The Complete 2020 Guide to Print-On-Demand & Dropshipping

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What we'll cover

What is Dropshipping?

Dropshipping, is supply-chain management method where the business owner (you) finds a supplier that has the capabilities of shipping directly to the consumer. This means, the business owner never actually has to store, process or even see the product in person and acts more as a connector/middle-man between customers and suppliers.

From the business owner point of view, you will provide a way for the customer to discover and purchase the product.

Once the customer has purchased at your retail price, you will purchase the product from the supplier, who will then ship it to the customer.

This means that you don't spend money on the product until the customer has already purchased it from you. This is commonly and done most efficiently through third party apps but can be done manually as well.

From the customers point of view, they will discover and purchase the product through the business and receive the product with an invoice from the business.

What is Print-On-Demand?

Operating in the same way as Dropshipping, Print-On-Demand (POD) allows you to sell products without having to store them yourself but with the added ability to customize these products. Nowadays these products can be almost anything, from simple shirts to travel mugs to clocks to shoes.

Customizing these products is also not a complicated task at all, it's as simple as uploading an image with your graphics/design/logo and dragging it to where you want on the item you want.


How to Pick a Supplier

Picking the right supplier will be crucial to the sustainability of the product or business.  The two main things you want to look at when picking a supplier is their fulfillment times/rates and their quality assurances. In most cases, you'll want to look for suppliers that can deliver the product within 15 days of purchase, under 1 week is even better.

There is a sea of suppliers out there and ways to find them, a common marketplace to search for dropshipping suppliers is Ali Express. While Ali Express does offer a wide variety of products to choose from, you should be aware that the average fulfillment times for suppliers located in China is 30 Days. Depending on your niche/industry, these longer wait times might be fine with your customers as long as they are disclosed upfront.

It's also a it easier to find quality POD suppliers, probably because POD suppliers have put initial investments into their business for printing, sublimation and customization infrastructure.


What are the upfront costs?

Utilizing Dropshipping or POD has very limited cost-barrier to entry. This is because, like mentioned above, you only need to spend money on the product once the customer has paid you for it.

The exemption here of course would be if you bought the product yourself first, which is recommended if you really want to see the true quality of the product and supplier.

As for upfront costs, there are a couple. First, you'll want to buy a domain name so you can have a proper URL to drive people to your site.

Upfront Cost Breakdown

US Dollars

  • Shopify Fee...................................................$29
    *Charged after 14-day free trial
  • Domain Name...............................................$0.99
    *$14 when bought directly with Shopify
  • Marketing Costs...........................................$X.XX
  • Total........................................................ .$0-$43

Domain names can be purchased easily on GoDaddy, where you get your first year for only $0.99! The catch here being you'll need to manually connect your domain name to your store.

The other option would be to purchase the domain directly through Shopify, which would run you $14/year.

Then there is the Shopify Fee. The cheapest Shopify plan is priced at $29/month, however you can start with a 14-Day free trial and won't be charged until the trial is complete. After the trial you will be forced to choose between the 3 main Shopify memberships and be able to choose monthly or annual billing.

Marketing your new shop


Build Your E-Mail List

This is a crucial step that you cannot start too early. When built right, you email list will be populated with qualified customers, ones that you know are interested in what you have to offer. To learn more about email marketing and how to build your first email list click here


Create A Social Presence & Engage with Potential Customers

Start posting on Social Media and engaging with who you think is in your customer base.

Order Fulfillment

Once an order has been placed, you'll receive a notification from Shopify, from here you must visit the app you used to link the product to your store, and pay to fulfill the order. Depending on the app you use, the customers information should be automatically entered and the invoice automatically altered to show your retail price. Certain apps may also include features that notify the customer about their shipment while also providing tracking details.

If you do not wish for your customers to know that the product is being shipped by the supplier, you can simply opt out of sending tracking details or customize your tracking notifications to only include status updates and not reveal locations.

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