To make up for the lack of live shows, 2020 was a big year for online streaming. The growth as the number of paid subscriptions increased by 24% in early 2020, and lots of music was released during the pandemic. Many of my clients started pouring out singles and releasing them throughout the year – so we got to working on how we could make these releases a fun experience for the fans – beyond just listening to it on Spotify or Apple.
One strategy was using the on-demand printing service, Printful, to create merch specifically around a single release for a limited time. The major artists do this all the time – they get you hyped up about a new release and create unique merch around it. However, you don’t always want to invest in 100s of items, so using the on-demand services is ideal. There are some things I learned along the way. Here are the pros and cons of using on-demand printing that I feel are most important to understand, whether for a release or in general.
1. Limited items – You are limited to the merchandise that the on-demand printer can offer. That can sometimes be frustrating if you’d like to offer something unique.
2. Profit Margins – You may have to increase the cost of your items to your customers in order to make a decent profit margin, but you have total control on how much you want to make.
3. Return management – It can sometimes be trickier since you’re depending on a third party to process a refund to you in order to refund a customer if there’s an issue. That’s why it’s important to have a clear return policy on your store site that benefits you. Most of the time though, the on-demand printer will want to work with you because they only make money when you do!
1. No Bulk Orders – The obvious one here is you don’t need to place orders of 100s of items to be able to offer merch in your store. So, you don’t have to worry about having boxes of merch that doesn’t sell sitting in your closet.
2. Inventory Management – You don’t have to worry if you will sell out of an item because it’s all on-demand. Plus you save the headache of having to count and keep track of what was sold / not sold.
3. Design Experimentation – You’re able to explore as many designs as you want, and in turn offer that to your followers. However, I do recommend having a limit of items. You don’t want to overwhelm your shoppers!
4. Fulfillment is a breeze – Never go to a post office again or deal with packing up envelopes of shirts. You can even customize your products and packaging with your branding with Printful, so there’s no sign that it’s coming from a third party.
It’s been really fun to be able to play with new merch items for my clients’ stores without having to invest in boxes of merch. We’ve learned that some things sell really well, and some things do not. So, go ahead and head over to Printful (or another on-demand printing service) and see what merch items you can create today!