If you want to start your own apparel line, one of the questions you’ll come across is: Where will you get fulfillment from?

Maybe you’ve already found a wholesaler with premium quality garments — like Bella + Canvas — that you want to use to bring your custom designs to life. But what is the best service to help you achieve that vision and personalize blank designs with your custom designs?

If you’re currently pondering these questions, you’ll be debating between using a Print on Demand company (POD) or working with a local print shop.

To help you determine which option may be best for your business, we teamed up with Stoked On Printing in Las Vegas — a print shop that offers POD fulfillment — to cover the available options. 

Here are the four elements you need to consider when choosing between a print shop or a POD company. 

Four Elements to Decide Between POD and a Print Shop

Many people starting their own apparel line or adding merch to their existing store will likely have to weigh the odds of going with a POD company or a print shop.

However, this is a big decision, and both have benefits and drawbacks, so it’s essential to know the pros and cons of each. A POD gives a more hands-off approach, but a print shop’s customization ability is unmatched.

Here’s a deeper look at the four factors you need to consider when deciding between a print-on-demand and a print shop.

Available Time To Invest In the Business

When debating between a POD and print shop, the first thing to consider is: Is this for your full-time gig or a side hustle? The amount of time you dedicate to your business can be a simple deciding factor when choosing a service.

If you don’t have time to be hands-on, you’ll want to go the POD route since it’s all automated. You do the work upfront with creating designs, getting your website ready, and choosing your products. However, once that is done, you can sit back and let the POD service handle the rest.

Meanwhile, if you’re doing the fulfillment, it’s going to take a lot more of your time and dedication as you’ll be handling orders, shipping them out, managing stock, and so on. So this point in and of itself may be your deciding factor.

But there is a financial component that comes along with this too.

What Is Your Budget?

Creating a budget can be tricky. On paper, the cost per shirt is generally cheaper if you go with a print shop. You can get a shirt printed for $4 at a print shop, whereas it may be $14 at a POD company.

However, it would be best to consider how much you can invest upfront.

If you have money to buy in bulk and know that your target audience will buy this product, then go with a print shop to save money. If you have no money to buy in bulk (and maybe you’re new to the retail world and don’t have an audience built up yet), then paying more per shirt without having to hold inventory that may or may not sell could be the more financially responsible thing for you. 

What Is the Number of Units You’re Selling?

This factor goes with the last point. If you’re ordering bulk, depending on the number of colors, it’s hard to beat going with a print shop. The pricing per unit will drop, and you can produce the product for less cost.

Using a print shop would be a great way to shave down your costs if you’re trying to run promotions by doing drops where you release a new design or product for a limited time. 

However, you may find a happy hybrid where you start a design with POD. Then, when the design is widespread, and you know it will sell, you can order bulk from your print shop to save some money.  This way, you don’t have to hold on to the stock of an item that may or may not sell.


The last factor to consider when choosing between a print shop and a POD is the customization you want for your products.

Using a POD restricts you to what products you can choose between, the placement of your design, and a few other factors because setting their systems for high efficiency.

If you are looking for more unique approaches to design placement, a more comprehensive range of products, or using some specialty inks,  you’ll want to go with a print shop.

Additionally, the methods of printing a POD and print shop use may be different. For example, a print shop may use screen printing, which can be great for larger batches. A print shop will also give you more customization.

However, if you want more hands-off, simple designs upfront, a POD that uses direct-to-garment printing (DTG) will still be suitable.

Overall, it’s best to ask the POD or print shop what services — and printing methods — they offer. Therefore, it helps determine if they suit your business needs.

Choosing a POD or Print Shop for Your Business

There’s a lot to take into account and consider when choosing a print service for your business — from your available time to invest in your business, to your budget, to the number of units you’re selling, to the level of customization you want.

Take some time to consider your business needs and the amount of time and money you want to invest. Then, consider the specific kinds of designs you want on your garments. These factors will help you determine if a print-on-demand or print shop is the best choice.

We hope these different scenarios help you better understand what might be best for our business!

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POD vs. Print Shop
If you want to start your own apparel line, one of the questions you’ll come across is: Where will you get fulfillment from?
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