Sample Orders


Sample orders are one or a few units of the items you are interested in buying in a large quantity to test the goods.

What Are Sample Orders?

Sample orders contain one or a few units of the items you are interested in buying in a large quantity. They’re a low-risk way to assess the quality of the products yourself. You might be surprised to know that most suppliers entertain requests for sample orders because they often lead to bigger orders in the future.

Why Invest in Sample Orders?

If you’re a new entrant in the print-on-demand industry, sample orders are your best bet at securing high-quality designs. Storeowners must always invest in sample orders at the beginning of their entrepreneurial journey. The cost of a sample order will always be justifiable compared to the cost of an original product which does not arrive in the state you expected. Without a quality check, you can get stranded with many products that won’t be easy to sell.

Let us explain this with an example:

You order three product samples which amount to $6, plus a $10 shipping fee. The minimum quantity of that order is set to 500. Even at $2 per unit, this cost is $1000 without adding shipping. Imagine if the product is defective; having 500 things that do not match your requirements would be close to a nightmare. Therefore, it is better to spend that $16 than go up to $1000 with no safety net.

So checking the product through samples is always good for you to ensure that it fits your customers who trust your work. Moreover, it is also the best way to see how your relationship with a supplier will pan out in the grand scheme of things. The more you go through trial and error, the better you will lock a supplier who is worth the effort and cost.

How to Make a Sample Order

Sample programs allow retailers to order product samples with a discount and possible shipping waiver. They let you test the waters before diving into a bigger order. Here is how you can make a sample order:

If you are working with a print-on-demand (POD) service, you are mostly eligible for several sample orders per month. There is also a limit on the number of items an order can carry each month. The limit mostly resets on the first of each month. In the case of thriving sales at your store, you may be eligible for more sample orders. The monthly accumulated sales determine this number, but some printers cap the maximum sample orders per month.

To calculate your monthly accumulated sales, you can use this formula:

Sum of total orders – discounts, shipping, taxes, order charges & services like design and setup.

Sample orders also follow certain guidelines, and each service has its own. For example, some POD services specify sizes that are available for sample orders. Moreover, coupon codes are not applicable on samples. But there’s an option for free shipping for specific destinations. These details are specified when you start working with a partner and get to know how they work.

Sample Order

Successful Sample Order Strategies

No one will tell you that doing business is easy. Sampling orders is just one part of the business where you do not want to take any chances. We have some tried-and-tested strategies you can consider when ordering samples of your products.

Before you request a sample order, make sure to ask yourself the following questions:

The last question is important because the way a sample lands on your doorstep is exactly how the product will land at the customer’s doorstep. You need to see what the customer will get when they receive the order from you. The best tip here is to design an experience for the customer from the get-go and make the supplier understand how you want the products to look. Don’t compromise on things like branding, quality, and business details on your product samples.

Here Are Three Popular Sampling Techniques for Retail Entrepreneurs:

1. Sampling for Review

We all want to create a product that beats the competitor. You may want to order samples to send them forth to your best customers. The more samples you get, the more chances of honest reviews there will be.

2. Testing a New Product

If you are testing a custom-designed product, a sample order will be the first look at your brainchild. Once you lock the product details with the help of a sample, you can start creating hype about it and telling the masses. In this way, you will create a buzz in the market before the product even goes live.

3. Sampling for Vetting a Supplier

Sample orders bring you to reality by taking you through the business journey with the supplier. After completing a sample order, you can tell if the partnership will work or not.

Frequently Asked Questions About Sample Orders

We always recommend that you talk to a supplier in great detail before ordering their sample products. When you write to or call the supplier, make sure you have a solid brief about the sample orders. It is important to mention quantities, quality, and non-negotiable design guidelines in an inquiry.

The first tip is to order a sample product from more than one supplier. Start your search for a supplier based on product requirements, and then keep narrowing down your list of potential suppliers until there are 5-6 in number. Once you have received all samples, you can tell where you stand and which supplier is suitable to meet all the specifications.

When you receive the sample orders, first analyze how the order was delivered to you. There should be no damage to the shipment, and packing must be top-notch. If each box of samples has damage, you can predetermine that the supplier isn’t keen on the safe packaging of the product. 

  • Price: cost per unit, delivery costs, and additional fees must be put on the table before locking a supplier.
  • Product quantity: does their minimum order quantity fulfill your sampling needs? Try to negotiate if there is an issue, and here you will find out if this supplier is a keeper.
  • Production: how long did it take the supplier to fulfill your order? It sets the tone for future orders, and you must keep a keen eye on this.
  • Payment terms: you should never pay the supplier upfront until you receive the first order. If the payment terms are smooth, the supplier is a good entity to work with.

Tip: If you aren’t keen to pay for product samples, you can ask the supplier for a free sample. Many suppliers have generic free samples available for retailers to check the quality of their work. It won’t be customized, but it will still give you an idea of the work.


Using great suppliers to lock products you want to sell in your store is a brave step. After you are well-equipped with the process of sample orders, you can move onto marketing, packaging, and designing engaging customer experiences. You end up with products that make your customers happy and create a good supplier-retailer relationship that lasts for years.