The basic concept of print-on-demand or POD is that material is printed when there is a need for the material, thus eliminating inventory. For the most part, POD is a very good system; it allows publishers to reduce the amount of money they have in inventory for items that are not being used. Print-on-Demand also offers the flexibility of customization. More generic materials can be easily adapted for a sales rep, region, or industry. In certain parts of the country, the term PQN (print quantity needed) is sometimes used to describe the same system.
Some businesses utilize print-on-demand in conjunction with "micro-warehousing" where quantities of materials are stored for immediate shipment and then monitored through computer software programs that keep inventory levels at a set point. This ensures that there is sufficient quantities available to fulfill orders as they are placed.
Jobs that are produced in the POD process are not effected by quality; POD is more a business model for how that print job is managed. In most cases, due to the smaller quantities involved, digital printing technology is commonly used for print-on-demand, but there are some products and quantities that lend themselves to other types of printing processes.