POD Weekly #51
Customer Service for Print-on-Demand
One of the best things about selling print-on-demand merchandise is that someone else takes care of the printing and fulfillment. With the right setup, the order is passed directly to the POD company and there’s no need for any interaction from the online store manager. Of course, that’s assuming everything goes right. When it doesn’t, it’s important to know how to handle customer service for print-on-demand products.
This past week, my business had three customers contact us about problems with the printing on their newly received t-shirts. For some reason, the ink had smeared onto otherwise clean areas of the shirt. Understandably, the customers were not happy to open their packages and see the ink marks so they quickly got in touch with customer service.
When it comes to POD, there are two primary models: marketplaces and backend service providers. With marketplaces, including Merch by Amazon, RedBubble, and others, customer service is provided by the marketplace. If there’s a problem with the shipment or a shirt is printed wrong, the customer simply gets in touch with the seller (Amazon, RedBubble, etc) and that company will take care of everything. There may be occasional instances where a customer asks a question on a product page, but it’s not required that the seller answer.
Alternatively print-on-demand backend services, such as Printful, Printify, Gooten, and others, do not provide customer service. These services are essentially hidden from the end customer and communication with the customer is handled by the store. In the case of the three customers that received bad shirts, we had used a backend fulfillment provider. Thus, it was our responsibility to provide customer service.
When our customer service team was contacted by our customers, we quickly responded that we would rectify the situation as quickly as possible. Rather than trying to pass blame to the POD company, which would likely frustrate the customer who’s already been let down, we assured the customers we’d look into the problems and get back to them quickly. After all, they paid us and have no relationship with the POD provider.
After reaching out to our POD partner, we got a relatively fast reply explaining the issue was common and it’s typically fixed with a simple wash. They also assured us they’d replace any shirts that weren’t fixed with a cleaning.
With this info in hand, we reached out to our customers and explained the situation. The customers haven’t yet replied to inform of any continued problems, and one of them even replied to thank us for a quick reply.
In this case, it ended up being a relatively simple issue that could have grown into a bigger problem, had we not responded quickly.
SUMMARY: While it’d be nice to never need to deal with customer service issues, there’s most likely going to be a customer facing problem at some point. It’s worth keeping in mind your responsibilities when it comes to providing customer service for print-on-demand products. If it is on your company, be mindful not to point fingers and point fingers at others.
by Annie Pilon
2 Small Business Trends
“Lots of people try to start a print on demand business because they think it will be easy. But you have to actually commit a fair amount of time to it if you want to make sales.
Raitis Purins, Printful’s head of marketing said in an email to Small Business Trends, “It takes quite a bit of work and time to run a profitable POD store. In fact, it seems that only 1 out of 10 entrepreneur become successful. So if you have full time job, you’ll probably have to spend all of your free time to keep your POD store up and running.””1
The U.S. Rugby Players Association is using MerchByAmazon to sell branded merchandise
USRPA and Its Goals for the Future of the Game – Front Office Sports
Front Office Sports
“Merch by Amazon, which is the platform we are using, offered us a low barrier of entry and allowed us to get set up right away and start turning things around quickly,” said Scully. “Going from having no player merchandise offering to having the opportunity for fans to be able to jump on Amazon and Prime something to their house has been really cool for us.””2
More brands are using print-on-demand to sell products, rather than deal with the hassles of traditional inventory
“Specialising in on-demand custom merchandise and photo print solutions, Kite collaborated with CHF to build an online ecommerce platform for each brand. From t-shirts to cushions, hoodies to posters, the new Pip Ahoy! and Daisy & Ollie merchandise will be exclusive to the e-shops and will be available in the UK from 19th November 2018 at shop.pipahoy.com and shop.daisyandollie.com”3
Embroidery Style Guide: Selling Hats on Demand with Teespring
Kate Shoaf Teespring Community
“Teespring offers several high-quality hat product options for sellers. Hats are embroidered on each item is made to order. You can customize your hat selection with unique, embroidered designs featuring up to six colors. Please note there are no upfront inventory costs, however, hats do incur a one-time, $10 digitizing fee per design.”4
“First things first, you need to know who you’re targeting within your niche, and you need to be sure that you can get maximum impact out of working with them.
There are two parts to that question; firstly, who are they? And, secondly, what’s the scope of their influence – for example, how many followers do they have? (That’s not to say you should dismiss so-called ‘micro-influencers’ with smaller audiences, though. More than half of consumers believe that the smaller the community, the bigger the influence.)”5
The Spreadsheet Architecture of Emma Stevens
Gregory Han Design Milk
Amazon search is getting worse, especially for classic books
Tyler Cowen Marginal Revolution
“Just type in “Gulliver’s Travels,” and the first page will not show any editions you actually ought to buy. And there are so many sponsored ads for mediocre, copyright-less editions. If you type in “Gulliver’s Travels Penguin” you eventually will get to this, a plausible buy for the casual educated reader.”7
UPCOMING EVENTS & HOLIDAYS
Order custom t-shirt designs with free revisions to take advantage of these opportunities.
October – December Holiday Shopping
Thu, November 22 Thanksgiving Day
Fri, November 23 Black Friday
Sat, November 24 Small Business Saturday
Mon, November 26 Cyber Monday
Tue, November 27 Giving Tuesday
Mon, December 3 First Day of Hanukkah
Mon, December 10 Last day of Hanukkah
Tue, December 25 Christmas
Mon, December 31 New Year’s Eve
Tue, January 1 New Year’s Day
Bold entries are new since last week
- Photo by Berkeley Communications on Unsplash