Main principles that will help you beat competitors in promoting print-on-demand businesses

Print-on-demand (or POD) allows you to manufacture and ship products with your custom designs. Unlike other printing services, POD saves the customer money as it does not require ordering the products in bulk. Moreover, POD designs are limited only to inventory constraints and the client's imagination. Most print-on-demand companies allow both small and big businesses to integrate their services in e-commerce practices. Therefore, print-on-demand is a popular business where competition is intense. The following material should help you develop print-on-demand stores and promote print-on-demand business in this sea of lookalike firms. 

Table of contents

Competitive analysis

How to analyze trends and market tendencies

Sales strategies and upsells


Print-on-demand companies seek to gain a competitive advantage over other market participants. As they provide highly similar services, they try to be better, quicker, more efficient, offer a wider variety of customizable products and use other methods to differentiate. Print-on-demand competition is tough, yet this business remains one of the safest in terms of financial risks. The competitive advantage in POD marketing should be measured according to such criteria as:

  1. Services list. If POD services offer a wide variety of customizable products, they will likely be highly in-demand. T-shirts, bags, mugs, books, phone cases, posters, badges, office equipment labeling, and other opportunities can give your customers insight into how their business сan become more successful. A variety of products also allows you to suit POD services for any occasion – from New Year's Day to an anniversary that guarantees annual seasonal profits.
  2. E-commerce integration. Print-on-demand companies should be able to integrate into e-commerce platforms. This allows profiteering from custom-design apparel if syncing correctly with platforms and marketplaces such as Wix. According to Great Reach Communications’ CEO Patrick Whelan, inclusion into e-commerce is "one of the best successful ways to market themselves." This allows newly-formed or struggling POD businesses to find their second breath and reach a new client segment.
  3. Customer service. Best print-on-demand services treat their customers with the utmost attention and care. The provisions of feedback, newsletter send-outs, free delivery for the returning customers, and special deals are basic criteria to take advantage of. Customer loyalty and retention should be in focus.

The knowledge of popular trends and tendencies teaches POD owners how to make their business stand out. Print-related blogs and online editions about digital printing will certainly help your search for the most booming trends for the upcoming 2023. Thus, Printing News is one of the top information sources on trends and operation management. They include various printing types so that print creators can learn new ways of improving their designs and technologies. TrendWatching can assist both experienced and new players in POD businesses. They provide trends for the upcoming year and explain how to profit from them. Suppose you don't know where to start. In that case, you can check some of the initial business promotion strategies within Google Shopping, Dynamic Search Ads, Responsive Search Ads, and Remarketing Campaigns. They are free and easy-to-learn and serve well if you wish to maximize traffic for your POD website and related services. Lastly, utilize social networks to observe the latest trends on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other platforms. Twitter Trending Worldwide allows you not only to get information on what is being discussed but also to respond to the socially-active market segment. 

POD owners should be knowledgeable and cautious about overcoming competition in business. The following sales strategies will assist your POD service to maximize its profits and create a positive environment for upsells:

  • Ads Remarketing Campaign can re-target previous site visitors to your store based on their behaviour and search. You can use clickable hashtags on your website so that users would enter your POD site and order them printed on their own goods or yours. This was particularly popular during the US election campaign as political opinions polarized US society.
  • Partner with e-commerce platforms to maximize your website traffic. Thus, Shopify is one of the biggest website-creation toolboxes that integrates your services into their site creation options. As more than 1.2. million people actively use it for making their e-commerce sites, they will need POD services that you can offer.
  • Optimize and simplify your order placement process. Use call-to-action buttons throughout your website and allow your potential customer to order in just a few clicks. Conversion rates are higher when the ordering instructions are simple, step-by-step clearly visualized, easy-to-read, and encouraging.
  • Compare yourself to the competitors and find out if you can print and deliver your goods faster. Late communication and problems with tracking create a poor customer experience. The customizing term up to 5 business days might be too long for the last-moment orders. Try localization with the names and particular places’ symbols to attract the customers nearby.
  • Target specific audiences. Research your market and seek the most in-demand printing designs from popular HBO and Netflix series ("Mother of Dragons", “Crown”, “The Queen's Gambit”), political and social activists ("GoGreen”), age groups like students (“No sleep”), returning customers and their proven historical taste, etc. This narrows the potential demographic, yet you have steady demand from the audience you wish to work with most.
  • Upselling is the key. This sales technique offers not only more expensive but more complicated products. For example, if your customer buys framed art instead of a poster, this increases an average order value. Therefore, it is highly crucial to optimize your POD websites to display product options per each type of demand. Premium prints or prints on more expensive materials will make your customers interested. Moreover, your returning customers will find a way to create better presents or status items for their colleagues and family.
  • Complimentary products create higher demand as well. You can choose to award first orders with complementary items for free (a cup + a cup pod). Similarly, provide discounts for complementary products. Your customer will positively consider an option of getting the additional item for a lower price. The particular emphasis on holidays or seasons can equally draw more attention to your printing store.
  • Create bundle options. The actual total of items will be lower while the customer spends more money in the end. The clients might refuse to pay for so many products, while the bundle is more attractive and cheaper on the surface. The inclusion of goods that cannot be bought outside these bundles will equally promote sales.

These ideas will help you to boost your print-on-demand services. Competitive analysis and business trade research will assist you on the initial stages of your brand’s positioning. With sales strategies, you can develop your print-on-demand store and learn ways of promoting it. Additionally, such a research enables you to learn about your clientele, local companies, popular sales platforms, and recent trends for successful service provision. The POD key to success in 2023 is fast delivery, market research knowledge, going local, and flexibility to catch the trending wave.

December 24, 2020
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