If you’re currently offering merch or planning to start, print-on-demand is often the simplest way to make it happen. With no upfront investment and little to no direct involvement in producing or shipping products, print-on-demand removes a massive barrier to entry for creators.
Because you’re outsourcing so much of the process, you need to work with a print-on-demand platform that will make products worthy of your customers. Since bad reviews can ruin your reputation, choosing the right platform can make or break your merch business.
Let’s take a look at three of the top print-on-demand platforms and how they compare with each other.
Founded in 2013, Printful has been in the game for a while now. They offer hundreds of different products to customize with print and embroidery. Printful is one of the biggest suppliers in the print-on-demand industry, fulfilling millions of orders per year for businesses around the globe.
- Lots of online store integrations
- High-quality products
- No third-party suppliers involved in production or shipping
- Products are on the expensive side
- Customer service can be patchy
Since 2015, Printify has connected creators and businesses with its reliable network of suppliers for print-on-demand services. While the company does not fulfill orders, they connect you with vetted, approved third-party suppliers for a wide range of customizable products you can sell to your audience.
- Prices can be much cheaper
- Huge range of products available
- Simple product design process
- Quality and price can vary based on the supplier
- Working with multiple individual suppliers instead of a single provider
Like Printful, Teelaunch has been around since 2013. They started as a service exclusively for Shopify stores, but now they’ve expanded to integrate into a handful of other top eCommerce platforms. Today, Teelaunch works with more than 250,000 eCommerce stores.
- Cheaper than some larger platforms like Printful
- Clear, transparent pricing on all products
- Easy to use, even as a total beginner
- Limited integration options beyond major e-commerce platforms
- Longer production times for some items
Which Print-on-Demand Platform Should You Use?
All these platforms offer the same essential services: on-demand printing and dropshipping. Because they have the same core services, you must compare them based on how well they fit your needs.
It’s best to break your comparisons down into categories. Here, we’ll compare the costs, product varieties, print quality, shipping, branding & design options, production time, and storefront integrations.
All three platforms have no upfront costs, only charging when you make sales. You’re charged the cost of the items, shipping, and any other fees the platform may tack on for services. Each platform has its own charges for products, all found individually in their catalogs.
Printful’s product prices are just above average. Because they don’t use third-party suppliers, all their products have a consistent price. Shipping can also be bundled if a customer buys more than one item, reducing the overall cost.
Printify has varied product pricing, depending on the supplier you order from. While this gives you a chance to increase your profits by finding a supplier with a lower price, it can also make it difficult to price your products to get a consistent profit. The other problem with third-party suppliers is that shipping will be charged separately for every item ordered if it comes from a separate supplier.
Printify also has subscription fees if you need more than five separate shops. You need to get a premium subscription at that point, which allows you to connect your account to more stores and also gives you discounts on products.
All products on Teelaunch have a set price, with many home goods and lifestyle products ending up cheaper than those available on Printful. Apparel and other items are priced well, either on par with competitors or cheaper.
Here’s a look at the types of products each platform offers:
|Holiday product lines||✔||✔||Limited|
While Printful focuses more on apparel and home items, Teelaunch and Printify offer a wider range of non-apparel products that give you a chance to sell some really unique things to your audience.
Check Teelaunch and Printify if you want something unique to your niche. Printify is a good bet if you have super specific needs since they work with many third-party suppliers that can offer far more goods than the other two platforms.
If you’re looking for specific brands and an excellent apparel catalog, Printful is a good option.
Printful has very consistent print quality. Since they are the suppliers and printers, it’s a safe bet that the quality of the sample you get is the same quality your customers will get. There will be little to no variation between items since Printful controls the whole process.
Printify leans on third-party suppliers for printing. There are a lot of top-notch suppliers on Printify, but you can’t trust that they’re all good. You can get half-priced samples from different suppliers before using them and stick to the same suppliers if you want consistent quality.
Teelaunch has consistent print quality for its items. They outsource some production to third parties, but these are chosen and vetted by Teelaunch, so you don’t have to be involved in selecting a supplier. Since they’re mediating that relationship, whatever you receive as a sample accurately represents what your customers will get.
Printful is the only platform of the three that offers embroidery.
All three companies offer branded shipping labels but differ in the kind of branding you can put on the products.
Printful has a lot of options for branding. You can get custom labels for an additional $2.49 per product for apparel items. This is usually for clothing items like shirts or pants where you can add labels inside or printed-on logos. There’s also an option to add custom inserts into your shipping packages for $0.75 per order. Every shipping box can include business cards, coupons, stickers, fliers, notes, and other items.
Printify has some customization options, but they will vary based on which supplier you choose to work with. Some major suppliers offer neck labeling or sleeve printing for apparel items, but you must check beforehand.
While you can’t put your logo on the products themselves with Teelaunch, you can add branded cards and stickers inside each shipped package. You can include any card you want, although it needs to be the same for all products and cannot be customized to the product ordered.
Production & Shipping Time
For your customers, faster production times are always better if the products are of good quality.
Printful produces and fulfills most orders within 2-5 business days.
Printify gives production estimates of 2-7 business days. Check with the individual supplier to see what their production estimates are.
Teelaunch has varied production times based on the item ordered. Cloth items, posters, tumblers, and watch bands have the fastest production times. On average, these products are produced within 4 – 7 business days. Items like wall art, doormats, pet accessories, electronics, and sports equipment take longer, up to 14 business days.
Shipping for all companies will vary based on customer location and shipping carriers. Since different products are made in different fulfillment centers, exact shipping times aren’t listed. However, shipping times to the US, Canada, and most of Europe meet the industry standard.
Printful and Teelaunch handle their own shipping to give you more accurate estimates of shipping times to different locations. Printify’s suppliers ship products on their behalf, so you must check out the supplier’s shipping estimates individually.
Printful has the most integrations, with 21 in total. They’ve got partnerships with all the big players like WooCommerce, Prestashop, Square, and Amazon, plus other platforms like Gumroad, Ecwid, Wix, and Storenvy. There’s also a Printful API for custom solutions on your website.
Printify has ten different integrations, which is plenty for most creators. These include big platforms like WooCommerce, Squarespace, Walmart, and eBay. They also have their own API you can use for custom integrations.
Teelaunch has integrations with Shopify, Etsy, Woocommerce, and BigCommerce. If you don’t use any of those platforms for your online store, Teelaunch won’t be an easy option. There is a custom API as an option if you can use it.
Which print-on-demand platform do you use for merch? Let us know in the comments below!