In their 2017 report marketing research company Research and Markets conclude that Print on Demand (POD) fulfillment services will continue growing. The report also identifies increasing global incomes, shift in fashion trends, and tech advancements as the driving factors of this growth.
Asia Pacific is the fastest growing market for print on demand fulfillment services the report concludes. North American and European manufacturers now outsource production to China & South Asia for cost savings. This allows buyers to get cheaper products created by high quality manufacturers.
In this latest article we discuss POD, how it works, top Shopify print on demand apps, and costs involved in running a small scale print on demand business.
What Is Print on Demand
Due to changing fashion trends and cost savings Print on Demand is very popular in eCommerce dropshipping.
Print on Demand fulfillment is when clothing and linen is printed when orders are placed. Items are then shipped to your buyers, you pay the POD supplier and take your profit. Now do remember there are two kinds of POD services. They can either be a POD Website Service or POD Fulfillment Service.
A POD Website Service is one that offers a complete experience to buyers. This includes their own website, print service, and shipping services. They also provide designs, templates, colors and other front of store features. A POD website service also processes orders, prints and then ship to buyers under its own name.
In comparison, a POD Fulfillment service is one that only works in the background. POD Fulfillment services are like AliExpress, they dropship for your eStore but always remain anonymous. Fulfillment companies allow selling products under your own brand name, with white label shipping. Currently, you will find a brilliant range of Shopify print on demand apps to integrate with your existing Shopify eStore.
Why Should You Use Shopify Print on Demand Apps
Shopify Print on Demand apps provide massive benefits to apparel eStores to answer the ‘why you should use POD fulfillment services. Prominent benefits include:
- The POD fulfillment model does not require buying and storing large stocks, exactly like dropshipping over AliExpress
- There are no printing costs
- Easy to setup and sell
- Vast customization for buyers, the more they print they more you earn
- Provides an opportunity for small scale e-retailer brands to grow business
The brilliant aspect of Shopify print on demand apps is the versatility they provide for operations. Some Shopify Print on Demand apps even provide automated features for managing returns, inventories, and customer support.
How POD Fulfillment Orders work
Print on Demand fulfillment works exactly like AliExpress shipping. You install the desired POD fulfillment app which is generally powered by an automated system to:
- Receive and process orders
- Print in accordance to provided preferences
- Ship items
- Attach custom labels to items
Some POD fulfillment services also provide a ‘mock-up generator’, which are basically 3D templates of all their products for buyers to preview their custom designs in real time. Once the buyer processes the order it is automatically sent to the POD fulfillment company.
The supplier then prints the designs on required products, usually stocked in their own warehouses. Once printing is complete, products are shipped to the buyer with “white label packaging”, which means there is no brand name on it, you can add your own brand name. You take your profit, the supplier gets their cost, and the buyer get their goods.
What do you need to get started?
The great aspect of POD Fulfillment services is that you need absolutely nothing but a Shopify store to get started. There is practically no investment, subscription costs, or partnership fee for using print on demand fulfillment.
You can simply start with one of our suggested best print on demand Shopify apps from the list below and get to work. There are however some basics to look at before jumping into a POD fulfillment business.
A catchy and inspiring brand name will be the defining factor of your POD products. Since POD fulfillment services use white label shipping, so you must use your own brand name. Think of a brand name, logo & font that looks fascinating on different products like mugs, clothing, phone cases etc.
A great idea is to install a mock-up generator or template app from Shopify in case your chosen POD fulfillment service doesn’t offer it. A mock-up generator allows you to easily place designs on 3D photos of products to give buyers a realistic view of their purchases.
Do remember these apps come with an added cost to your revenue, so consider using a free app. Both Printful & Printify already offer the mock-up generator feature in their offering.
Sample Product Quality
One essential trick that most sellers don’t consider is testing out samples of products before sourcing them to a POD fulfillment service. Always order samples to be assured of product quality and service quality of the print on demand vendor. Some vendors may well offer samples for free, while some will charge for items.
Best Print on Demand Apps List for Shopify Stores
Shopify makes Print on Demand Fulfillment even easier with its leading POD dropshipping apps. This is not a raking, simply the 9 best print on demand apps list for Shopify store owners. All five apps are available in the Shopify store and can be used for free.
1. Printful – Printing and Warehousing
Currently the best & most popular print on demand service in the world, Printful is the ideal one stop POD ordering, inventory, printing, and shipping service. Designed by the developer with the same name, Printful offers much more than printing on t-shirts. Printful Shopify app allows you to print on over 200 products including t-shirts, mugs, phone cases, pillows, and 200 more products.
Sellers benefit massively with Printful’s back end support that includes printing, inventory holding, and shipping. Here are some excellent advantages of using Printful for POD fulfillment:
- No capital investment needed – Printful will stock inventory, buy equipment, and bear all backend expenses
- Save time by removing the manual ordering process – Printful integrates with your eStore and sends all orders automatically for fulfillment
- Get added values features – Access to Printful design teams & photographers, and the complete product catalog
In addition to the basics, Printful provides a complete solution for POD dropshipping. Printful’s many value added features include:
- Discounted samples – Order samples for 20% less, get free shipping world-wide
- White label service – Printful ships all products without its brand name, add a sticker of your own brand name to build your own name.
- Quality products – Quality checked products, printed in-house and no outsourcing.
- Warehousing & Fulfillment – Printful stores your orders in its warehouse, and ships all orders automatically as indicated.
- Design services – Get access to in-house Printful designers to create perfect designs. Improve, enhance, and inspire your designs with professional finesse.
- eCommerce Photography – Printful offers professional photography of your printed products to upload on your web pages.
- Free mock ups – Printful’s mock up generator (templates) & sample photos let you create the perfect printed products.
Printify is another excellent print on demand fulfillment service, with an official add-on for Shopify. The app enables sellers to create custom products will brilliant quality designs & imprints. Powered by a cutting edge automatic POD ordering system the app creates and delivers to your buyers under you brand name.
Shopify’s Printify app offers several benefits to sellers, which include:
- Automatic ordering, printing, and shipping
- An exclusive network of print providers categorized by pricing, location and other criteria
- Shipping of products under your personal brand name
- Brilliant Mock-up Generator for custom prints under your brand name
Sellers also get a catalog of couple hundred products allowing you to dropship from mugs, t-shirts, skirts, and linens in addition to 200 other products. I really loved Printify’s ability to connect sellers with a network of leading print providers in both the USA & UK. Currently, there are 10 world class printing providers available.
Apart from providing small scale Shopify stores seamless integration, Printify also provides large scale enterprise solutions. Have a look at pricing on the official Printify product page.
Teelaunch has been part of Shopify apps for a considerable time, but has recently gained great popularity. The well known service is currently being used by more than 41,000 eStores, with 23 POD products being created every second. The POD supplier also accepts PayPal for payments, a feature European and North American sellers will love.
Another great comparable app for Printable and Printify, Teelaunch offers the complete works. There are no subscription or upfront costs for the app on Shopify, and sellers do not have to carry any stocks. Teelaunch like competing apps offers a completely automated system for ordering, printing, and shipping.
Tee launch is a fully automatic app, providing you massive time savings. The buyer orders on your store, the order is automatically sent to Tee-launch, a tracking number is assigned and sent to the eStore. When products are shipped (also automatic) buyers can track them with the unique tracking number.
Shopify’s Tee launch app also offers great margins to sellers depending on their audiences. The apps real time analytics identify a minimum of 50% and maximum of 75% profit margin. Checkout Tee launch’s official price list here.
One aspect that I missed in the app was a mock up generator or 3D templates to create products instantly. When compared to elaborate offerings like that of Printful certain features are missing, but, the app has the basic toolkit for small scale eStores.
4. Gooten – Print on Demand and Dropshipping
Developed by the developer of the same name, Gooten app claims to be the all-in-one POD fulfillment solution. Complimented by their catalog of over 100 products, Gooten offers an ideal POD dropshipping service especially for niche eStores.
Apart from all the cost savings on inventory, printing, and delivery, Gooten app offers a brilliant dashboard to track orders and an automated system to speed up delivery. Not only can you upload designs to print, but also allows uploading existing products from your eStore.
Gooten app is free to install and sign up for an account, while you can check out pricing for different products here. What I really loved about Gooten is that there are no limits to what you wish to charge on products. Offering great margins Gooten’s profit equation is simple “Your Price – Our Cost = Your Profit.”
In business since 2006 and one of the most popular add-ons on Shopify Apps. Pixel POD is a creation of app development company Pixels. The developer proclaims to be the largest POD Fulfillment Company with 14 warehouses across 5 countries (USA, UK, Canada, Australia, and Netherlands).
What differentiates Pixel from other POD fulfillment services are its highly prioritized & timely services. Pixels POD indicates that as soon as buyers order products are sent to print and shipped immediately. The automatic ordering, inventory, and tracking system takes over to save time for sellers.
Now powering over 500,000 businesses across the world, Pixels provides a complete product creation wizard within the app dashboard. Use your designs and create perfect products, quality tested for customer satisfaction by Pixel staff itself. The Pixel POD products catalog already offers well over 110 products to print in 6 categories you can view here.
Pixels also gives retailers the opportunity to set their own prices. You can have a look at all their products and product costs on the official website.
6. Pillow Profits
Pillow Profits is a newer app on the Shopify store and is also fast gaining popularity amongst small scale eStores. The app primarily provides POD fulfillment of footwear, car seats, pillows & cushions, bed sheets, wall canvas, and bags.
Powered by an automatic ordering, inventory, and shipping system Pillow Profits also claims fastest production times in addition to express worldwide delivery. Pillow profits also provides sellers a cutting edge Mockup feature to create new products easily, plus, they claim that their mockups are the bestselling.
Priced at $29 per month, Pillow Profits allows a 7 days free trial to ensure ideal onboarding for sellers. You can see a full feature demo of Pillow Profits and play around with as aspects of the app.
Currently, Pillow Profits secures a five star rating with 444/471 (at the time of publishing) positive votes. There are however issues with the service, with several user reviews that gave them negative rating on Shopify apps. Although it’s a decent app with good feedback in general, I recommend other apps like the top two listed.
7. Custom Cat
Neither popular nor one of the best but Custom Cat still makes my countdown because of their unique selling proposition, a catalog of 550 products to print on. The POD fulfillment company also claims to offer the lowest prices among all other print on demand services.
Custom Cat has been a part of custom product decorations for the last 18 years. The service offers the basics including an automatic ordering system, 2-3 days fulfillment, white label shipping, and predefined shipping fees for both US & international buyers.
Custom Cat is free to install on Shopify apps with a 14 days trial and costs $30 per month after that. Although there are some brilliant features available in Custom Cat, user reviews say otherwise. Some users have severely criticized customer support, delivery times, and print quality. Be very cautious, order samples before choosing Custom cat.
8. Print Aura
Another struggling POD fulfillment app on the Shopify app store, Print Aura ranks three stars out of five. Another great service with a superb line up of products, with over 100 variations to choose within garments alone. Print Aura offers “Kornit 932 and 931 printers” specifically designed for high quality garment printing.
There is a massive product catalog at Print Aura, which you can view here. Categories include t-shirts, bags, pillows, phone cases, mugs, and much more. You can install the app now from Shopify apps without a subscription, but custom pricing will apply on all orders.
User reviews for the app are not at all convincing though, I would say Print Aura has lost ground to the competition. Users are not happy with their service no pricing pages updates, and the service is not easy to use. I will suggest to look at other options.
9. Teespring reviews
In January 2017, Teespring pulled out of Shopify integration and returned to closed Beta test mode. The reason it makes our countdown is because of its superb quality products, but the app works for beta testers. You cannot install the app right now so we will simply wait for the Beta to end for a complete review.
How much does it cost?
The cost of doing business with any print on demand service will vary on several factors. The most prominent costs include:
· The product (usually includes warehousing and quality check)
Product cost is usually the major expense of POD fulfillment business. Most print on demand fulfillment services offer vast catalogs for both general and niche POD businesses. You can confirm prices, calculate your profit, and charge shipping where necessary.
· Printing costs
Print costs are usually a part of the product price that suppliers offer in their catalog. Additional print costs may incur if you need two prints on the same item, like front and back printing on a t-shirt.
· Shipping & Delivery costs
If you observe in the image above, most POD fulfillment services will have their own delivery charges defined. While it’s a good idea to work with a POD fulfillment service, some vendors will give you excellent shipping rates.
· Personal Branding cost
If sellers wish to include their brand tags with products POD fulfillment suppliers can also make that happen for small cost. This is a brilliant way to sell high quality products under your own brand name.The ideal way to handle pricing for POD fulfillment is to create an excel sheet listing down all the costs of running a print on demand business. You can start as basic as this excel sheet example:
See You Again Soon
I hope you will find our basic introduction to print on demand fulfillment valuable for your eCommerce business. Stay tuned for more interesting reading on print on demand fulfillment apps, and eCommerce management guides.
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