If you’re an artist or graphic designer who runs an online store (or looking to start an online store?), you know that it can be impossible to predict demand.
That enormous six-color tee shirt you designed looks fantastic, but only six of them sell – and your mom bought three of those.
The silly unicorn mug you designed in five minutes suddenly sells like gangbusters.
With this much volatility, it can be difficult to decide how many of your product to order.
Do you place a small order, and risk customers being angry when you run out and need to wait for another order? Or do you place a large order, hoping everything will sell?
The third option is to hire a print on demand company to get the job done for you. Here, I’ve reviewed the two of the best print on demand t shirt companies: Printify vs Printful.
I’ll take a close look at all aspects of their services, and tell you how they stack up.
How do Print on Demand T Shirt Companies Work?
Before I go any further, let’s take a look at what print on demand companies do.
Instead of printing a large quantity at once – say, 100 or 200 shirts – print on demand companies make each individual piece when it’s ordered. This is advantageous for independent artists, because it takes all the uncertainty out of placing orders.
Never again will you pay for a giant box of tee shirts that collect dust in the back of your closet.
The downside? Even the best print on demand companies charge significantly more per piece than you’ll pay for a bulk order.
They do this out of necessity, since it’s more expensive to print a shirt or mug by itself than it is to print that same design on one of a hundred pieces.
Ultimately, print on demand services are the best option for small-scale artists because they’re scalable. You probably want your business to grow, right?
Imagine that you have a design that suddenly becomes popular. If you’re placing bulk orders, you may suddenly need to order hundreds of thousands of a particular mug or tee shirt.
This could mean you have to take out a loan just as your business is getting off the ground.
A print on demand service will scale with your business, so you’re never going to be stuck with too many customers and not enough cash. That’s what both of these services have in common.
Other than that, there are significant differences between these companies. Next, I’ll show you where these services excel, and where they fall short.
“Instead of printing a large quantity at once – say, 100 or 200 shirts – print on demand companies make each individual piece when it’s ordered.
This is advantageous for independent artists, because it takes all the uncertainty out of placing orders.
Printful vs Printify – 5 Factors Compared?
I’m going to score these companies in six areas: suppliers, order fulfillment, lead time, integration with online stores, pricing and selection, and finally an overall rating that will include all of the above plus any extra features the services offer.
Let’s take a deep dive into the web’s top two T shirt fulfillment companies.
Printify doesn’t actually produce any of their own merchandise. Instead, your orders will be completed by third-party suppliers, where the quality may vary. This is both an advantage and a disadvantage.
On the one hand, if you’re not happy with the quality of your product, you can change suppliers.
On the other hand, if you’re not careful, you can end up with some upset customers.
While investigating individual suppliers is beyond the scope of this Printify review, there are plenty of Reddit threads and other resources you can use to do your own research.
As with any T shirt fulfillment service, a good rule of thumb is to always order a sample before you list your item for sale.
That way, you can correct any issues before they become a customer service issue.
On the other side of the board, Printful does all of their work in-house. This makes it easy to correct basic problems such as color misalignment or vibrancy, since you won’t be dealing with a third-party supplier.
This can save you time, meaning you can get your product listed faster and start making money.
Unfortunately, if you have more serious problems, such as poor quality material, you won’t have the option of switching suppliers. You’re basically stuck with whatever Printful is willing to provide.
Thankfully, these issues are rare, and Printful generally gets great reviews on product quality.
Printful does all of their work in-house. This makes it easy to correct basic problems such as color misalignment or vibrancy, since you won’t be dealing with a third-party supplier. This can save you time, meaning you can get your product listed faster and start making money. (Click to Tweet)
#2 Lead Time
Lead time is the number of days between the time your customer places their order and the time it’s actually shipped.
This is one area where Printify’s supplier network really hurts them. While some suppliers have a lead time of only two days, others can take as long as a week to ship your customers’ orders. This can lead to unnecessary customer service issues for you.
Printful ships all orders three days after they’re placed. While this isn’t as fast as the very fastest Printify suppliers, it’s certainly faster on average. More than that, it’s predictable, so you can give your customers a more accurate timeframe.
#3 Order Fulfillment
When you’re running an online store, where your order is produced can be as important as how fast it’s produced.
For example, a Chinese supplier may be able to produce your mug within 24 hours, while a local supplier may take three days for the same job.
But by the time you account for international shipping times, the local supplier will still get your mug to the customer faster.
On the US side, Printify has suppliers in California, Georgia, Colorado, Florida, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Michigan, and North Carolina.
They also have overseas suppliers: three in the UK, and one in China. When you’re calculating order times, keep in mind that they only offer express shipping in the US.
Because the suppliers are fulfilling your orders, and not Printify themselves, locations may vary depending on the exact product your shipping.
Common products like tee shirts and hoodies will ship from most locations, while some niche products will only ship from a few suppliers.
Because Printful doesn’t rely on third-party suppliers, they fulfill their orders directly from their own locations. As a result, there are fewer fulfillment centers than you’ll find on Printify.
In the US, they have fulfillment locations in California and North Carolina. They also fulfill orders in Mexico and Latvia.
At the end of the day, which service is better depends on where your customers are. In the US, things are more or less equal.
Overseas, it depends on what country you’re located in. For UK sellers in particular, Printify is better than Printful.
Turning your design into reality is great. Actually selling that design is another matter entirely.
For a print on demand service to be truly great, it needs to provide you with the tools necessary to put your product in front of customers.
Both Printify and Printful have apps that allow you to show your listing on major e-commerce sites. While the apps are different from each-other, the basic process is the same.
First, you’ll need to download the app.
Next, you’ll need to link your Printify or Printful account with any online retailers where you have a store.
The exact process is different depending on which service you’re using, but in both cases it can be done easily through the app.
Once you’ve done that, any design you create on Printful or Printify will automatically appear in your online stores.
For unsupported e-commerce sites, you’ll need to create your listings manually. This is easy to do, but can become tedious if you have several online stores across multiple platforms.
Printify will integrate with your Shopify, Etsy or WooCommerce stores. Printful will integrate with all of these stores, plus Amazon, BigCommerce, Storenvy, Weebly, Tictail, Gumroad, Ecwid, Shipstation, Bigcartel and Inktale.
While both services have apps and are easy to use, Printful clearly has the edge when it comes to integrating with your existing stores.
Turning your design into reality is great. Actually selling that design is another matter entirely. For a print on demand service to be truly great, it needs to provide you with the tools necessary to put your product in front of customers. (Click to Tweet)
#5 Pricing and Selection
Which service is better here will depend on your exact needs.
Printify offers a large selection of apparel products, including T-shirts, long-sleeved tees, hoodies, shoes, sports tees, sweatshirts, tank tops, leggings, skirts, dresses, swimsuits, socks, hats, scarfs and baby onesies.
In non-apparel products, they sell bibs, purses, bags, backpacks, jewelry, phone cases, wall art, towels, shower curtains, bath mats, blankets, duvets, pillows, mugs, water bottles, stickers and custom journals.
Printify Pricing & Features
Printful sells a similar array of apparel, with the addition of shorts and athletic shorts. On the other hand, they sell fewer non-apparel items; just a handful of bags and cell phone covers.
That said, their clothing selection is different, so check out the exact options if you want a specific style.
In terms of pricing, Printify is slightly better. Their lowest-priced tee shirt is $7.73, while Printful’s costs $8.95. Again, keep in mind that you’ll want to compare both services’ exact selection before making a decision.
Printful Pricing & Features
Home & Living$2.17/product
Overall Rating – Printify vs Printful
Ultimately, which service is better – Printful or Printify – will depend on your exact needs. Are you based in the UK? You’ll want to choose Printify because they have UK suppliers.
Are you elsewhere in the EU? Printful will be better because they fulfill orders from Latvia.
You’ll also want to consider how much control you want to have over your own product. Printful has less variety, and there’s no-one else to reach out to if something goes wrong.
On the other hand, Printify can give you a broader selection and more supplier options, but some of those suppliers aren’t very good.
Finally, you’ll need to think about how you’re going to sell your designs. Printful is clearly better in this regard, since they automatically integrate with more e-commerce platforms.
That said, if you’re only selling on Etsy or Shopify, either service will work just fine.
Who Are Some Other Printful Competitors?
Of course, Printful and Printify aren’t the only print on demand services available. Here are a few of the competitors, and what makes them stand out.
- Custom Cat is a newer service that focuses on low prices. The advantage? You’ll pay far less per piece than you will for most other services. The disadvantage? You get what you pay for. Their ink is less durable, and doesn’t stand up to repeated washing.
- Gooten is a print on demand service that integrates with Shopify, Amazon, Etsy and other major online stores. It’s priced higher than Custom Cat, but lower than Printful or Printify. Like Printify, they have multiple suppliers for their products, so quality is variable.
- Teespring is both a print on demand service and a sales platform. On the one hand, they handle sales for you. On the other hand, you’ll have to do any marketing on your own, and you won’t be able to sell your products though an established platform like Shopify or Etsy.
- Teelaunch is very similar to Printful, including in-house fulfillment and the ability to integrate with online stores. Their pricing is similar, but a lot of Teelaunch reviews talk about terrible customer service.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I use Printful and Printify?
Yes you can use both. Both classes of products can coexist in one shop.
Is Printful good quality?
Can you make money with Printify?
Yes. It really just depends on how much you sell.
What percentage does Printful take?
Printful doesn’t charge monthly or startup fees. Their product prices include the product itself and printing, but they don’t include shipping and taxes.
I hope this comparison was helpful. Hopefully, it’s clarified the differences between Printful and Printify, and helped you make a better decision.
Even if you choose one of the competitors I mentioned, you’ll be better informed when you do.
To sum up, Printful does all of their work in-house, has shorter lead times, and integrates with more e-commerce platforms.
Printify uses third-party suppliers, which gets you more selection and better prices, but this comes at the cost of longer lead times.
They both have fulfillment centers throughout the world.
Did I miss something? Did you have an experience with one of these services you want to share? Let me know in the comments!