Every graphic designer who dreams of starting an online store of items like t-shirts, mugs and such has had to face this dilemma. On-demand printing companies offer services like printing your designs onto the inventory as and when you need them to. They are a boon when you have a great idea you want to execute. Consider this.
On a lazy afternoon, you designed a t-shirt just for fun and circulated the first draft among your friends. It’s an instant hit and now dozens of your friends and their friends want to buy it. In another scenario, you took three days to come up with a great design for a mug or photo frame and expected the same craze but that didn’t happen.
In both cases, you need to anticipate the demand and be ready with copies of the finished product. If you choose to get 50 t-shirts and mugs, you might not have enough t-shirts but have a box of mugs collecting dust in some corner. That just does not work. What on-demand printing does is it allows you to place an order as and when you receive an order. That just solves all your problems and has turned out to be a great option for independent artists in the last few years. But there’s more to it than that.
These businesses, understandably, charge you a lot more per piece than they do for bulk orders. That is because it genuinely is more expensive to do one item at a time than it is to print the same for 50 or 100 products. You must be ready for that. But the scalability of their operations makes it a coveted option for independent artists and small businesses.
Now, if your business takes off and you graduate to placing bulk orders, you don’t have to look for a new company to do the bulk printing for you. That is the advantage of these print-on-demand services.
Differences Between Printful and Printify
The competition on this subject has often boiled down to two companies. It’s Printful vs. Printify. There are a few factors to take into account before you decide which service to use. Both brands have their own set of advantages and disadvantages. So, what you need to do is match your budget and service requirements with one of them. And we are here to help you make that decision.
Printful is a print-on-demand service with shipping and warehousing options. You can create your own designs and put them up for sale on various e-commerce platforms like Shopify. Printful will turn your vision into reality and ship the product directly to your customer. They charge you for manufacturing each time a product sells.
They were founded in 2013 and are one of the fastest-growing companies of their kind. They have what are called order fulfillment centers in Tijuana Mexico, Charlotte North Carolina in the US, and Riga in Latvia.
Printify is a print-on-demand service that was founded in 2015 and the office is in San Francisco. Like Printful, you can use this service to make and ship your products to the customers through e-commerce websites like Shopify. Printify has grown quite a bit in the last few years and now has a total funding of over $4 million.
But before picking one of the two services, here are a few factors to keep in mind. This is also how they are different from each other. So, pick the one that best suits your needs.
Factor 1: Suppliers
When it comes to Printful vs. Printify, the latter does not produce your merchandise. They get a third-party supplier to do it. The advantage here is that you can change the supplier if you are unhappy with the final result. But in the meantime, you might end up with dissatisfied customers which threaten to sound the death knell if you are just starting out.
The best way to avoid that disaster is to test it out by ordering a couple of samples of the product for yourself. This gives you a chance to give feedback and untie any knots in the system before the product reaches a customer. This is, however, not a long-term solution. You have to start building trust and quality right away.
Printful, on the other hand, does all the work itself. So, if there is any issue with alignment or vibrance, you can contact them directly and get it fixed right away. This not only saves time but also helps ensure the final product is produced on time.
The big issue here is that if you are not satisfied with the material or something else, you will have to find another brand because you don’t have the option of changing the supplier. But they do have great reviews and negative talk has been down to the minimum. So, even with Printful, the best way to see the quality is to order a couple of samples yourself.
Factor 2: Lead Time
This is the amount of time from the moment a customer places the order to the time the product is shipped. In businesses of this nature, lead time is crucial because it is one of the first things a customer looks for once they like the product. Now, about Printful vs. Printify in this context, since Printify uses third-party suppliers, this is not an area where they present their A game.
Some suppliers get the job done in just a couple of days but some take about a week for the same. So, your delivery time depends on the suppliers’ strengths. But your business depends on how quickly you can get an item into the customers’ hands, apart from the quality of the product. So, you might want to think hard before making this decision.
However, Printful is typically ready with its order within three days which is a huge plus point. It might not be able to beat Printify’s fastest suppliers who get it done in a couple of days, it is better than the uncertainty of having multiple suppliers. This is the one place where predictability is a good thing.
Factor 3: Order Fulfillment
One of the most important things about running a store of this kind is to be able to produce the order as quickly as possible. In a world where overseas competitors are taking over, local businesses like yours need to up the game from 2-3 delivery days to beat their “delivered in 24 hours” business model. That is possible when your print-on-demand guy has a lot of local presence.
On the question of Printful vs. Printify, the latter has suppliers in California, Georgia, Colorado, Florida, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Michigan and North Carolina in the US. And all of them come with express shipping. Outside of the United States, they have three suppliers in the UK and one in China. Order fulfillment is up to the suppliers. So, you want to associate with a company that can efficiently do a lot of legwork for you really quickly. You must also remember that standard products like t-shirts and mugs can be shipped from most locations but specialty items are made only in some offices. So, take that into account.
On the other hand, Printful does all of its work itself and ships the products from its offices. Since it is not a giant conglomerate, it does not have too many fulfillment centers. They have two in the US (California and North Carolina) and one each in Mexico and Latvia. Because of that, the location of your customer base will help you determine which service to use.
Factor 4: Integration
These print-on-demand services are not just about manufacturing but also helping you get your product out there on different e-commerce platforms. That, in fact, is the sign of truly good service. They are meant to provide you with the right tools to get your stuff out in the market.
The battle of Printful vs. Printify intensifies here because both these brands offer that service. They are great apps that let you post your product on multiple platforms. Here’s how it works for both of them.
- Step 1: Download the app.
- Step 2: Link your Printify or Printful account with online retailers. (There are some tiny differences on both apps with respect to this step)
- Step 3: Start selling.
It is clear that both Printify and Printful have put in a lot of effort into making this easy for you. If there is a platform you want to sell on that is not on either of their apps, you’ve got to do it manually. So, you need to look for the options that each of them provides.
Printify helps you sell your stuff on Shopify, Etsy and WooCommerce stores.
Printful also helps with Shopify, Etsy and WooCommerce stores. But it has also added Amazon, BigCommerce, Storenvy, Weebly, Tictail, Gumroad, Ecwid, Shipstation, Bigcartel and Inktale to the list.
Factor 5: Product Selection and Pricing
This factor, of course, is all about the kinds of products you want to sell. Everyone might be able to make a t-shirt and a hoodie but not everyone is proficient in manufacturing a customized purse. So, let’s see what these brands can help you accomplish.
Printify is good with t-shirts and long-sleeved tees, hoodies and sweatshirts, sports t-shirts, tank tops, leggings, skirts, dresses and swimsuits. It is also pretty great with add-ons like socks, hats, scarfs and onesies for babies. In the non-apparel sections, they dabble in bibs, purses, bags and backpacks, jewelry, phone cases, wall art, towels, shower curtains and bath mats, blankets and duvets, pillows, mugs, water bottles, stickers and journals.
Printful is also great with apparel like the ones Printify makes but can also do shorts and athletic shorts with a few differences in the style. But in the non-apparel section, Printify may have them beat. Printful only does a few bags and cell phone cases.
As a creator, you have to think about the cost of the products and whether you can get the same done for a cheaper price.
In that sense, Printify does their lowest t-shirt for about $7.73 while Printful charges almost a dollar more at $8.9. But, you must decide based on quality and delivery too.
With Printify though, you can create an account and the service you receive can be tailor-made accordingly. Those who are just starting out can create an account for free. You can have unlimited product designs and can sell them on five platforms.
A premium account is for merchants who are stepping up. It costs $29 per month and you can sell at 10 stores per account.
An enterprise account is for those who have 10,000 orders every day. You will have access to unlimited stores and the pricing depends on the deal you make with them. It’s a customized package deal.
The Bottom Line
If you are stuck deciding between two companies like Printify and Printful, which are both known for great service, you need to start by considering your needs.
You need to figure out if you are okay with a third party coming into the picture or if you strictly want them to make the product. This is also an important decision in terms of who you want to be dealing with in case there is a problem.
The supplier also has an impact on the lead time which is something every customer looks at. Today, every online shopper expects the product to be at their doorstep as soon as possible.
Then there is order fulfillment which controls your ability to expand your footprint.
The last step is figuring out how much this is going to cost you and compare it with all the reach you have. Meaning how much you are spending on these on-demand services and what platforms they are letting you sell your stuff on. Once you figure these things out, you will be ready for your business to take off. Good luck and happy designing!