print on demand vs dropshipping how should i choose

Print On Demand vs. Dropshipping: How Should I Choose?

Since the outbreak, the online e-commerce market in various countries has been growing rapidly and unstoppably. This has not only led to a surge in the sale of epidemic prevention products, but also to an explosion of consumer demand for everyday goods.

According to Statista’s statistical report, In 2021, e-commerce accounted for an estimated 19.6 percent of retail sales worldwide. Forecasts indicate that by 2025, the online segment would make up close to a quarter of total global retail sales.

The growth of e-commerce has provided more entrepreneurial and employment opportunities, with dropshipping and print on demand being one of the most popular business models in the last two years.

What is Dropshipping?

how to start dropshipping business
how to start dropshipping business

Dropshipping is a retail business model where a supplier will ship your store orders directly to your customers. In this model, you don’t need to stock up, you only need to find the right dropshipping suppliers and then sell the products provided by them. The vendor will prepare and ship the order to your customers.

2022 dropshipping market status

Is dropshipping dead in 2022? Of course not. Although drop shipping is no longer as highly searched for compared to 2020, it will still be a profitable business in 2022.

dropshipping search on google trends

There is no denying that the dropshipping market is currently quite saturated. You can’t make a lot of money from this business quickly and easily. You need to adjust your strategy to help your business stand out from the rest.

What is Print On Demand?

Print on Demand (POD) is an on-demand e-commerce model. Unlike traditional product design, production, and sales processes, print-on-demand products are produced only after consumers have paid for them, that is, they are produced “on-demand”.

how print-on-demand works
how print-on-demand works

This means that there is no need to purchase or stockpile goods in advance, tying up the capital flow. As a result, there is no need to spend a lot of money and manpower before actual sales are made. The highlights are zero inventory, low cost, low barriers, and low risk, so you can quickly test new designs and products against market trends.

Some of the most common international print-on-demand products include T-shirts, hats, phone cases, mugs, pillows, canvases, tote bags, photo albums, and more. The focus of products supported by print-on-demand varies from one POD vendor to another.

Here are two models of print-on-demand.

Model 1: Print-on-demand market

For people: designers, artists

It is also known as the pure design model. You don’t need to involve any product sourcing, logistics, customer service and other selling aspects, because the print-on-demand marketplace will perform these operations for you. Instead, the only thing you need to do is create, upload your designs and get paid accordingly when you generate sales.

If you are a designer looking to create a permanent passive income, print-on-demand marketplaces will be the platform you can use to your full advantage.

Model 2: Print-on-demand service

For people: marketers, e-commerce sellers

If you want to start a business of your own and build a print-on-demand e-commerce brand, print-on-demand dropshipping is a good way to try.

By partnering with a POD provider, you sell your own branded products on your own website or through a collection of third-party sellers like Amazon, Etsy, etc.

When a buyer places an order in your Amazon, Etsy, or Shopify store, then the relevant order information will be synced directly to the POD vendor system, and then, the supplier will print, produce, package, that product for you, and ship it directly to your customer.

2022 print on demand market status

According to Marketresearch, Global Print on Demand Software Market

The global Print on Demand Software market size is projected to reach US$ 10804.12 million by 2026, from US$ 1878.11 million in 2020, at a CAGR of 33.86% during 2020-2026.

The fluctuating upward trend in search volume for the keyword “Print on Demand” is also evidence of the overall increase in consumer demand for POD products.

print on demand data on google trends

Similarities and differences between dropshipping and POD


  • Low start-up capital. Whether you’re starting a dropshipping or POD business, you can start with very little money.
  • No need to stock up. Both business models do not require a prior stocking.
  • A reliable supplier is needed to help you pack and ship to customers.
  • POD can be described as a dropshipping business for customized products.


Dropshippers simply resell items already available from suppliers; POD retailers sell customized products.

Pros of Dropship

  • Short delivery time. Since all the products sold are finished products, the supplier will ship them to your customers quickly.
  • Many suppliers to choose from and a wide range of products. The dropshipping market is already very mature in 2022. You will find different dropshipping suppliers in all regions of the world. If the product is out of stock, you can also find other alternate suppliers to work with.
  • Easy to get started. No design or other skills are required.

Cons of Dropship

  • Dropship is highly competitive. Due to the low threshold of dropshipping business, more and more people are joining the industry. Finding unique and attractive niche markets is becoming increasingly difficult.
  • Difficult to control the quality. Since products are shipped directly from suppliers to customers, and the quality of products offered by different suppliers varies, you can hardly guarantee that all products are of good quality.
  • Branding is not easy. Dropshipping is still essentially reselling. Although some dropshipping suppliers offer packaging customization services, there is still not as much brand trust as with custom products.

Pros of Print on demand

  • Products are unique and more competitive. Distinguished from the highly homogeneous products and extremely competitive general product dropshipping, on-demand printing is differentiated by personalized, customized products, thus effectively avoiding price wars.
  • POD is more profitable. According to The Deloitte Consumer Review, more than 50 percent of consumers expressed interest in purchasing personalized products for themselves, friends and family, and more than 20 percent are willing to pay 30 percent more for personalized or customized products.
  • Easier branding. Retailers can add their own logos to their products when they are printed to deepen their brand impressions.

Cons of Print on demand

  • Longer delivery times. Manufacturing begins only after the customer places an order. The time to prepare the goods is long, and thus the delivery time may be longer.
  • Focus on design. The attraction of a POD store is the design. If you have a lot of design ideas, you can easily turn those inspirations into income.
  • Products may be a little more expensive. Customized products will cost more, and in order to gain profit, you may raise the selling price appropriately, thus will turn away some customers.

How to choose between dropship and POD

It is hard to say which kind of business is better and more profitable than the other. But you can consider which business to carry out based on the advantages and disadvantages of different businesses and your reality.

Print on demand is a good choice if you have a lot of design ideas, or if your store audience is people who like custom products. If you want your business to be more scalable, then dropshipping is more appropriate. Of course, you can also combine the two. You can work with more than one supplier, such as working with Nihao dropshipping to sell finished products in your store, and printful to sell pod products.

Doing business is a constant process of experimentation. Both dropshipping and print on demand offer low-cost business opportunities!

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