Print on demand, dropshipping or print fulfillment?

Have you just asked yourself what the difference is between the different services? Or what exactly do the technical terms mean? Yes?! Then you are not alone! The mass of different business models in the printing industry has changed immensely in recent years. Many e-commerce companies have been asked what services they really need and how the individual services of the service providers differ. To help you make the right choice for your company, you should read our blog post, as we will now explain the differences as well as the advantages and disadvantages of the individual processes.

Print Fulfillment

Beim Print Fulfillment werden neben Bestellmanagement, Digitaldruck und Veredelung auch leidige, nachgelagerte Tätigkeiten wie Verpackung, Kommissionierung und Versand übernommen.

What does Print Fulfillment mean and what services does such a partner perform for me?
Print Fulfillment stands for a service provider taking over the complete processing of your order. From order confirmation to warehousing (e.g. printing ink), printing and finishing to picking, packing and shipping, you are relieved of all steps.

What are the benefits of a print fulfillment partnership?

AdvantagesDisadvantages
Great time savings: Numerous, time-consuming work steps are outsourced to a qualified partner and you can concentrate on business areas such as marketing and customer care.Less suitable for start-ups: If you are a small company and generate only a very small number of orders, you should check in advance whether such a partnership is profitable for you at all.
Great space savings: Products (e.g. calendars) and raw materials (e.g. paper) do not have to be stored by you, but by your print fulfillment partner.Connection costs: Often there are costs for connecting your company to the workflow. These costs are often not affordable for every company in the beginning.
Low shipping costs: Due to the immensely high number of orders from fulfillment partners, they have special conditions with the carriers and usually pass these on to their customers. Thus you profit from lower shipping costs than individuals.Little control: Since you neither keep inventory nor produce, pack and ship the products yourself, you lose control and overview. In order for the whole process to work nevertheless, it is essential that you can rely 100% on your partner and you trust him.
Medium and long-term cost savings: By doing without your own production and warehousing, you can save various costs.
Focus on your core competencies: Many print fulfillment partners will even take over returns management for you. This allows you to concentrate fully on your marketing and sales.

Who needs a print fulfillment partner?
If your company already has an established presence and a steady flow of incoming orders, you should consider whether a Print Fulfillment Partnership might be a good idea for you too. This saves valuable time and personnel costs and allows you to focus on other areas of your company.

Print on Demand

What is Print on Demand and how does this business model work?
With Print on Demand (PoD), your print products are only printed after the customer’s order has been received and in the desired quantity. So you don’t have to purchase large stocks, because every order is printed only on demand.

What advantages does Print on Demand bring me?

AdvantagesDisadvantages
Low minimum order quantity: With PoD, the product is not printed until it is ordered. This means you have no financial risk, since you do not have to purchase a large stock of your products, which are then not sold.No control over order management and product quality: As with dropshipping, you don’t see the final product that is delivered to your customer before it is shipped. So you have to be able to rely on your PoD partner and should test new products before they are launched.
No own machinery necessary: Your PoD partner is responsible for the printing technology components, so you do not need to buy your own printing and finishing machines.Dependence on the PoD partner: In order for all your products to be available, you are dependent on your partner. This partner, in turn, is dependent on various suppliers (e.g. for the paper). Therefore, delivery delays can occur here as well.
Individual design experiments: By printing on demand you can try out new designs at any time and if your customers don’t like them, you can easily remove them from your webshop and exchange them.Returns and complaint management: The processing of returns and complaints on the part of the PoD partner requires a greater coordination effort between the contractual partners.
Adaptability: With PoD you can offer your customers the possibility to create their individual print product, for example with their own name.Longer order processing: Products are only printed on demand, so order processing takes longer than if you already had products in stock.
Use of new products: The flexibility of Print on Demand allows you to offer calendars to your customers in addition to books. Adding products requires only a few clicks in your store and you can easily expand your product portfolio without taking any risk.
Fixed contact person: With many PoD partners, professional support for the various specialist areas is always available to you.

Who is Print on Demand suitable for?
PoD is suitable for beginners who want to scale their business and try out new products. Here you have the freedom to experiment and let your creativity run free. Nevertheless you should consider the longer order processing.

Dropshipping

What is dropshipping again?
This is a business model in which a company doesn’t keep stocks of its products, but instead outsources them to a third-party service provider who ships the products directly to the company’s end customer.

What is the procedure for dropshipping?
Suppose you run your own online store and one of your customers generates an order, then this order is sent to your dropshipping partner. Your partner takes the goods out of the warehouse and sends the products to the end customer in your company name.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of this service?

AdvantagesDisadvantages
Very low investment upfront: If you want to start your business, you have a very low risk because you only pay for products that the customer has ordered. So you don’t have to invest in stock and you don’t have a problem if the product doesn’t sell.No control possibilities: The complete order processing of your products is handled by the dropshipping service provider, whose workflow you have no insight into.

Schnelle Reaktion auf Produktrends: Du kannst jederzeit und sehr flexibel neue Produkte in Deinem Shop auf Beliebtheit testen und es besteht die Möglichkeit, Deine Produktpalette sehr zügig zu skalieren.Fast reaction to product trends: You can always and very flexibly test new products in your store for popularity and there is the possibility to scale your product range very quickly.
Große Angebotsauswahl: Die große Anzahl an Dropshipping-Anbietern ermöglicht Dir, eine große Auswahl von verschiedenen Produkten, die Du Deinen Kunden anbieten kannst.Large selection of offers: The large number of dropshipping providers allows you to offer a wide selection of different products to your customers.
Time and cost savings: You can concentrate on your business, while the obligatory tasks such as packaging, shipping, dialogue with suppliers and stock management are handled by your drop-shipping partner.Often no personal contact person: As a small company you are one of many with large drop shipping providers and only get personal support when you purchase a large volume.
Very low postage costs: Many dropshipping providers (e.g. Amazon) receive very good conditions from the post office and parcel delivery companies and pass these on to their partners.
Increase your branding: Through a white label shipment your name / logo will appear on the packaging your end customer receives. This gives the customer the impression that the order comes directly from you.

For whom is dropshipping useful?
This business model is ideal for start-ups as it does not require a lot of capital and you save the cost of your own warehousing. This gives you the opportunity to experiment and test which products are in demand by your customers. However, keep in mind that the profit margin is rather low and you have no control over your order management and product quality.

It’s your turn!
Now you know what is behind the various services – and now? Think about whether it might not make sense for your business idea to take over various process steps. If you have a clear goal in mind and want to scale your business, then we look forward to hearing from you! We will be happy to advise you and answer all your questions about print fulfillment, print on demand, dropshipping, white labeling or mass customization.

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