Finding the suitable print on demand supplier can be challenging, given the many choices and new ones continually emerging.

In this article, we'll cover the key eight factors that make a supplier great so you can quickly identify one that will suit your print on demand needs.

The eight key factors are:

  • Location
  • Pricing
  • Quality and variety of products
  • Customer service
  • Shipping and fulfillment
  • Integration with your store
  • Customization options
  • Return policy

Let's go more in-depth now:

What is a print on demand supplier?

A print on demand supplier is a company that prints and ships products on behalf of the seller, typically without requiring the seller to keep inventory or handle shipping themselves.

This allows sellers to offer a wider variety of products without the overhead costs of traditional inventory management and shipping!

Here's what it looks like:

The print on demand model - Infographic

Now let's look at the qualities that make a POD supplier great to work with.

What are the characteristics of a good print on demand supplier?

A good print on demand supplier should have several factors we'll now look at that will keep your business afloat:

1. Location

Map of countries to avoid

Selecting a suitable print on demand supplier requires careful consideration of their location, as it influences shipping times and costs.

Suppose your supplier is located in China, and you primarily sell to customers in the United States.

In that case, shipping times may be longer, and shipping costs may be higher than if you choose a supplier in the United States.

2. Pricing

Printify's phone case product
Printify's phone case product

When you choose a print on demand supplier, please pay careful attention to pricing since it can significantly impact your profit margins.

Although opting for a supplier with the lowest prices may be tempting, evaluating their products' quality and shipping costs is vital.

For example, if a supplier has low product prices but high shipping costs, it may not be the most cost-effective option for your business.

On the other hand, if a supplier has slightly higher product prices but offers free shipping, it may be a better option overall.

3. Quality and variety of products

Printful's product selection
Printful's product selection

Product selection is a huge part of identifying the kind of POD supplier you want to use.

It's crucial because it lets you provide your customers with top-notch products that perfectly cater to their needs and preferences.

If you are selling t-shirts, you want a supplier that provides a range of sizes, colors, and styles so your customers can find the perfect shirt that fits them.

Take the time to read the product descriptions or specifications provided by the supplier. Look for details about the fabric composition for clothing items or the type of paper used for prints.

High-quality products often utilize premium materials that are durable, comfortable, and visually appealing.

Also, if your supplier provides high-quality products, your customers are more likely to be satisfied with their purchase and return in the future.

4. Customer service

Gelato help center page
Gelato's help page

Don't overlook customer service when choosing your POD supplier. Excellent customer support can be the difference between a successful business and many unnecessary headaches!

Suppose you select a supplier with low product prices but poor customer service. In that case, you may encounter issues with order fulfillment or returns, leading to negative reviews and a damaged reputation.

Now if you choose a supplier with slightly higher product prices but excellent customer service, you can ensure that your customers have a positive experience and are more likely to return.

It's essential to receive good customer service from a supplier to be more confident in helping your customer's problems.

5. Shipping and order fulfillment

JetPrint fulfilment shipping location
Jetprint's shipping

When selecting a print on demand supplier, paying close attention to shipping and order fulfillment can be a deal breaker!

Slow shipping times or order fulfillment errors can lead to negative reviews and dissatisfied customers, damaging your reputation and ultimately hurting your business.

For example, if your supplier has a history of delayed shipments or lost orders, your customers may hesitate to purchase from you.

Choosing a supplier with reliable shipping and order fulfillment processes is critical to ensure that your customers have a positive experience and are more likely to return.

6. Integration with your store

great integration tpop
TPOP's integrations

Choosing a print on demand supplier that seamlessly integrates with your online store is vital. This integration is central to ensuring smooth order processing and efficient inventory management.

Let's say you use a platform like Shopify to sell your products. In that case, you want to choose a print on demand supplier that integrates with Shopify to send orders to the supplier automatically.

This eliminates the need for manual order processing, saving you time and reducing the risk of errors.

Additionally, integration can give you real-time inventory updates, so you know when products are running low and can restock as needed.

7. Customization options

Gelato branded packaging page
Gelato's personalized branding

The availability of customization options allows many great benefits when selecting a print on demand supplier.

This allows you to offer distinctive and unique products that set you apart from competitors while meeting your customers' preferences and needs.

For instance, if you are selling phone cases, you may want to offer custom designs or the ability for customers to upload their images for printing.

This customization can increase customer satisfaction and lead to repeat business.

Without customization, potential customers may consider your products generic and undesirable.

Pro tip: To make your clothing store stand out, you can also use an app like OnModel or Botika to turn the existing product photos into unique images using AI!

8. Return policy

Return policy matters for choosing a print on demand supplier because it can impact customer satisfaction and your business's reputation.

Suppose a customer receives a defective product or is unhappy with their purchase. A flexible return policy can allow them to return the product for a refund or exchange.

This can help build trust with your customers and increase the likelihood of repeat business.

However, if a supplier has a strict return policy or does not offer returns, you will be on the hook dealing with the customer's returns!

Here's an example from Printful:

Printful's return policy

How do you find a good POD supplier?

To find a good print on demand supplier, it's important to research reviews and recommendations.

Here's an easy-to-remember checklist to review to ensure you've found the right supplier:

  1. Start with research. Begin your process by conducting thorough research about potential POD suppliers. Consider factors like their offered products, costs, and reputation in the industry.
  2. Read reviews. Use platforms like Trustpilot to read reviews and recommendations about each potential supplier. Look at both positive and negative reviews to gain a well-rounded understanding of the supplier.
  3. Directly contact the supplier. Once you've narrowed down a few potential suppliers, reach out to them directly with a list of essential questions to ask. These can include:
    • Fulfillment times. Ask about their fulfillment times for different types of products. This will give you an idea of how long it will take for your products to be printed and shipped to your customers.
    • Return policy. Inquire about their return policy. Understanding the return policy is crucial as it can impact customer satisfaction and your business's reputation.
    • Quality control. Question them about their quality control processes. This will give you an insight into how they ensure their products meet high standards.
  4. Test the supplier. Finally, don't just take their word for it. Place a test order with each potential supplier to assess their product quality and shipping times firsthand.
  5. Evaluate and decide. Based on your research, reviews, direct communication, and testing, evaluate each supplier. Then, select the supplier that best fits your business needs.

Taking action

Reading and absorbing information and knowledge is excellent (definitely if it's free!), but do you know what's even better?

Taking action!

So, to help you with taking action with what you have learned in this article, take a look at the bullet points:

  • If a supplier has low product prices but high shipping costs, it may not be the most cost-effective option for your business.
  • If you are selling t-shirts, you want a supplier that provides a range of sizes, colors, and styles so your customers can find the perfect shirt that fits their preferences.
  • Slow shipping times or order fulfillment errors can lead to negative reviews and dissatisfied customers, damaging your reputation and ultimately hurting your business.
  • If you are selling phone cases, you may want to offer custom designs or the ability for customers to upload their images for printing.
  • If a supplier has a strict return policy or does not offer returns, you will be on the hook for dealing with the customer's returns.

Conclusion

The significance of finding a reliable print on demand supplier cannot be overstated when it comes to the success of your business!

To find a supplier that meets your needs, it's important to research reviews and recommendations, ask questions about fulfillment times and return policies, and even order a sample product to test shipping times and product quality.

With these eight key points, you can now identify the right POD supplier for your POD business.

Thanks for reading, and have a great day!

Want to learn more about POD?

Ready to move your print on demand store to the next level? Check out the articles below:

Plus, don't forget to check out our in-depth how to start a print on demand business guide here!

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