The best print on demand for Etsy is not the always the cheapest and there are many factors to consider. We will look at the 7 top print on demand (POD) providers for Etsy sellers and what makes them good and/or bad.
When it comes to finding the best print on demand for Etsy there are a lot of factors to consider. Every Etsy business is different. You need to access your own needs, your own goals and ultimately figure out what works best for you.
Fulfilling Etsy orders with print on demand can be (almost) completely hands-off or it can be a full time job.
It all depends on what you choose to sell and how you choose to sell it.
If you offer a lot of personalization, make your own custom mockups and develop relationships with your customers then you will need to put in a lot of hours – even though you fulfill orders with print on demand.
Regardless of your strategy you will need a good partner. To be honest, all the main print on demand services are pretty good.
Those who aren’t simply don’t stick around for long.
It is more about finding the right match for your Etsy shop. The right products, the right prices and the best type of service will ultimately dictate who you go with.
I can tell you from personal experience that shifting your entire product catalog from one print on demand provider to another is a huge task.
Even with just a hundred products, it takes weeks of work to make the move.
This is all the more reason to really choose your print on demand partner for your Etsy store more carefully.
I will start off by briefly discussing the most important things to look for in a print on demand partner and then look at my 7 top picks.
The 7 best print on demand for Etsy are:
- Printed Mint
I’ve used them all in different shops and in different scenarios – depending on my needs at the time. They are all ‘good’ in their own way but every one has its strengths and weaknesses.
The 7 Most Important Checks For Finding The Best Print On Demand For Etsy Shops
Print on demand is evolving and in the past 5 years it really has established itself as more than a trend.
Its here to stay and since Etsy opened the doors for unique products, it opened the doors for Etsy sellers to take advantage and sell through print on demand on Etsy.
We are spoiled for choice.
Whether you are a complete noob or an established Etsy seller, the search for new or better products is ongoing.
Below I’ve laid out a ‘criteria’ of 7 key aspects to look for when evaluating print on demand partners for your Etsy shop.
One point I did not include is the so-called ‘Etsy approved’ partners. While some claim to be approved by Etsy, there is not formal approval listed by Etsy anywhere.
Any app that wants to integrate with Etsy needs access to their API. They will know exactly who uses the API so it is highly unlikely that anyone would not be ‘approved’.
1. Print Quality
Print quality is becoming less of an issue with most of the major print facilities now equipped with really advanced printers.
These commercial scale printers are capable of high resolution full colour DTG prints and most of the print on demand process is automated.
The problems come in with quality control. Mistakes happen and unless there is some sort of human check, misprints can happen and get sent out.
In the last year I had virtually no ‘bad prints’ reach any of my customers whereas in the years before it was a persistent issue.
The fact remains that the standard of printing is really high now. Nothing but perfect, vivid and enduring prints is acceptable.
Smaller print on demand outfits may not have the quality of printers to produce this high quality work.
Print quality is something to be mindful of but to be honest I do not see this as a big issue for DTG anymore.
The issues of print quality is far more prominent on sublimation products and embroidery. Sublimation is far more hands-on and embroidery relies a lot on the quality of digitization and print files.
There’s a lot more that can go wrong and I would strongly urge you to always order in samples before you go all in with just one print on demand supplier with any sublimation or embroidery product.
One of the major considerations for the best print on demand for Etsy is speed. How fast can they get your customer’s order to them.
This all boils down to fulfillment times. All of these top 7 providers can get DTG products out of the door in about 3 days.
During peak times it can become a nightmare. Smaller providers simply can not handle huge surges as their print facilities can only handle that much.
What I really love about Printify is that they now offer ‘Order Routing’. What this allows you to do is to automatically route an order to an alternative provider if your preferred provider has production or stock issues.
Speed is a big issue. In many ways it is your biggest disadvantage as a print on demand seller on Etsy.
People are impatient and want their orders fast. If it takes you a week to get the order shipped out then that is not a good user experience.
Faster shipping is an option but rarely makes sense financially. Both Printful and Printify offer express shipping but it comes at an additional $6 to $10 per order.
Customcat has much more reasonable express shipping options but they also tend to be the fastest at fulfillment.
Since DTG products are mostly automated they usually get fulfilled very quickly. You need to be particularly cautious with sublimation products as they usually have much slower fulfilment times.
Also be very cautious with the location of your print on demand partner. Make sure they are in the USA (or UK/EU if that’s your market).
There are a number of print on demand providers that are actually printing in China. These will always be much slower and can put your Etsy business at risk.
Reliability translates to trust. Can you have full confidence in your print on demand partner to take care of the fulfillment.
Always worrying and having to check on orders can be both time consuming and stressful.
When you have full confidence in your POD partner then you can focus on what really matters in your Etsy business.
I’ve recently had an issue where Gooten lost its connection with my Etsy store. I only realized this after about a week and what it meant was a lot of orders that did not sync.
This means a lot of manual work – taking away time from designing and marketing.
There are a lot of aspects to reliability.
Unfortunately it usually comes from working with a partner over a period of time. You can avoid the biggest traps by listening to other people’s experiences but don’t let that always sway you.
If you are unsure about any print on demand provider, place a test order. See how they do. It is usually the best way to get a taste of what your customers will experience.
I consider the 7 provider below to be the best print on demand for Etsy because I have used them all and have complete trust in them.
Do they sometimes make mistakes? Yes! Some more than others but I know from experience that even when it all goes wrong they always come good.
There is nothing worse for an Etsy shop than having a best seller where your print on demand provider suddenly can’t fulfill your orders anymore.
With common products like DTG shirts and mugs it’s not an issue. Simply find someone else.
The problem comes in with more unique products. If you start doing more serious volume they might not be able to keep up.
Once orders start piling up and they are having issues to keep up with fulfillment you are running some serious risks.
The Xmas period is always one that is riddled with pitfalls when it comes to capacity. It happens every year and 2020 in particular was challenging.
Many POD providers simply ran out of stock well before the Xmas rush was over. Many were flooded with orders and on some products the production times dropped to 10+ days.
While there is no way to fully predict their capacity, you should know that smaller providers will always struggle when there is a surge in orders.
This is where the big names and the established providers shine through. You are far less likely to experience any significant issues
Communication is critical. If you have issues with orders or with any technicalities then you need someone who can help you quickly.
After all, your print on demand provider is your partner. I like having a chat service available as it usually gets you help quite quickly.
For the most part, all these 7 partners listed below respond within 24 hours. Anything longer than that is not acceptable.
Before I ever even start testing a new print on demand provider for my Etsy stores I always reach out to them first. This is mostly just to test their response and their level of communication.
If it takes 3 days to get some basic answers then that is a warning sign.
Communication is also not just about customer support.
How well do they communicate their own issues with you?
Do they let you know well in advance if there are stock issues?
Do they warn you well in advance of price increases?
Do they warn you well in advance if they are discontinuing a product?
These are really important issues because it impacts your Etsy business directly.
Price is a really interesting variable with POD. It often takes some careful analysis to truly determine the prices of certain products.
Some providers like Printify and Customcat will charge you a monthly subscription fee to get better base prices.
Some will load their shipping costs to give you cheaper base costs on the products.
It is important that you always look at all the hidden costs and make sure you know exactly what the overall cost of any particular product will be.
The best print on demand for Etsy is not necessarily the cheapest one. Yes, the cheaper you go the most profit you can make but at what cost?
You should always consider all the other factors as well.
Esty shoppers are willing to spend and an extra $2 or $5 rarely scare off a potential buyer. Never try and compete on price as it is usually just a race to the bottom.
Prices vary wildly from one provider to the next.
Identify what is most important to you for your Etsy shop. If its quality, then ‘the cheapest’ is not the main consideration. If its speed then ‘the cheapest’ is not the main consideration.
I always like to maintain a balance between prices, quality and speed.
Most of all, try and stay in touch with the majority of the competition on Etsy. You don’t want to be the one who sells $50 t-shirts of the going rate is about $30.
I like to minimize the number of print on demand partners I use for any particular Etsy shop. I do not like having an Etsy shop that sells products from more than 2 print on demand partners.
The reason is simple: it gets too complicated and it limits the options for combined shopping (which save you a ton of money).
If there is a particular new line of products I am interested in selling I would start a new Etsy shop.
This brings up the issue of innovation. You want to be with a POD partner that regularly introduces new products and new offerings.
This allows you to expand your own product line up without continuously having to add new print partners.
Printful (for instance) now allows you to collect personal messages (for gifts) from your Etsy store and they will automatically include it in your products when they fulfill it.
This level of innovation is small, but significant.
The 7 Best Print on Demand Partners for Etsy Sellers
I’ve reviewed many of these services separately or through comparisons before. For the sake of not repeating it all, I will instead look at each of them briefly based on the 7 factors we discussed above.
The print on demand partner for your Etsy business is your lifeline. Your products are the most important part of your store.
Even though your designs is critically important when you do print on demand, without great printing, great service and reliable production you simply do not have anything to sell.
Different stores, different product ideas and targeting different demographics all require different solutions.
One print on demand provider is not necessarily better than another. It may just suite your specific needs better.
Accessing each one based on that criteria is much more accurate way to analyze each one.
Printful was one of the first print on demand providers to be ‘allowed’ on Etsy. When Etsy changed their policy from ‘handmade products’ to ‘unique products’ Printful was one of the first to be on-board.
Printful has their own print facilities, is very hands-on with every product they make and have an incredibly solid service all round.
Have their own print facilities throughout the USA as well as the EU. This means everything gets printed by Printful which offers consistent high quality, grouped orders and fast fulfillment.
Printful is expensive. On average they are about 20% more expensive than some of the cheaper options.
If you want to focus on a complete hands-off Etsy shop with high quality products BUT smaller profit margins then Printful is for you.
They are really easy to work with, 100% newbie friendly and have some of the best generic mockups available.
They have a few unique products but the focus is mostly on the main DTG products like shirts, hoodies, mugs etc.
Printify is a print aggregator that “outsources” all printing to a number of print providers. Printify is ‘mission control’ and it gives you access to some of the biggest print facilities in the USA.
These are printers that you usually would not have access to unless you do massive print runs.
The advantages are obvious. Better prices, a huge range of choices and a lot of back-up options.
Printify has become very transparent and they now give you full control over your print providers.
Their prices are okay. If you really want good prices you will need to subscribe to their business plan which is $29.95 per month.
Pro Tip For Printify:
Most print on demand providers will charge you individually for every order. Thi can quickly add up in charges with your credit card – especially for international sellers.
I am in Australia and having 20 to 50 transactions a day really adds up as there is always a currency conversion fee as well.
With Printify you can load money into your Printify account and then every transaction simply deducts money from your account. That greatly reduces the number of transactions and fees you pay.
Printify has great prices, a massive range of products and product options and they are really easy to work with.
Things can get complicated with Printify. Because they have so many print partners and integrations you have to keep tabs on what you are doing.
They do not have their own print facility so orders with multiple products can get fulfilled and shipped separately which can confuse and frustrate some Etsy customers.
If you have some experience with print on demand already then I recommend Printify as the go-to partner for your Etsy shop for standard DTG products.
With their business plan, prices are great and you can maximize your profits. Their generic mockups are good enough and their Etsy integration works smoothly.
Gooten is very similar to Printify and also acts as an aggregator. They are not as transparent and do not reveal their print partners.
Overall, they are good to work with. They are reliable but their communication is not always that good.
Gooten has some amazing products that you can not find anywhere else. They are particularly strong with posters, wall prints and canvas type products.
Traditionally these are very strong products on Etsy which makes them a good choice.
Pro Tip For Gooten:
Since their mockups are so bad you will need to create your own or buy mockups from Creative Market. Some products will be hard to find actual mockups to buy.
One great way to get your own mockups is to make use of their offer from samples. Order samples of the products you are selling and send them straight to a photographer on Fiverr who can do flatlays or blank mockup photography.
You can even sell your blank mockups on Etsy.
With fairly good prices, a reliable service and some truly unique products they are a solid choice.
Their standard mockups are terrible and simply not good enough to be used in your Etsy shop. You will need to create separate mockups for all their products.
If you are looking for some unique products to dodge the masses on Etsy then Gooten is a good choice.
They have amazing mom/baby products, pet products and are particularly good with large scale wall prints/posters/canvases.
CustomCat has been around for a long time but only started offering Etsy integration towards the end of 2020.
They have one of the biggest and most sophisticated print facilities in the print on demand space – and its all theirs!
They fulfill all their products from the one facility and their impressive catalog of products can easily serve all your products needs for your Etsy shop.
Their prices are great but similar to Printify you will need to pay a monthly subscription to get the lower base costs.
CustomCat has been around for a long time. They are reliable and have a massive and very sophisticated print facility.
They can handle large volume and they are super reliable over Xmas times when others struggle to keep up with surges in volume.
They have some of the cheapest base costs on many DTG products and have a massive catalog of clothing products.
Customcat was made for Shopify. I really dislike their Shopify app as it is clumsy and looks like it belongs in 1995.
The recent update and their web based offering from Etsy is still incredibly clumsy to use. It is just not intuitive at all.
Even though I’ve used CustomCat extensively on my Shopify stores, I am reluctant to go all out with them on Etsy.
I am testing individual products that I know sell well to see how their Etsy integration performs before I open the floodgates.
In the past I’ve had issues with them i.t.o slow communication, wrong orders being sent out and even some poor prints. This was most likely just a growing pain as these issues are mostly resolved now.
If you want cheap base costs and large scale capacity year-round then CustomCat is for you. If you can stomach their platform and wait as they iron out the interface issues then this is for you.
PrintTech is a bit of a secret. It is one of the best print on demand for Etsy and is almost unknown. They do not advertise and are quite a small outfit that specialize in some very unique products.
Most of their products can be personalized and their personalization integrates with Etsy. You will need their $9.99 subscription plan for this but even their free plan allows you access to all their products.
They are not cheap. Their platform is not easy to use but if you can see past those issues you can really set yourself up with some amazing products for your Etsy shop.
They are incredibly fast, offer clean, crisp and vibrant prints and they are constantly adding new and innovative products.
Some truly unique products that you simply won’t find anywhere else. Many of these products you probably haven’t even seen on Etsy before and they are all right in the wheelhouse of Etsy products.
Their products are not cheap. They also do not offer any mockups so you will have to make your own. Their platform is also clunky and not easy to use.
If you want to build an Etsy shop that is not full of the usual t-shirts and mugs then this is a great option.
Even though they are not cheap, the fact that the products are personalized and truly unique means you can sell it at a premium.
Teelaunch does not offer direct Etsy integration.
You need Shopify to use Teelaunch and their Etsy integration works through their Shopify app. It makes it very convenient if you already use Shopify but very convoluted if you don’t.
Teelaunch offers all the basic apparel and mugs at great prices. They are also super reliable and very easy to work with.
Teelaunch has some great products that are ideal for Etsy shops. They have ‘combo apparel’ which is ideal for his-and-hers shirts or any other matching shirts (think mom and baby, dad and son or siblings).
They also have great personalization products that work with custom photo uploads. These work incredibly easy with Shopify stores but not that easy with Etsy shops.
Great products, unique products and super reliable.
Only works through Shopify and you will need a Shopify plan to use it on Etsy.
If you already have a Shopify store and looking to expand to Etsy then Teelaunch is a great option and easy to push your product catalogue to Etsy.
7. Printed Mint
I first came across Printed Mint when I started digging into some products that I saw on Etsy. They are certainly one of the newer print on demand partners available to Etsy sellers.
While they have all the typical DTG products they also offer some unique products that I really like for Etsy in particular.
Furthermore, they seem to really understand Etsy sellers. They have some amazing styled mockups that will work incredibly well on Etsy.
Another great feature is the fact that they offer custom packaging. Not only will this give your customers a great buying experience, it also gives you a definite edge over the more generic print on demand sellers on Etsy.
Most notable of their unique products is their ‘foil printing’ and you can now print gold foil on standard DTG products.
A great selection of products that are ideal for Etsy shops. The prices are pretty good and their mockups are killer.
They are fairly small and fairly new (even though they’ve been operating since 2015). Being small makes it uncertain how well they can handle scale. The few tests I’ve done have seen them run out of certain products which was not great.
They have a lot of products that is right in the wheelhouse of Etsy. Candles, gold foil prints, beautiful styled mockups and custom packaging – what else can you want for your Etsy shop.
POD For Etsy: Conclusion
While these 7 print partners represents what I have a personal experience with. They are by no means the only ones.
There are dozens of print on demand partners that you could use. You could even create custom orders and work with ShineOn, Subliminator or even Redbubble.
It really depends on your broader ideas and the amount of time you have to invest.
Some other print on demand partners for Etsy that you could look into includes Prodigi, The Art Of Where and Print Aura. I’ve heard good things from all of them.
Having back-up providers is always a good thing. You never know when you may need it!
During busy periods like Xmas you will often find yourself searching for items in stock. Printify makes it easy to switch to alternative providers within their network or simply route orders automatically.