A Shopify Print on Demand Guide for 2024

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The print-on-demand (POD) market is exploding. It reached USD 8.03 billion in 2023, showing that there’s a massive audience eager for unique, custom products.

And the best part? You don’t need to deal with complicated fulfillment processes or a warehouse full of inventory.

In this guide, we’ll give you a roadmap for success. You’ll learn what print on demand is, how to start a print on demand business, and how you can optimize your Shopify store for the best results. Plus, you’ll see some of the best print on demand ecommerce store examples to inspire you.

Let’s get started!

What is print on demand?

POD, or print on demand, is a business model that lets you create and sell custom products without needing upfront inventory.

This means you can run your business from anywhere with a laptop.

Print on demand companies manufacture items one at a time, based on a customer’s specific order. This approach offers greater flexibility, lower upfront costs, and reduced risk for both you and the manufacturer.

How does print on demand work?

Let’s peek behind the scenes and explore the print on demand process step by step.

  1. Customer places an order: The journey begins when a customer visits an online store and places an order for a custom-designed product, such as apparel, accessories, or home goods like wall art.
  2. Transfer of design files: Once the order is confirmed, you can send your design files to the print-on-demand provider. These files contain the visual elements that will be printed onto the product.
  3. Product production: The POD provider uses digital printing technology to bring the design to life on the product the customer has selected, whether that’s a mug, a comfy sweatshirt, or a vibrant poster. Each item is crafted individually based on the specific order.
  4. Quality assurance: Before the customer’s order is sent off, the POD provider performs a quality inspection. They ensure your design is flawlessly printed and the item meets their high standards for quality and durability.
  5. Packaging and shipping: Once everything checks out, the product is carefully packaged and prepped for shipping. The POD provider partners with reliable carriers to deliver your personalized item directly to their doorstep.
  6. Order fulfillment: In the last step, the customer gets their personalized product, finishing the process. 

Unlike traditional methods where inventory is stocked beforehand, POD makes products as needed, reducing the need for storage and waste.

How to start a print on demand business?

Ready to get started with your own store? Here’s a breakdown of the key steps to get your Shopify print on demand service up and running.

Step 1: Pick your product

This is your foundation! Choose evergreen products like t-shirts, phone cases, or mugs that have broad appeal and stay popular. 

Think about what people use and love every day, and choose those for your print on demand products.

Step 2: Create your designs

Your designs are what will make you unique. Invest time and effort to create eye-catching, original artwork that your target audience will love. 

Whether you’re a pro designer or a budding artist, focus on creativity—this will make your products stand out. 

Not feeling inspired? You can always hire a designer to bring your vision to life.

Step 3: Pick a supplier

Choosing the right print provider service is key to ensuring the quality and reliability of your products.

We’ll explore some popular print on demand apps later!

Step 4: Create your ecommerce store

Time to showcase your creations and sell products on your very own online store! 

Shopify is a popular choice for building a professional and user-friendly website. Open your Shopify store and customize it to reflect your brand and beautifully display your products.

Step 5: Create mockups that show off your products

Mockups are like a preview of your products in action. Use mockup templates to show your designs on different items, allowing customers to imagine how amazing they’ll look in real life.

Best print on demand apps on Shopify

Now, let’s dive into some popular POD apps. These are all available in the Shopify App Store so you can integrate with your Shopify store and create high-quality products.

1. Printful

Printful, a well-known POD service offering a wide range of apparel, accessories, and homeware products.

Printful is a well-known print on demand service offering a vast product range from apparel and accessories to homeware. 

They handle everything from printing to fulfillment, allowing you to focus on design and marketing. 

Printful also provides you with mockup tools to showcase your designs on their products.

Pricing: Free option available, then $24.99/month.

2. Printify

Printify connects you with a global network of printers, offering a vast selection of products and potentially competitive pricing.

Another popular choice for Shopify print on demand is Printify. This tool connects you with a network of printers around the world, giving you access to a wide variety of product options and competitive pricing. 

You can browse their catalog, choose your product, and customize it with your design. Printify then takes care of printing, packaging, and shipping directly to your customer.

Pricing: Free option available.

3. Zendrop

Zendrop offers both POD fulfillment and pre-made inventory fulfillment, giving you flexibility for custom designs and popular stock items.

Zendrop goes beyond POD, offering both print-on-demand fulfillment and pre-made inventory fulfillment. 

This gives you the flexibility to choose between POD for custom designs and pre-made inventory for popular items that you want to hold in stock. 

Zendrop manages the entire fulfillment process, including printing, packaging, and shipping.

Pricing: Starting from $39/month.

4. ShineOn

Create unique necklaces, bracelets, rings, and more with their user-friendly design tool.

Love creating custom jewelry and accessories? ShineOn specializes in print on demand for jewelry and accessories, allowing you to create unique necklaces, bracelets, rings, and more. 

They provide a user-friendly design tool and handle the printing and fulfillment process.

Pricing: Free plan available, pricing starts from $260/year.

5. AutoDS

AutoDS can automatically sync inventory levels, send order notifications to fulfillment centers.

Running a POD Shopify store involves managing orders, inventory (for premade products), and customer communication. 

AutoDS helps automate these tasks, saving you valuable time. It can automatically sync your inventory levels, send order notifications to fulfillment centers, and even send automated emails to your customers.

Pricing: Starts from $9.90/month.

5 print on demand online store examples

This print on demand guide wouldn’t be complete without seeing some great examples! 

Let’s take a look at the best print on demand online store examples to give you some ideas for your own business and explore how they leverage POD to achieve success.

Here, we’ll explore stores across various niches, showcasing the power of creativity and targeted marketing.

1. Crown & Paw

Crown & Paw offers playful designs - and international shipping - for pet lovers.

Crown & Paw is a Shopify store that has captured the hearts of pet lovers everywhere with their playful, pawsome apparel and accessories. 

They understand the deep bond between people and their pets, and their designs perfectly reflect that love.

POD advantage: Allows them to offer a wide variety of designs without the upfront costs of holding inventory in every size and style.

Learn Crown and Paw successfully increased their conversion rates in only 4 steps.

2. Sunshine

Sunshine is a print on demand provider offering upliting design on t shirts and other products.

Sunshine is a vibrant lifestyle brand that injects a dose of positivity into everyday life with their uplifting, colorful print on demand products. 

Their designs spread joy and encouragement, attracting a target audience who seeks to express themselves with optimism and good vibes. 

This store is a great example of using a print on demand service to create a brand identity that connects with customers on an emotional level.  

POD advantage: Sunshine can experiment with new designs and test what resonates with their audience without the risk of overstocking unpopular items.

3. The Happy Givers

The Happy Givers sell online their own designs which is full with joy and positivty.

Similar to Sunshine, The Happy Givers focuses on positive and inspirational messages. 

This Shopify store offers a range of products designed with uplifting quotes and designs, appealing to customers who want to spread joy or wear a reminder of positivity throughout their day. 

Their success demonstrates the power of using print on demand to create products that inspire and motivate. 

POD advantage: POD allows them to offer a vast selection of designs without needing a large warehouse or managing physical inventory.

4. Sanrio

Sanrio is a well known print on demand company, offering adorable characther, catering to fans of all ages.

This globally recognized brand is the home of Hello Kitty and a cast of other beloved characters.

Sanrio leverages print on demand services to offer a vast array of merchandise featuring their adorable characters, catering to fans of all ages. Their example shows how established brands can utilize POD to expand their product offerings and reach new audiences.  

POD advantage: Sanrio can offer limited-edition or custom character items without the risk of overproduction or unsold inventory.

5. Lunafide

Lunafide offers a unique perspective with their stunning designs on apparel. Their focus on specific themes (they have collections that include Japanese, Viking, Nature, and Egyptian designs) attracts potential customers who appreciate specific aesthetics. POD Advantage: Print on demand allows them to maintain high-quality standards for their products while offering a variety of designs without a large upfront investment.

Lunafide offers a unique perspective with their stunning designs on apparel. 

Their focus on specific themes (they have collections that include Japanese, Viking, Nature, and Egyptian designs) attracts potential customers who appreciate specific aesthetics.

POD Advantage: Print on demand allows them to maintain high-quality standards for their products while offering a variety of designs without a large upfront investment.

How to maximize the conversion rate of your print on demand site

So you’ve launched your awesome print-on-demand store—that’s fantastic! But attracting visitors is only half the battle.

Here are 5 key strategies to turn those clicks into conversions and keep your customers coming back for more.

1. Use a discount popup

Who doesn’t love a good deal? 

Welcome your visitors with a popup offering a discount on their first POD purchase. This can be a great incentive to encourage them to take a look and try out your unique designs on a t-shirt, phone case, or any other product you offer.

Based on our experience, the highest-converting discount popups start with a simple yes or no question. This requires minimal effort for visitors to answer and if they click, you’ve already got your foot in the door. 

Check out this example from The Grinder. First, they tempt visitors with a generous 20% discount.

Email popup example

Then, on the next page, they ask for an email address. Breaking the popup into two simple steps makes it more likely that a visitor will complete it.

Email popup example

Want to set up a high-converting popup for your POD store? Try these templates:

2. Promote a free shipping threshold based on cart value

High shipping costs are the biggest deal breaker for online shoppers, and one of the biggest reasons for cart abandonment.

Offer free shipping to your customers as a special promotion when their cart reaches a certain value. This not only incentivizes them to add more items to their basket but also creates a sense of urgency to take advantage of the offer. Get started with these free shipping bar templates today:

3. Spotlight the most relevant products on exit-intent

If you receive tons of traffic through shopping ads, but your customers leave without buying, discounts are probably not the best way to catch them.

Instead, use exit-intent technology to showcase your bestseller print on demand products right before they click away to. Even better, if you show them personalized headlines and talk about how these products can make their life better, they may just stick around and keep exploring!

Craft Spirit Shop used this strategy and achieved a 77.9% increase in revenue. For example, when visitors viewed the Buffalo Trace Bourbon product page but were about to leave the site… 

Craft Spirit Shop product page

… they saw a popup recommending award-winning bourbons:

Product recommendation popup

Want to get started with this strategy? Find out more about it here.

4. Boost product pages with AI-optimized copy

Crafting compelling product descriptions can be time consuming, especially if you have thousands of them.

Daunting, right?

But you can turn those product pages into high-converting sales pages with the help of AI. Our Smart Product Page Optimizer tool can help you create new headlines, product descriptions, and benefit lists tailored to your product pages—even if you have thousands of them. 

And the best part? It keeps testing them, measuring the impact of changes on your conversions, and optimizing.

See how Hannah & Henry improved their product pages with a review, a slogan, and a product description: 

Hannah & Henry product page optimization

5. Remind users about their coupons

We’ve all forgotten about a coupon code. And many of us would have actually made a purchase if we’d remembered we had that great deal available! So it’s definitely worth reminding your customers about theirs. 

Try a follow-up sticky bar, which is like a helpful assistant reminding them about using their coupon codes. What’s great about this format is that it doesn’t interrupt the shopping experience.

A gentle reminder can mean the difference between an abandoned cart and a happy customer with a new POD item on the way! 

If you’d like to set up a follow-up sticky bar and stop losing money, get started with these templates:

Wrapping up

The first step is always the hardest. This is especially true if you want to start a new print on demand business. The unknown can feel overwhelming, but with the right guidance, you can turn your creative ideas into a thriving Shopify store.

We hope this guide to on print on demand services has empowered you with the information you need to not only set up your POD business, but also optimize it for success.

OptiMonk can be your ally in optimizing your website, so start your forever-free account today and start thriving! What are you waiting for?