If you just had a look on the shop before reading this, you probably noticed the variety of items on offer. Besides the many printable files that you can just download for free, you may also have seen posters and mugs of many topics and sizes. If you come back in a few months or weeks, you'll probably find much more stuff. I'm currently working to make that possible.
What is on-demand manufacturing?
Before anything, you must know that all products offered on this website are manufactured on demand. That means that there is no previous stock of the many different items, and they are simply produced automatically once someone requests it. Summarizing: every time you purchase a product, a fulfillment centre takes charge of manufacturing it specially for you.
In the specific case of my website, basic products already exist in manufacturing centres that Printful has distributed across Europe and the US. They simply take care of printing the requested design on paper sheets and mugs of the selected size. These logistic centres are also in charge of sending your purchase to wherever you are.
Benefits of on-demand manufacturing
Indeed, an item produced on demand may have a higher cost than mass-produced ones. Most of the times, this will have an effect on the final price of the product.
Nevertheless, this method of manufacturing has many benefits: to begin, under this system, a vendor doesn't need to have large quantities of items before starting to sell. In consequence, this is specially advantageous for small businesses and also for people who are starting an activity whose economic viability is still unknown. With this method, the business owner doesn't need to worry if a product doesn't perform well, nor should he or she worry about having enough stock if a specific item surprisingly has more demand than expected.
For the same reason, this system is also more respectful with the environment, since there is no need of producing items that may not be sold in the future.
Is on-demand manufacturing the future of trade?
As you have seen, this method has both advantages and disadvantages. During the last decade, this system of manufacturing has become more popular due to the rise of e-commerce. In countries like the US, on-demand production has gained ground in areas such as fashion, jewelry and even food. Some predict this system will slowly become more common in the coming years.