As a small business owner, it can be a huge risk to invest lots of time and energy manufacturing inventory that you might not even be able to sell. Unfortunately, it’s always been pretty hard to stay afloat without having lots of products and a huge stock to show off. That often leaves struggling start-ups between a rock and a hard place.
But thanks to huge breakthroughs in an up-and-coming print on demand sector, more and more business owners are finding themselves able to have their cake and eat it, too.
What Are Print On Demand Services?
Print on demand is a digital production model that sees goods manufactured on an as-needed basis.
The model was initially rolled out in the publications sector in order to combat the huge overheads that are increasingly threatening the very existence of publishing firms. Instead of shelling out for huge initial print runs or producing in bulk for major promotions, firms can now use print on demand services to rapidly manufacture a book or publication only after it has already been paid for by the customer.
Some traditional firms have introduced print-as-you-go services for aspiring authors and niche topics, while a flurry of specialist print on demand services  have surfaced over the last few years. The deployment of print on demand services generally come hand-in-hand with lower profit margins.
Yet it’s also worth pointing out the print on demand model is no longer exclusive to publishing firms. Online retailers like CafePress  offer a user-customized on demand platform for garments, apparel  and other gifts — while specialist websites now enable small businesses to set up online shops  specifically geared at providing print on demand services.
Why Would I Use Print On Demand Services for My Business?
Print on demand services come with a clear set of advantages. First and foremost, you aren’t burdened by the costs associated with producing and storing inventory. There are no up-front bulk production or manufacturing costs, and you don’t need to pay for storage space.
Depending on how you’ve implemented a print on demand model or which third party you choose to partner with, you’ll also likely benefit from near-immediate production and order fulfillment. Many print on demand services can ship your items directly to your customers — freeing up your time to focus on more important orders of business.
If you’re self-publishing or manufacturing items that could be subject to minor tweaks — such as text or graphics changes — print on demand services also mean you won’t waste money producing products riddled with mistakes. Your product lives in a digital format until it’s ready to be manufactured, which means it’s incredibly easy to make important changes.
If you’re thinking about using a print on demand service for your business, just remember to start with a bit of research to decide how and where it may be able to enhance your current offerings. Carefully vet potential partner companies, and check out a range of samples in order to find manufacturers that are able to provide the best value and quality.
Printing Press  Photo via Shutterstock