Print-on-demand has, without a doubt, climbed up the eCommerce ladder to become one of the most popular trends in recent years. The correlation is natural. Online shopping has become absolutely massive following worldwide lock-downs, and print-on-demand (POD) is yet another market that has benefited from that.
With such a low barrier to entry, sellers can join in on the game with only a minor investment. Although profit margins are lower than in other business models, so are risks. However, as more and more side gig enthusiasts turn an eye towards POD, two key questions arise.
What is the state of print-on-demand today and is it still profitable in 2022?
Interest in print-on-demand continues to climb. The search volume for the keyword in the US alone was 3,500 in September 2021. In May 2022, the number grew to 23,500. And on a global level, more than 71,000 users search for ‘print on demand’ on Google on a monthly basis.
This is one of the first indications that the POD market is growing and expected to reach new heights. The market’s expansion is also visible when exploring growth statistics. Even before COVID, the print-on-demand industry grew by 12% from 2017 to 2020.
On one hand, shoppers have every reason to explore the POD market as we’ll discuss later in this article. On the other hand, the industry is extremely lucrative for sellers, leading to saturation.
Online side hustles have been popular since the rise of eCommerce. However, the COVID-19 pandemic played a huge role in expanding the market after 2020. With lockdowns and financial insecurities, more and more people sought additional sources of income. Starting a POD business comes with minimal risks and fruitful profit-making opportunities. There is no reliance on your own production, storage, or shipping. All that the seller is responsible for is the product design and marketing.
As a result, the POD industry is now more saturated than ever. The global market size was valued at $4.90 billion in 2021 and is forecasted to expand at a compound annual growth rate of 26.1% from 2022 to 2030. With growing competition, can sellers still expect to make a profit from print-on-demand?
Absolutely. Here’s just 2 reasons why.
Although turning your POD business into a success story in 2022 will be harder than five years ago, it’s still possible. The low barriers to entry mean that sellers of different backgrounds and experience levels are entering the market every day. Equipping yourself with the right tools, research methods, and insights will enable you to quickly gain a competitive advantage. You will be one step ahead of the game as a large portion of sellers are not experienced in attracting visitors and converting traffic into sales.
Discovering niches will result in tangible returns. The narrower the niche, the better. There is quite the demand for POD goods in 2022, and therefore enough space for sellers to compete in. However, without an intention to appeal to a certain buyer, chances are, you aren’t going to appeal to any. So pick a niche and go for it. Just as you’d do with any business.
So, how can we explain the current state of the POD market? The growth, the saturation, the need to niche down?
There is a set of consumer behavior trends that are shaping recent developments in print-on-demand. They’re related to sustainability, a preference for personalization, and the rise of online shopping worldwide.
One of the key factors swaying the growth of the print-on-demand market is consumers’ preference for sustainable products and business models. Today, 60% of consumers consider sustainability a crucial factor for purchases. More than 80% of consumers have already adapted their purchase behavior to fit a more eco-friendly approach. The POD business model fits these criteria perfectly.
Products are physically created only after a customer has completed a purchase. This eliminates overproduction and contributes to a cleaner environment.
Research by Salesforce reveals that 65% of consumers would rather choose personalized products over standard ones. The same research by Genz uncovers that the percentage is actually higher, exceeding 70%.
Print-on-demand products can be customized according to customer preferences. This only increases the attractiveness of such items in today’s highly dynamic and digitalized world.
Another factor influencing the current shape of print-on-demand is the overall spike of online shopping and eCommerce. eCommerce sales around the world are expected to hit $5.5 trillion in 2022. And nearly 80% of U.S. adult shoppers now shop online.
Consequently, POD sales increase as more people begin or continue to shop online. It’s just the natural order of things.
By looking at the aforementioned insights, it’s safe to conclude that the print-on-demand arena is stable and here to stay. Sellers can increase their margins by taking advantage of user behavior trends. By offering personalized products and focusing on niche markets, POD side gigs can transform into reliable sources of income.
However, it’s also important to note the most popular products in 2022. These will be the categories that sellers can exploit to attract more users and enjoy more sales.
Currently, the best-selling POD items in 2022 are hoodies, sportswear, premium t-shirts, eco-friendly products, hats, stationery, wall art, phone cases, drinkware, and bags.
For instance, the custom t-shirt printing market saw a revenue of $6.4 billion in 2020. In 2025, it is predicted to surpass $10 billion. Entering one of these top-performing product categories is bound to translate into success. Especially if sellers are prepared with a bullet-proof strategy.
Print-on-demand may be a more saturated market in 2022 than it was in 2017. However, it is more profitable now than it was back then. With forecasts for tremendous growth, the POD industry offers sellers a ton of lucrative, money-making opportunities.