Dropshipping vs. Print-on-Demand: Pros and Cons

Dropshipping: Dropshipping vs. Print-on-Demand: What products will you sell, what eCommerce platforms will you use, and how will you market your store?

Planning to start an eCommerce business brings excitement and confusion in equal measure. Any new business venture sets the pulse racing, but with eCommerce, there is just so much to consider before you get started.

What products will you sell, what eCommerce platforms will you use, and how will you market your store? Those questions are just a few examples of the considerations you will have to think about.

However, one question which often gets forgotten about in the early planning of an eCommerce store is which eCommerce business model to use. Will you go for dropshipping or print-on-demand?

Before you make that decision, it is important to know more about each and what their major differences are.

The Differences Between Dropshipping and Print-on-Demand

Anyone new to eCommerce might struggle to distinguish the difference between dropshipping and print-on-demand. Both have plenty of similarities after all. Each relies on selling products online, which are sourced from a supplier. That supplier handles the manufacture and shipping of those products. An eCommerce store requires no stock of their own and simply finds customers, takes orders, and informs the supplier – the rest is done for them.

However, there are some fundamental differences between the two eCommerce business models.

With the print-on-demand business model, your eCommerce store is responsible for coming up with design work, which is then printed onto products as and when customers place an order. Again, there is no need to hold any stock, as the supplier will print and ship orders once you have given them the details.

On the other hand, dropshipping is similar to how land-based retail stores do business. They place orders from a supplier before selling the products via their store. Your eCommerce website simply replaces the store and you have no physical products. The supplier simply delivers the products directly to the buyer rather than to you.

You will find many great examples of successful eCommerce stores which use either the dropshipping or POD model.

The Pros of Using Dropshipping Over Print on Demand

If still undecided on which is better for your planned eCommerce business, we will take you through the pros and cons of both dropshipping and print-on-demand.

  • Orders Fulfil Quicker

When using the Print-on-Demand model, orders take longer to complete. This is because the supplier has to print designs on the product before shipping. With dropshipping, the supplier just has to receive your orders before quickly shipping them. The difference between the two models could be up to 3 banking days in some cases.

No Need to Rely on Your Design Quality
With the POD eCommerce model, your business will live and die on the quality and success of your designs. Customers will always choose the products with the best designs. With dropshipping, there is no need to worry about this as you simply sell ready-made products as they are.

  • Wider Range of Goods

The dropshipping model allows you to sell just about anything, as long as you know a supplier willing to handle the shipping of their products. The only exception being branded products from major names such as Nike, Disney, etc.

With print-on-demand, your eCommerce store is limited to selling products you can print design on. T-shirts, mugs, and bags, for example. This limitation also affects your profit margins, as dropshipping allows you to sell more expensive items with higher markups.

The Pros of Using Print on Demand Over Shipping

  • You Have an Element of Control Over Your Products

Dropshipping offers a lack of control over the products you sell. You could have dozens of competitors selling the same products. With POD, you have some control as it is your designs that will sell the products rather than the products themselves.

  • Easier to Develop and Grow Your Brand

Having control over designs allows you to develop a brand identity, something which is not as easy when dropshipping. The goods sold using dropshipping will be identical to those sold by other eCommerce stores. Developing a brand brings tons of benefits including increased trust with customers, and the ability to establish your own pricing rather than react to the pricing of the same goods elsewhere.

So Which is Better?

Both have proved to be successful eCommerce business models but which is better will come down to different circumstances. POD is the best option if you want more control over your products and have access to somebody who can come up with creative designs. This model is also great for longevity if you can build and develop a strong brand identity.

Dropshipping is the more efficient model and the easiest to set up and run. There is no limit on the type of products you can sell either. At the end of the day, which is better comes down to what your long-term plans are for your eCommerce store.

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