It took a while but I have the Printful review ready. With a few Print on demand companies going belly up lately I thought it is the right time to talk about a lot of the things many gurus keep quiet about.
I hear a lot of people pretending that print on demand is “low risk” and that you do not have the hassles that you have with dropshipping from China.
I have seen slow shipping and poor quality prints with POD. I have seen refunds as high as that with Aliexpress products with POD.
Print on demand is a low margin business and most products are sold with paper thin margins. Not just for you but for everyone. Competition is fierce and there is a lot of undercutting – and also cutting corners.
Printful is one of the POD providers that has been around for some time and certainly one of the first to integrate with Shopify. Like any POD supplier there are lot of things that is great about them and then there are a lot of things that suck.
Printful: The Good
There is a lot to like about Printful. Not only are they one of the most established POD suppliers, they are one of the innovators in the industry. I probably can’t cover all the best features of Printful but I will start with the main ones that apply to running a print on demand business.
1.It is Free
The Printful app is free and unlike Customcat and Printful, they offer you their entire suite of functions, mockups and features for free. You can use Printful as a stand-alone or you can use the App for Shopify, WooCommerce, Wix and a few others.
I’m not stingy but I really dislike how POD suppliers charge for the app. Some of them do offer really cheap products but then you end up paying $30/month for the app – in reality you are just subsidising their cheap product costs.
If you first start out, this will give you some breathing space as there is no time pressure with a free trail or the additional financial burden.
2.It is Quality
Printful’s print quality is second to none. Even their cheapest T-shirts come out great with vibrant colours and flawless printing. They definitely have their quality control dialled in because I have rarely received customer complaints about print quality – unlike most POD’s out there.
When it comes to their engraving and em,embroidery it is the same. They create high quality products that you can sell with confidence.
3.It is Easy to Use
Printful’s app for Shopify and Woocommerce is easy to use. Creating products and pushing them to your store is straightforward. They also have design templates for every product that is easy to use and understand even for novice designers.
Orders are synced, printed and shipped with complete automation and you can run your print on demand business as hassle free as it comes.
Offering personalized products is the name of the game with Print on demand these days. Printful’s app offers this free and it is really easy to use and implement on your Shopify store.
You can offer personalization on almost any product which is a huge plus. You do not need any third party apps or integrations.
5.Large Print Areas
When it comes to printing graphics on clothing you really need to maximize the impact of your designs. With many POD suppliers they limit the print sizes to a small square on the front of the shirt.
They do this to minimise costs and eliminate issues with re-print. Printful offers full size prints on the front and back of most of their clothing items.
Printful does all the printing in-house in their own facilities. With so many POD apps farming out the printing process it can get very complicated and very confusing. By printing things in-house the quality is consistent and the process is consistent.
Their processing times are short and orders get shipped fast – faster than almost any of the other POD suppliers out there.
7.Variety of products
Until recently Printful’s product catalogue was quite thin. It has expanded significantly in the last year or two and they really do have a nice mix of products now.
Apart from standard clothing, they offer embroidery on hats, clothing and bags. Their hats are some of the best in the business and something you need to check out for your own catalogue (hats sell great to male audiences).
They also offer jewelry now with personalization. Some of their more recent additions also include fanny packs, bean bags and sports bras.
Having quality images on your store is essential and Printful has some of the best mockups in the business. This makes it easy to simply push products to your store without having to edit or recreate the mockup images.
They now also have lifestyle mockups . It looks great and works really great for product ads on Facebook and Instagram.
Printful’s mockup generator can be used for any mockup – even products that you do not sell through Printful. Make use of this – especially if you want to quickly create a series of great looking mockups.
Printful was one of the first POD’s to offer branding. You can have your store’s logo included with the shipping – which makes it look like you shipped it from your own store.
On top of that, you can print your own labels on clothing. This is a huge plus for anyone building a legit brand with their POD store. As far as I know, they are still the only POD supplier that offers this.
Printful has four print facilities. Two in the USA, one in Mexico and one in Latvia. This means that your products in Europe will be cheaper, ship faster and still have the same quality.
Having multiple print facilities can make a big difference in speed and also save you a lot on shipping costs. Your orders will automatically be processed by the facility closest to your customer.
Printful: The Bad
Although printful’s catalogue of products expanded significantly the last 18 months they don’t really offer many unique products. Most of what they offer can be found cheaper on other POD suppliers.
Even though their app is great there are some things that really annoy me. One thing is that their app will sync to all the products in your store – even products from outside of Printful.
This can make it really hard to navigate and find products – especially if you have a big catalog.
While Printful has great embroidery quality there is a big problem for selling them via Print On Demand. They charge a digitization fee for every design. This is a one-off fee when your design makes its first sale and it is about $6.
If you have a large catalog then this can quickly become very expensive and gobble up all your profits.
Printful: The Ugly
I can’t conclude this Printful review without airing my biggest grievance with Printful and that is their prices. I know that this is not entirely fair given their quality and level of service but we all have to eat.
Selling T-shirt with Printful and making a profit is tough. In fact, you probably won’t make much work with Printful and paid advertising. There simply is not enough margin to work with.
You could sell their cheapest T-shirt but I think that the potential for Printful is outside of T-shirts.
They have a lot of great products but you will soon see that you will have to price your products at a 20% to 30% margin to be even reasonable with your prices.
Printful is also very pedantic about artwork. When there are issues with your artwork it can take a lot of back and forth with their support to get it sorted out. This happens a lot with embroidery as sizes and spacings are crucial.
Printful’s Little Known Gems
Printful has a lot of great services and features that many in the POD and Shopify game don’t know about. Some of it won’t concern you but its well worth knowing about anyway.
+ Printful Etsy Integration:
Of you are selling your print on demand products on Shopify then you might as well push them to Etsy. With Printful’s Etsy integration this is really quite simple. With a minimum of extra work you can expose your products to Etsy’s massive market place.
Another feature that many POD sellers from Shopify is probably not aware of is that you can sell on Etsy through Printful without a Shopify store. This is a really cheap way to get started and all you really need to pay for is Etsy’s listing fee.
Printful takes care of almost everything when you sell your designs on Etsy. With their great mockups you can also just push your designs straight from Printful to your Etsy store.
One more great feature of Printful and its Etsy integration is that Printful is certified provider for Etsy. They can be real picky with what they allow on Etsy and POD is a bit of a grey area. This can help protect you against any issues with Etsy’s “handmade” policy.
+ Printful Amazon Integration:
Similar to Printful and Etsy is Printful and Amazon integration. You can sell any of Printful’s POD products with your designs on Amazon. Amazon has a huge worldwide market place with massive buying power.
You will need an amazon account for about $40/month and you will be selling FBM (fulfilled by merchant) as opposed to FBA (fulfilled by Amazon) which most people are doing when they sell physical products.
Pushing your designs and products to Amazon is a no-brainer and easy if the products already exist on your Shopify store.
If you do not have a Shopify or WooCommerce Store then don’t worry. You can still sell on Amazon through Printful without your own store. Just like Etsy, Printful will do all the heavy lifting of handling and shipping your orders and syncing everything with Amazon.
This in itself can be a great business. Selling on Amazon with no risk of buying inventory is a huge plus. Your only expense will be the $40/month amazon fee and all other Amazon royalties can be absorbed by your product sales.
+ Printful’s Fulfilment Service
One of the issues when you do Print on Demand is that you tend to be limited to the apparel products that most POD suppliers offer. If you run a niche store there are a lot of potential for selling physical products.
It can be a logistical nightmare which is why most stores steer away from this. You can dropship from Aliexpress but this can do more harm than good to your brand’s reputation.
Another option is to use Printful’s warehousing and fulfilment service. You simply ship your products to them in bulk and they basically take care of the rest.
You can use the same app and the same familiar interface and they will take care of the fulfilment for you.
This is not just for print on demand stores. If you sell anything from China and need an affordable warehousing solution that is super simple to use then Printful may well be it.
An added bonus is that you can use their European centre as well for products you ship to Europe.
+ Printful’s Photography Service
Once you start building a serious brand you need to move away from using generic product mockups.
You could order your own products and send them to influencers and hope they will take great photos. Or you can order them and do your own photography. This can be super expensive and time consuming.
A third option is to use Printful’s photography and video service. Not only is this super convenient – given that they already print your products but it makes it really hassle free.
I hope that this Printful review has shed some light on one of the biggest POD suppliers. I have no hesitation in recommending them as your “go to”. Offering Printful products as your front-end products if you do advertising is not recommended though.
You will soon go broke.
So, where and how do I use Printful?
I use printful on as many products as possible simply because it is the highest quality print on demand products out there.
They hardly ever make mistakes with orders and I have never had them send out the wrong orders (this happens all the time with Customcat and Printful).
If you run a Shopify store then you should fill your catalog with Printful products for everything apart from your front end products (that you run ads to). It will minimize customer support issues and leave you with a lot of happy customers.
If you sell on Etsy and/or Amazon then Printful is a must. What I really like is that the integration is smooth and you can sell on these two massive marketplaces with very little hassles – and without spending a dime!
Printful will do all the work for you by handling the fulfillment from your Etsy and Amazon sales leaving you to focus only on designing.
If you want to make Printful and Shopify work for you then you will need to follow a different strategy. You will not make it work by selling slogans on T-shirt that sell for $20. Think more along the lines of selling unique artwork on T-shirts that sell for $50.
The quality of products is good enough to justify a $50 T-shirt with Printful. Not selling cheap $20 T-shirts is a totally different business model though but one that has a lot of potential.
Selling cheap T-shirts has become a race to the bottom. If you want to survive and thrive in POD, I believe that you need to focus on building a brand and selling quality…
And Printful can do both!
Wix and Printful
I will add this in for those of you who use Wix. I am not a Wix user but I am certainly becoming more interested in Wix. It really was a clumsy website builder that was aimed at those with zero tech skills.
They have made some huge improvements to Wix recently and it is definitely a great platform to build a store on. If you already have your website or blog hosted on Wix then Printful now integrates fully with Wix.
You can add a Wix store to your Wix blog/website and integrate with Printful to sell your own merch. You can also use Wix as a Shopify alternative.
I can heard those Shopify fans laughing at me. Don’t. Wix is definitely come a long way and offers a lot. It is super simple to use and their store templates are very clean looking – and they are fast.