Published Feb 19, 2024 ⦁ 17 min read
Optimizing Your Print on Demand Merch Store

Optimizing Your Print on Demand Merch Store

Launching an online merch store can be daunting, but utilizing print-on-demand services makes getting started more accessible.

Optimizing key elements of your print-on-demand merch store, from website design to product organization, can drive sales growth and loyal customers.

In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore best practices for crafting an engaging online presence, streamlining the shopping experience, implementing targeted marketing techniques, ensuring smooth order fulfillment, and continually improving your print-on-demand business over time.

Launching Your Optimized Print on Demand Merch Store

Discover how to enhance your on demand merch store for a superior customer journey, from first click to checkout, by integrating best practices in website design, product categorization, and search functionality.

Understanding the Print on Demand Business Model

The print on demand (POD) business model involves creating custom merchandise without needing to stock inventory. When a customer places an order, the print on demand company prints the products on-demand and ships them directly to the customer.

Some key aspects of the print on demand model:

  • No upfront inventory costs - Only print products when ordered
  • Reduced risk - No leftover stock if designs don't sell
  • Easy scalability - Print more products as sales increase
  • Customization - Offer personalized designs and products

The process works by integrating with print-on-demand (POD) apps and platforms like Printify. They handle printing and shipping the orders while you manage the merch store and sales.

Advantages of Starting a Print on Demand Merch Store

Launching an online merch store using a print on demand model has many benefits:

  • Low startup costs - Avoid high inventory expenses upfront
  • Convenience - No handling production or shipping
  • Flexibility - Test new product ideas without risk
  • Global reach - Sell to customers all over the world
  • Easy management - Focus on marketing rather than logistics

For entrepreneurs and small business owners, these advantages make print on demand an attractive option to start and grow an ecommerce merchandising business.

Selecting the Best Print on Demand Sites (2023) for Your Store

When starting a print on demand merch store, you need to determine the best platform to build your ecommerce storefront and integrate with print on demand apps.

Some top options to evaluate:

  • Shopify - Robust ecommerce features and integrates with Printify and others
  • WooCommerce - Build a store on WordPress and connect to Printful
  • Etsy - Built-in marketplace for print on demand products
  • BigCommerce - Scalable solution with global selling capabilities

Consider business goals, product types, desired features, and costs when selecting your print on demand site.

Which is the best print on demand company?

When choosing the best print on demand company for your merch store, there are several key factors to consider:

The print quality of the products is crucial. Some of the top print on demand companies known for excellent print quality include:

  • Printful: Offers high-quality printing and products. Great for t-shirts, hoodies, hats, mugs, posters, and more.
  • Printify: Also provides quality printing. Specializes in a wide variety of products from apparel to home goods.
  • Gelato: Focuses on print products like canvas prints, posters, and wall art with stunning image quality.

Product Range

You'll want to choose a company that offers all the products you need for your store. Some top options for extensive product catalogs include:

  • Printful: Over 250 products from t-shirts to phone cases and blankets. Integrates with many ecommerce platforms.
  • Printify: 300+ products including clothing, accessories, home decor, and stationery. Easy platform integration.
  • Redbubble: Leading marketplace with over 70 product types from apparel to wall art and tech accessories.


Pricing and production costs vary amongst companies. Evaluating costs for products, shipping, and platform subscriptions is key for maximizing profits:

  • Printify Premium: Flat $29/mo subscription. Competitive product pricing with average shipping costs.
  • Printful: Pay per order. Higher product costs but cheaper shipping rates. Good for lower order volumes.
  • Gooten: No monthly fees or minimums. Lower product costs makes it very affordable.


Choosing a company that seamlessly integrates with your ecommerce platform is essential for managing orders/inventory. Top options include:

  • Printful for Shopify and WooCommerce
  • Printify for Shopify, Etsy, and more
  • Gooten for Shopify

Evaluating these key criteria will help you determine the best print on demand partners for your unique merch store needs. Testing a few companies can also help identify the right fit.

Is selling print on demand profitable?

Selling print on demand products can be a profitable business model in 2023 with the right strategies. Here are some key tips to maximize profitability:

Ensure High-Quality and Unique Designs

  • Create original artwork and graphics that stand out
  • Use quality mockup images to showcase products
  • Offer a range of products like custom hoodies, phone cases, wall art to appeal to various buyers

Price Products Competitively

  • Research competitor pricing for similar print on demand products
  • Factor in production costs and reasonable profit margins when pricing
  • Run promotions with limited-time discounts to boost initial sales

Choose the Right Sales Channels

  • Sell through your own website using platforms like Shopify or WooCommerce
  • Also list products on marketplaces like Etsy, Amazon, and eBay to expand reach
  • Use social media for marketing to drive traffic to your store

Analyze Data and Optimize

  • Track metrics like conversion rates, average order value, top products
  • Identify best-selling designs and double down on those product lines
  • Experiment with pricing changes, promotions, advertising to maximize sales

With careful planning and testing, print on demand can be a lean, profitable model - especially when you create unique products people love to buy. Analyzing sales data allows you to spot opportunities to improve and grow revenue over time.

What is the cheapest print on demand site?

The cheapest print on demand site is Yoycol. Yoycol offers some of the lowest base prices in the industry, with t-shirts starting at just $3. Their simple pricing structure and bulk order discounts also help keep costs low.

Other affordable print on demand sites include:

  • EPROLO POD: Offers t-shirts from $4.95 with free shipping. Good for simple designs.
  • Painterest: T-shirts start at $5 with volume discounts available. Specializes in art prints.
  • Printify: Starts at $7.95 per t-shirt with options to integrate with Etsy, Shopify, and more.
  • SPOD: Tees from $5 with fast 5 day production times. Focused on simplicity.
  • Printy6: Starts at $6 per t-shirt. Offers phone cases and other products too.

The key things to compare across print on demand sites are base pricing, shipping fees, integrations, product selection, and reviews on print quality and order fulfillment. Even with the lowest base prices, additional costs can add up.

While Yoycol has the lowest rates, Printify is likely the best blend of affordability and reliability for most merch stores with its wide product selection and selling platform integrations. New sites should also consider order minimums, which can be higher with cheaper sites. Conducting test orders across a few sites helps determine the best fit.

How much does Amazon print on demand pay?

Amazon offers print-on-demand (POD) authors a standard royalty rate of 60% of the sales price for books sold on Amazon. This means if your book is priced at $12 on Amazon, your royalty would be 60% of $12, which equals $7.20.

However, you need to factor in the production costs that get deducted from your royalties:

  • For paperback books sold on Amazon, the production costs are around $3.90 for a 150-page book. So if your book sells for $12, the calculation would be:

    • Book price: $12
    • Your royalty: 60% of $12 = $7.20
    • Production costs: $3.90
    • Your net royalty: $7.20 - $3.90 = $3.30 per book sold
  • For hardcover books sold on Amazon, the production costs are around $5 higher at $8.90 for a 150-page book. So if your hardcover book sells for $20, the calculation would be:

    • Book price: $20
    • Your royalty: 60% of $20 = $12
    • Production costs: $8.90
    • Your net royalty: $12 - $8.90 = $3.10 per book sold

So in summary, after deducting production costs, print-on-demand authors typically earn between $3-4 per book sold on Amazon across paperback and hardcover formats. The key is pricing your book sufficiently above production costs to earn a reasonable royalty.


Website Design: Crafting an Engaging Online Presence

An optimized website design is crucial for maximizing the potential of your print on demand merch store. By thoughtfully crafting your online presence, you can create an experience that reflects your brand identity and enhances user engagement.

Choosing the Right Ecommerce Platform for Your Merch Store

When selecting an ecommerce platform, key factors to consider include:

  • Features: Assess platform capabilities like customizability, built-in marketing tools, integration with print-on-demand apps, and available sales channels. For example, Shopify offers a robust feature set while WooCommerce is more customizable.

  • Cost: Calculate all expenses like monthly fees, transaction rates, and app subscriptions. Shopify has a monthly fee while WooCommerce is free but requires hosting.

  • Ease of use: Determine the level of technical skill required for site management and expansion. Etsy makes selling easy but limits customization compared to Shopify or WooCommerce.

  • Scalability: Evaluate if the platform can support your long-term business growth ambitions. BigCommerce, for instance, is equipped for enterprise-level selling.

Incorporating Professional Website Design Elements

Well-designed print on demand sites utilize principles like:

  • Visual hierarchy to direct attention
  • Quality lifestyle images to connect with customers
  • Minimalist layouts that avoid clutter
  • Typography that aligns with brand personality
  • Color palettes reflecting merchandise or values
  • Responsively optimized for all devices

This facilitates an aesthetically pleasing and functional user experience.

Utilizing Mockup Generators for Product Visualization

Mockup generators create photo-realistic product previews like T-shirt mockups and phone case mockups to showcase print-on-demand items. Benefits include:

  • Allows customization with logos and designs
  • Speeds up product page creation
  • Reduces need to order test samples
  • Builds excitement and trust for unprinted products

Leading print-on-demand companies like Printify offer free mockup tools to help merch sellers visualize offerings.

Enhancing User Experience with Responsive Design

With over 50% of shopping traffic coming from mobile, having a responsive site optimized for all devices is essential. Tactics like flexible images, text size adjustment, and tap-friendly navigation enhance user experience. Testing on various devices during development and continuously monitoring analytics identifies issues to address. This facilitates convenient access and seamless shopping across smartphones, tablets, laptops, and desktops.

Mastering Product Categorization for Easy Navigation

Organizing your print on demand merchandise into intuitive categories helps customers easily find what they want. Here are some tips:

Creating Clear Categories for Men’s, Women’s, and Kids’ Clothing

  • Separate apparel by gender into Men's, Women's, and Kids' sections
  • Consider categories like T-Shirts, Hoodies, Baby Onesies to further divide clothing types
  • Add a Custom AOP Clothing category for all-over print garments

Expanding Beyond Apparel with Home & Living and Tech Accessories

  • Complement apparel with Home & Living categories like Pillows, Blankets, and Wall Art
  • Offer customers Tech Accessories like Phone Cases, Laptop Sleeves, and Charging Cables
  • Create an Eco-Friendly Products section for sustainable merchandise

Innovating with Custom Merchandise Categories

  • Get creative with Custom Socks, Bags, Mugs and other unique items
  • Brainstorm fresh categories based on current trends and customer requests
  • Regularly review analytics to see which types of custom merchandise perform best

Organizing Seasonal Merchandise for Timely Promotions

  • Plan categories and products around seasons and holidays
  • Make sections like Summer Gear, Back to School, Halloween Costumes, and Holiday Gifts
  • Refresh these categories annually to keep content timely

Thoughtful product categorization allows customers to easily find relevant items. Structure your print on demand catalog by demographics, product type, season, and usage occasion. Analyze data often to optimize.

Optimizing Search Functionality for a Streamlined Experience

To ensure customers can easily discover the print on demand products they want, it's important to optimize your store's search functionality. Here are some tips:

Leveraging Advanced Search Algorithms

  • Implement intelligent search algorithms that go beyond basic keyword matching. These understand user intent and account for things like synonyms, related terms, and context.
  • Continuously refine the algorithms using search analytics to determine which queries failed to return relevant products.

Incorporating Filters for Efficient Product Discovery

  • Allow customers to filter search results by product attributes like price, color, category, etc.
  • Display filter options prominently on search result pages. Common filters include size, gender, material, and design style.

Utilizing Auto-Complete and Search Suggestions

  • As customers type queries, display suggested search terms and products based on popularity.
  • Personalized suggestions using their search history improves relevancy.

Analyzing Search Data to Refine Product Offerings

  • Use search analytics to identify common queries that returned zero results.
  • Determine if new products should be added to meet that demand.
  • Adjust marketing campaigns according to rising and falling search trends.

An optimized search experience allows shoppers to seamlessly find desired merchandise. Continuously refine algorithms, filters, and suggestions based on analytics data to streamline product discovery.

Marketing and Sales Strategies for Your Print on Demand Store

Employ effective marketing tools and sales channels to attract and retain customers, driving sales for your print on demand merch store.

Implementing Niche Marketing Strategies for Targeted Reach

Focusing on niche markets allows you to create specialized marketing campaigns tailored to those specific audiences. For example, you could have a section of your online store dedicated to eco-friendly products like custom phone cases made from sustainable materials. Or you could market custom canvas prints more heavily leading up to the winter holidays when people are looking for unique gift ideas.

Identifying one or two niche categories to highlight in your print on demand merch store helps you:

  • Better understand your target customers in that niche
  • Craft messaging and products specifically for their needs
  • Reach them more effectively through targeted advertising

This targeted approach often leads to higher conversion rates from niche audiences that feel your brand speaks directly to them.

Maximizing Sales with Cross-Selling and Upselling Techniques

As customers are checking out in your online store, suggest complementary products to increase average order value. For example, if someone is buying a custom t-shirt, recommend that they also look at custom socks or hats that match the shirt's design.

You can also offer slight upgrades to increase sales. When customers order standard custom mugs, prompt them to upgrade to a larger size mug or one with full wrap printing for a small upcharge.

Use cross-selling and upselling techniques judiciously - you don't want customers to feel pressured. But subtle suggestions done well can boost sales substantially.

Leveraging Social Media and Facebook Advertising

Promote your print on demand products heavily on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Run Facebook ads showcasing your custom merchandise to targeted audiences aligned with your niche marketing strategies.

Encourage user-generated content as well. For example, prompt happy customers to post photos of themselves wearing the custom t-shirt they ordered from your shop. This organic social promotion builds credibility and provides social proof for your products.

Exploring Print on Demand Apps and Integrations

Your ecommerce platform likely offers various apps and integrations to enhance the functionality of your online store. For example, Printify and Printful both have Shopify apps that simplify the print on demand order process.

Some apps let you create product mockups, design custom phone cases, generate logo ideas, and more. Review available apps to see which ones streamline workflows or add capabilities like faster order processing, smoother product customization, or expanded service offerings.

Choosing the right set of apps and integrations tailored to your print on demand model gives you an advantage driving sales through better site experiences. But don't overcomplicate things either - start with apps that clearly align with your goals then iterate from there.

Fulfillment and Shipping: Ensuring Customer Satisfaction

Selecting Reliable Print-on-Demand Companies for Fulfillment

When selecting a print-on-demand (POD) company to handle order fulfillment and shipping, it's important to partner with a reliable provider that offers consistent service. Key factors to evaluate include:

  • Product Quality: Review sample products to ensure good print quality and accurate production.
  • Shipping Times: Check average shipping times to customers' locations and variability.
  • Packaging: Assess if packaging properly protects products and reinforces branding.
  • Customer Support: Test response times and resolution quality.
  • Integration & Management Tools: Evaluate order/inventory management systems.

Leading POD companies like Printful and Printify meet these criteria. Read reviews and order test samples before fully integrating them into your print on demand merch store.

Optimizing Product Packaging for a Branded Experience

Custom packaging is a simple way to enhance the unboxing experience. Consider:

  • Branded tape and tissue paper with your logo
  • Thank you cards with discount codes
  • Stickers and buttons as surprises

This further reinforces brand identity while delighting customers. Just ensure packaging aligns with products - e.g. neutral packaging may suit posters better than bright, branded packaging.

Managing Shipping Expectations with Clear Communication

To avoid shipping-related inquiries:

  • Display average processing and shipping times prominently
  • Send order confirmations with estimates
  • Notify customers when orders ship with tracking info
  • Allow customers to check order status in account

Meeting or beating shipping estimates preserves a positive brand reputation. Proactively communicating with customers also manages expectations.

Evaluating the Benefits of Printify Premium for Shipping

Printify Premium provides:

  • Faster shipping times
  • Lower international shipping rates
  • Priority support and issue resolution

The $29/month subscription can reduce transit days by ~2-5 days while the volume discounts on shipping minimize costs. This improves customer satisfaction and may increase repeat purchase rate and lifetime value.

Conclusion: Key Steps to a Successful Print on Demand Merch Store

Recap of Best Practices for Print on Demand Success

Optimizing your print on demand merch store starts with leveraging the best platforms like Shopify, WooCommerce, Etsy, and BigCommerce. These provide easy integrations with print on demand apps like Printify and Printful.

Focus on website design elements like an intuitive product catalog, mockup generator for visualizing merch, and robust search functionality. Well-organized categories and effective on-site search help customers find products faster.

Strategic product categorization is also key. Consider niche offerings like custom phone cases, eco-friendly apparel, or seasonal merchandise. Curate your offerings based on target demographics.

Continual Optimization for Growth and Customer Loyalty

A successful print on demand store requires continual refinement and adaptation to market trends. Regularly evaluate your product selection, website UX, and fulfillment processes.

Gather customer feedback to identify new merch opportunities. Monitor sales data to double down on winning products. And stay atop production innovations to widen margins while maintaining quality.

Optimization is an iterative, ongoing process. But the effort pays dividends in the form of sales growth, customer loyalty, and branding success.

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