At first, a Shopify website for print on demand items looks and sounds pretty easy to pull off...
However, it’s not always plain sailing. If you use the wrong print on demand company, the products may not be of good quality, customers could be waiting forever for their products to arrive, and products could arrive damaged.
And the worst case scenario is not just that you’ll lose their custom from there on in, but that they will leave negative reviews, spreading the word, and you will lose what positive reputation you had.
But there’s no need to worry - we have the solution.
And the solution of course is to go with a good, reputable, reliable print on demand company in the first place.
This way, there’s little for you to worry about and things should come together well.
We’ve been checking out some of the best print on demand companies around, and after much deliberation, we came up with a shortlist of our top 5 favorites.
Our reviews on those are coming up very shortly, and following on from that, we’ve also got a handy guide to choosing a print on demand company for you that will walk you through a few key things to think about before you decide which company to go for.
You may also want to stick around for our final section, where we tackle some of your most frequently asked questions on the subject.
So, without further ado…
OUR TOP PICK
Printful is one of the most talked about POD companies on the net, and one that’s met with a lot of praise.
Printful is particularly convenient for Shopify site owners because you can allow customer orders to be sent to Printful automatically, directly from your store.
But of course it has a lot more going for it than just that.
Printful’s products are all produced in house, which means that they take care of the production themselves, and don’t contract work out.
This is how they ensure that their products are all of the best possible quality.
Better yet, you get discounts of 20% on your sample orders, and with free shipping, so you can buy some items for yourself and check the quality.
And it’s this strength of quality that enables Printful to charge a little more for their goods than the other POD companies charge.
They’re particularly strong on embroidered designs.
They have a very wide product range totalling over 220 items, that includes clothing items, backpacks, phone cases, mugs, and more.
There are design ideas and templates you can use, and your customers can customize their products too.
Their app is slick and easy to use - perfect for beginners just starting out.
Their shipping is fast, and covers the US, Mexico and Europe. Customers can get their products within just 3 business days.
And the shipping is set at a flat and affordable rate. This is great for your customer’s shopping experience.
The Printful app is free to install and use, and you only pay for each product ordered.
- Orders sent from your store
- Products are excellent quality
- Ship to all USA & beyond
- Very wide product range
- Fast 3-day shipping
- Products can work out a little more expensive
- Some store owners find that developing their products is more complicated than with other POD companies
On the net, Printify generates just as much attention as Printful.
And in fact these are the two most looked into POD companies for ecommerce in general, and not just for Shopify stores alone.
And lucky for y’all, like Printful it also features an add-on for Shopify store compatibility.
But where Printify is different from Printful is that it’s a vendor network, and it prints it’s products from partners the world over.
And while this can be a good thing in that you can often get the products made more affordably, on the flip side this can impact both product quality and speed of shipping.
On the whole though, you could reach a wider market since there are simply loads of vendors (90) you can work with dotted around the globe. You can even reach China and Australia.
It has a great range of products, customers can buy anything from high heels to swim wear, and over 250 other types of items. Plus they are continuing to grow their range too.
What we really love about Printify though is that it features a free plan, and through this plan you can operate up to 5 stores - very cost effective.
And if you wanted to expand on store numbers however, you’d have to pay a reasonable monthly fee. (On the premium plan, you get 20% off all orders.)
The merchant support is good, and is available to users 24/7.
We were surprised to learn that this merchant support is also available for those using the free plan!
- Have up to 5 stores free
- Shopify store add-on
- Wide range of products
- Merchant support 24/7
- The print quality can vary depending on the printing partner used
Now, as the name suggests, Teelaunch makes some great POD t-shirts. But don’t be fooled into thinking that’s all they do.
They have a great product range, and can produce the likes of dog bowls, color-changing mugs, beach towels, jewelry, journals, and over 120 items more.
Their extensive product range comes down to using other means for printing rather than just the usual embroidery and sublimation - they also use laser etching.
And this allows your customers to personalize their items how they like, including by submitting their own photos.
The products are of very good quality, and the trade price is competitive.
And another thing we like about Teelaunch is how in addition to providing product images, it can also provide auto generated lifestyle photos of the products too, so your customers can see the products in use.
We also like just how responsive the merchant support team is. Your queries will not go unheard.
While they don’t necessarily guarantee 3-day shipping they often pull it off, with a maximum waiting time of 6 business days.
And they have several shipping facilities based in the USA, Canada, and the UK. The shipping costs however do depend on the item itself and its destination.
And we just LOVE the profit margins offered - a very generous 50 to 75 percent.
The app is free to install and use, and you only have to pay for the products themselves.
And your customers can pay via PayPal if they don’t want to have to submit their bank details for every payment.
- Fabulous product range
- Generous profit margins
- Sufficiently fast shipping
- Great merchant support
- Customers can use Paypal
- Varying shipping costs
What stands out about CustomCat is just how vast their product range is - they have not 100, not 200, but over 550 items and counting!
They do all kinds of clothing items, pet accessories, laptop cases, the list goes on. You name it, they’ve probably got it.
And this means your customers can source some really unique products. Moreover, your customers also get to personalize some of these items themselves.
And better yet the shipping is super fast, with an average of just 2 to 3 business days for order fulfillment. Customers will be impressed.
Although all orders are produced in the USA, you can also arrange for international shipping.
The shipping rates are very reasonable, affordable and uniform.
They also offer really good integration with your Shopify site.
The app is free to install and use, and you only have to pay for the products themselves.
But if you were prepared to pay for the monthly subscription service, you get discounts on products and you’ll then be able to set a higher profit margin.
We recommend the free version when you’re first starting out, and if/when you do go for the subscription you start with a 30 day free trial.
It’s a well established organization with more than 15 years of experience behind it, and this is reflected in the service you and your customers receive.
- Enormous product catalogue!
- Great Shopify integration
- Fast shipping in USA & internationally
- Affordable and uniform shipping rates
- Well established & experienced company
- Users find the design tool unsophisticated, but we would argue that that makes it easier to use
Here’s another POD company that has become well known on the net and is certainly up there with the best of them.
JetPrint started out by producing customized watch designs.
But while this is still their strong point today, they have expanded their repertoire to include a whole host of other items, such as phone cases, doormats, and more.
And better yet, the products are of superb quality.
But what really stands out about JetPrint is their free international shipping, which is not to be sniffed at, and could help to really attract more customers.
Of course however, this does mean that the product cost is increased in order for JetPrint to be able to pay for the free shipping.
And the average shipping time isn’t too bad at 14 to 20 business days.
But if one of your customers wanted their item sooner, they can pay a small fee for express delivery for arrival at 5 to 9 business days.
Their print on demand design interface is very easy to use, and you get high quality photographs of the mockups.
And where JetPrint is a little different from other POD companies is that they allow a decent time frame that can give you the opportunity to make changes.
Once you’ve designed your product, JetPrint automatically generates a handful of product photos that show off your watches or other items from several different angles.
And in addition to providing the product images, JetPrint also provides detailed specs to put on your product pages.
The app is free to install and use, and you only have to pay for the products themselves. And you won’t get bugged with emails trying to persuade you to go for their paid plans because they simply don’t have any.
- Superb quality of products
- Free international shipping!
- No paid subscription or hidden costs
- You can change the design after ordering
- Images of products from different angles
- Range of product items could be wider
- Shipping time could be faster
Best Print On Demand Shopify Buying Guide
As promised, here’s your quick guide to choosing a print on demand company. Let’s walk you through some of the key things to think about.
You should look for POD apps that have at least some amount of Shopify integration, even if it’s just one add-on.
But the more integration the better, especially if you want your customers to personalize their products.
The more automated everything is, the better your site looks, and the better the customer experience will be.
We would argue that it’s better to have a wide product range. That way you’re more likely to attract a sale.
A potential customer might not want to buy a t-shirt, but might love a baseball cap or a mug.
Besides if a customer loves your designs or captions, why not offer them something more?
One of the better ways to build a good customer base is to attract repeat customers.
And to attract repeat customers, your products HAVE to be of good quality. Products that stand the test of time.
Make sure that you order sample products that you want to sell and have them delivered to you, so you can see and judge the quality of the products for yourself.
Good Merchant Support
Issues in running an online store with POD are almost inevitable. Something always crops up.
So, to that end you should look for a POD company with good customer service that's available when you need it, to get any issues resolved.
If you are selling products worldwide, not only will you need the customer service to be open 24/7, but you also benefit from multiple channel contact e.g. email or chat message rather than just by phone call.
Another thing to look out for is a POD company with a returns service.
Fast Reliable Shipping
Fast shipping has now become the norm, and customers expect their online deliveries to arrive in days rather than weeks.
So to that end you should look for a POD with several locations where your target customers are based, so that shipping can be quick and painless.
You may even decide you want worldwide shipping.
In a way, you’re already saving money by not having to pay any upfront costs for stock. But everything has its price.
Some POD companies charge a monthly fee, and that can hit hard in the early days when profits are relatively low.
And other POD companies charge a percentage of the individual sales prices, which seems both fair and manageable.
But on the flip side, it means your upcoming costs are much harder to predict and prepare for.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best print on demand service for Shopify?
There are many great print on demand services out there, but if you know you’re going to run your store your own way through Shopify, you should look for a POD company that offers at least some Shopify integration.
To that end we would recommend Printful, Printify, or CustomCat. As to which one is best, it depends on what you’re looking for.
Printful is best for quality, Printify is best for value for money, and Customcat is the one you want to go for if you want to have an extensive product catalogue.
Which is the best print on demand company?
Now, this is a tricky question to answer, but if we had to pick just one favorite, it would be Printful…
And the reason we prefer Printful to the others is not just because it ticks all the boxes of what you should be looking for, like fast shipping, but also because of their consistently excellent product quality.
Together, this means happy customers, and happy customers can very easily become repeat customers.
Is Print on Demand still profitable in 2021?
We’re pleased to report that print on demand is still very much in demand, even now.
However, just how profitable it could be for you can depend on all sorts of factors.
These factors include (but aren’t limited to) your design skills, your marketing, and so on.
Is Printify better than Printful?
This kind of depends on what you’re looking for. Sure Printify is great for keeping costs low, but Printful wins hands down when it comes to product quality.
Do you need a business license to sell on Shopify?
More often than not, most online sellers do not have to own a business license. However, we would recommend looking into the laws and regulations of your particular state, just to be sure.