Personalisation, print on demand, Printing and Fulfilment

Print on demand – not just for when you’re caught short

Written by Jason Groom
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Mail
  • Linkedin
Originally published
January 27 2016,
July 3 2020

It’s a fair cop, guv. You got us bang to rights. As printers we’re way too keen on jargon and wrapping up what we do in technical terms and acronyms that leave customers confused and confounded. Guilty as charged, M’lud

Short-run and print on demand are two good examples. Thought by many to be essentially the same – and in terms of quantity printed (run length) they often are – the terms are used interchangeably. But actually there’s a subtle variance in the output. So “same same, but different” - here’s how;

Speed (or “you want it WHEN?”)

Traditional, that is pre-digital, print was a lengthy process. And, when all you wanted was a few hundred sheets, prohibitively expensive. Turnaround in a couple of days was virtually unheard of and next day Mission Impossible. Now, for both short-run and PoD, next day is often needed and even same day (when the planets align and with a fair wind!) achievable.


Tip-top quality, when you’ve got the right equipment, is as par for the course with digital as it ever was with litho. Needing it fast should never mean having to compromise on finish, whether it’s a short or a PoD job, and the quality standards – for example, ISO 27001:2013, ISO 14001 and ISO 9001 - still need to apply, as do any Service Level Agreements (SLAs) in place.


Pick a number, any number. Literally. With print on demand orders of one are not uncommon and, in both cases, shipments of odd numbers pretty much the norm.


Same goes. Whilst certain finishing - predominantly offline rather than in-line (that is, the stuff that’s produced on the printer itself) – can work out more expensive per unit if you’re looking at small numbers, the same range and options are available.


Personalisation is where print on demand really comes in to its own. When specific and distinct content is what’s required then a one-off, unique document is created as, when, and how you want it. Short-run, typically, doesn’t require that level of uniqueness.


Get the differences? These four examples of each might help;

Print on Demand

Short run

Low-volume transactional statements

Frequently changing documents

Personalised prospectuses

Just-in-time (JIT) documentation

Data-driven marketing materials

Sampling or testing of marketing materials

Printed, consumer gifts or greeting cards

To supplement a longer, full print-run


Keen to see how it works, or have a print job that requires that level of flexibility? Put us to the test, see for yourself how our print on demand service measures up.



Related Articles

Marketing personalisation, contextualisation and conversation

Marketing personalisation, contextualisation and conversation

I don’t go to a lot of dinner parties, and I host even fewer. They’re just not my thing. Due...

10 killer reasons to use personalised marketing campaigns

10 killer reasons to use personalised marketing campaigns

If ever there was a buzzword in marketing, “Personalisation” looks set to be it for some time...

Personalisation and other key retail trends in 2017

Personalisation and other key retail trends in 2017

Is everything getting earlier? Everything except me that is.  I really mean everything about...

On-pack promotions, on a shelf near you

On-pack promotions, on a shelf near you

Coke, Marmite, Nutella and others have all recently made a success of personalised labels,...