Print on demand vs Dropshipping: Which One is Better for You?

print on demand vs dropshipping

No doubt many of us want a piece of the eCommerce pie as the US alone will generate more than $431.6 billion from eCommerce in 2020. This number seems unlikely to stop increasing in the context of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Print on demand and dropshipping are two possible entry points into the world of digital business. However, due to similarities in the fulfillment process, many people are usually confused between these two business models

With this in mind, we’ll go through the similarities and differences between them. We’ll also look at some of the advantages and disadvantages so you can choose which is ideal for your WooCommerce store.

Let’s jump right on in.


Dropshipping and print on demand are two separate business models despite their obvious similarities. Both will be covered in more detail later.

So let’s first gain an overview of dropshipping vs print on demand before getting into the specifics.

What is WooCommerce Print on demand?

WooCommerce print on demand

Print on demand is a method of providing customers with their own customized merchandise. It is also frequently known as POD.

Simply said, it’s a technique of order fulfillment in which products are printed once an order is placed. One of the key parts is that there are often no minimum order requirements. Additionally, the company won’t have inventory on hand and instead directly collaborate with a print-on-demand vendor to fulfill orders.

With print on demand, the sellers’ function extends beyond that of a middleman who is only responsible for the sale of goods. Furthermore, they produce designs that help in the creation of their products. These goods can be mugs, tote bags, or T-shirts with your own unique designs.

They will receive support from the print-on-demand suppliers in incorporating their designs into the white-label items and delivering them to the customers. To fulfill orders, a printing business either does its own manufacturing or contracts out the printing work.

What is WooCommerce Dropshipping?

WooCommerce dropshipping

Simply said, WooCommerce dropshipping is a method of operating an eCommerce business that enables you to launch with little to no cost. In essence, dropshipping enables you to delegate the maintenance of your inventory to outside vendors while you focus on growing your company and formulating business strategies.

The vendors now collaborate with a third party, typically a manufacturer or wholesaler, who handles the inventory and shipping in terms of fulfilling orders. Only once an order has been accepted must sellers make payment.

In comparison to the regular retailing model, the dropshipping business owner doesn’t actually acquire or own the products. Instead, they serve as a middle man between dropshipping providers and end customers.

Why dropshipping is luring so many businesses?

Low costs to start up make this form of business attractive to people who don’t want to take the risk of losing a significant amount of money.  Moreover, with no workers and additional services to deal with, many have delved into this sort of company strategy.

Now that we have a fast overview in place. Let’s take a look at the similarities and differences between print on demand vs dropshipping.

Print on demand vs Dropshipping: Similarities

It is clear from the definitions of print on demand vs dropshipping provided above that there are some obvious similarities between the two business strategies.

No inventory needed

At the first point, there is no need for inventory with dropshipping or POD. The providers who offer dropshipping and print on demand are the ones who keep stock. This feature of these two models enables retailers to save costs on inventory management and leasing.

No shipping management

Aside from the inventory, dropshipping and POD businesses also don’t have to worry about transportation. Suppliers who offer dropshipping and print on demand will do all the jobs for you including printing, packaging, and shipping each order.

Minimal risk

Since all orders are supplied on demand, there is no concern about unsold inventory in both models. It implies that you only need to pay for the item once you place the order.

These 2 separate business models depart from conventional retailing, where items are purchased in advance and kept in stock. In the conventional business model, you face the possibility of not selling all of the inventory, which results in a reduction in profit.

Passive earnings

Essentially, dropshipping and print-on-demand are both forms of passive income: Without you putting in the time or effort, money is pouring into your wallet.

Obviously, you must put up the bare minimum of work to set up the online shop and the listing, but both efforts are timely activities. However, after that, everything is automatic, and you can even definitely make money while you sleep.

Simple to start and try new things

The entrance hurdle is minimal for both dropshipping and POD firms. In the beginning, it could be inexpensive to put up a website where internet customers can go and purchase your goods.

Unlike traditional retailers, it doesn’t need a huge investment since there’s no need to stock up on inventory or buy large quantities of goods. Anyone has the chance to launch a small-budget internet business thanks to it.

More crucially, dropshipping and POD provide business owners the chance to add a new line of items to their existing line of products without having to take a big financial risk up front.

They can test new items with dropshipping vs print on demand before investing much and learning if their consumers like them or not. To fill a variety of items in their stores, many conventional company owners are turning to dropshipping and POD.

Set of skills

Performance in print-on-demand and dropshipping likely demands a comparable set of skills. For instance, dropshippers and print-on-demand merchants must engage in some form of promotion and marketing to drive visitors to their storefronts. This can be done through email, social media, SEO, and so on.

Not to mention, POD and dropshipping sellers need to be also experts in a variety of areas including customer service, market research, and financial management.

To process this work, any business will need a powerful tool, especially when you run a print-on-demand business. Read this ultimate guide to WooCommerce print on demand to learn more.

Print on demand vs Dropshipping: Differences

Print on demand vs dropshipping differs from one another in addition to the things they share in common. You may choose which option is best for you by being aware of these factors.

Product range

Both dropshipping and print-on-demand companies provide a broad selection of products. However, the kinds of products that these firms might offer vary. You may be interested in getting to know more about selling print on demand coffee mugs which are one of the most popular POD products.

Provided that the items are permitted for delivery, dropshipping shops are able to sell any kind of product.

On the contrary, POD businesses specialize in the products that they can customize and print on such as clothes and accessories. In comparison to dropshipping, print-on-demand has a clearly less product selection.

Time for processing and inventory

Dropshipping vs inventory: The majority of the time, dropshipping items are mass-produced and prepared for delivery when they arrive at a supplier’s warehouse. Because of this, dropshipping suppliers keep a stock of goods to fulfill orders as quickly as possible.

Print on demand vs inventory: Products are only handled and printed for POD businesses when orders are transmitted to suppliers. This can result in the fulfillment process taking longer and costing more money. For white label items, suppliers already have inventory on hand, but printing still requires time.


Print-on-demand has the advantage over the other in terms of personalization. The designs are created by the business owners and printed on the merchandise. The product itself is distinctive based on the design chosen, as opposed to merely having personalized packaging.

Because the items were previously created, dropshipping doesn’t provide much customization. Dropshippers might look into bespoke packing if they wish to personalize their goods.

Delivery time and price

In general, the locations of their providers and the third-party distribution companies they use will affect the shipping timeframes and prices for both dropshipping and print-on-demand companies.

In terms of location or distribution channels, print-on-demand goods are likely to take longer to arrive than dropshipped items since they are made-to-order.

But how much it will cost to send a thing may vary greatly. It will cost extra to send a product that is fragile, heavy, and large.

Profit Margins

Higher profit margins are possible with dropshipped goods. Because these products are bulk produced, they are less expensive, which enables dropshippers to make more money.

Additionally, dropshippers are not required to brand their items unless they choose to. Overall, dropshipping as a whole produces sales and profits far more quickly than print-on-demand.

For print-on-demand, personalization is already necessary before the items are created.

Despite being built to order, designs take time and effort to make and are not always simple. Some business owners may not view them as costs, but it’s crucial to remember that they have an impact on the entire fulfillment process.

But don’t fret about it, a big target audience enjoys these tailored items. Properly managed print-on-demand businesses may potentially provide significant profit margins.

Scaling up the possibility

Businesses that use dropshipping and print-on-demand models both provide chances for growth.

That being said, because dropshipping merely needs the items to be featured on the website, it is simpler to grow.  As long as their dropshipping site permits it, owners are free to add as many items as they like. Additionally, they are free to research other markets in order to grow their company.

Print-on-demand, meanwhile, can only be increased if additional designs are added to the collection.

Since few items may be printed, there is also a practical restriction when extending to other product kinds. This makes growing this firm difficult, despite the fact that it is possible.


It’s anticipated that the dropshipping industry would grow to $196.78 billion. This is one of the factors that many people have chosen to establish this kind of business, in addition to the inexpensive startup expenses.

This is another factor contributing to the great rivalry in dropshipping. You compete with thousands of dropshippers who all market the same goods.

Customers might choose to purchase identical goods from another retailer.  You’re essentially competing with other dropshipping companies unless you offer distinctive items or an outstanding customer experience.

In terms of print-on-demand, there isn’t much competition.  Despite the possibility of copying, print-on-demand items differ slightly from one another.

Without having to worry about them purchasing the very same designs and items from other businesses, you may provide niche products to appeal to certain audiences, such as gamers or hobbyists.

In the end, print-on-selling demand’s advantage is its uniqueness. Your chances of getting absorbed by the competition increase as your designs become more creative.

Print on demand vs Dropshipping: Pros and Cons

WooCommerce Print on demand


  • Brand awareness: Customers can recognize your brand from the crowd by looking at the designs printed on the items. After all, your customer will remember your brand and keep ordering from you.
  • Locations of strategic suppliers: The United States and Europe are attractive locations for reliable print-on-demand vendors because of their enormous markets and quick shipping.
  • Simple upselling and cross-selling: Products that are printed on demand are frequently utilized things. Business owners may simply include cross- and up-selling chances with that.


  • Costly products:  Since print-on-demand items are custom-made, it’s not surprising that they are more expensive than typical dropshipping items.
  • Required creativity:  The foundation of a print-on-demand company is creativity. Without it, the company would find it difficult to set itself apart from its rivals. To make an impression on buyers and guarantee repeat sales, all designs must be original.

WooCommerce Dropshipping


  • Many product options: Most dropshippers can look through millions of goods with ease and add their top picks to their online businesses by using the correct product research strategies.
  • Simple to scale: You just need to add items to your store and locate the appropriate suppliers. The connectors that are accessible also make it simple for all different kinds of dropshippers. Because they can turn a profit rapidly, dropshippers can reinvest their profits in their company to help it grow more swiftly.
  • Faster fulfillment times: Because the products are ready to ship, dropshipping has a quicker fulfillment time. Most of the time, suppliers have inventory on hand for their goods, which cuts down on the time to handle orders.
  • Easy to start up: For dropshipping to begin, no designs are required. Simply pick the items you wish to sell and put them in your store. Even before items are listed, some vendors have descriptions and images you can use.


  • Risky product quality: The quality of the products isn’t always guaranteed because there are so many options available. Since these products are frequently mass-produced, it is more difficult to apply quality control.
  • Great competition: It might be difficult to distinguish apart if you sell the same things as your rivals, especially if you haven’t established your business sufficiently.
  • Flexible trends: Even most skilled dropshippers can ultimately become exhausted by the constant adjustments. Good news for anyone who can afford to employ a group of product researchers.

Which business model you should choose: print on demand or dropshipping?

print on demand vs dropshipping

Every business model has its own benefits and drawbacks. You can decide the one that is most appropriate for your business based on your objectives and expertise.

Print on demand is the best solution if you’re trying to establish your own brand.

Dropshipping is an excellent place to start if you want to start making money more quickly.

Print on demand is the greatest option if you have artistic talent and are creative.

Besides, keep in mind that dropshipping and print on demand do not conflict with one another. You can use both strategies inside one WooCommerce website or even run two businesses simultaneously. Naturally, it will need twice as much work. Of course, to run your print-on-demand or dropshipping site smoothly, first and foremost, you should look for the fastest WooCommerce theme and install powerful plugins.

So hopefully you now have enough knowledge about the similarities and differences between print on demand vs dropshipping to put your online business to the next level!

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