The Print on Demand (POD) journey can be a rocky road for some, and there are many other obstacles. It will be difficult to avoid them entirely; the competition is numerous and the industry is not very forgiving. However, you can prepare yourself to get through the difficulties by consolidating your branding project as much as possible, especially with the right definition of your niche.
So what is the niche?
In short, it is a specialised market in which you will choose to illustrate yourself to attract the attention of a specific audience. For example, pet products are a market; geeky pet products, on the other hand, can be designated as a niche. The same goes for eco-friendly baby clothes or water bottles with motivational messages for running enthusiasts.
You can choose between two distinct types of niches: the product niche, devoted exclusively to a single product that can be declined in your shop around different themes, and the subject niche, the latter focusing on a particular theme illustrated by a varied range of products within your shop.
Given the scale of the giants that are currently present in the online retail market, it is important for any fledgling business to stick to a specific offering to better reach consumers. We've all tried to please everyone in our lives, haven't we? During our teenage years, for example. We all learned quickly that this is not possible.
In the case of Print on Demand, this statement could not be more true. It will be much easier for you to reach a small audience in need of ultra-specialised products, which are normally difficult to find, than to sell common products and not be visible because you cannot offer attractive prices to generalist suppliers and their unbeatable prices. Moreover, as your product is rarer than others, you can afford to increase your margin significantly, a very (very) unpleasant prospect.
Targeting the right audience is therefore a major aspect of building a profitable business, so let's take a look at how to define an effective niche.
Your life: the most important source of inspiration
What could be more fulfilling than working in a sector you are passionate about? Even better: being your own boss?
This is exactly what you can do if you take care to choose a profitable niche, starting with your life, your passions, your experiences. What are the tastes that make you special? Are there particular products that you have searched for on the internet, to no avail (or found results but too rare or too expensive)? All these questions should be asked when choosing your specialisation. You yourself are part of many niches, so why not take inspiration from them? Moreover, taking part in them will be a real motivation to get involved in the development of your brand. It will also be much easier to understand the nuances of your niche if you already know it from the inside.
Make yourself your greatest influence, and your Print on Demand experience will be all the more rewarding and sincere. Go for it, I promise, there will be no regrets.
Market research: your best ally
In Wonderland, you would follow your instincts and choose an ideal niche in a matter of minutes, and then end up in great wealth and happiness following a dazzling success. But that's not where we are: the competition here is tough and substantial, so it will be essential to carry out market research before launching your brand.
Market research is a way of taking the temperature by conducting your own survey to identify promising niches. Obviously, you don't have time to scan the entire web, that's normal; don't worry, some tools have been specially designed to help you in this process.
For example, you can't talk about market research without mentioning Google Trends; very useful and easy to use, this tool will allow you to find out which topics are in the news recently, and even in which countries, since when, etc. You can also test certain keywords to see how popular they are. One of the topics you're interested in has skyrocketed in popularity in recent years? Go for it: be responsive before it's too late.
In another style, the Trendhunter website lists the latest innovative products, concepts and other business ideas that are popular with the public. The aim here is not to copy, but to draw inspiration from themes and market segments that seem to be popular with consumers recently.
Keep an eye on your competitors
It's perfectly normal to have competitors, even when you're part of a niche: if you didn't, you'd have something to worry about.
This rarely means that you've had the idea of the century before anyone else, but rather that this idea has already been exploited but hasn't worked for one or more good reasons. Conversely, avoid choosing a niche where your competitors are too numerous. In short, the goal is: not too much, not too little. It's a balancing act, but once you've got it right, your foundations will be solid.
Your competitors can also be a useful source of inspiration. Pay attention to the strengths and weaknesses of those you're up against: in their business, what would you improve?
What would you do differently?
What do you find satisfactory?
You can also check out forums and groups on social networks to find out about the needs, opinions and criticisms of communities passionate about your niche. From these findings, you can gradually build the values and qualities that will define YOUR business.
Print on Demand is a sales mechanism that can bring a lot of resources, but also a lot of frustration. It really depends on how it is used.
Our daily mission? To ensure that you have all the tools you need to master the POD system and make the most of it. We hope that this guide has helped you to clarify your e-commerce project and to get on the right track. If you want to go further in building your brand, please feel free to consult our more general guide at this address.
Have a good trip and good sales!