Until the1990s, personalized products were mainly restricted to business entities. They used various merchandise with their brand logo and design for marketing and publicity. A limited number of showcase products and gift items like diaries and key chains, bottle openers, penknives, and pen stands, pens, and coffee mugs were among the standard promotional merchandise used for business promotion.
At that time, the business models were quite traditional until the new millennium ushered in the digital revolution that sowed the seeds for e-commerce businesses that completely changed customers’ shopping experience.
The convenience of shopping any time and from any place boosted the e-commerce businesses that became the first choice of buyers. The competition in the e-commerce space soon became so intense that it compelled the companies to provide more unique business features to attract customers.
As customers got more and newer options of buying, their expectations started increasing. Customers began focusing on new types of unique products and could help them stand out from the crowd. What could be more unique than personalizing the products with the marks of individual identity?
Customers were keen to demonstrate their aesthetic senses and creativity by choosing products designed specifically for them. From clothing to jewelry to furniture and gift items, the urge of people to seek uniqueness pushed them further towards personalization or customization.
Personalization inspired a new business model
As the emphasis on personalization kept increasing, e-commerce businesses felt the need to alter their traditional business model of selling pre-designed and pre-printed products and add a new range of personalized products to their portfolio.
Since meeting user expectations is critical to succeeding in business, the move toward selling customized or personalized products seemed entirely rational.
It resulted in making specific changes to the existing e-commerce business model to make it convenient to sell personalized products created exclusively for particular customers. Even if it means selling a single piece of the product printed according to the customer’s requirement, the company was ready to deliver it. You can check print on demand for ideas.
The POD business model
The new model of business known as the Print on demand(POD) model completely changed the conception of business based on selling products with some design preprinted on it. The earlier model gave limited options for choosing any product because it was not practicable to store a wide variety of products for cost, space, and investment. In the new model, businesses display only white-label products or bare products without anything printed on it.
You can think of it as a blank paper or canvas on which the company is ready to print any design chosen by the customer. In addition, technology helped achieve personalization goals as companies started using product personalization software that facilitated custom printing. It allowed extensive personalization, and it became possible to personalize anything from sports cars to wooden pencils.
Complete focus on personalization
Although the e-commerce platforms are the patrons of the personalization wave, a close look at the new business model will help discover some other business stakeholders. In the traditional model, e-commerce companies relied on supplies of ready-made products designed by the manufacturers.
As a result, they could offer limited choices to customers who expected more variety and indigenous designs. All this changed with the POD business model as the companies started stocking white-label items ready for printing according to the design chosen by customers.
It meant that the company had to maintain a pipeline of designs for customers to choose from and at the same time arrange for printing it on the selected product and deliver it to customers.
The stakeholders of the business
Earlier, the e-commerce companies were self-sufficient in procuring the products and selling them to customers. However, the new model demanded the inclusion of some new stakeholders in the businesses.
E-commerce companies could no more support the customer needs all by themselves. They had to partner with artists and designers to maintain a steady pipeline of designs or create customized designs and even collaborate with printers to print customized designs on the products.
Although the new stakeholders work behind the scenes, they are crucial contributors to the business’s success.
No limit to the order size
The most notable change brought about by the POD business model is that despite customization, there is no minimum order quantity. The business model is so flexible that it can even supply a single piece of a unique item.
Selling unique products is the hallmark of the business model that truly lives up to customers’ expectations who want to purchase a unique product exclusively created for them.
You might not find a similar piece of product anytime soon unless the design gains so much popularity that others feel like replicating it.
Printers provide the order fulfillment services
Another specialty of the business model is that the printer attached with the e-commerce company does much more than just printing the products. The business process stipulates that as soon as a customer chooses a white-label product and specifies the design to be printed on it, the printer receives a notification and prepares to complete the printing.
In addition, it is the responsibility of the printer to pack the product and ship it to customers to ensure delivery within the stipulated time.
Typically, the printer takes 1-2 days to complete the printing and ship the product according to the terms of the order. The simplification of the business process by using the services of the printing company to fulfill the order is indeed a new concept in e-commerce that saves delivery time and is cost-effective too.
The streamlined business model speeds up delivery while fulfilling all the needs of customization, which helps to develop customer loyalty. Customers start relying on the capabilities of the company to meet their personalization goals.
Businesses can take more risks to experiment with new designs as they need not maintain huge inventory. The win-win situation emerging from the business model is the recipe for its success.