What is Print on Demand?

Well, hello there!

I hope you’re ready to learn all about Print On Demand or “POD” as the cool kids say. At least, that’s what I imagine they say… because I say it. 😊

What is Print On Demand?

In traditional retail fulfillment (Amazon, local stores, grocery stores, etc.) a business typically buys a bunch of items and stocks them in a warehouse so that they can be sent out whenever an order comes through. If multiple colors, sizes, and variations are available for that product, they’ll have each combination made and stocked. In a POD scenario, each item is only printed after it has been ordered by the customer, eliminating the need for storage in a warehouse (and subsequently transit to the storage warehouse).

Environmental Impact

Not only does this help to pass on savings to the customer by removing some expensive factors, but it also benefits the environment (weee!!). How is that? Well, because a product is only made when someone actually wants it, no overstock product is wasted if it doesn’t sell, the product doesn’t need to travel to the warehouse, and it doesn’t need space in a warehouse.

How Does it Work?

There are an infinite number of ways that POD products are created, but generally they fall into 2 major categories.

Manufactured then Printed: The item is already assembled with a designated printable area. The design can be printed onto the item directly or the print is on a film and then applied to the item. Examples would be mugs, tumblers, hard plastic items, metal items, etc.

Printed then Manufactured: A raw material, such as fabric, is printed with the desired pattern and then the finished product is sewn together. Examples would be clothing, purses, zipper pouches, tote bags, etc.

It is certainly possible that a product could fit into either category depending on how the item is manufactured, these are just examples of typical items. For instance, clothing can be preassembled and then printed when ordered or it can be printed, cut, and then assembled (as in the examples above).

POD Companies

You may not have realized that there are some pretty big POD companies that have been around for quite a while. Did you ever order custom invitations, announcements, or holiday cards from a company like Vistaprint? How about a wedding album or brag book from Shutterfly or Snapfish? Those are a few companies that have been using the POD model for decades.

In the past, POD was limited to flat items that could fit in a printer (paper, plastic films, etc.), but printing technology has grown and evolved with technology and there are a lot more options available. There is a class of printers known as Direct-to-Garment (DTG) printers that do exactly as their name says, they print directly on t-shirts, hats, jackets, pillows, etc. In additional to those advancements in technology, many POD companies now also offer Manufacturing On Demand, where they print the fabric or raw materials and then assemble the finished product, which is exactly how Elkberry products are made!

Is this the same as Drop Shipping?

No, but we do use Drop Shipping, too! Drop Shipping just means that the product ships directly to the customer as soon as it’s ready without having to come to us in between. But don’t worry, if there are any issues with shipping, let us know and we’ll help get those sorted out! For more information on shipping, check out our Shipping Policies.

Why am I reading this?

Here at Elkberry we have a large number of items that are Printed and/or Manufactured On Demand and then sent directly to the customer (dropshipped) whenever an order is placed. The order goes to one of our printing partners depending on the item. If multiple items are ordered, it could be that the order is sent to a few printing partners if those items are manufactured by different companies. For instance, most of our wallets and handbags are made by one manufacturer and our zipper pouches and tote bags are made by a different manufacturer. This doesn’t slow down your goodies one bit, you just might get them in a few packages as they are finished, rather than one big package.

We’re proud to be able to offer a wide range of goodies with all of our patterns and pass on the savings and environmental benefits to you! You can check them all out here! We’re always striving to make better decisions and choices, so if you know of an alternative or any other questions just let us know!