This is a guest post from EcomLoop, which provides ecommerce marketing services and consulting to independent businesses. EcomLoop is a separate division providing services for those selling beyond print on demand platforms .
Print-on-demand platforms provide an incredible opportunity for online sellers looking to get started or add a new sales channel quickly. With little overhead, few setup costs, and lack of inventory, print-on-demand is by far the easiest and cheapest way to start selling online.
There’s no need to even setup an online shop to get going. POD platforms like Merch by Amazon and RedBubble make the process extremely simple by allowing designers and merchants to list products directly on their platform, with large existing customer bases. With great custom t-shirt designs and search-engine optimized product descriptions, it’s possible to start getting sales quickly from organic traffic.
Of course, that’s not always such an easy thing to do, especially as platforms become more saturated with listings and sellers. The problems are numerous on POD platform; copycat sellers stealing designs, competitors constantly undercut prices in a race to the bottom, unscrupulous sellers falsely report listings, Amazon suddenly changes terms, etc.
Print-on-demand platforms are great for getting started in ecommerce. They are not ideal for long-term success. When it comes to building a lasting brand, businesses need to control their products and build direct connections with customers. When another party stands between your brand and your customers, they have the power. Prices can be changed at anytime, and with the threat of being cutoff from your customers or losing your placement on the marketplace, you’ll have little choice to pay more, continually squeezing margins.
The alternative is to setup a standalone shop. This doesn’t mean abandoning print-on-demand as there are dozens of print on demand Shopify apps, as well as a number of plugins for carts like WooCommerce and Magento.
Getting a standalone print-on-demand shop setup is a simple process, especially if you already have listings on a POD platform like Amazon Merch. The same files can typically be used, and in many cases, they can be resized for free if necessary.
One of the biggest challenges of a standalone shop is getting traffic. There won’t be any existing traffic so you’ll need to find a way to reach your target audience through some combination of friends, social media, content marketing, or any other creative way you can think.
Driving your own traffic also provides one of the biggest oportunities. Rather than seeing dozens of competitors’ listings on the product page, you have full control of everything on your site. Add dozens of other types of products with a few popular designs, complement your shop with dropship products, or keep it simple with few product choices. You have the control and freedom.
Beyond print on demand Platforms
If you’re ready to move beyond print on demand platforms and would like some help setting up your own standalone shop, check out Shopify setup services.