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The Ultimate Guide to Retail Pricing Sublimation Products

How do I price my custom print-on-demand products for retail?

by Jeff Butler · Senior Strategist

One of the most common questions I'm asked is “how much should I charge for a sublimated “X”? As a creative entrepreneur, naturally you want to focus on creating great looking, quality products for your customers.

With so many great blank substrates available, simply choosing which products will work for your business can be a challenge itself! Once you dial in a new technique or design for a substrate you intend to sell, you'll need to determine what it's worth.

The key factors to consider when pricing custom print-on-demand products for retail are cost of goods sold (COGS), production time, consumables such as ink and paper, packaging, shipping, and marketing expenses. Once you have a basic formula for these factors, you can begin to put together a solid retail pricing strategy.

What retail pricing strategies should you consider for sublimated products?

There are several pricing strategies available but for the sublimation industry we're going to focus on the following four:

  • Cost-Plus Pricing
  • Value-Based Pricing
  • Competitive Pricing
  • Keystone Pricing

Let's look at the strengths and weaknesses of each strategy:

Cost-Plus Pricing

What is cost-plus pricing for custom print-on-demand products?

Cost-plus pricing means the selling price is determined by adding a percentage to the production cost of a product. You make the product, add a fixed percentage on top of the costs, and sell it for the total.

Say you wanted to add custom printed holiday ornaments to your current product line. Let's break down the costs:

  • Material costs: $2.53
  • Labor costs: $2.53
  • Shipping costs: $.25
  • Marketing and overhead costs: $.25

Cost ($5.56) + Mark up (300%) = Selling price ($16.68)

Now, round that number up or down and add the familiar ".95" and you have a retail price range of $15.95-$16.95 per unit.

Value-Based Pricing

What is value-based pricing for custom print-on-demand products?

Value-based pricing is just as it sounds - pricing your product based on the customers perceived value. Companies that sell custom or personalized products are better positioned to benefit from value-based pricing compared to ones that sell standardized, commodity items. The good news is that it's easy to justify the perceived value of a product when it's completely personalized and unique to the individual customer.

What proud Grandparent wouldn't pay a premium price for a beautiful, full-color keepsake with their new grand babies' photo?

Value-based pricing is a great fit for the custom print-on-demand industry. Unique, one-of-a-kind products carry a tremendous amount of value when imaged with the customers' personal photos and messaging.

Competitive Pricing

What is competitive pricing for custom print-on-demand products?

As the name suggests, competitive pricing is determined by using competitors’ pricing data as a benchmark and purposely pricing your products below theirs.

If your market is saturated with competitors offering the same or similar products, competitive pricing may be the strategy for you. If you find yourself in this situation I always advise to work on strengthening your brand and the quality of your output to build more value.

Don't get caught in a constant price war with competitors - it's time-consuming and requires too much attention that's better spent on building your brand.

Keystone Pricing

What is keystone pricing for print-on-demand products?

Keystone pricing is where your finished product is priced for resale at an amount that's double the wholesale price or cost of the product. It's a common strategy for businesses that sell standardized, commodity items.

Custom printed products, when done correctly, are far too valuable to rely on keystone pricing unless your doing high volume runs without need for modification. You might work this strategy when building a high quantity wholesale order for a gift shop owner for example.

Which Strategy Is Right?

Which Strategy Is Right?

What is the best strategy for me to use when pricing my custom print-on-demand products for retail?

The high-speed business of 'print-on-demand' custom printed products is driving customers wild with new and exciting must-haves. Perceived value of these products is at an all-time high. The biggest mistake we can make, as the production side of the industry, is to leave money on the table by under pricing our work.

Try a strategy that uses all four of the above methods while putting a heavier emphasis on the value-based and cost-plus methods. If the market will bear it, price it at the top! Even if the product only costs $3.00 to produce, perceived value may drive that product to command upwards of $15 and beyond.

One of my favorite sayings is 'the finished product is worth what the image or artwork that's transferred onto it is worth'. Don't sell yourself short - personalized products build a deeper connection with customers since it's their artwork or images that are displayed on the product. That's powerful stuff!

For sublimation product ideas, check out: The Ultimate Guide to the Top Sublimation Products You Should Be Selling

by Jeff Butler · Senior Strategist
Conde Systems, Inc.

Are you leaving money on the table by under-pricing your custom products?

Did you know Conde has a pricing tool that gives you the suggested retail price range for our entire catalog of print-on-demand blank products?

Start here to learn more about our Retail Pricing Calculator Tool

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