It’s never an easy task to be the judge.
We’ve been asked every so often to give an in-depth summary and recommend the best platform to launch a T-shirt business.
The print-on-demand business model seems to take a blooming knock in the ecommerce industry. Data-backed numbers show that the custom T-shirt printing niche alone is expected to hit $10 billion by 2025.
And it’s no secret that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of new products emerging in the market that suit the POD model.
Certainly, low overheads, huge mark-up potential, and low barrier to entry are some of the selling points that make the print-on-demand model ideal for beginners looking to start an ecommerce business.
It’s now easier than ever to custom-print stuff like drawstring bags, hoodies, or cushion covers, in just a click. So far, both Printify and Printful stand as the two biggest print-on-demand services.
But ultimately, this comparison will put a pivotal consideration on the strengths and snags of each print-on-demand solution.
To brief you up.
This guide gives a full account of how each platform stacks up in the market. To brief you up on the main segments, we’ll take a closer look at these productive factors:
- Ease of Use
- Order fulfillment
- Customer support
- Print quality
In the end, you’ll get to know which particular POD solution is right for your soon-to-be, ecommerce business.
But before we share deep insights on these services, let’s first define what print-on-demand entails.
What is Print on Demand?
Print-on-demand, as the term suggests, is an online fulfillment process where the seller works with a supplier to make custom-print products on an order basis.
The supplier who is mostly a print-on-demand service with a warehouse and an online platform that integrates with the drop shippers online selling channel customizes white labels products under the seller’s brand or a customer's pre-made print design.
These products include caps, T-shirts, tote bags, leggings, hoodies, pillows, and curtains. This list goes on and on.
Same as drop shipping, the model allows you not to hold any inventory or pay any upfront fees until a product is sold to the customer. This makes it the best solution to test a business idea since it has low overheads and a marginal barrier to entry.
If you’ve built an audience whether organically or through campaigns, print-on-demand is an option to help you monetize your content.
It’s easier to create an income stream since you don’t have to deal with the fulfillment process.
So let’s compare both services a little further to find out which works best for newbies.
How Printful works
Printful runs production houses in the USA, Mexico, and Europe. The company covers a large geographical scope to fulfill customers’ orders on time.
To get started, you need to sign up and connect your store to Printful. Why do you need to integrate your store to this POD service?
Here’s the hint.
Well, it’s accurate to term print-on-demand as any other dropshipping method. As soon as you’re done with all the integrations, you’ll need to work on your custom products using its mockup generator.
You might want to ask– what the heck is a mockup generator?
In all technical terms, the mockup generator is more like a design tool to help you virtually create custom prints for your listed products. It helps you create amazing and high-resolution photos using the suggested templates.
On Printful, you can reach out to any of its categories and pick any of its POD items that you want to upload on your online store. There are over 200 products to choose from.
Printful's high-selling categories:
- Clothing: T-shirts, Hoodies, Sweatshirts, Leggings, Shorts, Tank tops, Polo shirts, Long sleeve shirts.
- Accessories: stickers, Phone cases, Bracelets, Necklaces.
- Bags: Tote bags, Laptop cases, Drawstring bags, Backpacks, Fanny packs.
- Home & Living: Coffee mugs, Blankets, Pillows, Posters, Canvas prints, Bean bags, Beach towels, Embroidered aprons.
- Collections: Sportswear, Streetwear, Workwear, Beachwear.
There’s literary a whole library of products to post on your dropshipping store. Printful gives users a multifold approach due to its large volume of custom branding options.
After putting your mockups together, Printful allows you to import all the products designs to your store. The next step is to promote your products to your target audience and wait for the order automation feature to take effect.
Printful prints, packs, and ships all orders made by customers from your store. The drop shipper has to pay for the fulfillment costs once an order is fulfilled.
This gets you off the hook from the daunting process of manually designing a print design and shipping orders to your customers.
So basically, two concurrent transactions happen anytime a customer makes an order for a print-on-demand product. First, you need to draw a pricing formula to set your profit margins. As a result, it’s much easier to have competitive retail prices on your listed products.
The subsequent transaction, which Printful charges, is used to purchase the product and settle the fulfillment fees.
And that’s it.
So simple. Right?
Here's an extra guide on Printful's overall perfomance:
How Printify works
Printify attempts to make the order automation process as simple as it can.
Same as it’s top competitor, Printify uses a mockup generator to lessen the burden of designing the print designs. It has easy drag and drop tools that are enormously friendly to beginners.
To create a 3D high-quality product image, Printify has all sorts of color options you can ever think of. There’s also a rich product catalog to work with.
The POD service works with print designers and brands that use state of the art technology to improve on products’ overall quality.
Printify sorts these print-on-demand gurus according to bestselling, location, and prices. So picking the right print provider to fulfill your orders is such a plentiful accessory to your POD dropshipping business.
Its huge directory of products is similar to that of its rival. You can customize your print designs to appear on products such as hoodies, T-shirts, mugs, canvas prints, leggings, and so on.
The option to handpick your supplier makes it convenient for both ends; your business and the customers. As a dropshipping business, you get to reserve your brand’s authority by working with the most suitable print provider.
You have an option to request for samples. This allows you to feel and make first-hand ratings on the products’ quality and print design. If you’re pleased with what you see, you can take a step to the next level and list the variety of products in your store.
And quite as expected, Printify takes care of the whole fulfillment process. To break out of the deficit territory, the print-on-demand service promises not to fall short of any order management priorities.
Whenever you make a sale, be certain that the quality control is in check and that you can track each shipment.
All that is left for you to decide is the marketing strategy. As far as its mode of operation goes, it seems like Printify runs in the same line of action as its competitor.
Below is a descriptive afterthought on Printify's functionality:
Winner: It’s a tie. The ease of use of of both Printful and Printify is equally convenient for new users.
Printify vs Printful: Pricing
There’s always a significant shift that pricing holds when it comes to picking the right solution. As the middleman, you need to factor in whether a POD channel is cost-effective.
That allows you to build momentum when maxing out on the potential profit margin.
You’ll be gratified, or if you prefer, complacent that both companies are outrightly transparent with their pricing. There are no hidden fees. You can bank on this fact. A new user doesn’t pay to sign up on their platform.
Both print-on-demand solutions can identify their customers’ imminent needs. And as a result, they don’t charge any membership or subscription fees.
Printful’s pricing plans
If you want to sell white-label products, Printful has a modest price for all your needs. You can request for inside labels to be tagged on any POD product you want to sell.
An inside label mostly includes the garment’s size, material information, and the manufacturer’s tag, or logo.
With print-on-demand, you have the option to personalize the label to display your brand. Printful charges $2.49 per label. This is a proven marketing hack used by most entrepreneurs to make their brands visible on the market.
As part of building authentic customer loyalty, you might want to set a budget for Inside labels. The technical aspect of it is pretty simple. You can pick a label template and customize it to fit your brand.
Other services that Printful offers to drop shippers include;
- Outside label – $2.49 per label
- Long sleeve print- $ 5.95 per sleeve
- Short sleeve print- $ 2.49 per sleeve
- Embroidered logo- $2.95 per additional placement
Printful allows you to create a design that captures your logo and prints it on the packing slips for free. Most sellers use this option to build better a customer relationship, issue discounts, and introduce a new product in the already existing market.
For pack-ins such as flyers, business cards, or stickers, you’ll need to pay $0.75 per order. You can opt to pay this small fee to promote your products.
As you can see above, each customization has its price.
So how much profit I’m I left with?
That’s a safety concern for all print-on-demand drop shippers. Looking on the bright side, Printful gives you pricing strategies that are proven to work.
There’s a profit calculator to help you descend on the most practical profit margin suggestions. It shows you how much to expect in net profit per product sold.
While there are no limits to pricing, Printful recommends a 30% minimum profit margin. Printful issues volume discounts to users when they reach a specified amount of sales per month.
Printify’s pricing plans
Printify has three unique plans. On each package, the drop shipper gets access to these headline features:
- An advanced mockup generator
- Integration with selling channels such as Shopify, eBay, Etsy, WooCommerce, among other ecommerce cart solutions.
- 27/7 live support
- Manual order creation.
Printify recommends this plan to a merchant who's merely starting their dropshipping business. There are no limits to the number of product designs you wish to upload to your online store.
This free account allows you to integrate with up to 5 POD dropshipping stores. There’s nothing more to depend on from this plan. As you know, cheap never comes easy.
If you want to scale up a little further, this is the right package to bank on. It’s ideal for merchants with multiple stores since it has a capacity for 10. Printify charges $29 per month for the premium plan.
This package is the most popular since the drop shipper gets up to a 20% discount on all ordered products.
The extra perk to consider is that this option gives you access to sell personalized products in your store. That’s not available on the free plan.
To fulfill over 10,000+ orders per day, you’d need to go with the most pricey package. The merchant gets a custom API integration that’s doesn’t limit the number of stores to sync your account with.
It comes with a dedicated customer support team to help the seller resolve any pitfalls. Printify promptly keeps all the enterprise plan users posted on any new features which they add on the platform.
Printify vs Printful: Integrations
Both platforms have in-built APIs to help the merchant integrate with large ecommerce platforms.
Printful and Printify can integrate with Shopify and WooCommerce selling channels. Printful has a longer integration list, unlike its rival. It syncs with other channels such as:
- Big Cartel
- Launch Cart.
Printify’s premium plan only connects to two marketplaces; Etsy and eBay. In contrast, Printful makes headway for other product listing platforms such as Amazon, Storenvy, Inktale, Wish, and Bonanza.
If you want to start selling print-on-demand products on ecommerce channels, Printful recommends Shopify, Etsy, Ecwid, and BigCommerce since they’re quick to setup. Its API automates the order fulfillment process and the plugin is available on the above-mentioned stores.
If you plan to use an enterprise-oriented channel such as Magneto, it’s worth hiring a developer to help you launch your POD store.
Printify vs Printful: Fulfillment and Shipping costs
If shipping takes way longer, your business risks plunging into slow sales. Printful explains in detail, how the entire fulfillment process works.
The process begins right after an order is made. Printful estimates that it can take between 2-7 business days to make apparel products, and 2-5 business days for non-apparel products.
For shipping, it depends on where the product has to be shipped to. On average, Printful suggests that it might take about 4 business days. Printful hits the target of over 3 million orders each year by working with global carrier companies.
Some of the listed shipping solutions include FedEx, DHL, USPS.com, and DPD. The company has a full-detailed guide on how to calculate the shipping rates.
For print products like T-shirts, long sleeve shirts, crop tops, or tank tops, this is what your customers will need to pay as shipping:
- USA: $3.99
- Europe: $4.39
- Canada: $6.49
- Australia/ New Zealand: $6.99
- Worldwide: $5.99
- USA: $1.25
- Europe: $1.09
- Canada: $1.25
- Australia/ New Zealand: $1.25
- Worldwide: $1.25
You can choose to let the customer calculate the shipping at checkout or include it in the retail price. Customs fees may also apply depending on the geographical location where your customer is located.
Printify also fulfills orders using top carrier companies. The company has also partnered with local fulfillment companies to effectively support drop shippers selling products from different corners of the world. The rates on some of these solutions are, however, a bit higher.
Shipping solutions on Printify take longer to deliver international orders since they have fewer fulfillment centers. Here’s a breakdown of the shipping times:
- USA: 7-15 business days
- Canada: 10- 15 business days
- International: 10-30 days
Printify doesn’t explain much about how long it’d take to manufacture a product. Printful, on the other hand, updates, in real-time the shipping rates during checkout.
To take the bad with the good, Printify offers a faster solution for merchants using the Advanced Shopify plan.
Winner: Printful. It has a dedicated page that gives full disclosure on the whole shipping and fulfillment process. Printify isn’t optimized for international orders.
Printify vs Printful: Customer support
Printful has a deep-dyed set of tactics to engage with their customers at a more snappy level. The company offers an onboarding session to all new users at no cost.
Its blog section is pretty much resourceful and has useful insights on how to run a successful print-on-demand business. You can give them a call, start a chat, or send an email.
On Printify, you’ll find a help center with articles on important topics like integrations, troubleshooting, products, payments, and mockup designs.
They also run a gainful blog that has tips on marketing, design trends, and success stories. But what makes it fall behind Printful is that it lacks a 24-hour clock live support.
There’s a wave of mixed reactions on the internet regarding Printful’s customer support. We have a group that upvotes the print-on-demand service for its responsive dashboard while others bash out claims that its customer support is slow to answer any pressing questions from users.
Winner: Tie. Both have equal wins and noticeable flaws.
Printify vs Printful: Overall features
Which one takes the lead? Let’s find out.
Printful has an organized structure that classifies its services concisely. The Printful ecommerce photography service is one rare feature that’s hardly available on other print-on-demand services.
If you need high-resolution images to help you build your brand’s persona, Printful has got you covered. As we pointed out earlier in this comparison guide, the service offers discounts on bulk orders.
For products that need to be photographed and fulfilled, Printful gives a 20% discount; which sounds like a good deal. They have a stock of pre-made samples so you don’t need to wait much longer to have images for your products.
Printful also promises same-day fulfillment for orders made before noon through it’s automated order processing solution. Best of all features is its pricing calculator which helps users set competitive retail prices.
In comparison, Printify racks up with a rich catalog of products. On the contrary, it hits the fan when it comes to design services. Printful steps up with graphic design options for business branding, promotions, and accessories.
The company displays some of their design work and a professional team of in-house graphic designers to customers on their official page.
Printify vs Printful: Product designs and quality
This was a pretty hard factor to gauge. So I decided to do some research on the internet and gather some user-generated reviews.
Printful has taken a keen interest in hunting for winning product designs in the market. Printify, on the other side, seems like a conventional channel with long-established print-on-demand products like T-shirts and hoodies.
And there’s nothing wrong about that. But the fact is, having a variety of trendsetting products goes a long way.
Looking at the comments online, Printful looks a bit more compelling when it comes to curating merchandise and boosting customers’ confidence in a brand.
Most complaints point to Printify’s print quality. It’s claimed that some of their apparel products fade and crack within a short time. What could perhaps drive this to happen is the fact that Printify acts as a middleman.
Literary, they don’t do the printing. Rather, they source this service from 3rd party companies; which isn’t the case with their close competitor. Printful has invested so much in printing machines, warehouses, and graphic designers.
With this kind of infrastructure, it’s much easier to maintain the products’ quality.
Printful vs Printify vs Print Aura
The website looks static which is a bit off if we picture in the pressing need to work with a user-friendly and responsive POD service. Without a savvy platform in place, that would cripple the entire order fulfillment process by far.
The standard shipping for a T-shirt order on Print Aura only takes between 3-5 business days in the US. If we’re to rank these three services based on shipping speed, it’s clear that Print Aura takes a narrow lead.
Its mockup tool is, unfortunately, not the perfect blend for custom printing. Even worse, the design tool’s page isn’t optimized to load fast. Printful and Printify have taken good care of this key performance indicator.
I’d recommend Print Aura to a beginner who needs a basic punchline of selling bare bone print designs. Its capacity to scale is a bit crappy and their print designs are less fancier than those you’d find on Printful.
Another snag you might not like about this print-on-demand service is its mockup generator. On Print Aura’s landing page, they barely talk about how their mockup tool operates.
Despite it being functional, new users might find it pretty difficult to navigate through any technical curves.
You may find selling your brand as an objective that’s within reach but you might miss out on the extra level of workflow precision that both Printful and Printify equally have.
Printify, unlike the two other POD sites, has an option to upgrade to a more advanced plan. On the other hand, Printful is the only service here with a diverse production network. A drop shipper gets to pick a print designer of their choice. This freedom is limited in both Printify and Print Aura.
Printful vs. Printify vs. Sellfy
Sellfy is another POD with several things in common with Printful and Printify. For starters, it caters to entrepreneurs looking for a relatively simple and effective way to sell POD products.
Sellfy's platform is easy-to-use and comes with a built-in 3d mock-up for testing different designs, adding graphics, and customizing products.
Although Sellfy’s product range is smaller in comparison with 40 products, they provide a wealth of color, size, and labeling variations. In addition, they offer embroidery options, direct-to-garment printing, and eco-friendly material alternatives.
When it comes to shipping, Sellfy boasts an average fulfillment (from printing to delivery) time of five days. However, they warn that sometimes it can take as long as 20 days, particularly in locations outside the US and Canada. Nevertheless, in 50% of cases, Sellfy ships within three working days, so they may be slightly quicker than Printify and Printful for US customers.
You can't select the fulfillment location of your product, and they don’t specify where their fulfillment centers are, except that they have locations in the US, Canada, and internationally. Sellfy also doesn’t offer native integrations with dropshipping apps or third-party carriers.
Their add-ons are solely for marketing and store management.
That said, Selfy empowers sellers to set up their own fully hosted eCommerce website, from which you can sell digital, physical, and POD products. However, if you wish to sell your own physical products (i.e., non-Sellfy POD products), you’ll have to arrange the shipping and fulfillment side of things yourself.
That said, for everything Sellfy offers, its price is quite competitive. Their platform equips you with built-in marketing and analytics tools. The latter provides details on your revenue, site visits, conversions, and purchases from the convenience of your Sellfy dashboard.
Still, as a standalone POD service and eCommerce platform, as mentioned above, they need to improve their flexibility regarding fulfillment and enable dropshipping integrations to catch up with their competitors.
Printful vs Printify vs Teelaunch
These three solutions at least have one thing in common. They all have a candid customer support system.
But there’s one ‘out of the way’ fact about Teelaunch. It’s designed to only work for Shopify users. Teelaunch holds a modest position in the print-on-demand market since it’s not as popular as the two captains of the print-on-demand model.
In spite of that, Teelaunch has unique products that are hard to find on other platforms. You can sell rare print items such as branded power banks, shower curtains, UV printed bracelets, kids beanies, monogram gloves, journal hardcovers, jewelry boxes, dog bowls, and so on.
Among the three print-on-demand solutions, I’d rank Printful as the most productive solution in terms of brand designs and quality. Teelaunch being a newbie in the dropshipping model, has a lot of stuff to catch up on.
To reach where Printful stands at the moment, they’d need to invest more in fulfillment centers. Since Printful has more warehouses across the US, they take shorter shipping times as compared to Teelaunch.
If Teelaunch attempts to work on their lead time, then it would be on an equal footing with its competitors. But this would require Teelaunch to have an in-house team for all their fulfillment priorities.
At the moment, they outsource this service which denies the POD company a greater control on product quality and quick turnaround time.
If we make a head-to-head comparison on the ease of use, all three services seem to have a newbie-friendly interface. They all have an up to snuff reputation when it comes to the ease of use factor.
In terms of pricing, Teelaunch gives the drop shipper a more competitive markup potential without leaving out the quality aspect of all their print designs.
What to like about Printful
- Printful has a significant number of unique products to work with
- Has an automated order fulfillment solution
- Integrates with major shopping cart channels and marketplaces
- It has a quick turnaround time.
- Centralized fulfillment locations. Printful has warehouses in Los Angeles, North Carolina, Latvia, and Mexico. They’re planning to launch another base in Spain. Since they do in-house printing, drop shippers can sell their print products globally and fulfill orders promptly.
- Its ease of use is up to scratch
- Great quality of products
- Printful has a large customer base across the US and Europe
What not to like about Printful
- While the product quality is streets ahead of its competitors, Printful’s products are slightly overpriced. You might want to research your customer base to know how much they’re willing to spend on custom branded products.
What to like about Printify
- You can choose your printing provider
- A flexible pricing model
- Over 200 products to choose from
- Products are a bit cheaper
What not to like about Printify
- A limited number of integrations
- The branding services are quite limited
- Its print quality is sometimes fluctuating
Printful vs Printify- Final Verdict
It’s promising to see how print-on-demand products are receiving an upward trendline in the drop-shipping model.
This comparison would be great for merchants who aren’t only interested in how to start a print-on-demand business but want to launch using a top-notch POD service.
While these two have their selling points to consider, product quality is the top-tier factor that helps a brand make repeat sales.
Printful is a grandmaster in the print-on-demand game. The company has been in existence since 2013 while its close rival is 2 years younger.
From a factual context, Printful has a quicker shipping model and a better print quality which, in essence, is a great deal for dropshippers.
Since customers are mostly interested in the quality you need to be consistent on each print order. And no solution is better at print quality than Printful.
Consequently, each platform has its pros and downsides. So you want to test both POD services to see which works perfect on your dropshipping goals.
For that to come about the easy way, you need to perhaps take a stroll on the internet and run a market analysis, order samples, or even better, test these two solutions separately.
After all, it’s free to integrate both POD services to your dropshipping store. That way, you’ll learn better which service is likely going to make your online store bank more on repeat customers.
If you want nothing else but quality and customer satisfaction, Printful has an unmatched strategy to work with.
Ultimately, Printful takes the lead.