There are tons of software platforms you could use to help get you started with print on demand, but which one? In this review, we're taking a peek at two popular print on demand sites: Printful vs Society6.
We’ll provide the low down on everything you need to know, so hopefully, by the time you've finished reading this review, you’ll know which (if either) platform is right for you.
There’s a lot of information to give you, so let’s make a start!
How Printful Works
Founded in 2013, it offers 286 customizable merch for you to sell, such as home decor, accessories, clothes- to name a few! Printful says you just need to follow four easy steps to start an online print-on-demand storefront without setup costs:
- Create and connect your Shopify store (or whatever other eCommerce platform you're using)
- Design your products
- Add your products to your own store
- Start selling
Using the dropshipping model, Printful handles the printing, packing, and shipping while you focus on selling and targeting potential customers. If you already have an online store, just integrate it with Printful to start designing your own products.
It’s possible to create designs using Printful’s mockup generator. Alternatively, you can work offline. This may be a better option for you if you’re on the go and can’t always access wifi. Then just upload you're finished work once you’re connected again. Don't worry; you can review your design before it goes to print/ before you start selling them.
Suppose you’re hotter at marketing and not so great at design. In that case, Printful offers a graphic design service that puts you in touch with a professional designer who can transform your imagined product into a reality.
Alternatively, if you want to build a stock of particular designs first, Printful can print, store, and fulfill your orders (including shipping) on your behalf.
The good news is that Printful is continually expanding, and they hope to reach the UK in 2021, so watch this space!
How Society6 Works
Founded in 2009, Society6 sold itself as a platform promoting the work of 300,000 independent artists across 160 countries, highlighting the fact every purchase made through its platform pays an artist.
It’s an open platform where artists can share their work for a $1 sign-up fee. Creatives can sell their original designs on various mediums, including posters, clothes, canvases, furniture, etc.
All artists have to do is scan and upload their designs to use Society6 as a marketplace to sell their work. In addition, artists can tweak their designs on Society6 to ensure the perfect fit on different products from cups to canvas. Creatives can also link their Society6 account with their socials to sell on their too. This includes Instagram, Facebook, and their own websites.
However, Society6 predetermines the price an artist can sell, which may be a sticking point for some. That said, the Society6 blog contains valuable posts about how artists can market their products and generate a healthy profit.
Society6 also has its own wholesale brand called Deny Designs. Artists can apply to join this program to try and get their designs used by small and large-scale retailers selling homewares, furniture, clothes, and so on.
Lastly, there’s the Society6 Trade Program. This offers hotels, interior designers, and high-volume stores a more curated experience with Society6. Benefits include discounts, a more personalized service, and larger-scale manufacturing.
Before we go into any more detail, let’s check out the pros and cons of each platform.
Printful's Pros and Cons
First up, Printful:
Printful's Pros 👍
- Setup is super easy, you don't need any know how to get up and running
- There are lots of integrations.
- There aren't any monthly or set up fees, which means less of a financial risk for you.
- You can brand your products, labels, packaging, and so on.
- It’s an all-in-one service that includes warehousing and order fulfillment.
- Android and iOS apps are available, so you can use Printful on your mobile devices – which is great if you're frequently on the go.
- Its mockup generator is easy to use, so the design process isn’t too demanding.
- There's a good choice of almost 300 customizable products.
- Customers love their customer service response times and the solutions offered.
Printful's Cons 👎
- Some products can’t be shipped everywhere, such as prints and canvases.
- You can only edit one product design at a time.
- Compared with other platforms, Printful's prices are a little high
- Printful doesn't offer built-in analytics.
Society6's Pros and Cons
Now over to Society6's benefits and drawbacks:
Society6's Pros 👍
- It’s (almost) free – it only costs $1
- It's easy to use
- Society6 is great for anyone starting out and wanting to test the water with their designs
- You don’t have to fulfill any orders; Society6 does all the heavy lifting for you
- Customers get access to outstanding and unique designs
- Artists benefit from unlimited image uploads
- Artists can set a markup royalty fee on their wall art – canvas/art print/framed art print
Society6's Cons 👎
- Artists only receive 10% of the sale price. Society6 takes the rest, so it’s not really possible to make tons of money on this platform.
- Analytics isn't available – so you can’t work out where your traffic is coming from
- Society6, not the artist, determines the price of the product.
Printful vs Society6: Pricing
Before you get up and running with any print-on-demand solution, it’s essential to calculate how much it will cost and whether your profit margins will be sufficient.
First off, let's take a look at how much Printful will set you back:
The easiest way to calculate Printful's prices is to check out their product catalog. Here you'll find a variety of clothes, accessories, hats, homeware items, etc. Clothes are split into women, men, and kids categories.
The prices you see here refer to the cost of each product plus the printing.
Lower down we go into shipping costs as these are separate, as is tax.
Put simply, the bigger the item and the thicker the fabric, the more expensive it is. So, for example, joggers cost more than a t-shirt (unisex joggers starting at $22.50 vs a men’s t-shirt starting at $12.95).
That said, here are a few prices of some of Printful’s items to give you an idea:
- Pom-pom beanie $13.25
- Women’s cropped hoodie $29.95
- Pillowcase $13.95
- Water bottle $19.95
- Notebook $11.95
- Phone cases $10.95
- Stickers $2.20
- Tote bags $14.95
- Leggings $29.95
Please note: Product prices vary depending on your fulfillment location. I.e., costs fluctuate depending on whether you're operating from Japan, Europe, the US, or Australia.
On top of product costs, it's also worth considering the price of branded labeling. This is especially important if you're going all out and plastering your business logo on all your packaging. This will incur an additional cost. For example, $2.49 per inside label, $2.49 per outside label, $0.50 per custom packaging, etc.
Since Society6 is a slightly different proposition to Printful, unsurprisingly, its pricing structure differs too. As previously stated, Society6 does all the heavy lifting. This includes order fulfillment and shipping, so it takes the bulk of the sale at 90%, leaving the artist with 10% paid via Paypal. As such, you’ll need a PayPal account if you want to sell via Society6. There is also a nominal $1 sign-up fee.
Society6 pays on the 1st of each month after a 30-day purchase grace period. So be sure to factor that in, as you won’t get a fast payday.
Once you’ve uploaded your work on the site, you can adjust the pricing by adding a royalty markup on any products with a $ symbol. Society6 will set a base price, and you can add to that. This, however, is only for art prints, framed art prints, and canvas prints.
Society6 has a section that shows you how much you can make if you sell your designs on other products. However, you can only access that after you’ve signed up, paid your $1, and created your account.
Printful vs Society6: Integrations
Anyone who runs an ecommerce business knows that any platform they use has to integrate with their website builder and/or digital shopping cart or online marketplace.
In the case of Printful, its list of native integrations is a long and healthy one!
And here’s that list in full:
- Launch Cart
- WooCommerce and WordPress
But what about Society6?
At the time of writing, we couldn't find any evidence on Society6's website (nor elsewhere) that the site offers native integrations for WooCommerce, Shopify, or any other eCommerce platforms.
Why? Because Society6’s offer differs in that it’s already an online marketplace for artists to sell their designs. As such, from Society6's point of view, there’s no natural attraction for them integrating with their competitors.
Printful vs Society6: Shipping and Fulfillment
Customers expect fast and reliable shipping and order fulfillment. No one wants to hang around waiting for weeks for an order, right? So how do Printful and Society6 stack up in these areas?
Depending on the types of products you sell, fulfillment and subsequent shipping times vary. For example, clothing order fulfillment takes between two to seven days. In contrast, non-apparel items take less time but can still take up to five working days.
Shipping isn’t super fast and varies depending on where you’re shipping to. For example, shipping to the US takes three to four days. Whereas, in the UK, it’s two to five, whereas, elsewhere in Europe, Asia, and South America, it’s longer at around six to 14 days.
Printful has a guide on its shopping prices, and that’s something sellers need to allow for when budgeting. Shipping costs hinge on product weight, destination, and which shipping method you use.
As for processing and fulfillment fees, again, these vary according to the order and where it’s going.
As for Society6, production times on most items sit at around three to four working days, with Credenzas taking longer at five to seven days working days.
Shipping times vary depending on the location of your customers. But, Society6’s estimated delivery times in the US using its standard delivery option is around five to ten working days. This speeds up to two to three working days if you opt for expedited delivery and one to two days for rush delivery. Australian buyers will receive goods between five to ten working days. In contrast, other international destinations can be anywhere between 10 and 15 working days or longer.
Customers can track their order to see where their order is in the fulfillment and delivery chain. So, rest assured, buyers can keep themselves informed every step of the way, which goes a long way to enhance their shopping experience.
Printful vs Society6: Customer Support
What happens if you have a query or two? Let’s see how Printful and Society6 measure up in this super-important area.
At first glance, it looks easy enough to reach Printful. You can contact their customer support team either via [email protected] or through their 24/7 live chatbox. Typically, email response times are around 24 hours. Unfortunately, at the time of writing, the live chat option was operating at reduced hours because of COVID. Still, the company is hoping to resume its 24/7 service ASAP.
Alternatively, you can create and send a support ticket via their Contacts page.
There’s also an online help center. Here you'll find articles, video tutorials, and FAQs. Alternatively, if social media is your preferred route, Printful has an Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube presence worth checking out.
Society6's customer service is open from 10 am to 6 pm (PST) Monday through Sunday, and customers receive a 60-day money-back guarantee.
Unfortunately, a quickfire peek at the reviews tells us that this platform doesn't score well with review sites like Trustpilot and Reddit. The Better Business Bureau had 65 complaints at the time of writing. Complaints vary, but familiar topics include inferior quality products, long shipping times, poor customer service, and complicated returns processes.
For artists, there are self-help guides on:
- How to turn social media fans into customers
- Where to promote your work
- How to tell which designs will sell the most
- How to make money through social media
There’s also help for artists who are unsure of which pixel dimensions to use when uploading their artwork to Society6.
Printful vs Society6: Packaging and Branding
Maybe your intention is to set up an entire online brand, offering customers a choice of products, including clothing and homewares. If so, packaging and branding are critical. That said, this section may still apply to you as an artist, too. After all, you may want to sell your designs not just on canvas but on other items- either now or later down the line.
If you use Printful, customers won’t see Printful's logo all over your packaging. In addition, the platform is a white-label business, meaning you can customize your packaging via Printful to better promote your business.
For example, you can print your logo on your packaging and packing slips. You can also add personalized items such as handwritten thank you slips, flyers, and/or business cards to your orders.
If you're selling fragile items, these are packaged into corrugated boxes for added protection against breakages.
It's also worth noting that Printful's poly bags are made out of recyclable, low-density polyethylene.
At the time of writing, unfortunately, there wasn't any information to be found on whether artists could supply or have produced their own branded packaging. Nor was there any information about how items are packaged.
Printful vs Society6: Which is The Best Print on Demand Service?
So, that’s it in a nutshell, our Printful vs Society6 review. So which in our view is better?
Both platforms want to help you customize and sell high-quality print-on-demand products. However, the gold medal has to go to Printful for several reasons.
First, while Printful has fewer product types available, artists can customize their own designs with Printful to sell on their own websites and social media profiles. In contrast, Society6 doesn't offer any integrations. As such, you're limited to only selling on their marketplace. Not to mention Society6 takes a massive cut of your earnings, making it hard to see how you could make any money using it.
In addition, the Printful website is way more transparent. For instance, it’s easy to find product costs and the price of branding your packaging, which seems like an added bonus to us.
We hope having read this review, you now have a more detailed knowledge of both Printful and Society6. Hopefully, you feel better positioned to choose which of these print-on-demand platforms best suit your potential startup. So let us know which (if either) one you go for, Printful or Society 6!
Or maybe you’ve gone for Redbubble, Zazzle, Teespring, Spreadshirt, or Printify? Whatever you decide, let us know in the comments box underneath!