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Blog / Beginner's handbook / Print-on-Demand Product Launch Checklist [in 13 steps]

Beginner's handbook

Print-on-Demand Product Launch Checklist: Make Each New Product Successful

Print-on-Demand Product Launch Checklist: Make Each New Product Successful
Una Berzina-Pudule

By Una Berzina-Pudule

12 min read

Launching a new print-on-demand product on your online store? The excitement is real, but so is the challenge. To ensure you don’t get lost in the maze, I’ve crafted the ultimate guide for you: a print-on-demand product launch checklist.

With this product launch checklist, navigating the bustling avenues of the print-on-demand business becomes a breeze. Whether you’re exploring who your potential customers are or mapping out a marketing plan—I’ve got you.

Ready to start this journey on the right foot? Let me show you the way!

1. Do audience research

This is one of the most important steps during your product launch journey. Through market research, you’ll uncover online shopper likes, challenges, and buying behaviors. Analyze your audience thoroughly, as you’ll need to return to these findings further down the checklist.

Social media can be your compass in this part of the adventure. Use these channels to follow trends, initiate polls, and engage directly with your target audience. It’ll help you understand the needs and pain points of the people most likely to buy your product.

This clarity ensures your product resonates right where it should, eliminating the risk of launching to an indifferent crowd.

2. Craft your product idea

With the insights from your market research, it’s time to bring your print-on-demand product to life. Audience research and social media findings should be the backbone of your product idea.

Think of it as solving a puzzle. You’ve identified what your target audience desires; now, shape your print-on-demand product to fit those preferences.

For example, you noticed that your audience is becoming more sustainability-conscious. That signals the need to add an eco-friendly product to your catalog. And, if it aligns with your brand, the design could also include a nod at eco-awareness.

hannds holding a pair printed of t-shirts on each side

Source: Printful

By truly understanding your target audience, you set the stage for a product they’ll love and want to buy. If you already have an established connection with your audience, don’t hesitate to ask them directly. You’ll get exact ideas for products your customers want, and they, in turn, will feel heard.

3. Choose product blanks and a supplier

Before venturing into designs, think about the base. Even the most captivating design will fail if printed on the wrong product.

In the print-on-demand business, t-shirts and hoodies often take center stage. Why? Due to their universal appeal across all ecommerce niches. If you want these as your new product, research the best t-shirts and hoodies for printing. Look into:

  • Customization techniquesDTG printing will be best for photographic images, while all-over printing will complement large-scale designs and patterns

  • Materials—DTG prints look best on cotton, while all-over printing is better on polyester blends

  • Reviews—look for products with positive feedback, highlighting qualities your audience wants (check in with your market research findings!)

Next up, find a trustworthy supplier. It’s crucial for maintaining things that keep your customers happy: product quality and fast deliveries.

To explore different print-on-demand products, check out our guides:

4. Create product designs

Once you’ve got your product idea, blank, and supplier, it’s time for the most fun part of the adventure. The designs!

However, if you find yourself in a creative dead end, here are some clues for drawing your next inspiration:

  • Check what’s trending—look into what’s gone viral on social media or creating a buzz on runways

  • Come back to your target audience—align your design with their interests, needs, and style

  • Go with the season—tailor your design to upcoming holidays

  • Browse our ideas—when in doubt, check out our latest t-shirt design ideas, hoodie design ideas, and other style trend compilations

For the design process, pick the tools you’re most comfortable using. If you can navigate Photoshop blindfolded, great! But if you’re still new to the design landscape, check out our Design Maker.

We’ve got thousands of pre-made graphics to bring your idea to life. Build a design from the ground up, putting together clipart, text, and other elements. Or take the fast track and use our fully customizable Quick Designs.

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5. Order product samples

Now that your designs are ready to set sail, ensure they meet your quality standards. Ordering product samples lets you inspect the items in person, ensuring they match your vision.

Consider this step your trial run. It’s your chance to assess print quality, material feel, and overall product satisfaction. During this step, you can also evaluate shipping speed. If you find any issues or room for improvement, you can address them before launching to your audience.

Product samples ensure your print-on-demand offerings meet the mark. This way, when your customers receive their orders, they’ll be thrilled with the final product.

Most print-on-demand suppliers offer sample orders at a lower price. With Printful, you can order one product sample for 20% off each month. The more orders your online store gets, the more monthly sample orders you can place.

6. Set your prices and profit margins

Testing your print-on-demand products will also help you with the next step: pricing them. After trying the product sample, you’ll have a better sense of your product’s value.

A good pricing strategy and profit margins are like packing before a mountain hike. Pack too lightly, and missing essentials could cut your adventure short. Overpack, and you risk staying behind the group while carrying the load.

But if you pick your pricing just right, you’ll stay close to (and even outrun) your competition to the summit.

To ensure you make a profit and don’t lose money, your product price needs to cover:

  • Production costs—product blank + additional charges (e.g., embroidery digitization)

  • Store costs—your platform/marketplace monthly, commission, and other fees

  • Additional costs—anything extra that went into this product (hiring designers, buying stock design elements, etc.)

Read more: How to Price Custom T-shirts

7. Write product descriptions

A product description is one of your strongest tools to drive sales. Good product descriptions have the potential to:

  • Attract more customers by appearing in the top Google Search Results

  • Improve your review score by managing customer expectations

  • Close the deal by precisely aligning your product with customer needs and pain points

In your descriptions, highlight each product’s key features, benefits, and story. Convey how owning these items can enhance your customers’ lives or reflect their style.

screenshot of a Marshall speaker product description example

Source: Marshall Headphones

Think of your descriptions as enticing stories about your merch, inviting customers to join your brand adventure. When you craft compelling product descriptions, you’re not just selling; you’re narrating an unforgettable journey.

8. Get product visuals

In today’s visually driven world, customers’ first impression of your print-on-demand products begins with what they see.

To make the most of this, ensure your product images are clear, high-resolution, and well-lit. Showcase your products from various angles, and, if possible, display them in real-life scenarios to help customers visualize their use.

Pro tip: At some point post-launch, check out your customers’ social media posts with the product. This is a gold mine for user-generated content that’ll steal the show on your product pages.

Your product visuals are your sales tools. They should capture attention and help customers understand what they’re getting. By optimizing your product visuals and leveraging social media effectively, you’re steering your print-on-demand journey toward success.

However, planning photoshoots can take time you don’t always have. In case this is an urgent launch, speed up the process by using product mockups. You can always come back to your product pages and update them with fresh visuals later.

a screenshot of a mug mockup generator

Source: Printful

9. Prep marketing materials

There’s no point in going through all that trouble developing a product if it goes unnoticed. That’s why you need marketing. To ensure your print-on-demand products receive the attention they deserve and you get more customers, follow these steps:

  1. Define your marketing strategy—craft a clear marketing plan targeting your audience (check your Step 1 findings) and leveraging different sales channels

  2. Prepare content—create eye-catching visuals and snappy copy for your marketing campaigns

  3. Tailor your materials—ensure your marketing materials are platform-specific and customer-focused

  4. Optimize for mobile devices—check if your visuals and website are mobile-friendly

  5. Create a timeline—plan out your marketing efforts with precise publishing dates

10. Kickstart the pre-launch communication

Your marketing strategy shouldn’t go live on product launch day. It should start way before that. At this stage, you’ll build buzz and anticipation around your product.

Here are ways for you to get your target audience excited about your upcoming product launch:

  • Share teasers on social media—prepare behind-the-scenes material and showcase a few details without revealing the whole product
  • Host mystery giveaways—promote the upcoming product launch with a giveaway and the new product as the prize
  • Let your audience guess the product—share polls or ask people to comment their guesses to build up your engagement rate
  • Share a countdown—keep the audience excited for your new release and let them set up reminders for the big event
  • Allow VIP access—build a relationship with your customer base by offering loyal shoppers early access to your product in exchange for a review
  • Urge people to sign up—offer shoppers early access or discount codes in exchange for signing up for your newsletter (this will come in handy in the next step!)

screenshot of Halfdays pre-launch email marketing example

Source: Halfdays

11. Maximize launch day impact

You’ve made it to the top! But the journey’s not over yet—during and following your product launch is the busiest time for your business. The shopper attention span is short, so you need to close as many sales as possible while they’re still paying attention.

a screenshot of a social media twitter X post on launch day

Source: Twitter

On launch day, your goal is to transform anticipation into action. Here’s how:

  • Double-check your product page—before the rush begins, ensure that product links work correctly, images load smoothly, and descriptions are crystal clear

  • Post social media announcements—kick things off by making noise on social media 

  • Create urgency—offer limited-time discounts on launch day to prompt immediate purchases

  • Message your email list—make use of the new leads you generated in the pre-launch stage to drive more traffic to your store

  • Host an interactive launch event—engage with your target audience in real time via livestreams, Q&A sessions, or product demonstrations

  • Be helpful—check your inbox and comment section often and answer any questions as soon as you can

12. Sustain the momentum post-launch

After the first few weeks of your product launch, things will start to quiet down. While that’s normal in ecommerce, it doesn’t mean the momentum has to die altogether.

Post little drips of communication about your product as reminders to make sure you get the most out of your new product launches. At this point, you can start switching your marketing message from “Be the first to try this!” to “See how much others love it!” Post-launch is a great time to increase FOMO for those who haven’t bought your product yet.

The time after the product launch is when you get your first reviews—post quotes and customer photos on social media. User-generated content, or UGC, will help tip the scales for potential customers still on the fence. It builds trust in your brand, and people will be more at ease about buying from you. Online shoppers that engage with UGC have a 102.4% higher conversion rate.

Aside from driving more sales, you can also increase social proof for your products. Share reviews and customer photos as an incentive to get featured on your social media channels. To make it easier for your customers to generate content for you:

  • Create a dedicated hashtag for them to use on social media

  • Send follow-up emails to customers who bought the product and ask them for feedback

  • Offer customers discounts for future orders in exchange for honest reviews or social media posts

  • Host a giveaway where customers have to post content of your new product

screenshot of Vera Wang's website displaying customer content

Source: Vera Wang Bride

13. Gather and implement customer feedback

The launch journey is over. Time to reflect and gather learnings to make your next adventures even better. And much like in post-launch communication, your customer feedback is key.

One of the best benefits of print-on-demand is its flexibility. With traditional manufacturing, your product, or at least the first batch of it, is set in stone. If you make any adjustments, you still need to sell out the first version, or you’ll end up with dead stock.

But with print-on-demand, you can adjust and improve at any time without missing a beat. Check your customer reviews for any complaints about your products and see how you can improve the customer experience:

  • Make clearer product visuals

  • Add any missing details to your description

  • Create an FAQ section for your product

  • Tweak the design

  • Update sizing info

When making changes, communicate them and thank your customers for their feedback. While, ideally, your product would’ve been perfect from the start, acknowledging the need to improve will humanize your brand and make you more relatable.

14. Analyze your product launch performance

After your product’s been live for a while, it’s time to see how it did. Post-launch analytics help you make sense of your product’s performance.

When it comes to analytics, some metrics stand out:

  • Sales data—see how many sales you got and how your other product launches compare

  • Conversion rate—measure how effectively you turned visitors into buyers

  • Customer feedback—check how your customers rated the product and how it compares to your other items

  • Traffic sources—where did most customers find you?

To measure this, you can use external tools like Google Analytics, built-in analytics on your ecommerce platform/marketplace, or data from your product supplier. If you fulfill your orders with Printful, go to Dashboard > Statistics.

a screenshot of a customer product sales insights on Printful's Dashboard

Source: Printful

There, you’ll find data about:

  • Average fulfillment time—use this to provide accurate order processing and delivery estimates to your customers

  • Paid orders—see how many unique orders you had

  • Total order costs—check how much you paid for fulfillment and shipping

  • Profit—see how much money you made

Aside from sales performance, be sure to also check your social media analytics. This will help you finetune future marketing campaigns by picking the exact content your customers engage with.

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Time to embark on your print-on-demand journey

With your checklist complete and a great product idea in hand, it’s time to start your print-on-demand adventure. From audience research to launch analytics, you’ve covered the basics.

Remember, this journey is about continuous growth. Stay connected with your audience, seek advice, and improve based on feedback and data. These insights will guide your decisions and shape your future product launches.

Best of luck!

author

By Una Berzina-Pudule on Oct 23, 2023

Una Berzina-Pudule

Content Marketing Specialist

Una’s a Senior SEO Content Writer with a knack for SEO-friendly copywriting and building stunning landing pages. In her spare time, she's an avid reader and keeps close tabs on all things social media and mental health.

Una’s a Senior SEO Content Writer with a knack for SEO-friendly copywriting and building stunning landing pages. In her spare time, she's an avid reader and keeps close tabs on all things social media and mental health.