Starting a print-on-demand Shopify business? It’s an awesome idea! Especially for anyone with an interest in fashion, and/or some cool design skills. My wife and I started our own print-on-demand business Infinite Six, and were making profit with it within a few hours of launching. It’s not as hard as it might sound!
I’ve written plenty of ideas here on Young Retiree for how to launch a profitable Shopify store with print on demand, and the strategies you need to use. And I know one of the most overwhelming things when you’re first getting started is picking which print on demand company to use for your products!
So since I already went to insane lengths to research all of that information (and have now used a BUNCH of them, for better or for worse), I thought I would save you guys some time by just telling you which ones are good.
So for this post, let’s talk about Printful. How is Printful for Shopify?
What Is Printful?
You probably already know this if you’ve ever looked into print-on-demand. Printful is by far the most popular, and best known print-on-demand company out there. It’s the #1 choice on Shopify, and is used by thousands of designers and store owners to establish their brand.
Printful has an absurd number of different products that they offer for you to print your designs onto. And in a lot of different colors. Snapback hats, phone cases, tank tops – whatever you need.
Printful integrates with Shopify stores with a few clicks of a button. Go to the “Apps” tab, go to Printful, and get it for your store. It’s free to use.
Then all you need to do is pick out products you like, upload a file of your designs, and you can place it right onto the item. Printful does everything from there. Every time you make a sale on your store, Printful prints your design onto the product, and ships it out to your customer. Pretty easy.
So why is it so popular, and is it the best? Let’s say… it’s kind of complicated.
Printful: The Pros and Cons
Rank: 4.7 stars out of 5
#1 Choice: No. Read the details for more info
Print Quality: Excellent
Production Time: Good
Reliability/Customer Service: Excellent
Prices: On The High Side
Here’s a picture of one of our tank tops that we made through Printful.
We love it. Our customer’s loved it too. It may not be easy to tell in this stock photo, but the print quality is very good. So is the actual shirt quality, and the color options.
In fact, Printful is not only one of the biggest print-on-demand companies out there, but it also does all of its own printing in-house. While many of Printful’s competitors outsource the printing or clothes to other warehouses, Printful does everything themselves. This is great because it makes their fulfillment speed a little bit better than the others.
YOUSE is a YouTuber that I’ve found helpful, and he breaks down some of the reasons right here…
So is Printful my absolute favorite print-on-demand company? No. The truth is I don’t have one, and here’s why. There is no #1 print-on-demand company. Sorry, but if you’re looking for one company to be the perfect fit for all of your brand needs, it’s probably not going to happen. This was one of my most important discoveries when I started my own brand. Different companies excel in different areas, so I actually use 5 different POD companies for my store.
These are the drawbacks of Printful:
- Some of the products are too darn expensive. It’s hard to set a good profit margin, while also staying competitive and giving your customers a good deal. If Printful wants too much money for the product, you can barely keep any money for yourself once the sale is made
- There are a number of products that are better or more affordable from other companies. I’ll explain this below.
So When Should You Use Printful?
As I mentioned above, Printful’s tank top game is strong. They have an excellent variety of options, and while they charge more than some other companies, they have a solid reputation and you can trust your customer is getting a good product. Similarly, Printful is a good resource for hats (baseball hats, boonie hats, etc), and t-shirts.
Printful is also absurdly easy to use. Of all of the POD companies that I use, they’re the one that’s intuitive. It’s like driving automatic, instead of stick shift in a car. When you’re a beginner in driving, do you want to start off practicing with a 13 speed Mack sleeper tractor pulling a trailer, or do you want to start using the family sedan? Starting simple is a good thing. It may even prevent some wrecks as you’re starting your business.
Where Do You Need To Use Other Companies?
By far the company that my wife and I use the most for our designs is Teelaunch. They’re fairly limited in their options, but their prices are great, and their quality is still good. Here are some photos of our own designs through Teelaunch to give you an idea.
The low prices from Teelaunch allow us to make decent profits on the clothes we sell. The strongest products from Teelaunch are mugs and phone cases. Their quality is good, every bit equal to Printful, and their prices are far better.
In the area of all-over-print t-shirts and other apparel (clothes that have a print that covers the entire shirt, whether as a pattern or multiple images), neither Teelaunch or Printful is the best. Teelaunch only prints on the front half of the shirt (it’s cheap, but it also doesn’t look as good), and Printful is slightly more expensive. For all-over-print needs my company of choice is Printify, which you can see me wearing here.
Here’s another similar design…
All-over-prints are expensive at the best of times, but they look awesome. I recommend Printify in this department.
In the area of phone grips (a.k.a. pop sockets), pillow cases, and canvas prints for wall art, the company I use the most is a U.K. based company called Printy6. Good quality and the price is right.
If you want to make more advanced, extremely high quality and customizable print-on-demand clothing there’s one more you’ll need to know – a lesser known app called SKYOU. SKYOU can be challenging and more advanced to use, but don’t be deceived by the clunky looking website. SKYOU’s products are very expensive, and you’ll need to be charging your customers top dollar for these products, but it’s worth it. If you want to release a special series of higher end products that your competition can’t keep up with, I recommend SKYOU.
So to sum up, Printful isan AWESOME resource for print-on-demand. It’s reviews and reputation are much more solid than competitors like Print Aura and Custom Cat. Their customer service is excellent. Their production times faster than most. Their options diverse, and their print quality high.
But you’ll want more than just Printful in your repertoire. The best and most complete Shopify store requires a larger pool of resources.