform allows customers, be it a corporation or a single entrepreneur, to create a catching design for their business, Christmas, or postcards, using suggested palettes. 

Another key factor in the company’s popularity is its marketing strategy for the printing business. First, they collaborated with Flickr, a quality video and photo content creator, and later added partners abroad. Then, as Lewis mentioned, their brand launched a separate US site with localized data. Soon, they found that around 50% of orders come from the US. Now, the company continues to expand its influence in other areas, providing excellently managed print business services on every continent.

MOO follows the sustainable path of its development - working without ready-made cards stock and introducing new eco-friendly light packaging. Also, POD organization publishes stories of their customer's success through their digital social community. Thus, they apply an additional idea for product promotion and traffic growth in their printing business.

Lewis has a useful tip for small startupers who begin their business flow just like MOO did. He advises focusing on one production idea and making your best in the area you are familiar with. 

The future of the printing industry promises to be quite profitable for POD business. Its value in the global market is expected to reach around $472.35 billion by 2026, with a CAGR of about 2.24%. So it's definitely the field e-commerce entrepreneurs should pay attention to in the coming years.  

Running any type of business, even small, is a challenge. And we believe that you are doing your best to develop the POD brand's value and build a competitive marketing plan for the printing company. This guide highlighted some essential tips on how to provide international sales and popularize the companies’ products worldwide.

While going global, think of your new target audiences first. Analyze their way of life, culture, and desires, and determine how to improve the printing business for better clients' experience. Creating a localized website for foreign visitors will increase the level of trust and respect for your company name. This will also result in traffic and conversion rate growth.

Don't act hastily. Expand within your budget and resource limits, and you will develop a win-win combination for the brand and its customers. Your small POD company can reach success as an international business that feels local to the client base.

October 11, 2022
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