Inventory is a burden for almost all businesses, and for customized products, it is an even bigger hassle. Printful is a platform that eliminates the need to invest in stock, and allows businesses to access Print-On-Demand services at great prices.
Print-On-Demand is a very cool way to offer custom products at low prices. Once an order is placed, it will be forwarded to a Print-On-Demand service provider, who will be responsible for processing the goods and arranging shipment.
If you want to sell custom printed goods, there is likely to be a Print-On-Demand provider which is suitable for those who sell products online. Printful is one solution for selling custom printed products without worrying about inventory and logistics.
Up to now, Printful has fulfilled over 10 million orders and more than $397 million USD worth of merch has been sold by its customers.
Printful is well-liked by the majority of its customers, and it has a wide range of products. In addition to making POD easy, Printful also offers good customer support and a great online interface that makes using its POD platform an attractive eCommerce option.
- 1 What is Printful?
- 2 How Does Printful Work?
- 3 How is Printful’s Quality?
- 4 Printful: Options and Features
- 5 Printful Pricing
- 6 The Printful User Experience
- 7 Printful: The Rundown
- 8 Printful
- 9 Pros
- 10 Cons
What is Printful?
Printful is like an eCommerce platform, which specializes in Print-On-Demand drop shipping services. POD is a business model that enables users to print customized products in small numbers, and many also offer shipping.
With POD, eCommerce merchants don’t need to keep any physical products available in stock. Basically, POD is a kind of drop shipper who offers the production process, together with fulfillment and other services that eliminate the need for any physical production of goods.
Printful’s name is a combination of two words: Print and Fulfillment. These words represent the two essential points of the company’s platform—printing products and order fulfillment. Initially, Printful was developed in 2004, and later, it catered to the public’s desire to have quotes printed on products like posters and t-shirts.
At first, the team behind the company had to outsource the printing work to print companies, and finding ones that could do everything as exactly as they requested was a big challenge.
Printful Was Born
After using different services, the company came to the conlusion that there was no business that could offer all of the products they wanted, in the quantities they demanded, for a price they liked, with the quality of service that they expected.
While the team experienced difficulties in selling custom printed products, it led them to decide and make a new platform for POD services. In July 2013, the team started to build the platform that became Printful, which explains why the company knows so much about the challenges that small businesses face in the POD sector.
Printful is giving its users everything they would need to set up their eCommerce store, and also offers a great mix of quality and price. Printful lets sellers create custom designs on the products and focus on promotion.
Sellers are freed from dealing with any of the physical processes, which will be handled by Printful, including printing, storage, packaging, and shipping to customers. Retailers just need to work on making great designs, and also on growing their business with effective marketing.
How Does Printful Work?
Printful is known for being friendly to deal with. To better understand the process of using Printful, you can imagine that Printful is as an outsourcing option for your business.
Printful works in these simple steps:
- Step 1: To start you need to register an account. Printful offers free accounts for every user.
- Step 2: Start creating customized product designs
After registering, Printful will guide you through the rest of the process. You will begin with your mockup designs. Here, you can choose whichever product you want, with a variety of available options for size, material, color and so on.
You can make your own custom products by using Printful tools such as text, clip art or by uploading your existing graphic images. Printful allows you to fashion every part of the product.
For example, with a T-shirt, you can sketch the front-side, back-side, left sleeve, right sleeve, and label. Mockups of the products are provided for inspection by your customers on Printful platform, or you can create custom orders and save it to your connected eCommerce platform.
If you do integrate your Printful account with other platforms, the products will automatically sync to your online stores.
- Step 3: Run marketing campaigns to promote your products in different stores
If you have already run an online store, you can easily integrate your Printful into many other eCommerce platforms, such as Amazon, eBay, Shopify, WooCommerce, Weebly.
Printful can be connected to about 20 eCommerce platforms and marketplaces. If you don’t have an online store, you can use Printful to sell your products.
- Step 4: Order fulfillment
When there’s an order, Printful will produce the items, then package and deliver the order to your customer. It usually takes 2-7 days for printing and packaging, and, depending on location, the shipping time would range from 1-8 days within the US or Europe, or 1-20 days for international shipping.
One of the best points of Printful is that its fulfillment time can be considered to be competitively fast in the world of POD services. Printful has done its best to production times low by building fulfillment centers around the US and Europe as well as partnering with trusted international logistic suppliers.
Overall the products and services offered by Printful are very good for the POD industry, and it is a great way to integrate custom products into your eCommerce mix.
How is Printful’s Quality?
The advantage of Print-On-Demand and drop shipping is that merchants do not have to concern themselves with inventory or stock. However, stores cannot control the quality of their products, which is widely recognized as one of drop shipping’s disadvantages.
Printful does a great job of offering good-quality products, and most of its clients are more than happy with the value/price ratio it delivers
The company has invested over $29 million USD in printing equipment in order to be an industry leader and to ensure awesome looking products. In addition, their quality control is good, and guarantees products are in good condition when they leave the fulfillment center.
The quality control process is divided into 3 stages:
- Automated software checks graphics for quality before printing
- Fulfillment specialists check quality while orders are printed
- Final quality check after printing and curing
Not only does the company care about printing quality, but it also understands that product quality also relies on the feedstock. Printful chooses suppliers based on reliability, and also uses ethical brands which comply with labor, environmental and safety standards.
Some of the manufacturers it uses for source material are Belle + Canvas, Gildan, Flexfit, Augusta, and Hanes.
Of course, customers’ expectation is always at a high level. It is understandable that sometimes Printful’s quality is not as perfect as its customers demand. The quality also depends on the type of product that store owners choose to print on and the quality of the graphic they upload.
To judge Printful quality in an objective way you should create some product of your own, and order some product samples. In all likelihood, you will have a hard time matching the value that Printful delivers.
Printful: Options and Features
Like most POD platforms, Printful has a range of products and features on offer. Here is a brief guide to what the company can deliver to your customers, and how it sets itself apart from the competition.
Printful has two options which are Direct-to-Garment (DTG) printing and embroidery. The company wants to make the POD process easy, cost effective and labor effective way for its users to make money in the eCommerce arena.
The company sets DTG method as their standard process, and this means that clients can create photo-quality prints and the amount of colors used doesn’t affect pricing so that there aren’t any order minimums.
Printful uses Kornit and Brother printers, which are famous for high-quality in DTG printing, for all DTG printed garments. Both of these brands produce great printing gear and combined with high-quality garments, Printful clients can be sure they are offering good quality to their customers.
Big Selection of Products
Printful offers a wide range of products including apparel, homeware, and accessories. Every product they offer can be used for custom printing.
Currently, their product list includes 228 labels, ranging from shirts, and jackets, to hoodies and sweatshirts, sweatpants, joggers, leggings, shorts, skirts, dresses, swimwear, baby bibs, hats, phone cases, bags, jewelry, flip flops, mugs, stickers, pillows, and wall art.
It is very easy for a retailer to expand their product selection. There are loads of options, and all you have to do is come up with great designs.
What’s more, even if Printful doesn’t have the product that you need, you can find your own supplier and Printful will take charge of your customer’s fulfillment.
The order fulfillment is still under your brand name, which makes this a great solution for any eCommerce business that wants more control over its products.
Warehousing, Shipping and Fulfillment
As Printful is also a fulfillment and warehousing service, there’s no need for sellers to manage any production or inventory. Printful will handle printing and shipping directly from the manufacturer (if it does not do the work in-house) to the buyers on behalf of their users.
With five fulfillment centers in the US, Europe, and Mexico, Printful is well placed to serve the US, Mexico, the UK, and the EU. This means that it can give its users flexible on-demand fulfillment with fast delivery and minimal risk.
Sellers can order Printful products in advance and store those products at Printful’s storehouse. Printful’s fulfillment service is not only for Printful products but also, non-Printful products as well.
The company offers great options for eCommerce merchants who don’t want, or don’t have enough resources to handle warehousing, shipping and fulfillment themselves, or who don’t have the know-how to make the manufacturing and logistics side of the business work.
More than three million orders are fulfilled and shipped by Printful each year. To ensure fast global shipping service, it has partnered with giant global carriers such as FedEx, DHL, USPS, and DPD.
There aren’t any corners being cut at Printful, which is one of the reasons why the company has become so popular.
Branding for White Label
Of course, many merchants want to sell their printed products under their own brand name. That’s why Printful offers several fantastic options for printed white-label products on its platform.
Custom white label printing allows businesses to design their own logo, their own product labels, and then, Printful will imprint designs on the products based on the chosen services. Other branding options on Printful lets users create custom labels and packaging as well.
With this service, Printful sets itself apart from normal POD providers. It is helping to take its clients’ business to the next level and create the image of an entirely personalized and professional brand.
If have been sitting on an idea for a while, but cannot finish it, Printful has several in-house teams of talented professionals who can help you bring your ideas to life.
Moreover, Printful offers thorough and collaborative design services where it helps to create custom-designed graphics which are ready for all sorts of physical or digital products and places, including:
- Branding/identity packages
- Stationery/paper goods
- Large format
- Home goods/accessories
- Promotional products
Printful can also print, photograph or make videos of your products, which you could use later to promote your products in online sales channels.
Printful enables sellers to connect to most of the commonly used eCommerce platforms, such as Amazon, eBay, Shopify, WooCommerce, Etsy, and Weebly. The integration of these platforms is easy and fast.
Should you find no useful platforms for your online sales channels, it is also possible to link with Printful by using a custom API.
Offering connections with nearly 20 of the most popular eCommerce platforms and marketplaces makes Printful one of the best options out there for eCommerce sellers.
Your company will not miss any orders, and one it is recorded it will automatically get sent to Printful. The rest of the processes are carried out by Printful, as well.
All this means that once you integrate your online stores with Printful, your hands are free and all you need to do is focus on growing your business and attracting customers.
One of the greatest things is that Printful does not charge any upfront cost. Basically, users sign up for an account, start designing their items and merge everything with their existing online stores – all for free.
You may be wondering, where does Printful make money?
This all depends on how much a user orders. Once an order is made, the retailer charges his/her customers and then Printful charges him/her for the products and shipment fee to fulfill the customer’s order.
Whatever is leftover after Printful’s charges the seller is the profit. Retailers can set their preferred profit margin, it’s all up to them.
It can be simply understood by using this formula:
Let’s imagine an example: You are selling a basic T-shirt which costs $7.95 USD per product. Your customer location is within the US.
Here is how much your customer needs to pay:
- Product cost: $7.95 USD
- Shipping cost: $3.99 USD
- Your set-up profit: $6 USD
- Final cost = $7.95 USD + $3.99 USD + $6 USD = $17.94 USD, in which Printful’s charge is $11.94 USD (= $7.95 USD + $3.99 USD)
Please note that the shipping fee would be changed based on the customer’s location and the number of products in a package.
Printful also has a favorable pricing scheme for adding additional products to an order
To expand on the example, the first product costs $3.99 and from the second product, you will be charged $1.25 for each additional item. In case of orders with different products, the shipping rate will be based on the product which has the highest rate.
To help their users stay on track with this calculation, the Printful shipping rate is transparently published on its website. At the same time, they offer a calculator option for retailers to set up a selling price, and preview the potential profit.
All of these tools allow users to determine the profit margin for each product. Printful recommends that store owners keep the profit margin at 30%, at the very lowest.
Pricing for paid services such as warehousing, branding or creative services, can be easily found on Printful’s website. These include a number of extra options you may want to apply for your custom print products, such as inside/outside label, embroidered logo, or other custom options which cost more.
One of the best things that Printful offers is free logo printing on the shipping slip, which allows stores to promote their brand names to customers. It is a unique feature which is not provided by many POD platforms, despite being a great way to grow a business’ image.
Any Printful user can access its free customer support. The company offers telephone, email, live chat or send a contact form options for help. There are Printful communities on Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube where you can join and communicate with other members or chat directly with the admin team as well.
The Printful User Experience
Printful is perfect for fashionistas, artists or anyone with a creative mind that want to start their own business with their own designs, but it also caters to entrepreneurs who want to simplify their business model with a reasonable cost of production. It also works for people who want to create their own clothes, hats or accessories!
Printful in-house designers and team can help you out if you need to design merch, but don’t have the talent to do it yourself. Not only can they help you prepare print files for Printful products, but they can also help you redesign your logos, create new graphics, create custom artwork and beyond.
In order to cater to a wide range of users, Printful offers a simple and friendly interface for designing items and then selling them. You will be guided through all the processes by its interface, or you can find support from Printful’s team who is available during the weekdays via a range of communication options.
The Printful FAQ page and blog are listed on the website, and both offer resources for better understanding printing methods, fabric facts and marketing tips for businesses. Printful offers its clients loads of options and attractive pricing on great custom products.
Does Printful Make Sense for Sellers?
Printful offers all the advantages of a POD platform, as well as an integrated eCommerce and dropshipping solution.
Here are some of the advantages that it delivers:
- No upfront costs and lower risks: sellers do not have to equip machines for production or warehouse goods. Also, sellers do not have to worry about inventory which is a big deal for customized products.
- Hands-off fulfillment: all of the fulfillment processes including printing, packaging, shipping, and even storage.
- Freedom to focus on your art and marketing: If you are an artist, you can get rid of business management and focus on creating your incredible designs.
While POD and dropshipping are amazing, there are also some things to keep in mind. Some of these are only downsides for established companies, and would not apply to smaller producers who can’t invest in a production run.
Keep these in mind as your business grows:
- Lower profit margin: your profit depends on how you price your products and how you attract customers to your products. If your prices are high, it may be difficult to sell at volume.
- Limited control over quality and customer experience: all of production and shipping process is passed to the POD provider, then you cannot do much about these areas.
- Possible to do it for less: POD services make a lot of sense for designers who aren’t sure if they can sell an entire production run. When sales are more secure, doing larger runs with a dedicated service provider may make more sense.
With its many advantages, the POD business model has attracted more and more attention from online sellers. It is very diverse, flexible and easy for sellers to set up. Because sellers do not need to store inventory or to buy machinery, the risk is significantly reduced. Thanks to that, sellers can be more comfortable in developing new ideas.
Sellers can also create unique products for niche customers, which was not as easy to do a decade ago. Serving a group of customers who are loyal to your art and interests is a great idea, and may help your company to grow its income base.
Printful: The Rundown
It is easy to see why Printful is a leader in Print-on-Demand sector. It developed as a result of organic growth, and really does offer a great product production system for eCommerce retailers.
Here are some of the things that it delivers to its clients:
- No monthly fee or minimum order required: users can make profits without paying any upfront costs and any conditions
- Friendly interface and easy to use for all types of users
- Wide range of products; users can also customize their own label, logo
- High-quality products and printing
- Additional options for branding, such as white-label products (need to pay) and logo print on shipping paper
- Competitively fast shipping and can ship globally
- Many integration selections
- Multiple ways to access customer support
It should be noted that while Printful offers higher quality services, it comes with higher prices than many other platforms. This is ok for people that think they can sell at a premium price but not as great for sellers that need to offer low prices.
Printful may more suitable for merchants with large channels who are not worried about a cost burden, or a smaller store that isn’t concerned with large profits. Either way, pricing strategies should be considered upfront, so you have some idea of how much your eCommerce business can generate.
A Great Platform for eCommerce
Printful is a potential choice for sellers who want to start their own business without any risk associated with purchasing a huge number of products or expensive machinery.
There are no tricks on the platform, and sellers have an amazing array of tools to figure out how much they will make, and integrate their existing sales channels with Printful.
Any criticisms of the platform are mild.
There are cheaper ways to do POD, but they generally come with a much higher cost (more volume), or a lower quality of finished product. Printful has great shipping options for people that operate in the US, UK, and EU, which makes it a great way to deliver quality, on time, and with your own branding!