We recently published an interview with Ten Talents Trading Co., a game-loving ecommerce brand that sells custom 3D-printed Settlers of Catan pieces. Since starting their business, Ten Talents has tripled their product line and boosted revenue 10x thanks to outsourcing some key ecommerce tasks with 3D printing on demand.
What’s the secret to their success? It all started when Ten Talents optimized their business with Fulfilled by Voodoo, Voodoo’s flagship service that takes care of the printing, packaging, and shipping of physical products.
Outsourcing these processes to Voodoo helped Ten Talents in two ways: it quickly scaled up production and gave them more time to focus on marketing, developing products, and increasing profits.
If you want to build a thriving ecommerce business, outsourcing is the fast-track to producing high-quality products and increasing production (and profits) as demand grows.
In this article, we’ll outline step-by-step how to outsource the three main parts of an ecommerce business: design, printing, and shipping.
And to make it fun, let’s pretend you’re starting a new business that sells products for dog lovers: stickers that say “I ❤︎ My Schnauzer” and “Puppy on Board” and little 3D figurines of Chihuahuas and Great Danes.
The first step is designing your products. If you don’t have the time or skills to do it yourself, you can easily outsource the work to a professional designer.
Feel free to shop around to find designers with the right skills and rates that fit into your budget. You can even try out a few designers with small test projects to find out who’s right for you.
For example, you might hire a handful of designers to make an “I ❤︎ My Schnauzer” sticker or produce a one-off illustration of a Chihuahua. Once you find the designer who matches your style (and who you enjoy working with), you can hire them for bigger projects.
When working with designers, you’ll need to communicate with them clearly in order to make your ideas into a reality. You’ll want to discuss your expectations, the type of design you’re looking for, and any other guidelines you may have.
For that Schnauzer sticker, you’ll want to tell them important details like the size of the sticker, the file format for printing, and the colors and fonts you want to use. It’s also helpful to bring examples of other dog stickers you like so they know what you’re expecting.
For 3D products like figurines, iPhone cases, and plastic parts, you can outsource everything to Voodoo’s in-house design team. Our team can take a simple sketch or digital rendering and transform it into a 3D file ready for printing.
To make your custom 3D Great Danes, you might create a quick sketch of the dog on paper and gather some reference images of similar products to send to Voodoo for the final 3D design.
Once the design is finished, it’s ready to print!
The reason why Ten Talents struggled to expand was because they were making every product on a single printer in founder David Hendren’s closet. It might be possible to print your own products in the beginning, but things will get very difficult once demand picks up.
Fortunately, there’s an easy solution. You can outsource everything to a factory that prints your products for you, as little or as many as you need. This is called printing on demand, or printing a product automatically after an order is made.
Printing on demand is recommended for new businesses because it eliminates the upfront cost of producing inventory. Plus, it allows you to test ideas or tweak products for a very low cost.
For example, you could design stickers for 10 different dog breeds and list them in your online store at the same time. If everyone buys the Chihuahua sticker but ignores the Schnauzer sticker, you’re not losing money because you haven’t printed the Schnauzer sticker yet. You’re free to add, remove, and change products at any time.
It’s the same for your 3D dog figurines. Once you’ve created a 3D rendering of each dog breed and chosen materials for printing, it’s ready to be listed on your store. If someone buys the Great Dane, it gets printed. If not, it doesn’t. Either way, no inventory is required to run this kind of business.
Ready to connect your designs to a print on demand service? Printful offers 2D printing on demand for products like t-shirts, stickers, and beach towels, while Fulfilled by Voodoo handles 3D printing on demand (think bottle openers, cookie cutters, iPhone cases and more) in a Brooklyn factory with over 200 printers.
After creating designs and submitting them to a printing service, there’s only one step left: getting your products to customers.
Founders of big ecommerce brands often talk about the “early days” when they stayed up all night stuffing packaging their products and printing shipping labels. It may sound romantic, but in reality, this process is not only exhausting but also takes away precious time you need to build your business.
Luckily, your ecommerce business can skip this stage altogether. By outsourcing fulfillment from the beginning, you can rest well knowing that your products are being packaged and shipped with care.
Both Printful and Fulfilled by Voodoo include automatic drop-shipping with their print on demand services. Once an order is printed, it’s also packaged, labeled and sent to the customer automatically. You can also choose to ship your items in your custom branded packaging.
What does this mean for your dog breed goods store? It means that once you’ve designed your products, listed them on your store, and connected them with a print on demand service, the rest is taken care of for you. Instead of worrying about fulfilling orders, you can create a blog for dog owners or write funny ads to market your new business. Or you can come up with new product ideas and start the cycle again.
Outsourcing is a smart choice for anyone who wants to start or grow an ecommerce business.
If you don’t have products yet, finding a designer is a good place to start. And if you already have a store, Printful and Voodoo make it easy to connect with your current storefront and begin printing products on demand.
Your empire awaits.