Print-on-Demand vs Dropshipping: A Definitive Guide to Choose the Best Way to Sell Online in 2022

Print-on-Demand vs Dropshipping: A Definitive Guide to Choose the Best Way to Sell Online in 2022

If you are looking for the best way to sell online, the post is exactly where you need to be. Print-on-demand vs dropshipping will tell you the direct answer:

Maybe you have learned our AliExpress dropshipping guide and know what exactly dropshipping is as well as its pros and cons. Moreover, you may have heard of print on demand before you read the article. However, you might not know what they involve.

What’s more, there are many elements in common, so you may be confused about whether they have something different and which one is more profitable to start an online business. No hurry, keep reading, you will get the right answer.

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Print on Demand vs Dropshipping: Know the Basics

Before knowing more details, let’s learn the brief aspects of print-on-demand and dropshipping first.

Print on demand is a way allowing you to customize your products when selling online. In other words, you can design a unique logo or brand name for your products. Similar to branded dropshipping, print-on-demand makes you find private label products to sell if you do not want to deal with the stock, shipping, and packing of the products. To learn more about print-on-demand, go here.

Print on demand

Dropshipping, however, is a fulfillment method. With it, you can become a seller, without keeping an inventory in stock. What you are going to sell are products your suppliers manufactured or sold under their design or brand. That is to say, you are selling a product that already exists through a platform.

Now you have an initial understanding of print-on-demand and dropshipping. But you may still not know their differences and similarities. Let’s continue to read the next part to get to know.

Print on Demand vs Dropshipping: Differences and Similarities

dropshipping vs print on demand

Why do you need to know the differences and similarities between print-on-demand and dropshipping? It matters how you sell online and how much you possibly earn.

1. Similarities

  • Both print-on-demand and dropshipping allow you to sell a wholesaler’s or manufacture’s products through your own e-commerce platforms.
  • You do not need to deal with the product stocks with the two business models.
  • You have to find suppliers to fulfill your orders.
  • You need an e-commerce platform, such as Shopify, to sell online.
  • You can have different suppliers for one kind of your product.

2. Differences

The biggest difference between print-on-demand and dropshipping is whether you sell your own designs or not. As I mentioned above, print-on-demand service companies provide you with the opportunity to design your products. Moreover, if you cannot come up with a great design idea, there will be plenty of designers helping you do the job.


However, with dropshipping, you are selling the products that have been manufactured. In other words, you cannot change the shapes or logos of the products. Thus, it’s difficult for you to build your own brand awareness. The good thing is that dropshipping allows those who want to start a side business or have limited time and budget to first time sell online at the lower risk.

Another difference is the order fulfillment. Print-on-demand enables you to run everything on the back end. When you receive the order, your designated supplier will receive the order on the back end in the meanwhile. However, during dropshipping, you’re the middleman who receives orders from your customers and places orders to your suppliers. Unlike the print-on-demand module, you have to process orders manually and let your suppliers fulfill the order in time. Thanks to dropshipping solutions like DSers, the whole dropshipping process only requires a few clicks by you.

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Print on Demand vs Dropshipping: Pros and Cons

After learning the similarities and differences, let’s explore the advantages and disadvantages of print on demand and dropshipping now. Let’s start with print-on-demand.

1. Print on Demand


  • Low start-up costs: Your print-on-demand business only needs a great design and an internet connection. Thus, it’s cheap and easy to have one.
  • Control over product design: You sell your designs with print-on-demand. It gives you the freedom that comes with complete creative control.
  • Easy to try out new designs: You can try out a new design for free with print-on-demand. When coming up with an idea you’re not sure about, you can offer it for sale before being manufactured and see if you get any profits.


  • Pay more than wholesale: You will need to pay more compared to buying it wholesale since the printer will charge you for the garment, the printing, and the shipping of the products.
  • Shipping costs might be high: Shipping costs will depend on where the printing company is based and where your customer lives. It will be high sometimes since you cannot find a print company as you prefer.
  • Limited products: You only get a limited range of products from the printing companies due to the intricacies of the printing process.
  • A third party: You have to rely on a third party who processes and ships orders for you to act on your behalf. However, any problems coming up along the way will still be your responsibility.

Next, let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of dropshipping.

2. Dropshipping


  • Control over your site: You can customize your website and have the freedom to build it from the ground up.
  • Larger range of products: You can offer anything you prefer. You are selling products from wholesalers who have a warehouse full of stock. And, you can find different wholesalers for one kind of product. Thus, the range of the product is up to you.
  • Low risks: You need to pay for an item only you have bought it, so there will not be high risks of losing money.
  • Easy to maintain: With dropshipping tools, like DSers, you can add new products to your store with one click, place 100s orders at one time as well as process your orders automatically.


  • Requires more attention: Although it’s great that your suppliers will fulfill the orders for you, you will need to pay more attention to make sure that everything runs as smoothly as possible.
  • Shipping costs can be high: Just like the print on demand, shipping costs can add up if you sell to a worldwide customer base.
  • Can’t customize products: There is a limitation to design and customize the products since you buy products that have already been manufactured.
  • Stock shortages: There will be more than one seller to sell the suppliers’ products. Thus, sometimes items you offer might suffer from sudden stock shortages.

Print on Demand vs Dropshipping: Which Is More Profitable

So print-on-demand vs dropshipping, which is more profitable? I answer it in a short sentence: It depends. Both two business models are profitable in different aspects. Which is more profitable for you depends on your business.

In the short term, I would say dropshipping is more profitable and risk-free. It needs lower shipping costs enabling you to offer your customers free shipping without eating up much of your profit margins. Also, it provides you with lower product prices allowing you to charge market value to ensure a profit.

However, in the long run, print-on-demand can be super profitable. Especially if you’re working hard at the beginning to find great design, brand identity and put your excellent and unique creations on marketing strategies to get more sales.

Bottom Line

We come to the end of the post. Let me make a summary. Print on demand is a printing service and dropshipping is a business model. Both the two ways can take the burden of storage and shipping off your hands.

Although they have differences, most companies offering print-on-demand services will also dropship the items for an additional fee. And some dropshipping companies also hope to dropship custom printed goods.

What I would like to say is: Print-on-demand vs dropshipping: which one to choose? The choice is ultimately up to you. After learning, I hope you have known enough to make an educated decision. There are both benefits and drawbacks of print-on-demand and dropshipping. What you need to do is to start now. Good luck to your online business in 2022.

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