The technology available in print on demand to transition from idea to printed realisation is becoming seamless. it is one of a huge number of niches that dropshipping is becoming prevalent in however I think the question is not “how do I start a dropshipping business” it is more “how do I build traffic to my original idea”.
The way to build a drop shipping business is unquestionably to use Shopify and its myriad of integration tools to produce your finished website. Yes, there are other options and if you are looking for something very specific you might find that someone has developed an app or integration for EKM or 3Dcart but in the main Shopify is the best dropshipping solution available.
If you were with me when I built my first dropshipping website at https://www.celebrityfab.co.uk, then you'll know how easy it is to put a site together. Building a dropshipping website using Shopify is simple for anyone that can use a computer and find their way around a software program user interface.
The Celebrityfab test website has been up for over a year now and gets a grand total of about one visitor per month! It isn't the idea or the execution of the said idea that will make or break your website. It is the amount of traffic you can build to it whilst outsmarting the competition that determines how successful you will be.
The idea that you are going to build a dropshipping business that takes on all comers using Shopify and a plugin is laughable. Yes, I've seen all the adverts on youtube claiming how they turned a Shopify store into a raving monster loony success in 24 hours or less but these are shysters, hucksters and charlatans trying to get you to sign up for their expensive course. These people prey on gullible consumers and their insatiable greed leading them to believe that shortcuts are the answer to wealth.
Whilst I'm on the subject of Youtube adverts, the recent introduction of Youtube premium whereby you pay a monthly £11.99 subscription to not see any adverts is a brilliant idea. That's how the BBC works right? Only in the case of Youtube you get a choice as to whether or not you want to pay the licence fee.
So Onto Todays Startup Idea.
But in the case of print on demand (POD) the technology is so new that there are plenty of areas where you can apply it and steal a market advantage if you can come up with some original ideas.
What Is Print On Demand?
The forerunner of the modern POD was the heavy press wielding types in the late 70's prevalent in tourist seaside towns who used iron-on transfers to produce “custom” T-shirts. The modern equivalent uses a heat press transfer machine to achieve the same effect, and those machines are available from around the £200 - £300 and upwards price range.
The dropshipping POD model means that you can utilise expensive printing machinery to do all the heavy lifting for you by digitally transferring the files while not having to own or maintain it so on that basis it sounds like a pretty good deal?
How Print On Demand Dropshipping Works
The customer places an order on the website you have built. They pay for the product, and the money goes into your business bank account. The request is then fulfilled by the manufacturer, and they deliver the finished product direct to the customer. The manufacturer then sends you an invoice for the goods, and hopefully, you've made enough money out of the process to be able to pay the invoice and put some beans on toast on the table for the kids.
Depending on how many orders you are receiving daily you will need an initial cash float of around £500 to be able to pay suppliers before you see the money in your bank account but this all depends on who you bank with and whether or not you can do a 30-day invoice deal or better with your provider. Don't forget to include your Shopify store costs and transaction charges in the budget when doing your maths but it's entirely possible to make this a minimal investment startup.
The drawback of the whole model comes down to the quality not of the product, because you can choose the weight of the material to ensure quality control, but the quality of your design work. You can do some basic stuff with directly written text and black on white artwork but to take your business to the next level, you will need some epic designs.
Another disadvantage comes in the shape of the front end user experience. Many manufacturers in this line of business have their own websites where customers can choose from an extensive array of clothing styles, sizes and colours and then upload their artwork directly to be placed on the garment. Here's a good example of that:
So those are the negative things out of the way. Let me give you a run through of how the whole process works using my demonstration site.
First of all, you'll need a Shopify store to practice on so if you haven't got one yet sign up here. When that's set up, you can install an add-on App from the Shopify store to do all the hard work for you.
I chose the Inkthreadable App as they are a fast growing UK company investing in the very latest print technology and they also integrate with EKM if you want to use that platform instead of Shopify. Here is what the App looks like in your Shopify administrator:
First step - Create a new product.
When you first use the Inkthreadable App you might think that nothing is happening for a moment but if you look up to the top of the screen you'll see a thin grey progress bar.
You have access to the full Inkthreadable range of products through the Shopify App which is pretty damn neat!
Choose your product and upload your design:
Choose the colours and sizes you want to create and import to shopify. This works uin much the same way as the Oberlo App for Alibaba Express.
Here is how the finished item looks on our web page:
Very easy. The one limitation I came across was that in the Inkthreadable app you can create 233 variations of a product (sizes and colours)but Shopify will only allow you to import 100 at a time. By the time you have finished adding Hoodies, Sweatshirts, vests and crop tops you will have a pretty impressive virtual product portfolio.
The ease with which you can create a dropshipping clothing store is ridiculous. But as I said at the beginning, whilst the technology is easily available, getting traffic to your store is the hard part.