What drives print-on-demand (POD) growth during COVID-19?

Print-on-demand (POD) and dropshipping become popular during the pandemic. Many people actually start their online businesses, due to losing jobs.

COVID-19 hit the world hard in 2019 and the impact remains. All of these have ever changed the lives of everyone. No matter where you are, there must be some changes in habits in your living, work, and possibly everything.

The economy starts to suffer, but not all businesses struggle. Online shopping and print-on-demand (POD) have enjoyed growth. People foresee this trend to continue in years to come.

During the pandemic, there are lockdowns and people are forced to stay at/work from home. Online shopping has become an important source to acquire necessities (and luxury goods). With the popularity of dropshipping and print-on-demand, customers are able to enjoy the most customizations of many products.

This reflects in the statistics: The search interest for dropshipping-related terms has risen from 2020 to 2021. Some big POD providers have recorded a big increase since 2019.

What are the advantages of POD under the COVID-19 pandemic?

Easy to start dropshipping/POD business

Dropshipping has become a low-cost entry for new online business owners. With WordPress and Shopify, you can set up and start an e-shop in hours. Designers may catch the upward trend and monetize their designs easily, with the help of QPMN plugins and SnapShop.

Print-on-demand technology evolves

The web-to-print market is growing fast, as printing becomes easier and cheaper than ever. Digital printing technology has made it accessible to the public via the internet. You do not need to contact a factory to produce for you, like in the old days.

Everyone likes sustainability

Since products are only produced on demand, so there are no stock left and thus less waste. This is a welcomed transition for all parties. Nobody likes the scenes of brand new clothes stockpiled in the landfill…

No minimum purchases in orders

The printing cost has been significantly lowered, thanks to the technology. There is no minimum purchase in printing nowadays (or you may enjoy a discount for printing batches). Orders are often for a single item, e.g. jigsaw puzzles and apparel, like t-shirts, and tote bags. Everyone can start a POD shop and do business with individuals.

People losing jobs

The pandemic hurts the economy and some companies are forced to cut costs for survival. Many people decide to start their own businesses after losing jobs. This is a low-cost and relative low-risk option. Everyone would like to create additional income during this difficult period.

print-on-demand POD COVID19 pandemic online shopping personalize customize habit change work-from-home stay-home lockdown product purchase
credit: Anastasia Shuraeva

An extra/passive income

Regardless of your job status, it has no harm to start a part-time business online for extra income. As a matter of fact, many part-time POD business owners actually want to turn it into full-time.

COVID-19 is a business opportunity and idea

This COVID-19 pandemic is a nightmare but also presents an opportunity. There are products inspired by the pandemic, noticeably face masks. The term “custom face mask” is one of the popular search keywords on Google these few years. A lot of owners have decided to ride the trend and added face masks to their shops.

Wide range of product varieties

Apart from face masks and t-shirts, there is a wide range of products to customize in print-on-demand. You can personalize hoodies, hats, stationery, wall art, phone cases, etc.

Even old-style items like greetings cards have received revival after personalizations. Customizing with your own images and messages makes them good gift ideas. You can always find something to sell in POD.

Good for branding and marketing

It is common to see t-shirts and hats used for branding and marketing, with logos printed on them. This is often the choice for start-up companies, as a team uniform. Besides, it is also an impressive way to promote a campaign and event. This seems effective for creating social awareness and supporting causes.

print-on-demand POD COVID19 pandemic print startup campaign event cause promote marketing image business team company
credit: RODNAE Productions

Entertainment themes help

We love movies and TV drama, and the shows and characters always make good themes for t-shirt ideas. Those are one of the top sellers online. But, beware of copyright issues if you are to print these products!

Customers love personalizations!

Everyone loves unique products and personalizations have become a customer’s favorite, especially for gifts. Statistics show that customers are actually willing to pay more for customized products. They do not mind waiting longer for them.

What is the future of print-on-demand?

Both business owners and customers are more aware of our environment. Eco-friendliness becomes the main business focus in the POD market. Digital printing helps significantly reduce the consumption of water and electricity.

Customers love to feel good and are part of a good cause while shopping. They would be happy to know if the products and packaging are made of eco-friendly materials. This is a big selling point!

POD is expected to continue to grow in the near future. It could perform even better, due to the evolving printing technology. Owners take advantage of the lower cost and certain automation in the process. Customers are going to enjoy better product quality. Demands would keep growing, and people are willing to spend on personalized items.