On Demand Printing: Between Technological Advancement and E-Commerce Opportunities Part 1

The concept of on demand printing is becoming more and more common nowadays. Custom T-shirts, stickers, coffee cups, mugs, etc. everything can be custom-made using different types of on demand printing techniques 

This article is focused on t-shirts since this product represents the majority of sales but on demand printing also concerns sweaters, caps, hats, polo shirts, etc. 

The technology

Rather than printing a multitude of t-shirts in a single print run, on demand printing generates one print for each order. By digitally printing, on demand printing reduces the initial cost of printing and allows merchants to sell designs on their e-stores without having physical stocks.   

The real catalyst for this evolution is digital printing. On demand printing providers are nowadays offering to designers, e-merchants, and graphic designers, the possibility of creating their designsOn demand printing normally entails a slightly higher cost per t-shirt to print, but the fact that there is no need to have stock largely compensates for this small inconvenience.  

 Evolution of technology and therefore of the economy

On demand printing has led to a major change in the way t-shirts are created and sold. Every year, the number of on demand printing e-commerce stores continues to grow. However, it should not be assumed that this method will supplant mass textile printing. Major brands will continue to manage stocks and sell already marked t-shirts, sweatshirts, jackets or other products in stores.  

On demand printing reflects changes in the way we produce and sell our products. To fully understand this evolution, some fundamental concepts of the web are to be mentioned: 

  • Web 1.0: At the beginning of the Internet, it was primarily a static means for businesses and organizations to disseminate data and sell products and services. 
  • Web 2.0 – was the next generation of the Internet, Web 2.0, that marked the beginning of the modern era of social connectivity. The Internet has moved from static pages to dynamic pages. Internet users began to interact directly, rather than individually connecting to static websites. Web 2.0 has fostered connections between Internet users such as social networks and forums. 

In the first version (Web 1.0), companies connected directly to people through static Web pages. In the second phase, we have companies that facilitate connections between people through so-called dynamic web pages.  

Currently, we are approaching Web 3.0. This third phase of the Internet is sometimes referred to as “Semantic Web”. What is changing is the framework. Individuals share and borrow content, which makes much of the web content largely scalable.  

What is to retain from this third phase is the fact that it has never been easier to create online content: website, graphic editor, text management, calculation tools, etc. 

With such evolution, there is a change in the way people buy online. For example, Amazon is a site where you find thousands and thousands of products. When you need a lamp, a computer screen or accessories for your pets, Amazon is there. But what about when you need something unique? Personalized gifts, independent music group, clothing, etc.  

On demand printing is a boon for t-shirt designers. And this is useful for many other entities: nonprofit organizations can sell calendars to raise funds, start-ups can personalize clothing…