print on demand
marketplace monitoring

How do print on demand services work?

Print on demand services are popular but not without risks for brands. Find out how print on demand services work, what kind of risks they pose for brands and customers, and how to eliminate those risks with a comprehensive online brand protection program.

As the name suggests, print on demand businesses print something when there’s a demand. This something can be anything: the services range from books through mugs and cell phone cases to clothing items. But the most popular category of print on demand services is undoubtedly T-shirts.

The concept is simple: you create a design online and it gets printed and delivered to you, or you push the design through to a storefront like Shopify and people can buy it.

Many service providers offer print on demand T-shirts to designers eager to see their work come to life. Teespring, Redbubble, Spreadshirt, Teepublic, Zazzle and CafePress are just a few examples of this buzzing industry. And let’s not forget about a major player here: Merch by Amazon.

Most providers offer varying services. Some “only” print the shirts while the biggest companies, especially Merch by Amazon take care of everything apart from creating the actual designs. This everything includes a website, production, storage, shipping, even marketing and ads. Pretty impressive, right?

How to use print on demand

Most print on demand services like Printify will have an online tool that allows the customer to upload their design and then see a preview of it on their chosen garment. Designs in popular image formats like jpg and PNG can easily be uploaded onto things like T-shirts and canvas bags.

The next steps

After the design stage there are two options. A regular consumer can have the one product sent out to them with their chosen design. If a print on demand service is being used by a dropshipper, they may have multiple designs and push them through to an online storefront like Shopify. Most print on demand services only work with fulfillment, so the actual online shop would need to be made on another platform.

Copyright infringement made easy

That all sounds great for emerging T-shirt designers. But what are the risks here? There are many, especially for brands with well-known intellectual property like a recognisable logo.

Because what is there to stop a designer from copying-and-pasting a brand’s logo on their T-shirt?

Screenshot of plain T-shirt pattern on printify.com
Screenshot of T-shirt pattern on printify.com with a brand logo from Nike being copied on it

While some print on demand services and marketplaces maintain a copyright protection policy (like Merch by Amazon), others are not so thorough. But even with such a policy in place, products may slip through the cracks and damage brands in several ways.

1, Loss of revenue

Why buy an expensive branded T-shirt when you can get a cheaper one that has the exact same logo on it? Customers may not even know they’re not buying an original branded product when they encounter a self-designed “brand” T-shirt on a marketplace.

Astonishingly, designers who use brand imagery without authorization can earn over 10.000 € per month with fake branded products. It’s a considerable loss for brands that can only be prevented with a state-of-the-art online brand protection program in place.

2, Loss of trust

Remember those customers who thought they got the deal of a lifetime when they purchased a cheap “branded” T-shirt? Well, they’re in for a bad surprise when the quality of the product fails to live up to their expectation, or if the service they encounter by the seller is not exactly the one they’d expect from the brand itself.

While none of this is the brand’s fault, the blame may still fall back on them when angry and disappointed customers take to social media to air their opinions. Such an event can have lasting consequences on a brand’s reputation that are best avoided with the help of online brand protection experts.

3, A distorted presence on the marketplace

A brand’s online and marketplace presence is a very important part of its image. With the diminishing role of physical retail, even more so.

However, distortions like counterfeit products, grey market structures and any other kind of copyright infringements damage a brand’s smooth online and marketplace presence. These are not minor problems; the resulting loss of control and image can have serious consequences for brands.

But detecting such distortions is difficult for brands themselves. After all, the internet is endless and the number and size of online marketplaces keeps growing every day.

This is where online brand protection experts come in. With highly personalized services like marketplace monitoring, globaleyez can help you detect and eliminate threats to the flawless online and marketplace presence of your brand. Contact us and tell us about your brand protection needs.

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