25 Jan 2018

Is print on demand merchandise the perfect zero risk eCommerce business opportunity?

Ever heard the old factoid that a shark needs to keep swimming, or it’ll die? – It’s much the same for eCommerce merchants. In the choppy waters of online retail, more sales, more customers and more revenue are the goal/destination– and if you’re not moving forward, you can guarantee your rivals will overtake you fast!

So what’s next in eCommerce? It’s the question that fuels each and every online business. Success belongs to those who identify, and take advantage, of the big opportunities.

And speaking of opportunities – print-on-demand merchandise has already disrupted the traditional print industry and many consider it to be the next big thing in the world of eCommerce. So what’s all the fuss about – and will it help you make a “splash” in your business?

The Merchandise Problem

For the purposes of this article, we’ll define ‘merchandise’ as a certain range of products that you can apply your designs to which include: apparel such as t-shirts, sweatshirts and hoodies; accessories, like phone cases, magnets and stickers; home décor such as prints and canvases; and textiles such as cushions, and towels.

With that said, there’s nothing particularly new about the idea of selling merchandise as a source of revenue. Dating way back to the 1960s, brands and individuals have been applying their logos and slogans to t-shirts, sweaters and posters, and selling them to their devoted fans.

But the fruits haven’t always justified the labour. Far from it.

In fact, to put it in richly scientific terms, merchandising has been seen by many as a ginormous pain in the bum.

As much as you may be into the idea of selling your own merchandise, it’s difficult to stay enthused when you have to take care of:

  • sourcing and testing all your own products to make sure they’re up to scratch
  • negotiating minimum order quantities and facing the enormous up-front costs associated with setting up product runs
  • finding space to store hundreds if not thousands of items before you (hopefully) sell them
  • fulfilling and shipping orders as they roll in.

Never mind smaller eCommerce merchants – huge, Fortune 500 companies and some of the world’s most popular and beloved brands were content to outsource their merchandising operation and take their modest share of the royalties, rather than face the headaches and risk otherwise involved.

So what is print-on-demand?

Well, in the simplest terms, it’s a new model of printing – which consigns a lot of the aforementioned ugliness firmly to the past.

As you might expect from the name, it means items are only printed as and when they’re sold. And it has a number of additional benefits…

Such as?

Glad you asked! And, compared to the old-fashioned way of doing merchandise, it’s difficult to know where to start.

Firstly, and perhaps most attractive to established eCommerce sellers, there are no up-front costs or investments, meaning your existing business will be totally unaffected by the introduction of this extra profit centre.

It’s also incredibly easy and quick to get started. You’ll find that most print-on-demand solutions will plug into the major eCommerce tools and you can be up and running in very little time.

There are no minimum orders, and you don’t need to worry about getting your money tied up in unsold stock. You can start small, validate your ideas and test the waters without making a huge commitment.

This also means it’s really easy to test out different designs, slogans and products to see what works among your audience. This is an earth-shattering improvement compared to the amount of product sourcing, sampling and testing this would previously have involved.

Simply put, your supply chain is built for you. You don’t need to source and manage different suppliers, find your own products or concern yourself with product quality. Companies like ourselves here at Kite have established, extensive product ranges and this is all taken care of for you – with a solid, dependable supply chain that your business can rely on.

And forget about daily trips to the post office. Your items are drop-shipped – with no need to manage the painstaking, time-consuming processes of fulfilment, shipping or order returns. This could well benefit your bottom line, too. Research suggests that the average profit of a business using drop shipping is 18.33% higher than one which uses traditional channels.[1]


A great example of seeing print-on-demand merchandise seamlessly integrated into a business as an additional revenue stream is to look at one of Kite’s partners, ((BOUNCE)). The amazing team at Bounce who provide mini-trampoline fitness classes have added a fantastic range of custom merchandise to the shop section of their website which their customers and fans love.

Print-on-demand – made for eCommerce

Print-on-demand is generating results for lots of people, from individuals up to big business, but if you’re already selling online, there’s no doubt you have a clear advantage. You’re already well-versed in selling products online and you already have an audience and/or mailing list receptive to your sales-based messaging.

Any time you get an opportunity to enhance your revenue, it’s got to be worth looking at. And when it’s an opportunity that requires hardly any effort, zero risk, AND it’s such a neat fit to your existing business, it pretty much becomes a no-brainer.

It’s an ocean of opportunity. So don’t stop swimming!


  1. The Journal of the Operational Research Society

To find out whether print-on-demand is right for your business take a look at our

eCommerce Merch Plugin