The dropshipping trend seems to be made for the print industry: Here, the processes and structures of modern online retailing have already been anticipated to some extent in the past. A new Shopify tutorial explains how print-on-demand processes work – and also shows what print shops need to bear in mind.
With dropshipping, an online retailer sells goods that are produced on-demand and then shipped directly from the manufacturer to the customer. As a result, the seller no longer has a warehouse: only what is actually sold is produced. In print shops, production is also made to order, in day and night shifts, and often just-in-time. Since the products are highly individualized, conventional pre-production is usually not even possible.
Today, dropshipping is booming because the barriers to entry are getting lower and lower. All you need is a business idea and an Internet connection. Classic business components such as service, logistics and warehousing are outsourced to external service providers. In the printing industry, there is now special software even for tasks such as design and prepress: Editor programs help with design, and automated processes help with prepress. This is made possible in each case by improved server capacities and the cloud.
The lean dropshipping business model, however, has also produced a number of pitfalls and myths due to the wide range of choices and specialization options, which can be the undoing of new founders. That’s why e-commerce platform Shopify has put together an overview on its blog of how merchants can successfully sell their products via dropshipping. However, the tutorial is not only exciting for designers and online sellers: there are also two lessons for print shops that will remain important.
First, it shows once again that service and quality are the be-all and end-all of a well-functioning service provider. In dropshipping, the end customer is supplied directly by the print shop. There is no prior control by the retailer. Therefore, communication in advance must be just as good as the quality of the products supplied. Secondly, dropshipping will continue to grow as it becomes easier for retailers and end customers to use. It is therefore important for print shops to position themselves on the market accordingly – and possibly win over new retailers in addition to existing ones.