Did you know that print on demand (POD) is expected to reach over $10 billion in online sales annually just in the custom t-shirt market by 2025? If you want to get a piece of the action yourself, you should learn more about Printful.
What is Printful? Printful is a print on demand service that allows you to put your custom designs on T-shirts, phone cases, hats or other accessories, and not worry about holding inventory. Printful user interface is so intuitive and user-friendly that even your granny can probably figure it out within 20 minutes or so. In this Printful review, we’ll explain why should you choose Printful over its competitors.
If you don’t know what print on demand or drop shipping is or why it became so popular, don’t worry. Printful lessons are available for free and will tell you everything you need to know on how to build your online empire. Starting from digital marketing tricks to creating your brand and becoming a designer.
How does Printful work?
It all starts with creating your own design. It can be anything from a PNG picture for a phone case to a tagline or drawing for any part of a t-shirt, jacket or other item of clothing. It is important to follow Printful guidelines while making a design file in order to achieve the best print quality. Printful allows customizing design placement on the product through interactive visualization software directly in the order menu. Simple designs, such as a slogan on a t-shirt, can be created and customized directly in the Printful dashboard. For more complex prints it is possible to upload a design file and customize its placement on the product.
The production process starts only after payment is made. Printful will take care of production and shipment. The great part about Printful is that it takes all the hard production and logistics part of the business and automates it to the extent that you can forget about it and concentrate on creating designs all day long. There are many designers out there who are currently working to create design assets such as fonts and illustrations. They sell these design assets through websites like creative market or as a part of a design bundle at a huge discount.
With Printful these designers can get another source of steady income – by simply creating a Shopify store. Integrating designs into end-customer products and selling directly to the end consumers allows designers or creative entrepreneurs to make higher returns. For example, selling a t-shirt at $30 to the end customer may cost you just $15 in Printful costs and shipment. It means that your profit before taxes is $15.
Moreover, you do not have to pay anything upfront. Everything can be done after your client orders a product with your design. Just use incoming cash flow from your customers to pay for product printing and shipment after the client makes payment. Even though item production starts after a customer makes an order, it does not mean that customers will have to wait very long to receive the ordered item. Most clients will receive the ordered item within 2 weeks’ time after purchase.
Printful has production plants with equipment both in the United States and Europe. Because of that, they can produce items closer to the end customer and significantly reduce shipment costs. Of course, modern online retail giants like Amazon may deliver an item within 3 business days. However, 2 weeks is still considered reasonable by most consumers.
Printful shipping prices
Shipment prices can be set to either flat rates or live rates. Flat rates for most products are approximately €4-€6 per item in Europe and $5-$7 in the US. However, there are exceptions when the product is frugal or of orthodox shape. For example, the shipment cost for a poster may be up to $30.
Also, if you order more than 1 item at once, the shipment cost for additional items will be drastically lower. For example, if you order more than 1 t-shirt, the shipping price for each additional t-shirt in this order will be only $0.90. Flat rate is the maximum shipping price that will be charged to deliver an item. If shipping price will be higher, Printful will cover it from its pocket. And if the shipping price is lower, you pay less for shipment.
Live rates are available only with Shopify, Woocommerce and Ecwid integrations. Live rates are calculated depending on the customer location during the checkout process, so they can vary significantly. Also, live rates are not available for all product types so in most cases you will have to set a flat-rate option. More info on Printful shipping prices.
Since Printful has production plants in both the United States and Europe markets, in many cases customers do not have to pay any import taxes. This means faster delivery, less headache, and higher customer satisfaction.
Printful with Shopify
Printful works with many content management systems such as Shopify, Etsy, Squarespace as well as giants like eBay and Amazon. Printful integration with any partner platform is easier than ever. Just follow the 4 simple steps to set up your store.
- Register Printful account
- Go to the Apps menu or its analog on CMS (content management system, e. g. Shopify) you are using and download/install Printful app.
- Follow straight forward steps to sync your Printful account to CMS you are using
- Finally, add products with your designs to your store.
Even though you can set up your store within 1 hour’s time, don’t think that starting a successful POD business is easy. The hardest part is to create a design that will blow the competition under the water. You have to be clever with your designs and the timing is crucial. Remember the “Make America Great Again” phrase during the 2016 US presidential elections. Businesses that came first with funny variations of that phrase printed on clothes made thousands in sales.
However, being first with a clever idea does not mean you will sell in high quantity. For the sale to happen customer has to visit your website. And if you only started your POD journey, your website is unlikely to receive much love from Google. This means no organic traffic from search engines for you (at least in the beginning).
So how does the World get to know about your new t-shirt design? Through the ads! This means most of your sales will be referred through influencers, blogs, Google ads, Facebook ads, and Instagram ads. Paid marketing is absolutely crucial for success in this business.
Printful quality assessment
There are many Printful reviews on the internet. Some are positive and some are negative. It is important to read negative reviews before you decide to choose Printful as your print on demand provider. This way you will find out many gray areas and potential problems. Therefore, it will be easier for you to avoid them.
Below is just a short summary of the issues you might have.
In some cases, people complain that they had to refund customers because item severely mismatched visual description. In order to avoid such frustrating situations, it is very important to follow Printful guidelines while making a design file. Most complainers have neglected Printful guidelines while creating a design. Thus, Printful was unable to produce a quality product out of a print file that the client provided.
Many complaints are about mismatching colors and resolution issues which is also dependent on print file compliance to Printful guidelines. The print file must be prepared perfectly, otherwise, you are risking your clients not receiving what they expect.
Also, you can order a test version of your design with a 20% discount to check product quality. Discounted orders with free shipping are available up to 4 times per month depending on your account status, platform integration and previous month sales. Moreover, up to 4 items may be included in 1 order, read more on discounted sample orders.
We all know that it is close to impossible to get a 100% customer satisfaction and Printful is no exception. However, today Printful remains the best print on demand drop shipping service in terms of print quality and product dispatch speeds.
Main Printful competitors are Printify and Gooten. Overall Printful is more expensive than Gooten but cheaper than Printify. Also, Printful has the biggest product range and customization options out of the trio. All are present on Shopify; however, Printful has the highest app rating of 4.6 followed by Printify with 4.5 and Gooten with 3.9. On the other e-commerce platforms, Printful has a huge advantage over the competition since Printify and Gooten are not integrated with Amazon, eBay, BigCommerce and many other platforms.
Printify vs Printful
Printful provides more ways to brand products compared to Printify. You can customize packaging, sleeves, outside and inside labels to match your brand. Also, Printful owns production plants, whereas Printify outsources production. This means more intermediaries and as a result, theoretically, the chance of mistakes occurring is higher than in Printful. Read more in our Printify review.
Gooten vs Printful
Gooten, same as Printify, outsources most of its production. This leads to slower order fulfillment as well as less efficient quality control. Gooten has a smaller product range and less product customization available. However, their main advantage over Printful is on average a 15% smaller price tag. Unfortunately, Gooten product quality and product range is no match to the Printful.
Using Printful is free, you only pay when someone orders from your store. And there’s no minimum order requirement. Currently Printful offers the following products:
|Product type||Price in $|
|Shirts||From $7 to $27|
|Wall Art||From $5 to $27|
|Hats||From $12 to $18|
|Mugs||From $7 to $9|
|All-over Shirts||From $19 to $30|
|Totes & Bags||From $10 to $30|
|Leggings||From $16 to $27|
|Pillows||From $12 to $16|
|Dresses||From $24 to $30|
|Skirts||From $16 to $25|
|Swimwear||From $14 to $26|
Printful product range is wide and definitely the biggest among the competition. You have plenty of choices when cooperating with Printful to make a rich product assortment. Don’t forget to add shipment cost when deciding on the retail price of your products.
Is Printful worth it?
Less than 3% of the stores actually make it through the first year. You are very likely to fail and not make any money at all.
On the other hand, comparing modern small e-commerce businesses to more traditional ones, e-commerce businesses are much cheaper to both start and maintain.
As with any business the hardest part is to find a paying customer. You can be a great designer but without good marketing and SEO skills, there is a very small chance of selling even 1 t-shirt.
You must develop a marketing strategy and start advertising on Google and Facebook. This is where the real expenses are hiding. Your advertising costs may easily reach 10$ or more per 1 sale.
It is easy to calculate that it may eat all your gross margin just like that. Moreover, it may cost thousands of dollars in SEO to bring your website to the first Google results page in some low competition keywords. This is absolutely crucial if you want to make money without giving all profits to advertisers.
Don’t forget about your competition. Your designs must be eye-catching and should stand out in front of the competition. Shopify and Printful will make you believe that e-commerce business is easy, after all, you are their target customer. Just know that you will have to work really hard to break even during the first year.
Obviously, it is not up to Printful to teach you how to do business, Printful is a good print-on-demand service, probably the best out there. They efficiently automate the hardest part of a T-shirt printing business. Yet cooperation with them does not guarantee success for you. Printful just makes it possible for you to start a print on demand drop-shipping business; however, your business success depends entirely on you.