The print-on-demand business model continues to attract many aspiring entrepreneurs. The global custom t-shirt printing market is nearly $4 billion and is projected to grow to $7 billion by 2027. This is just t-shirts and doesn’t include the many other items that sellers are using to print their designs and distribute their products to customers.
If you’re looking to start a print-on-demand or dropshipping business, you have likely heard about Printful. They are a leading provider of print-on-demand services having fulfilled over 22 million items and generating over $514 million in customer revenue.
In this guide, you’ll learn all about Printful’s features, how you can use it to start a print-on-demand business, and how it compares to its competitors.
Table of Contents
- What Is Printful?
- How Does Printful Work?
- Who Should Consider Printful?
- Printful Features
- How To Start Selling Online With Printful
- Printful Quality Review
- Printful Shipping Review
- Printful Customer Service Review
- Printful Pros and Cons
- How Does Printful Compare To Alternatives?
- Printful Pricing
- Is Printful Worth It?
What Is Printful?
Printful is a print-on-demand dropshipping solution that enables users to print custom artwork and designs on different items such as t-shirts, hats, hoodies, mugs, and more.
Printful truly is an all-in-one solution as they supply the products, add the print to the products, package the products, and fulfill and ship the orders. All you need to do is send them orders with the order details and enjoy your profits while they handle the rest of the work.
What Are the Benefits of a Print-On-Demand Service?
Here are some of the benefits of using a comprehensive print on demand service:
- You don’t have to purchase expensive equipment or operate a storage warehouse to keep your products.
- The entire fulfillment process is handled by the POD service including printing, packaging, and shipping.
- You don’t have to pay any upfront costs as you only pay the POD company once you make a sale.
- Inventory is always in stock as the POD service must keep a massive supply of products to keep their business running.
- Using a print-on-demand service allows you to spend more time, creating designs, building your brand, and running your business as you are freed up from many of the more tedious aspects of selling physical products.
How Does Printful Work?
Selling products with Printful starts with creating your own designs.
Printful lets you customize the placement of your designs on the product using an interactive visualization software directly in the order menu.
You can create and customize simple designs such as a tagline meant for a t-shirt right in the Printful dashboard. For more complex designs, you can upload the design file to the platform and then customize its placement on the product.
When a customer places an order on your store, they pay the retail price that you have set. Depending on your eCommerce setup the order is passed straight to Printful where you will pay the wholesale price for the product. The amount of the markup (Retail price - wholesale price) is the profit you receive for each sale. The entire process is automated when you link your eCommerce platform to Printful.
Who Should Consider Printful?
If you’re looking for a quick, low-risk way to start selling products online, starting a print-on-demand business with Printful will be an attractive option for you. This includes people looking to sell their own custom designs, whether they be on clothes or household items, and those looking to start a product-focused business without having to invest the time and money into manufacturing products and owning inventory.
Printful is an attractive option for new business owners who don’t have much prior experience. There are no monthly fees and you only pay for the service after your customers order your products. This provides you a low-risk way to grow your business at your own pace as there is no minimum order requirement.
Printful provides sellers many useful features beyond their printing and dropshipping services. These features allow you to take your business to the next level by improving your products, enhancing your branding, and streamlining your operational processes.
Let’s take a look at the core features that make Printful such a popular print-on-demand service.
What can you print with Printful? The service offers a wide range of product options. Most of their items are in the apparel, accessories, and home goods categories. Here is a list of the type of products sellers can apply their design to:
- Tank Tops
- Phone cases
- Beach Blankets
- Coffee Mugs
Since COVID, Printful has also expanded its offering to include printing on masks and facial coverings.
Printful provides several different types of printing options. Their main option is Direct-to-Garment (DTG) printing. This type of printing is the most cost-effective way to print single items and is why they’re able to offer their services without a minimum order quantity.
Other printing options include:
- All-over sublimation printing
- Screen printing
- Embroidery for hats
If you aren’t sure which method is best for your products, Printful will help make it easy for you. They will apply the best options to each product so you don’t have to spend the time researching different printing methods.
Warehousing and Fulfillment
Because Printful offers dropshipping services, you never have to handle storing, printing, packing, or shipping your products. Printful will handle all this for you so you can focus on creating new designs and running your business.
Printful also offers warehousing and fulfillment services where they store and ship non-Printful products for eCommerce merchants. This can be an attractive option for online sellers who don’t want to operate a warehouse or handle shipping and fulfillment themselves.
Warehousing fees are based on the total cubic footage that your items occupy in the warehouse per day. There are monthly minimum storage fees of $25 in the United States and €22 in Europe. Sellers can receive discounts for storing a higher volume of products.
Printful offers a range of design services that can help you create unique products that your customers will love. This goes beyond simply preparing print files for Printful products but also includes:
- Sublimation print files
- Color matching print files
- Creating custom artwork
- Custom graphics
- Redesigning logos
- Minor adjustments to print files
These services can prove extremely valuable to sellers who have a broad idea of what they want but aren’t sure how to make the concept a reality.
A unique advantage of choosing to use Printful over other dropshipping services is their branding services.
With many dropshipping companies, adding your own branding to packaging, receipts, and packing inserts isn’t an option. This makes it more difficult to build a brand as you are missing out on effective tools to build a deeper connection with your customers.
Printful is different in that it offers several branding options to help sellers create a more unique experience. Some of these services include packing inserts, brand stickers to place on shipping boxes, and inner and outer shirt labels.
Printful is a robust platform on its own but its functionality is extended through integrations with other software solutions. The service integrates with the most popular eCommerce platforms and setting up the connection between the programs is quick and easy.
By integrating your eCommerce solution with Printful, you won’t have to manually submit each order in Printful yourself. Instead, when a customer places an order it is automatically sent to Printful so you don’t have to do any manual processing. This will not only save you time but it will also eliminate potential errors that occur when inputting the order details.
Printful offers integrations for the following eCommerce platforms and marketplaces:
Printful also integrates with Shipstation which acts as a 3rd party app and is needed to connect platforms such as Squarespace and PrestaShop. You can also connect your eCommerce store to Printful via an API.
Other Useful Tools
Printful offers a bounty of other useful tools to make designing products and running your business a seamless process.
Here are the useful tools Printful provides to help you sell more efficiently:
- Mockup Generator: The mockup generator tool allows you to make a digital mockup of products by applying your design to different items. This can help you get an idea of what the product will look like and can be used to create product images for your online store.
- Profit Calculator: Printful’s profit calculator helps you price your products appropriately. It will tell you what your margins will be for each product based on price so you can ensure your items are generating profit.
- Printing Tips: There are many articles and blog posts to help sellers understand the benefits and drawbacks of different printing methods. This includes details about fabric, sublimation printing, garment printing, and more.
How To Start Selling Online With Printful
1. Create Printful Account
The first step to starting your print-on-demand business with Printful is to set up your account. The service is free to use and all you need to signup is your name and email.
2. Choose Your Niche
Before you get started setting up your store, you’ll want to think about what types of products you want to sell and what type of customers you would like to sell to.
Picking a specific niche area of the market for your business helps to establish a unique brand identity and allows you to target your ideal customers with greater ease.
You can make sure that there is enough interest in the products you offer by performing keyword research.
3. Make Your Design
Once you find a solid niche it’s time to begin creating the designs you want to sell.
There are many different tools you can use to create your designs. You can start by using Printful’s Mockup Generator as it will give you a quick sense of what the design will look like on shirts or other items.
Another helpful tool you can use is Canva. It’s free to use and has a simple and straightforward user interface.
4. Setup and Integrate Ecommerce Platform and Payment Gateway
After you’ve made your account and have designed a product you want to sell, you’ll want to choose which platform to use to list and sell your products. There are a lot of different eCommerce solutions out there so you’ll have plenty of options to choose from.
Printful can currently integrate with 22 different eCommerce platforms.
Here is a chart from Printful comparing some of the different platforms and how they integrate with the service.
You’ll need to consider what your priorities are before you decide the best platform for you.
To be able to get paid by your customers, you need to set up a payment gateway for your store. Like eCommerce platforms, there are plenty of options available to you. Some of the more popular choices include Paypal, Stripe, and Braintree.
You’ll also have to set up your payment method with Printful as they need to receive payment before they print and ship your products. You want your customers to get their products as soon as possible so it’s important that there aren’t any delays.
There are several ways to set up billing with Printful. You can link your credit card or Paypal account which will be billed automatically for each submitted order. You can also use the Printful wallet in which you deposit money from your preferred payment method.
5. Create Your Product
Once you’ve chosen a platform and payment processor you’ll want to link it to your Printful account. With your eCommerce store set up and linked to your Printful account, it’s time to start listing products.
Printful offers a product generator that works with most integrations. It allows you to push products directly to your eCommerce store from Printful. This helps create a seamless process as you can create products in Printful that are automatically added to your store. You can easily optimize your product listing by writing engaging product descriptions and using high-quality images
To use the product push generator simply go to Stores > Add product. You’ll then design your product, add the description, and set the pricing. Once that is completed you can click Submit to store to push the product to your integrated eCommerce platform.
6. Market and Sell Your Products
Once you have your store up and running, you’ll need to drive customers to your website to make your first sale.
There are many different ways to market your products including SEO, social media, PPC ads, and more.
As your store begins to grow you can begin to fine-tune your designs to continue offering your customers a quality product.
Printful Quality Review
Product quality is often a concern when dropshipping print-on-demand products as you cannot control which items the print-on-demand company will use.
Printful does an effective job of offering high-quality products and most sellers are happy with the value relative to the cost.
Printful has invested over $30 million in printing equipment and the company uses extensive quality control procedures to ensure all products are in good condition when they leave the fulfillment center.
Their quality control process is broken into three parts:
- Software checks the quality of graphics before printing.
- Fulfillment specialists review quality as orders are printed.
- One final quality check after printing and curing.
Printful partners with reliable manufacturers to ensure their source material is of high-quality. Some of these manufacturers include Belle + Canvas, Augusta, Flexfit, Gildan, and Hanes.
You can find the occasional online review from a customer who has received a product that is slightly off-color but overall Printful offers very high-quality products, particularly when compared to other print-on-demand services.
Printful Shipping Review
Printful uses fixed shipping rates based on the average cost of each product category. All the items in each category have similar weight, dimensions, and packaging requirements. Shipping fees vary depending on the destination. Printful will ship products to North America, Europe, Australia, and other countries around the world.
Flat shipping rates for most products are around $5 - $7 per item in the United States and €4 - €6 per item in Europe.
If you order more than one item at once, the cost for extra items will be much lower. For instance, if you order five t-shirts the shipping cost for the four extra shirts will be only $0.90 a piece.
The flat rate is the max shipping price you will be charged to deliver an item. If the cost to ship an item is higher, Printful covers the extra cost. If the cost to ship is lower than the flat rate you will pay less for delivery.
It takes Printful 2 - 7 days to create apparel products and 2 - 5 days to make non-apparel products. Printful’s average shipping time is four business days depending on the customer’s location.
Printful experienced a lag in fulfillment times during the outbreak of the COVID pandemic but the company is almost back to its normal operational capacity. All categories except for all-over print (AOP) are back to normal across all locations.
When an order ships you will receive a notification email. The tracking information will be passed to your integrated eCommerce platform and a shipping confirmation email will be sent to your customers. The style of the email is based on how you have configured transactional emails with your platform.
Printful Customer Service Review
Printful provides several different methods for users to get in touch with staff when they have questions. Support is available through live chat and email as well as phone during weekdays. They are also active on social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube. On top of this, Printful provides a help center with other resources to help sellers including instructions, printing tips, blog posts, FAQs, and fabric facts.
Overall, Printful’s customer service is effective in helping sellers solve their problems. Their support has mixed reviews online but a common perspective is that it’s better than most of their competitors.
Response times have slowed down a little since COVID. Printful is working to expand their chat availability to continue offering 24/7 live support.
Printful has a detailed return policy to handle any orders that experience issues. They will offer returns for misprinted, damaged, and defective items so long as they are submitted within 4 weeks after the product has been received.
If there is an issue with a product, Printful has a problem report form that you or your customer can complete. If a customer comes to you with an issue you’ll need to complete the following steps:
- Log into your Printful account
- Find order in your orders page - search using order number
- Click on order to open order summary
- Click Report to open the problem report window
- Write up your problem in detail and upload relevant photos where possible
- Click Report problem
You’ll then have to return the defective product to the return address that Printful provides. You can also find a list of return addresses in their support section.
Be aware that Printful will not refund orders for “buyer’s remorse”. If you choose to accept these returns or offer size exchanges you will have to do so at your own expense.
Printful Pros and Cons
Printful offers a wide range of services helping sellers build an online business by dropshipping products. The company excels in certain areas but has room to improve in others.
Let’s take a look at the strength and weaknesses of using Printful as a print-on-demand service.
- Printful has a large number of USA & European based warehouses, making products easily accessible to customers in these areas.
- There is no minimum order quantity for sellers.
- The print-on-demand dropshipping business model is low risk.
- Printful offers high-quality products.
- There is no monthly membership fee to use the service.
- Printful offers high-quality printing options
- Printful offers customized branding options.
- Integrations are available for the most popular eCommerce platforms including Shopify, WooCommerce, Magento, BigCommerce.
- Printful provides transparent shipping prices.
- Products are shipped to customers in an average of three days.
- The service is quick and easy to set up.
- All operations are handled in-house and there is no outsourcing.
- Printful offers re-shipments for lost or damaged products.
- Printful provides ample online resources for teaching sellers about the service.
- The platform’s interface is user-friendly and easy to understand.
- Printful offers 24/7 customer support.
- Sellers benefit from a wide range of high-quality products.
- Easy-to-setup API.
- Printful’s shipping fees are higher compared to other providers.
- Delivery times are on the longer side as the average shipping takes 4 business days.
- Editing products in bulk can be tedious as you can’t mass edit product variables.
- Limited product mock-up images
- Dropship products tend to have small profit margins.
- Their product selection is highly centered around the apparel, accessories, and household items categories only.
- Branding options are somewhat limited.
- Certain products, such as the framed posters or canvases have limited shipping destinations.
How Does Printful Compare To Alternatives?
There are quite a few print-on-demand companies vying to become the go-to service for online sellers. Some of the most notable Printful competitors include Printify, Teespring, Teelaunch, and Print Aura.
Let’s take a look at how Printful compares to these other print-on-demand services.
Printful Vs Printify
While the two offer similar services, there are several areas where Printful has a distinct advantage. The most notable of these areas is product quality, which is an important consideration as high-quality products are essential for repeat sales and a favorable brand reputation.
While Printful handles all order fulfillment for you, Printify outsources both printing and order fulfillment, meaning you’re working with partners instead of directly with the company.
Here are some of the other biggest differences between Printful and Printify:
- Printful offers a screen printing option whereas Printify does not.
- Prinify only offers integrations for Shopify, WooCommerce, and Etsy, whereas Printful has integrations for over 22 eCommerce platforms and marketplaces.
- Printify doesn’t warehouse your products.
Overall, Printify can work if you sell on Shopify or Etsy but Printful offers a more robust set of features and better options for connecting your eCommerce store.
Printful Vs Teespring
Both Printful and Teespring provide an all-in-one service as they each handle printing, fulfillment, and shipping for you. While some other POD companies outsource manufacturing, both Teespring and Printful handle manufacturing in-house.
Both services don’t charge a membership fee and sellers only pay for a product after a customer places an order.
While there are similarities between the two services, there are some differences between Printful and Teespring:
- Printful has a much larger product catalog as it offers a wide array of categories and sub-options whereas Teespring offers a limited line of products.
- Teespring offers its own standalone marketplace with a built-in audience and marketing features that you can use to sell your products, whereas Printful focuses on connecting your own eCommerce store.
- Printful allows you to order sample products at a reduced price every month. Teespring doesn’t provide any special offers for samples.
The services have similar prices for the common items offered by both companies. Printful has the added benefit of their profit calculator which helps sellers easily determine the appropriate price for their products.
Overall, Teespring has the benefit of a built-in marketplace to provide sellers with instant visibility, however, Printful’s features make it a more well-rounded service. Printful provides a much larger selection of products along with useful tools such as the profit calculator and mockup generator.
Printful Vs Teelaunch
Teelaunch is a newer print-on-demand company and offers a similar service to Printful. Teelaunch will print products for you and handle all the order fulfillment process.
Teelaunch offers a range of unique products compared to other services. Some of these items include headphones, Bluetooth speakers, dog bowls, and more.
Teelaunch does have some limitations for integrating with other platforms. The service is designed exclusively for Shopify, which means you will have to use Shopify as your eCommerce platform if you want to use Teelaunch.
Here are some other differences between Printful and Teelaunch:
- Teelaunch offers 50% off samples for store owners.
- While they offer some unique products, their catalog is somewhat limited with only 100 items, but they are adding more every month.
- Shipping times take between 5 and 6 days.
Overall, Printful offers a more well-rounded solution however some of the product prices on Teelaunch are lower, allowing you to make higher profits on those items.
Printful Vs Print Aura
There are some notable differences between the two. With Print Aura, you don’t get to choose who exactly fulfills your orders. They also don’t offer the same 24/7 support service that helps you solve any issues as they occur.
Pricing is a big difference as well. Many of the items on Print Aura are much more expensive than the same items on Printful. If you’re looking to lower your costs and maximize your margins, Printful is a better option.
One of the main attractions of Printful is that users don’t have to pay any upfront costs. Printful doesn’t charge you for an item until you sell that item. As long as you don’t price your items below the wholesale cost, there is no cost to list and sell items on Printful.
Pricing varies for each item that they offer. You can check out Printful’s product catalog to get the price for specific items.
Is Printful Worth It?
Printful is an ideal solution for anyone looking to sell high-quality print-on-demand products. They make it easy for sellers to get started by offering plenty of useful tools and resources. While there are some services that offer cheaper options, they tend to come with a high order minimum and lower-quality products. If you’re looking to sell online using a print-on-demand service we highly recommend giving Printful a chance.