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Blog / Beginner's handbook / How to Dropship Personalized Products: The Ultimate Guide

Beginner's handbook

How to Dropship Personalized Products: The Ultimate Guide

How to Dropship Personalized Products: The Ultimate Guide
Ilze Elizabete Strazda

By Ilze Elizabete Strazda

11 min read

If you’re researching how to start your online business, you’ve probably heard a lot about dropshipping. It’s a good ecommerce business model for beginners since it’s not overly complicated and doesn’t require a ton of cash for an upfront investment.

In fact, over the past few years, it’s become extremely popular with ecommerce entrepreneurs for exactly those reasons—the low starting and overhead costs associated with running a dropshipping business.

After all, it sounds pretty easy, right? You start a business selling products manufactured by a third-party supplier and that way, you don’t have to worry about the hassles of inventory management or dealing with order fulfillment and shipping.

But, as always, there’s a catch. Stats for the dropshipping industry look impressive—in 2023, the global dropshipping market reached $284.6B and is expected to hit $351.8B this year. But those numbers also mean that if you plan to start your dropshipping business, the competition will be through the roof.

So, what can you do to stand out? Three words: personalized dropshipping products. In this article, we’ll talk all about how to start dropshipping personalized products—how to choose trending products, how to personalize them with print-on-demand, and how to start selling. 

Without further ado, let’s get into it.

Can you dropship personalized products?

The short answer: yes. But let’s start with the basics. What are personalized products, and why should you sell them?

Personalized products are custom clothing or decor items with unique designs tailored to individual customer preferences. For example, when you allow a customer to send in a phrase or a photo and you incorporate that into the product design, that’s what selling personalized products is.

Personalization has been on the upswing in recent years, with more and more customers specifically seeking out custom and original items.

It became especially apparent during the Covid-19 pandemic that shoppers wanted personalized experiences and custom items and were willing to pay a premium. For example, a 2021 McKinsey report on personalization showed that companies offering personalized items and services generated 40% more revenue from those activities than average businesses.

This means offering personalized product options is a good way to stand out in the saturated dropshipping market. There are many dropshippers, but the number of sellers who offer personalized dropshipping products is significantly smaller. So, selling customized items might just be the clothing niche that brings you success.

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Personalized dropshipping product examples

We’ve gone over what personalized products are and why the customization process is key to creating a successful dropshipping business. Now, let’s check out a few examples of personalized dropshipping products you can sell on your online store.

T-shirts

One of the best personalized products to sell with dropshipping is the good old t-shirt. It’s a practical everyday apparel item that works great for personal use or as a gift. Plus, its enduring popularity means it’s likely to be one of the best-selling customized products on your online store.

a collage of a man and a womanSource: Printful

Let’s look at a cool example of how to customize products for your target audience. Retro t-shirts are all the rage in 2024, and Etsy shop ModPawsUS has found a way to put a fun spin on the trend. They create personalized products by offering the customer to add their pet photos to the retro design.

Here’s how it works. The customer orders the shirt and emails the pictures they want added to the design, as well as their order number, to an email address provided to them. The shirt is then printed, packed, and shipped out, and the outcome is a unique product with a lot of personal value. The customer will be able to remember their beloved pet with custom products like this, and it can work great as a gift, too.

a person wearing a t-shirt with cats on itSource: ModPawsUS on Etsy

Mugs

Another great category to consider when dropshipping personalized products is mugs. Much like t-shirts, these are practical, everyday items that people love purchasing to show off their interests, hobbies, or personality. Mugs make endearing gifts, too, so they can be a good item to market during the holidays—Christmas, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, you name it.

a woman holding a mugSource: Printful

Here’s another example of how to customize your products. Personalization doesn’t always have to be complex or include elaborate designs. Below is a mug from the Etsy shop TheCustomiseCompany—it’s a simple, elegant, premium mug with a person’s name printed on it. Pretty neat, right?

a hand holding a mug with a paper and shredded paperSource: TheCustomiseCompany on Etsy

You can also tap into your shoppers’ love for the place they come from. That’s how the Estonian brand Muhoov does it. Muhoov, which means my backyard in Estonian, is a brand that allows you to show off your love for your neighborhood or city. You can have any place name you want printed on a product.

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Even simple personalization with text-based designs can be incredibly effective if done right. That’s why it’s important to know your niche and target audience well—if you know what your customers want, you’ll be able to deliver it.

Hoodies and sweatshirts

Last but not least—hoodies and sweatshirts. When you’re planning to start dropshipping personalized products, these are some classic must-have items to add to your store. You can market them all year round or do special collections during the holiday season.

a collage of a man and a woman blowing bubblesSource: Printful

Here’s an inspiring example from the Etsy shop TypeCityCo. This shop offers to embroider photos of loved ones—partners, children, siblings, and parents. Similar to the example we looked at for the t-shirt category, you can send in your photo via Etsy messages and have it embroidered on the product.

Just like photos of pets, photos of family printed on a hoodie or a sweatshirt give the product emotional and sentimental value to the customer. Plus, if you go with custom embroidery, it’ll make the product look and feel more luxurious.

a grey sweatshirt with a picture on itSource: TypeCityCo on Etsy

How to dropship personalized products: 5 steps

Now that we’ve gone over the dropshipping process and looked at a few examples, let’s go through the steps of how you can start dropshipping personalized products.

Select customizable dropshipping products

First, you’ll have to find a reliable dropshipping supplier and select the products you want to sell. When you’re looking for dropshipping suppliers, two of the most important things you’ll have to look out for are reliability and product quality. Take a look at seller reviews and check out the supplier’s product catalog—in short, research before settling on a supplier.

a collage of people posing for the cameraSource: Printful

If you want to sell personalized products with reliable suppliers, your best option is to use print-on-demand services. Usually, dropshipping suppliers only manufacture and ship out the products, while print-on-demand providers offer way more customization options for your products. You’ll be able to add your unique designs and improve customer satisfaction with personalized packaging.

Not quite sure how print-on-demand works? Check out the video.

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For example, a print-on-demand provider like Printful is a solid choice—we’ve been in business for over 10 years and have become one of the leading print-on-demand companies in the world. Printful offers over 300 products that you can customize with different techniques. This means you’ll have a lot of options to experiment with new products.

Plus, we ship out more than 1 million orders each month and have a low reshipment rate of just 0.24%, so your personalized products will be in good hands with us.

a woman sitting on the floor looking at a mirrorSource: Printful

Design products

Once you’ve researched your dropshipping suppliers and chosen the right one for your business, it’s time to think about the designs.

Designing engaging artwork will be extremely important in building a successful online business. If you’re a designer and thinking about design ideas, it’s good to look at what’s trending in the fashion world or on social media platforms. If you’re working with print-on-demand, you should pay attention to trends because print-on-demand allows you to react to them quickly.

a collage of different designsSource: Printful

See a popular meme or a joke traveling around TikTok? Incorporate it in your designs and start selling it the same day. Once the joke gets old, you can just remove the products from your store. Since you’re not managing inventory, you can make use of online trends without worrying about dead stock.

However, if designing isn’t your strong suit, there are many ways to get cool designs without having to create them yourself. You can also hire someone to work on the designs for you. Check this article to learn how you can find a designer to create stunning designs for your online shoppers.

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Add custom branding

Dropshipping personalized products is great, but combining that with custom-branded dropshipping is even better. Adding custom branding to your personalized products or custom packaging will create a more personalized experience for your target audience and might help increase customer loyalty and retention.

With Printful, you have a bunch of customization options. Like many private label suppliers and print-on-demand platforms, Printful allows you to add your brand logo to your products. Adding your brand logo to your personalized products will create a more refined look and give your brand more visibility.

a group of clothing on shelvesSource: Printful

If you want to tailor the customer experience even more, you can also use personalized packaging for your custom products. With Printful, you can add a custom packaging slip message, packaging inserts (a thank-you note or a sticker, for example), or use your unique packaging.

a hand holding a packageSource: Printful

Set up an online store

You have your dropshipping suppliers figured out, you know what products and designs you want to sell, and you’ve looked into custom branding options. What’s next?

When you have all that figured out, it’s time to create your online store on an ecommerce platform or marketplace. Like finding the right supplier, settling on the right platform for your dropshipping products will play a huge role in your business success.

a laptop on a tableSource: Unsplash

Pay attention to what kind of online businesses the platform of your choice caters to. If you’re a beginner, you’d do well on user-friendly platforms like Shopify or Etsy that don’t take too long to set up. Note that Etsy allows dropshipping products only if they are handmade, antique items, or craft supplies. Print-on-demand products do fall under this category; regular dropshipping products might not.

When you’re starting a personalized product store, check out the costs involved in running the store. Ecommerce platforms and marketplaces will have fees to consider: subscription, transaction fees, shipping costs, and more. Plus, make sure your chosen platform allows you to sell personalized products.

There are many platforms to choose from, and it can get a bit overwhelming. If you’re feeling confused, you can look at our overview of all ecommerce platforms Printful integrates with. Researching beforehand will help you make a smart decision that works for you in the long run.

Start selling

Once you have all that done, you can start dropshipping personalized products! After setting up your store, it’s important to think about selling and marketing strategies. You can check out our Printful Academy for marketing resources, for example, how to take awesome product photos and videos on a budget or how to promote your products on social media.

a screenshot of a web pageSource: Printful

Remember that personalized products make great gifts, so be sure to follow all popular holidays and adjust your marketing materials around them. You can download a free ecommerce holiday calendar on the Printful Blog and use that as a reference.

Learn more about ecommerce with Printful

When you’re building an ecommerce store selling personalized dropshipping products, it’s important to keep up with industry news and trends. If you’re following the latest ecommerce news, you’ll be able to optimize your store and adapt to changes in the online commerce landscape quickly.

Printful, as one of the leading print-on-demand providers, has partnerships with many ecommerce giants, like Shopify, Etsy, and WooCommerce. If you want to keep your ear to the ground, we can be a great help.

On the Printful Blog, you’ll find valuable articles about all things online commerce—starting from finding the right tools for your store to things like ecommerce statistics or marketing and design trends. If you’re planning to dropship personalized products, knowledge of such topics can help you make informed decisions about what’s best for your store.

a screenshot of a websiteSource: Printful

If you’ve decided to sell personalized dropshipping products with Printful as your print-on-demand provider, you’ll also find our YouTube channel useful. There’s plenty of great content there, including tutorials about integrations and designing and videos showing our product quality, order fulfillment process, and more.

Ready to start selling?

Alright, now you’re ready to start dropshipping personalized products. Remember, this business model has its pros and cons. Unlike the retail business model, it won’t take as much upfront investment to start your print-on-demand shop selling personalized products. However, there are many dropshippers, and you’ll face some tough competition.

But that doesn’t mean dropshipping personalized products is impossible. You’ll have to think hard about finding the right niche markets for your custom products.

Think of how you can make your product stand out. Will you focus on the beautiful artwork of your customers’ pets? Or perhaps you’ll focus on humor and create witty text-based designs? It’s important to find the right angle for your target audience.

Good luck on your dropshipping journey! 

author

By Ilze Elizabete Strazda on Jul 8, 2024

Ilze Elizabete Strazda

Guest author

Ilze Elizabete is a freelance writer with a background in law and international relations. In her free time, Ilze is an avid reader and painter.

Ilze Elizabete is a freelance writer with a background in law and international relations. In her free time, Ilze is an avid reader and painter.