Print on demand services are some of the most essential tools any creative entrepreneur can use in today’s modern landscape. If you’re looking for an opportunity to start selling shirts, decorations, blankets, and other items online, but you don’t want to have to design and store those products yourself, print on demand businesses can help.
One of the many sub-sections of the dropshipping business model, print on demand solutions allow today’s business leaders to interact with other brands who can help them with things like printing and creating products, as well as shipping them to customers. With a POD service, you don’t have to source materials and do the stitching or printing yourself.
Many companies using POD vendors find that it’s extremely easy to start selling a huge selection of products to customers around the world, with minimal initial investment. The key to success with print on demand strategies, much like most dropshipping endeavors, is finding the right partner.
Today, we’re going to be looking at two POD solutions: Printful, and Spreadshirt. Both of these handy tools are excellent for getting your designs out into the world, but they each have their own pros and cons to consider.
An Introduction to Printful and Spreadshirt
As mentioned above, both Printful and Spreadshirt are both Print on Demand services. This is a form of online order fulfillment where you work with a supplier to make custom prints for your customers. When a client places an order on your website, your supplier fulfils that request by designing the product and sending it to the end-user.
Print on Demand strategies save your business money on things like buying initial equipment and investing in stock. They’re also an excellent way to streamline the fulfillment process.
Here’s how Printful and Spreadshirt work.
How Printful Works
Printful is one of the better-known fulfilment companies in the marketplace today, offering an excellent range of products to choose from. There are production houses available for Printful in Europe, Mexico, and the USA, and the company commits itself to always fulfilling orders as quickly as possible.
Printful allows you to choose from hundreds of products to add your designs to, from t-shirts and tank tops, to hoodies and canvas prints. You can sort through a range of categories, and sell everything from clothing and homeware, to accessories. There’s also a handy mockup generator on the Printful website so you can see what your items are going to look like in advance.
Printful has a whole library of products to add to your dropshipping store, which is part of what makes the service so appealing. You also get the benefit of knowing that Printful’s team is on hand to print, pack, and ship your order to the customer. The dropshipper (that’s you) is responsible for paying for this service, and the shipping costs.
Essentially, Printful simplifies the entire process of running a creative business, from the point where you begin designing your products, to the moment when you’re ready to start shipping things out to your clients.
How Spreadshirt Works
Spreadshirt is very similar in style to Printful. Designed to make it easier for all kinds of companies to create and sell their own merchandise, Spreadshirt allows you to choose from a wide selection of designs and products that you want to sell. You create an account with Spreadshirt, then go to the “designs” menu on your account to start creating products.
You can import your own designs, then edit it according to your needs, adding various additional elements according to your needs. For instance, you could add tags to your clothing that tells your customers how to look after their purchase.
The Spreadshirt service for designing your clothing and other items is free to use, but you will need to pay for the services that the company delivers to get your items to your customers. When you list a product on your store, and a customer purchases it, the Spreadshirt team gets to work on making that item and getting it too your end-user.
You’re responsible for building and marketing your store with your own designs, and Spreadshirt handles the fulfilment process – just like Printful. Once the product is ready to ship out to your client, you’ll pay for the price of making the item, as well as packing and picking the product, and sending it to your target customer. The amount you spend depends on a number of factors, including the item and the distance you’re shipping it.
White label shops are available from Spreadshirt as standard, so you don’t have to worry about building a brand on a marketplace that’s packed full of competition. Alternatively, you can choose to list your item on the marketplace, where Spreadshirt can help you out with things like finding consumers, but the kind of commission you get here will change.
You can choose to sell on both your own store and the marketplace at the same time. With your own store, your income and profit will depend on how much you spend on the products, and how much you charge. The second option (marketplace) means that you get 20% of the revenue that Spreadshirt earns from your products – but you don’t have to do the marketing yourself.
Printful vs Spreadshirt: Pricing
There’s more to choosing the perfect software for your business than pricing, but budget is going to play a part in your decisions. The more you spend on your print-on-demand service, the less money you’re going to have left over for things like marketing your Shopify store, or showcasing your brand. Plus, as anyone on Etsy will tell you, paying for extra services often eats into your profits when you’re running a creative business.
The good news is that both Printful and Spreadshirt are pretty straightforward about their pricing. Both companies Tell you what you can expect to pay clearly, so you don’t have to worry about surprise costs.
The first thing you need to know is that neither Printful or Spreadshirt charge any subscription or membership costs for their customers. However, that doesn’t mean that you can run your business for free. The amount you spend will depend on a variety of factors.
For instance, Printful’s pricing structure will start by asking you to choose the product you want to sell. You’ll pay the base cost of the garment, which differs depending on the type of product you want to sell. The more you add to the product, like outside labels, and extra prints, the more you’ll have to spend. For instance, a basic inside label will cost $2.49.
As you’re creating your products on Printful's mockup generator, you should be able to get an insight into how much the product is going to cost to make. Once you get a price for the actual item, you’ll also need to consider the cost of shipping that product to your target customer. You can offset some of the costs of shipping onto your customer, but you’re going to need to think carefully about your pricing.
The profit calculator available from Printful does make it a little easier to determine a practical profit margin for your products. Though there are no limits on how you can set your pricing, Printful does recommend ensuring you get at least a 30% profit. Remember, things like stickers and extra labels to include with your merch will also cost more.
Spreadshirt’s pricing structure is very similar to Printful, although there are some differences. If you’re selling a standard product through your own online store, like you would on TeeSpring or Printify, then you don’t have to pay a membership fee.
The amount you spend on each item will include the base product price, the printing costs, the design price, and the shipping price. If you’re adding your own text and designs, then you don’t need to pay a design fee. You pay for a standard “area” of printing on your products, and the shipping to get your item to wherever it needs to go.
In the Create Tool where you can make your products, you can also find designs from other companies and artists that you can use for a price. Most of these will have a fixed price attached to them, which you pay directly to the designer.
Printful vs Spreadshirt: Integrations
Printful and Spreadshirt both come with a variety of features to make your life easier as a budding business owner. You can access mock-up creators that allow you to see what your designs are going to look like and place pictures on your website. There are also various tools for calculating things like profit and shipping rates.
However, there’s a good chance that you’ll want to tap into extra functionality too. That’s why both Printful and Spreadshirt support integrations. Both of these platforms come with built-in APIs so you can connect them with things like Squarespace, Big Cartel, Ecwid, Magento, Prestashop, and various other store builders.
Speadshirt makes tapping into things like Joomla, WordPress, or even Drupal for integrations as quick and simple as possible. That’s if you choose to take the Spreadshop route, where you build your own store and advertise it online. If you want to avoid all the hassle of building your own store, you can also take the easier route of using the Spreadshirt marketplace.
You submit your designs to the marketplace and the Spreadshirt company will advertise them for you to a huge audience of potential buyers. This is a great way to start selling straight away without having to spend a fortune on building a website. However, it’s worth noting that not all designs will be approved, plus, your profit options are limited because you only earn a 20% commission.
Printful vs Spreadshirt: Shipping and Fulfilment Costs
Printing your own merch, hoodies, and other creative products is easier than ever these days, thanks to print on demand companies. Most of the tools available, including Printful and Spreadshirt, won’t even charge you to join and start creating your designs. However, just like selling products through eBay and Etsy, there are other costs to consider.
Aside from the expense of building and managing your online store, and handling any transaction fees from companies like PayPal, you’ll also need to consider shipping and fulfilment costs.
Both Printful and Spreadshirt do their best to offer competitive shipping rates in various parts of the USA and around the world. Printful estimates that it can take between 2-7 business days for apparel products to be created, while non-apparel products take a little less time.
As for how long your customers will wait for an item, and how much you need to pay, that all depends on the purchase. On average, Printful recommends that shipping will usually take about four days, which is because the company has fulfilment centers around the world. Printful also works with some of the most reliable global carries too, like FedEx, DPD, DHL, and USPS.
Shipping costs to US customers start at $3.99, with a $12.5 charge for an additional product. International costs include:
- Europe: $4.39 with $1.09 charge for extra products
- Canada: $6.49 with $1.25 charge for extra products
- New Zealand/Australia: $6.99 with $1.25 charge for extra products
- Worldwide: $5.99 with $1.25 charge for extra products
If you want to get your items to customers in fewer business days, Printful doesn’t currently offer many express shipping solutions. You can enter the state or country you want to ship to on the Printful website to get an estimate of how long delivery will take, and how much it’s going to cost.
Spreadshirt takes a slightly different approach to shipping costs. There are three different kinds of shipping available, including Standard, Premium, and Express. The amount you spend will depend on which method you choose, where you’re shipping to, and the value of the goods you’re sending. For instance, in the UK, if the value of the goods is between £0.01 and £10.00, you’ll pay a standard £2.99 delivery fee.
Standard shipping will usually get your products to customers within about 8-14 business days. If you upgrade to Premium, which starts at £8.99, the delivery takes around 7-10 days, while the Express shipping option takes between 5-7 days. Express delivery costs can be extremely expensive, starting at around £31.99 for the UK.
Depending on where you’re shipping to, there may also be customs fees to consider alongside the various costs of packing and shipping your order. The good news is that premium and express delivery does come with a tracking option to help you keep an eye on expensive products.
Printful vs Spreadshirt: Customer Support
It doesn’t matter whether you’re selling on Amazon, eBay, or your own high-quality website, great customer service is always a must-have. When you’re running a POD business, you need to make sure that you have access to guidance and help in case anything goes wrong. When your ecommerce platforms go down, you lose the opportunity to sell to customers, put your brand reputation at stake, and more.
Printful and Spreadshirt both have reasonably robust environments for customer support. On Printful, there’s help center that you can use to assist yourself, with blogs, video tutorials, and FAQs. If you need more human help, you can use the contact form or email address to connect with Printful or reach out through their instant chat tool.
For those with a social background, Printful also stays active on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube, where you can also connect with members of the community for extra guidance.
Spreadshirt offers a similar customer help strategy that starts with an FAQ page and plenty of information for solving your own problems. You can also access special tools for calculating printing and shipping costs.
If you need to get in touch with he actual Spreadshirt team, there’s an email address or phone number available. At present, there doesn’t seem to be an option or instant chat, and the company takes between 3 and 5 days to respond to your requests.
Printful vs Spreadshirt: Features and Functionality
Printful and Spreadshirt offer a lot of similar features for companies interested in the print on demand landscape, although the structure of each solution is a little different. Printful makes it quick and easy to sell products online, with products that are ready to ship to customers within between 2 and 5 days.
Printful offers versatile printing options, including direct-to-garment, sublimation printing, embroidery, and cut and sew functionality. There’s also plenty of ways to customize your designs to suit your brands and make your business stand out.
One of the most appealing parts of Printful is the fact that it comes with a convenient mockup generator that helps you to see what your designs are going to look like. You can easily customize your designs using this mockup tool, and even find handy products outside of the apparel area to sell. Features include:
- Countless product options to choose from
- Global fulfilment options
- Easy mockup generator
- Warehousing and fulfilment
- Creative services
- Store setup services
- Brand photography features
- Mockup generator for design customization
- Excellent shipping and clothing rates
- Quick and easy fulfilment
- User-friendly interface
Spreadshirt is also committed to helping businesses sell all kinds of print-on-demand products on the web. Spreadshirt charges a flat printing rate regardless of your design or product, with the option to unlock bulk order discounts of up to 50%. You don’t even need to have your own designs prepared to start using Spreadshirt. You can use t-shirt designs already present on the platform.
Like Printful, Spreadshirt has access to a mockup generator tool so you can ensure that your designs look great no matter which products you decide to sell. You can create up to 100 unique products, and there’s the option to explore “Spreadshop” too.
Spreadshop is a free online platform designed to help creators monetize their audiences by selling merchandise to followers and fans. You don’t need to deal with things like payments and fulfilment processing with Spreadshop, because the company handles everything instead. However, the amount you can earn from Spreadshop is limited.
Spreadshop is handy because it allows you to track the outcomes of your sales strategies through an easy-to-use statistics app. This makes tracking sales on the go much simpler and allows you to improve your potential profit margins and prices. Some of the features you can expect from Spreadshirt include:
- Spreadshop for easy selling
- Risk-free fee-free selling
- Design customization options
- Countless products to choose from
- Creative services and design inspiration
- User-friendly interface
- Discounts on bulk purchases
- Flat printing rate
- No minimum order requirements
Printful vs Spreadshirt: Product Designs and Quality
No matter what print on demand company you choose to work with, you need to ensure that you’re investing in high quality products for your customers. Whether it’s phone cases or hoodies, your clients want to know they can rely on you for great prints.
Over the years, some companies, like Redbubble and other print on demand tools have had shaky reputations for printing quality. However, both Printful and Spreadshirt don’t seem to struggle too much here. Although it’s hard to determine which one offers the best print quality, both have their benefits.
Printful has won awards for it’s high-quality printing and branding options. And there are bunch of different kinds of product design to choose from, including DTG and durable embroidery.
Spreadshirt also builds on its ease of use with dozens of ways to customize shirts, leggings and other products. There’s screen, flock, flex, glitter, metallic, and glow-in-the-dark printing. You can access embroidery and sublimation, and all of the digital printing options offer high-quality results and reproductions. Thermo sublimation is also available for accessories like mugs and phone cases.
Either way, you should be able to get decent results with both Printful and Spreadshirt.
Printful and Spreadshirt Alternatives
Printful and Spreadshirt are two highly popular choices for print on demand businesses. However, they’re far from your only options. There are many excellent alternatives out there that give you all the freedom you need to sell online and accept a variety of payment methods.
Printful vs Spreadshirt vs Print Aura
Print Aura, for instance, is a simple solution for beginners who want ease of use and convenient shipping times. The Print Aura service is a little limited if you’re looking for incredible scale as a growing business. If you want a bare bones solution for selling print designs, then you might prefer Print Aura to things like Spreadshirt and Printful.
Printful and Spreadshirt give you a lot more functionality to play with if you’re searching for opportunities to grow with your creative business. Printful is a good option if you want to ship products around the world, while Spreadshirt provides access to more options for capturing audience attention, thanks to Spreadshop.
Printful vs Spreadshirt vs Printify
Printify is a solution that’s very similar to Printful, and almost as popular too. With Printify, you can access a wide variety of product options, great shipping discounts and excellent prices for your designs. There’s also the freedom to make various changes to your designs so you can ensure that your brand stands out online.
Printify takes care of the entire fulfilment process for you, and you can pick your own supplier, so you don’t have to worry about letting your audience down, as you can search for the best possible companies to work with.
Printful vs Spreadshirt vs Teelaunch
Teelaunch is another great choice for those in search of an alternative to Printful and Spreadshirt. Teelaunch is a tool specifically for Shopify users, and it doesn’t have the same degree of integration options available as Printful and Spreadshirt. Once you download the app for Shopify, you can start creating customized products in seconds.
Teelaunch automatically places a fulfilment order whenever someone buys something from your store, and you can track items within your orders dashboard, with updates to shipping status in real-time. However, since you can only use Shopify, you’re limited in what kind of online presence you can build.
Printful vs. Spreadshirt vs. Sellfy
Sellfy is a one-stop solution for newbie POD sellers and those wanting a quick and easy way to start selling fast. It's intuitive to use and enables you to customize and launch your own eCommerce store.
They have 40 POD products to choose from- from phone cases to hoodies. Sellfy also comes with a decent 3D mock-up generator. It enables you to customize your POD merchandise with custom labeling, embroidery, and different color variations. In addition to its POD items, you can sell your own physical and digital products via your Sellfy store.
Sellfy's fulfillment time from printing to shipping averages five business days, sitting them comparatively with the likes of Printful. However, when it comes to fulfillment providers, Sellfy lacks flexibility. Not least because you can’t use third-party fulfillment providers or specify a specific carrier or fulfillment location.
Nevertheless, it's an excellent option for those wanting to launch a POD business from one centralized platform with built-in analytics and marketing tools. For instance, you can create discount codes, upsell products, and launch email campaigns. You can also monitor your efforts from your Sellfy dashboard. Here you can review stats on your revenue, traffic, purchases, and conversions.
Printful vs Spreadshirt: The Verdict
There’s no one-size-fits-all strategy when it comes to choosing the perfect print on demand solution. There are tons of tools out there that can help you to reach your business goals, and only you know which one will help you to reach your goals best. However, comparing your options can make it easier to ensure that you’re making the right decision for your business.
Printful is an excellent choice for companies in search of an easy-to-use tool for print on demand functionality. It gives you extras like creative services and eCommerce tools to choose from. Additionally, with Printful, there are tons of ways to make your brand stand out with customization options. You can even work with the in-house photographers, designers, and other fulfilment experts available through Printful to make your business more effective.
On the other hand, Spreadshirt offers an easy entry way to selling online for companies of all sizes, particularly if you want to sell to an existing audience. There are tons of different product customization options to choose from, although there aren’t any special service options or white label functionalities available, like you get with Printful, which makes Spreadshirt slightly less ideal for scalability.
Remember, you can examine the functionality of both tools for free and even send yourself a mockup of your design before you make your decision of which provider to stick with. It might be worth checking your options out in depth before you commit to either Spreadshirt or Printful as your go-to product for print on demand.