On the surface, it seems as though the country has made a lot of progress in its post-COVID-19 recovery. While things may not be “business as usual” everywhere, there is a growing feeling of optimism and a rising sensation of normalcy. Just below the surface, however, there are still some significant disruptions, many of them affecting the supply chain. These broader macroeconomic trends are impacting businesses across the board.
But, what are some of the most consequential macroeconomic trends for business owners to be aware of? And, how might they impact print-on-demand manufacturing, in particular?
Here are eight macroeconomic trends affecting print-on-demand companies.
1. Increased demand
Many businesses, including print-on-demand companies, have reported a surge in product demand. There are many potential explanations for this: -- a rebound in consumer confidence, the influx of money from government stimulus or simply a sense of excitement that things are returning to normal. Whatever the explanation, companies that work in on demand manufacturing should be prepared to handle some notable surges in volume.
2. Higher labor costs
Another significant macroeconomic factor for print-on-demand companies to be aware of is the increase in labor costs. This is very much in line with broader employment trends -- a number of workers have rethought their reliance on second jobs and on traditional vocations in general, resulting in a labor shortage and thus a need for employers to pay their employees more.
3. Supply constraints
Ever since the beginning of the pandemic, many economic forecasts have warned about eventual disruptions to the supply chain, leading to limitations in the available inventory. That’s very much what’s going on today, with global disruptions to the supply chain making it harder (or at least more time-consuming) for companies to scale up to meet consumer demands.
4. Rapid transitions in technology
Still another important consideration is the rate at which technology is evolving. Across industries and sectors, businesses are scrambling to adapt to the latest technological advances, and to stay abreast of their consumers’ changing habits. The pace of technological advancement may increase the strain on businesses, including print on demand companies, that already feel like they are behind the eight ball thanks to issues with supply, demand or labor.
5. Increased focus on sustainability
In recent decades, there has been a steady rise in expectations for corporate environmental stewardship. Consumers expect businesses to abide by basic standards of ecological responsibility, and many companies are seeing the value (both moral and financial) in doing exactly that. While an emphasis on sustainability is entirely admirable, it can also lead to some growing pains, temporary inefficiencies and short-term costs for different companies.
6. Global trade issues
Most print-on-demand companies are well aware of tariff issues and other global trade concerns -- issues that have been exacerbated by political upheaval as well as by the pandemic itself. These regulatory concerns have no doubt factored into some of the broader supply chain issues.
7. Labor shortages
The cost of labor is increasing, but that’s just one reason why the worker shortage is so relevant. Many companies have also found that they simply do not have the kind of workforce required to scale up and meet rising consumer demands.
8. The threat of inflation
Many economists say that inflation is here, and some warn that it could be a long-term concern. Inflation will likely have a big impact on consumer spending habits, the cost of transporting goods, and more. Certainly, it’s a macroeconomic concern that would have a direct impact on print on demand drop shipping.
What’s next for on-demand-manufacturing?
While there are certainly some big-picture trends that promise further disruption, the good news is that the print-on-demand field is by its very definition nimble and typically well-poised to respond to these disruptions.