Printful Review 2020:
Pros, Cons and How It Compares

This is an in-depth review of Printful – a print on demand drop shipping company.

In this review, I’ll talk about:

  • What Printful is
  • How it works
  • Printful Pros and Cons
  • The main features and how they compare to Printful’s competitors
  • What alternatives there are
  • Who Printful is best for


Let’s get started.

Printful Overview

Printful is the biggest print on demand drop shipping company that helps you sell custom merch (shirts, hoodies, mugs, etc.) in your own online store.

Printful stands out with consistent print quality, a variety of branding options (labels, custom packing slips, pack-in business cards) and fast fulfilment (2-3 business days in my experience).

However, Printful is not for everyone. Printful product costs are considerably higher than its main competitor’s. If you are looking for a POD company with the lowest product costs, you’ll have to take a look at other services.

This Printful review evaluates all the things you should consider before deciding that Printful is really for you. Those are: ease of use, pricing, product variety, integrations, production, shipping, support, payments, alternatives.

If you’re in a rush, below you’ll find a quick summary of the main features of Printful. Read on to discover a more detailed evaluation of Printful’s performance. Starting with the questions – what is Printful and how does it work, exactly?
printful-logo
Overall rating: 4.4
4.5/5
  • Consistent print quality
  • Variety of branding options
  • Fast fulfilment
  • Price of goods
Product costs
3/5

$13.31 Bella+Canvas printed T-shirt

Fulfilment time
4.5/5

2-7 days

Fulfilment locations
4.5/5

US, Mexico, Latvia, Spain, as well as partner facilities in Australia and Japan

Product variety
4.5/5

220+ products

Branding options
5/5

Neck labels, custom packing slips, branded pack-ins

Integrations
5/5

Shopify, WooCommerce, Wix, Squarespace, Ecwid, BigCommerce, PrestaShop, Weebly, Bigcartel, Magento, Gumroad, Shipstation, 3dcart, Launchcart, Etsy, Amazon, eBay, Wish, Storenvy, Bonanza

What is Printful?

Printful is a print on demand drop shipping service that has its own printing facilities in the US, Mexico, Latvia and Spain, as well as partner facilities in Japan and Australia.

You can use Printful to design custom merch and then sell it on various eCommerce platforms, like Shopify, WordPress or Etsy.

Once a customer places an order in your store, Printful will print, pack and ship the product to the end customer.

Having delivered 21M+ items since 2013, Printful currently leads the print on demand market.

You can compare Printful to its main competitors Printify, Gooten, SPOD and CustomCat in this Google Trends view. Printful has been dominating the industry since the very beginning.

printful competitors

How does Printful work?

To understand how exactly Printful works, let’s first explain the terms print on demand and drop shipping.

Print on demand is a unique fulfilment method, in which goods are printed only after a customer has ordered and paid for them. This means that you don’t need a stock of goods before you start selling. Print on demand approach dramatically decreases business startup expenses: ordering blank products, printing them, holding an inventory. It also lets you experiment with product designs without tons of unwanted stock.

Drop shipping is a process of passing your customer orders to a supplier, who packs and ships goods directly to the end customer. The main benefit of the drop shipping model is that you don’t have to maintain stock and spend time and money on packing and shipping.

Now, let’s combine the two terms.

Printful prints products when your customer orders them. Then it packs and ships goods directly to your customer.

Here’s how Printful works step-by-step.

1. You create custom products

Go to Printful catalog to find the blank product you want to sell in your online store.

Next, click Start Designing, upload custom designs, and choose where you want the print to be placed.

Printful automatically generates mockups of your product. Once you are happy with the product, you can save it.

printful design upload

2. Connect your online store

Connecting your store means allowing Printful to push the products you’ve created into your online store.

Printful works with the most popular e-commerce platforms and online marketplaces.

Here are all of Printful’s integrations: Shopify, WooCommerce, Wix, Squarespace, Ecwid, BigCommerce, PrestaShop, Weebly, Bigcartel, Magento, Gumroad, Shipstation, 3dcart, Launchcart, Etsy, Amazon, eBay, Wish, Storenvy, Bonanza.

Go to Stores, click Choose Platform and then connect to the platform of your choice.

printful connect store

When you’ve connected your store, go to Product templates and publish the products you have created in Step 1.

3. Promote and sell products

In print on demand drop shipping business, marketing is your main challenge.

Printful will handle production, but YOU are responsible for promoting your online store and getting orders coming in.

4. Printful prints, packs and ships goods

As soon as you receive an order, Printful will automatically import it and send it to production.

It will take 2-7 business days (usually 2-3) to print your products. After that, goods will be packed and shipped to your customer.

What’s left for you is communication with your customers.

Additional services

Printful goes beyond just printing, packing and shipping.

In fact, the company offers a range of additional services that can help you create a successful print on demand business.

Let’s take a look at the extra services:

  • Warehousing. You can store your goods at Printful warehouse. Printful will pack and ship goods to your customer on the same day as the order is made.
  • Graphic design. Printful can design your logo and create print files for your brand. Needless to say, the design portfolio is awesome and there are plenty of positive reviews for this service.
  • Photography. Printful can print your products and take professional product pictures for you.
  • Video services. If you are ready to invest in video ads but don’t want to handle the video production process, Printful can do that for you, too.
  • Store setup services. Printful can help you set up your online store with Shopify or WooCommerce.

Printful Pros & Cons

  • Free to use, no monthly fees
  • Known for consistent print quality and vivid colours
  • Variety of branding options
  • Fast fulfilment
  • 20+ eCommerce platform integrations
  • Excellent customer service and active Facebook community
  • High production costs
  • Few unique items in the catalog

Is Printful Easy to Use?

Quick Answer: Yes, no doubt. Printful ranks highest among all POD companies in terms of ease of use. The interface is outstandingly simple and intuitive.

When you’re just starting out with print on demand drop shipping, it is crucial to consider how easy to use your POD company’s services are.

Sometimes printing companies struggle to combine great print quality with great user experience, but Printful manages to excel at both.

Printful has the most user-friendly interface of all print on demand companies. It is clean, simple, intuitive.

On the dashboard, you’ll find tips, guides, shortcuts and trending products – everything you need to start out a POD business stress-free.

printful sign up

My favorite part is Printful’s outstanding onboarding experience. When you sign up, the onboarding guide will take you through the whole site until you have published a product in your online store.

It’s likely you won’t have any questions about Printful’s services, because there are step-by-step tips and useful links literally everywhere.

Another great thing is Printful mobile app.

printful mobile app

This app helps you check order status, talk to support, confirm incoming orders and even create new ones on the go. Very convenient, and as simple as it can get.

printful-logo
4.5/5

Is Printful right for you?

Create an account and check it out yourself. Printful won’t charge you anything.

Printful Review: Products

Quick Answer: Printful selection of apparel, accessories and home decor is vast. Currently, there are 220+ products available. You can definitely find some great products with Printful, but its competitors Printify and Gooten have more unique items in their catalogs.

Product choice

Printful’s product choice is substantial, currently around 220 products. It is also pretty basic, compared to Printify’s and Gooten’s catalogs.

Don’t get me wrong – Printful offers all the bestselling products, like tees, hoodies, mugs, etc. Usually this is enough for beginners who want to only design on the most popular products.

printful product catalog

However, if you are looking for eye-catching items, like hooded blankets, wall tapestries, tumblers, can holders, pet beds, etc., Printful is not the place to find them.

Why?

Printful prints goods at its own production facilities and holds its own stock of blank products.

Printify and Gooten collaborate with dozens of printing companies around the globe that have their own blank product inventories. They can add new products whenever they start working with a new printing company. This means that their catalogs are more flexible and can grow considerably faster than Printful’s.

Below you’ll find Printful product categories. Click on the category to discover specific products.

  • T-shirts
  • All-over-print shirts
  • Polo shirts
  • Tank tops
  • 3/4 sleeve shirts
  • Long sleeve shirts
  • Embroidered shirts
  • Jackets
  • Hoodies
  • Sweatshirts
  • Sweatpants
  • Joggers
  • Leggings
  • Shorts
  • T-shirts
  • All-over-print shirts
  • Tank tops
  • Crop tops
  • Embroidered shirts
  • 3/4 sleeve shirts
  • Long sleeve shirts
  • Hoodies
  • Sweatshirts
  • Sweatpants
  • Joggers
  • Leggings
  • Skirts
  • Shorts
  • Dresses
  • Swimwear
  • Sports bras
  • T-shirts
  • All-over-print shirts
  • Hoodies
  • Baby bibs
  • Leggings
  • Baby bodysuits
  • Swimwear
  • Baseball caps
  • Snapbacks
  • Trucker hats
  • 5-panel hats
  • Mesh hats
  • Beanies
  • Bucket hats
  • Visors
  • Tote bags
  • Drawstring bags
  • Fanny packs
  • Backpacks
  • Phone cases
  • Jewelry
  • Flip flops
  • Socks
  • Face masks
  • Mugs
  • Stickers
  • Pillows
  • Wall art
  • Bean bags
  • Aprons

Product Catalogs

You don’t need an account with Printful, Printify or Gooten to check their product choice. Click on these links to discover all of the products these companies offer.

Production Techniques

Here are the production techniques you can choose from:

  • DTG (direct to garment)
  • AOP (all-over-print)
  • Embroidery


DTG 
is a printing method, in which ink is sprayed onto a ready-made garment. The printing area is always limited. Typically, you can print on front and back areas, but with Printful you can also customise inner and outer labels, as well as short and long sleeve prints. Garments are mostly cotton-based.

dtg example
DTG print example

AOP stands for all-over-print. In this printing method, your design covers the whole garment. It is first printed onto a fabric, then cut and sewn. These garments are mostly polyester-based.

aop print example
AOP print example

With Printful, you can also embroider polo shirts, T-shirts, bomber jackets, aprons and backpacks. If you are planning to use embroidery technique often, Printful is the best choice for you. 

You can choose from 15 thread colors and create awesome embroidered looks with flat, 3D Puff or Partial 3D Puff embroidery techniques.

Read Printful Embroidery Guidelines for additional information.

printful embroidery

Branding options

I love how customisable Printful’s products are. If you are willing to pay extra, Printful can print inner and outer labels on your garments, embroider your logo, print logo on the sleeves.

It’s a great way to create a strong, memorable brand and raise brand awareness. 

printful long sleeve print

Here’s a list of all Printful branding options:

  • Inside labels on most apparel products ($2.49 per label)
  • Outside labels on tees, hoodies, sweatshirts ($2.49 per label)
  • Short sleeve prints on T-shirts ($2.49 per sleeve)
  • Long sleeve prints on sweatshirts, hoodies, jackets ($5.95 per sleeve)
  • Embroidered logos on hats, aprons, hoodies, tees  ($2.95 per placement)

Mockups

Printful is doing such a cool job with its mockup generator. Each product has a variety of templates: on different models, on white background, in lifestyle context.

printful mockups

All of the mockups are free to use in your online store.

When it comes to popular products, like unisex tees, the variety of mockups is immense. Take a look at all the different photos you can place your design on.

t-shirt mockups

Samples

Print quality depends not only on the printing equipment that your print on demand company uses. It is also affected by the quality of the design file you upload and the material of the product you print on.

Many print on demand beginners tend to overlook the fact that mockup files provided by Printful are computer-generated and cannot depict the printing outcome with 100% accuracy.

This is why you should always order samples.

Samples help you understand the print quality, make improvements to the design file, see the fit. If you have samples, you are competent about your products and are able to answer customers’ questions.

Printful lets you order samples with a 20% discount.

There’s a limit to sample orders, though. When you’ve just registered, you can make one sample order per month with a maximum of 2 items. As you grow your business, you get 2 or 3 sample orders per month.

Free sample shipping applies for select destinations. Read Printful Sample Order Details for more information.

printful-logo
4.5/5

Found the right products for your store?

Sign up with Printful, go to Catalog and start designing your first product.

Printful Review: Pricing

Quick Answer: Printful is more expensive than its competitors. It also has a reputation for having the best print quality. Many store owners prefer to pay extra for reliability and consistency of quality.

Printful offers high quality prints with especially vivid and saturated colours, but the price of goods is among the highest on the market.

Let’s put Printful, Printify and Gooten pricing of some popular items side by side.

For the sake of comparison I used 4 products that are available with all 3 POD companies:

  • Bella+Canvas 3001 unisex jersey short sleeve tee
  • Men’s all-over-print shirt
  • Gildan 18500 Unisex Heavy Blend™ Hooded Sweatshirt
  • 11oz Mug
Product Printful Printify* Gooten

Shirt

$13.31

$6.76

$9.90

AOP shirt

$28.98
$20.81

-

Hoodie

$21.59

$15.22

$17.90

Mug 11oz

$8.22
$7.09

$4.99

Out of these 3 print on demand fulfilment companies, Printful’s production costs are the highest.

To me, it’s a major disadvantage that should be taken into consideration. To make your business profitable, the prices in your online store will have to be quite high. 

*Printify print providers used in the comparison: Bella+Canvas shirt (Awkward Styles), AOP shirt (MWW), Gildan hoodie (SwiftPOD), mug (SPOKE).

Printful Review: Integrations

Quick Answer: Printful has integrations with all the major eCommerce platforms and online marketplaces. Shopify, WooCommerce, Wix, Etsy, Amazon, you name it!

If you decide to start a print on demand drop shipping business with Printful, you can build an online store on pretty much any popular eCommerce platform. That’s because Printful has built smooth and easy to use integrations with 20+ platforms.

Here’s the full list of Printful’s integrations: Shopify, WooCommerce, Wix, Squarespace, Ecwid, BigCommerce, PrestaShop, Weebly, Bigcartel, Magento, Gumroad, Shipstation, 3dcart, Launchcart, Etsy, Amazon, eBay, Wish, Storenvy, Bonanza.

Printful Integrations page is a handy resource for beginners choosing the best eCommerce platform for their business. There you can compare setup time, price and other features before making a final decision.

printful integrations

If you already have an online store, being able to connect it to your POD company is of top importance. In this sense, Printful meets the needs of a broader spectrum of online entrepreneurs than its competitors Printify and Gooten.

Printify currently has 7 integrations: Shopify, Etsy, WooCommerce, eBay and Wix, BigCommerce and PrestaShop.

Gooten works only with 3 platforms: Shopify, Etsy, WooCommerce.

printful-logo
4.5/5

Ready to start selling custom merch?

Sign up with Printful, connect your store and start selling today.

Printful Review: Production & Shipping

Quick Answer: Printful prints goods at its own facilities in the US, Mexico and Latvia, Spain, as well as Japan and Australia, where Printful has partner facilities. Production normally takes 2-5 days.

Production locations

Printful fulfils orders in 5 of its own production facilities, located in North America and Europe, as well as 3 partner facilities in Japan and Australia:

  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Charlotte, NC
  • Tijuana, Mexico
  • Riga, Latvia
  • Barcelona, Spain
  • Amakusa, Japan
  • Brisbane, Australia
  • Victoria, Australia

These are the locations where all of your Printful orders will be shipped from. Orders are automatically routed to the facility that is closest to your customer.

printful locations

Production time

Estimated production time for apparel is 2-7 business days. Non-apparel products (mugs, phone cases, etc.) are printed within 2-5 business days.

Printful states that 97.66% of their orders are shipped within 5 business days.

From March till August 2020 production times were severely affected by COVID-19. Although currently production estimates are back to normal, you can check Printful COVID-19 Updates for more details regarding each product category.

Shipping time and costs

Average shipping time is 4 business days, but it depends on your customer’s location. Here’s a map of Printful’s shipping time estimates (click on the link for an interactive version).

printful shipping

Printful shipping prices vary from product to product.

Shipping a single T-shirt to a customer in the US costs $3.99. For hoodies, jackets and pants domestic US shipping is $6.50.

You can check the shipping costs of every product on Printful catalog here.

Domestic US shipping with Printful seems slightly cheaper than with Printify, but it really depends on the type of  product you are selling.

printful shipping costs

Custom packaging

You can add your logo and a custom message to the packing slip for free. 

This helps your customers recognise your brand and adds a personal touch to the unboxing experience. Adding a custom message also works great if you want to promote a sale or mention a new product.

printful packing slip
Packing slip

Printful is the only POD company that lets you add business cards, stickers or flyers to the order. It costs $0.75 per order plus storage costs.

printful pack ins
Pack-in flyers
printful-logo
4.5/5

Love Printful's custom solutions?

Start creating a strong and memorable brand with Printful.

Printful Review: Support, Policies & Community

Quick Answer: Printful’s support team work 24/7 via chat and e-mail. In addition, there’s an outstanding blog and an active Facebook community where fellow Printful users can interact.

24/7 Support

If you have any questions about Printful services, products, orders or integrations, getting in touch with Printful is very easy. There are many communication channels available, so choose whichever works best for you.

Printful provides support via:

Returns & Exchanges

Since Printful produces items on demand, it doesn’t accept returns or exchanges if your customer has ordered a wrong product, size, color, or simply doesn’t like the product.

Returns are only accepted in case of misprinted, damaged or defective item. This is an industry standard, which you’ll also find in Printify’s and Gooten’s policies.

Printful Content Policy

Printful states that all content is subject to review, and Printful reserves the right to remove it at any time and for any reason. Printful evaluates each case individually.

You cannot print content that infringes on the intellectual property of others. It is also forbidden to print content that promotes illegal activity or expresses hatred towards any person or group.

Here’s more info about Printful content policy.

Blog and Community

Printful blog has a wealth of information for beginners and experienced POD business owners. Check it out for marketing tips, product news, trends, as well as customer success stories (my fave segment).

printful blog

Last but not least, one of my favourite things about Printful that keeps me up to date about print on demand industry, provides valuable insights daily and inspires me to learn and become a better entrepreneur.

Printful Insiders Facebook Group

printful-community

If you haven’t joined already, do it now. This is the absolute best place for beginners to learn and develop their stores. Special thanks go to the awesome admins!

Printful Review: Payments

Quick Answer: You can use your credit card or PayPal account to pay for Printful order fulfilment.

Printful Billing

Printful app is completely free to use, Printful only charges you for production. Here’s how it works:

  1. A customer places an order in your online shop. She/he pays you, using your store’s payment options.
  2. Then the order automatically comes through to Printful, and Printful charges you for the production of the order, plus shipping.

 

There are 2 Printful billing options:

  • Default payment method. Connect a credit card or PayPal account and Printful will charge it every time there’s an order to fulfil.
  • Printful Wallet. Deposit money to Printful via PayPal or credit card. This helps you avoid transaction errors and shortens order processing time.

Printful Alternatives

Quick Answer: Printful’s main competitors are Printify and Gooten. Printify stands out with the lowest production costs, while Gooten’s strength is the broad selection of unique products, like bandanas, seat covers, beer steins, etc.

Printful vs. Printify

Printful’s main rival Printify is another print on demand drop shipping company.

Despite the seemingly similar print on demand drop shipping concept, Printify’s business model is different from Printful’s.

Printify doesn’t print goods itself. Instead, it connects you to the biggest printing facilities around the world. Normally, small businesses wouldn’t be able to work with such big factories, but Printify makes it possible.

You can choose from 18 different print providers in US, Canada, UK, Germany, Czech Republic, China. Each of these print providers has its own list of products you can print on.

Moreover, with Printify you can use several print providers in a single store.

printify-logo
Overall rating: 4.5
4.5/5
  • Low production costs
  • Fast fulfilment
  • Inconsistent print quality
  • Limited branding options
Product costs
4.5/5

$6.76 Bella+Canvas printed shirt

Fulfilment time
5/5

2-7 days

Fulfilment locations
5/5

US, Canada, UK, Germany, Czech Republic, China. You can choose print provider by location.

Product variety
5/5

250+ products

Branding options
3.5/5

Neck labels only

Integrations
4/5

Shopify, WooCommerce, Wix, Etsy, eBay, PrestaShop, BigCommerce

Both Printful and Printify have simple and easy to use interfaces, great mockup generators. Both POD services are free (in addition, Printify offers a paid plan that gives you 20% off all products), and both have no minimum order requirements.

Printify is stronger than Printful in several aspects:

  • Production costs. To print a popular Bella+Canvas tee, you’ll spend $6.76 with Printify vs. $13.31 with Printful. That’s an astonishing $6.55 difference per single product.
  • Product variety. Currently Printify catalog features 250+ products, and it’s growing constantly. Printful has 220+ items, but there are no unique items, like sneakers, hooded blankets, shower curtains, etc.
 

However, Printify is not perfect. Here’s where Printful is better:

  • Consistency of quality. Because Printify works with so many different partners, you can’t expect all prints to be exactly the same. Printify’s quality is generally good, but there can be slight print quality inconsistencies. Since Printful owns all of its facilities, it can control the production process much better.
  • Labels and branding. Printify can print only neck labels on garments. Printful has many more ways to customize the product and your customer’s unboxing experience.

Additional information

  • Read my Printify Review for full details about Printful’s main competitor
  • Still can’t decide which one is best for your business? Read Printify vs Printful comparison to see these POD companies side by side

Printful vs. Gooten

Gooten is a lesser known POD company, but you might be surprised how good their product catalog and prices are.

The way Gooten operates is quite similar to Printify. Gooten also connects you to a network of printing facilities worldwide. However, Gooten won’t let you choose, which print provider you want to work with. It uses dynamic order routing feature, which automatically directs orders to a facility that is closest to your customer.

gooten logo
Overall rating: 4.2
4.2/5
  • Unique product selection
  • Competitive pricing
  • Difficult to use interface
  • Slower production
Product costs
4.5/5

$9.90 Bella+Canvas printed shirt

Fulfilment time
3.5/5

3-7 days

Fulfilment locations
5/5

US, Canada, UK, Europe, Asia, Australia. Production partners chosen automatically via dynamic order routing.

Product variety
5/5

100+ products, tons of unique items

Branding options
3.5/5

Neck labels only

Integrations
3/5

Shopify, WooCommerce, Etsy

Gooten’s production prices and print quality are similar Printify’s. You’ll pay $9.90 for a Bella+Canvas tee (Printify $6.76, Printful $13.31).

Personally, I find Gooten’s interface very hard to work with. It’s not clean, nor simple, so you’ll have to spend quite a bit of time trying to understand where to click. Finding answers on their website is also troublesome, so I used Google to check essential shipping and production details faster.

On a more positive note, Gooten offers products you can’t find anywhere else. Thanks to the unique products and good pricing, dealing with Gooten’s website might be worth your time.

For example, there’s an exciting variety of baby products: beanies, bibs, seat covers, pad covers, crib sheets and more. Also pet products: pet bandanas, placemats, dog beds.

Note that Gooten only works with Shopify, WooCommerce and Etsy.

Additional information

Printful Review: Is it right for you?

Printful is the right choice for you if:

  • you are looking for a POD company that consistently prints highest-quality, saturated and crisp prints
  • you are ready to pay extra for reliability
  • you plan to create a strong brand by printing and embroidering your logo, as well as adding branded pack-ins to orders

What's Next?

Hope you’ve enjoyed reading this Printful review.

If you feel like Printful is right for you, go on and create a free Printful account

Want to compare more? Read my in-depth Printify vs. Printful comparison

Looking for more information about print on demand drop shipping? Check out Print on Demand Drop Shipping in 2020: The Definitive Guide

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