My love affair with The Printful started in May 2015. As a small shop owner who became overwhelmed with hand printing, packing and shipping shirts each month from my online store, I needed help. A LOT of help. At the time, we easily processed more than 500+ order each month.
So when I first became aware of the t-shirt fulfillment services The Printful offers, I thought they’d be my knight in shining armor that would rescue me from a slow demise.
Pause that fairy tale.
How It Works
The Printful is a great option for those starting out and want a “low” cost and quick setup of an apparel and accessory brand. Just be careful. Their service isn’t for everyone and I’ll tell you why.
Since I really love the concept of their service, I’ll start with the pros.
1. Quick setup. When I migrated from hand printing products to The Printful, I had a little over 70+ designs t-shirts. I took my store offline for 3-5 days and was able to upload and configure all of my designs and relaunch my shop.
2. User interface. For people that work better when websites are clean, organized and function well, you’ll be happy with The Printful UI (user interface). It’s easy to navigate and find the information you need with a few clicks.
3. Variety of products. If you’ve just decided to dip your toes into selling t-shirts you’ll quickly figure out that it doesn’t take much more effort to add additional products to your shop. The Printful offers mugs (11oz and 15oz), hats, posters, totes, all over sublimation printing, and pillows. I only wish they would add phone cases.
4. Noticeable improvements. The Printful team makes updates constantly to improve their offering. It’s comforting to know that the company invests in making their service better.
5. Helpful staff. Each time we’ve had trouble with an order it was resolved fairly quickly. Once you’re established, you’ll be communicating with the same people frequently. Keep their direct emails, as it will be quicker to get issues resolved in the future.
6. Template generator. OMG. This was a lifesaver! The Printful product mock generator saved me hours of time. I can’t tell you how I dreaded having to crank up PhotoShop and dig into my various templates to create realistic looks mocks for my store. This feature is the main reason I’ll still visit the site, even after moving on to a new process.
7. Seamless integration. Setup with my Shopify store took minutes. The Printful integrated with all the major players in the e-commerce business, WooComerce, BigCommerce, Gumroad, Storenvy and more. I can’t wait until they have the Etsy and SquareSpace integration up and running. Currently, there is a workaround for stores using those platforms via ShipStation.
8. Informative blog articles. Next to the Shopify blog, The Printful’s blog is one of my favorites.
9. Payment options. I loved that orders didn’t have to be immediately processed and you weren’t required to keep a credit card on file. To make sure I was aware of what is being spent and ordered, I used the wallet option. With this feature, I’d load my account weekly with funds to process orders, then manually fulfill each order. This made more sense for me and allowed time for customers to make changes to their order before they were processed.
1. Price. Yes, this is a pro and a con. For a start-up, the costs are fair, but in terms of actual profit, the cost is high. An American Apparel shirt base price with design can range from $14-16. If you retail your shirts at a minimum of $26, you’d earn a profit of at least $10 per item.
2. Quality. The quality of the 100% cotton shirts was fine. I’ve found that the shirts requiring white ink were the best. Shirts that had dark color inks looked the most faded and cheap. The worst printed products I’ve found were the tri-blend tees. These had the poorest quality and I received plenty of complaints.
3. Variety of products. They have a wide variety of products, but some categories were a bit lacking – like their options for sweatshirts and t-shirts for women. The colors they carried were good, but specific colors would often be out of stock.
4. Timeliness. The time it took to print and ship products always varied. Honestly, printing and shipping products took anywhere from 7-10 business days or longer during growth spurts. Most customers are understanding if you make the estimated shipping time known before they place an order.
5. Shipping costs. The shipping is way too high. Example (at the time of posting) The Printful charges $6.50 to ship one mug, but if a customer buys one mug and one shirt, they are charged an additional $2-4. This is not ideal because in reality, both products fit in the box used to ship the mug. A customer should not have to pay $10 to ship two items.
6. Order errors. One of the reasons I went with The Printful was to reduce the amount of errors with orders. That didn’t happen. Once a customer actually received an order from a different shop entirely. Luckily, their support staff has always been helpful with getting these errors resolved.
7. Template generator. Yes, another pro and con. The template generator is great, but it does not have all of the styles that are available on the backend. I usually fudged the graphics in order to reflect the design I wanted to create.
8. Managing orders. The backend is simple and easy to navigate. I only have two issues.
First, the process by which you add new products seemed unnecessarily redundant. You have to configure each item individually which is time-consuming. However, once you’re done, there is no need to revisit that section unless you have to make a change.
My second issue is the main dashboard. The organization of orders wasn’t great. You have to scroll through too many pages to view older orders. It would also be nice to segment orders based on Needs Approval and Not Synced. Once you get started these suggestions will make more sense.
9. No refunds. The Printful does not offer refunds unless orders have been lost or there was an issue with the actual item (damaged or wrong item). So you must relay this to your customer so they order the right size and items before they purchase. Any reshipments due to customer error will cost you.
10. Out of stock. This is one of the most frustrating issues. There was no way to tell which items were out of stock before an order has been placed and started processing. You don’t even get a notification via email. They flag orders within the dashboard and it’s up to you to choose another item. Emailing a customer who’s already waited 4-5 days for an item to print and tell them it’s out of stock, is not how you conduct business.
11. Shipping replacements. If a wrong or damaged order is sent, The Printful is more than happy to get it resolved. There’s just one problem. It can take up to two weeks for orders to be reshipped. Let’s think about this. That’s two weeks for the original order to ship. Then an additional two weeks to ship a replacement if the product is damaged. A total of 4 weeks for one order. Customers will be mad. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
12. Expedited shipping. If you contact a rep or support person they will say they have the ability to expedite orders. Let’s face it, not everyone can wait two weeks for an order to arrive. The Printful offers expedited options, but the process doesn’t work well. You can allow customers to pay for next day shipping, but that doesn’t allow for the time needed for the product to be printed. So it’s not a true next day shipping option as your product still won’t ship for a few days. Do yourself a favor, don’t add that option to your shop.
If you’re looking to launch a brand selling t-shirts, mugs, posters or hats, but don’t have much time or money to get started, The Printful is an excellent option. You can set up a shop and go from 0-100 in less than 24 hours. It’s great if you want to try a new concept and need monetary proof it can be profitable with no upfront costs.
If you want to build a solid brand with impeccable quality, where you have full control of products, pricing, and shipping, you will have to consider other options. This is especially true if you are thinking about wholesaling a product and attracting larger retailers (some of which can include screen printing by hand, heat press transfers or wholesale screen printed product locally).
Note: Just beware. Choosing The Printful as your product fulfillment center means you are 100% responsible for customer service. You will need a dedicated email address set up where customers can reach you when they have questions about an order. I recommend a customer service app like HelpScout.
Current Status: After about 3 months of using The Printful I went back to printing, packing and shipping my own products. I needed control over quality, shipping, timeliness, and income earned. For the cost, using The Printful just wasn’t profitable for us and the future of our business.
Have you used The Printful? If so, what are your experiences?
Thank you for the article Arsha! I was thinking of using The Printful to test some t-shirt shipping but the quality issues and order issues are two things that I’m not sure I can get past. I think for the price as well, I could actually connect with a local printer and ship things myself :/ It sounds like a great idea and I hope they read this post, learn from the problems, and offer for you to try the improved services again.
Hi Angel Y! Thanks for commenting. Yes, so it really depends one what’s more important to you. As a designer, quality is something I just can’t ignore. 🙂 Good look on your future venture.
Thank you! Very informative!
Thanks for stopping by Kanesha!
Hey everyone, Julia from Printful here. Thanks for the in depth review, they’re always super helpful.
To address some of your worries, this year we plan on implementing a system that will let us ship a mug and a t-shirt together, minimizing shipping costs.
As for the out of stock question, though we’re pretty dependent on our product suppliers, we’ve increased the amount of blank products that we keep in stock at any time from 7,000, to 20,000. And we’re still growing.
At the moment it’s cool, because we’re growing together. We’re helping young brands emerge, and as they grow, we grow as well. So let’s do this thang 🙂 Let me know if you guys have any questions, I can always be reached to help out at email@example.com
Hi Julia! Thanks for adding your input. I know you guys are working hard, which is why I still recommend your service. I look forward to you implementing a few of the changes listed and even more in the future.
Has this been done, Julie? Is not available where you ship products in one box where possible?
Hi Basang! Zane from Printful here. We’re working hard to find the best solution that’ll allow us to ship different types of products together in one box.
I came across this article because I’ve been using Printful for 6 months and after some quality concerns and other problems I’ve been researching other options. I placed an order for a customer who needed two shirts for a gift. I placed that order on December 31. Today is January 9 and the order is still sitting there. I chatted them on Friday, almost a week later, because they hadn’t been started on. It took a day to get back to me and tell me they were out of stock but had been ordered and would be in within 48 hours. I checked in this morning, 9 days later, and they are still out of stock and won’t be in today. Probably not tomorrow. I NEVER got an email (or any other) notification that they were out of stock, but the agent told me they were ordered on January 5. That means my order was sitting there being unfulfilled and ignored for SIX DAYS before the replacements were even ordered. And I was never notified.
It took another hour of my time to figure out what was going on, contact my customer multiple times, and all the while deal with a customer service rep who was unapologetic and rude. I nicely told her about the problem and the time period, and I explained that I was never notified. Instead of apologizing or acknowledging that this was unacceptable, she just told me that if I don’t get a notification I should keep checking my dashboard and understand that if my order is just sitting there that the shirts are probably out of stock.
So apparently Printful needs babysitters. They aren’t going to be successful in the long term if their customers are expected to only have enough sales that they have time to sit around and babysit each order until it reaches the point that it has been sitting there too long…and then they’re expected to contact customer service…just to be told to keep watching their orders sit there and do nothing.
I’m not trying to be a jerk, but this is beyond frustrating and not something any business owner has time to deal with or apologize for, and they shouldn’t. Emils has always been a very helpful, kind agent. The agent I spoke with today, on the other hand, has not and she should have offered a refund because of how long the shirts were out of stock and the fact that I was never notified and had to contact PF multiple times instead. I now need to refund my customer because she won’t be getting her order on time (the order said “expected fulfillment January 4 – January 9”). This is no way to run a successful business.
Hi Shannon, I’m just finishing my web site with t-shirt designs planning to use Printful and I came across your post. Have you found another company that’s more reliable than Printful?
I have been using Printful for the 2015 holiday season for 11oz and 15oz mugs and they have been sending the wrong mugs to my customers. It’s been an enormous headache and has costed me negative reviews in my store. As a result of this experience, I’ve decided to move all of my production and fulfillment in-house because I can no longer trust Printful to get things right for me. And unfortunately (or fortunately, depending how you look at it), it’s only taken 2 months for me to get to this point of frustration with the company! I guess I can thank Printful for convincing me to bite the bullet and buy my own equipment because I will earn better margins this way. However, I was really optimistic that Printful would be a great partner for me, and I’m really disappointed to say that I don’t plan on using Printful in the future.
Do you have any recommendations for Printful competitors that I should try out?
Hi Sonia! For mugs we ended up purchasing our own equipment. The mugs have gone from $8-9 per item to $2-3. Which is a huge savings to us. I’m surprised to hear about your issues with mugs from The Printful. That was actually one of the items I’ve always been satisfied with. To keep costs down I’d print them yourself, buy wholesale or try other drop shippers like Print Aura. I hope that helps!
Hey Arsha, where did you get equipment to print your own mugs?
I’d be interested to know as well.
Hi Arsha! Great post! All in all, would you suggest Printful for someone looking to create a passive income source, or would you go with another provider? If so, which? There are so many out there, I’m having a hard time finding one that is right for me.
Hi Olivia! Thanks for commenting. For passive income, NO! lol Because you’ll be responsible for handling customer service alone (unless you hire someone). For passive, go with SpreadShirt or something similar.
Yes to ALL you shared! I am a super small business of four months who loves all the variety my shop can offer without having much of my money up front- BUT my profits are so small after shipping. I’m discouraged and I want to make the change like you did, but my sales are still too small to take that leap. I feel stuck right now. I love all the services, but I struggle with how much the charge for their products. A tote, which can be bought at while sale for 3.89…the price Printful charges me per tote is $13!!
Hi Becki! I understand the struggle. What I did was invest slowly into tools that would help me become more independent. I used my profits to purchase supplies. I’d still use The Printful in the future, but I understand the profit issues. A tote printed in-house for me ranges from $2-4 and has a superior quality compared to what The Printful offered.
Great review of Printful. I really want to use them to get started but customer service and great products is everything to me. I, as a customer would not want to wait 2-4 weeks just to get an item I purchased. I might as well order it from China for half the price. I have no experience in printing my own products, so that process scares me. I’m not sure where to begin
I feel like that’s the exact reason you should start with Printful. It’s a no-cost way to get started with launching your own store, getting a feel for how it’s done. Then when you’re more comfortable with it, you can think about other cost-effective ways to handle your store. As an online buyer, I’m usually expect a 2-3 week wait for my order to arrive.
I guess having Amazon Prime spoils me because you get things so quickly. Unless I’m getting something custom made, I don’t want to wait more than a week to get a product. Waiting over 2 weeks, I feel like I will forget the product and may even change my mind about ordering it. The comments about orders being mixed up is also a scary thing. Customer service is everything to me, so I wouldn’t want to start off with having mixed/wrong orders sent. But I’m still researching my options.
Yup, that’s a very good point. Good luck in your research!
Honestly Yaya, customers are fair and understand that it may take 2 weeks to arrive. Surprisingly they don’t complain if you tell them upfront. From what I have been researching, most t-shirt fulfillment companies have the same turnaround time. Also, depending on my workload, if I printed shirts by hand it would still take 5-7 business days to ship. But none of that would stop me using The Printful again. They’ll be my vendor of choice the for the Brand, Build & Launch Challenge. Good luck and let us know what you find!
Thank you for the article. I am currently researching launching tshirts. I saw printful on shopify tutorial. I am glad I researched further. Were did you end up going?
Hi Kim! We ended up printing in-house. In terms of quality and turn around it was just the best option for us. However, I’d use them again.
This is a great article! Very thoughtful and well formatted. As website builders, we’ve used Printful for clients stores over the last 3 years or so. Now we’re opening our own T-shirt & Swag store online and have recently begun wondering whether Printful is the best option. They seem to have grown exponentially in the time we’ve been aware of them and it feels much less hands-on than it did before. I get a vibe like the expansion is a tad to quick for them to support. Help queries were answered super quickly before and now it seems to take longer and the service folks seem to be following a script before getting to a spot where they can be helpful.
My other concern in going with Printful is the reported hiring practice of only hiring people under 30. I’m having a hard time supporting a company with an agist policy. But they are growing a company using local employees, so that is much better than off-shoring their service dept.
Those two concerns aside (plus the concerns you’ve numbered above) they really are the only fulfillment company of their kind currently operating. So it’s really good to hear your experience of using them to start up, then moving in-house once you grew and could support an investment in printing equipment and inventory.
Super glad you put this article together. You’ve reaffirmed a few things I’d been thinking and brought up some possibilities I hadn’t considered. Glad I stumbled across it!
Hi Amy, Julia from Printful here. I understand your concerns about Printful growing quickly (you’re right, we are!), and we’re taking measures to be able to scale as quickly as the demand for POD services (this month we’ve purchased a new t-shirt printer, which costs $140k).
I’d love to address your issues regarding support, but first I want to address the reported ageist policy? Where have you come across this? I can assure you, people at Printful are hired on merit, and age certainly isn’t a limiting factor. Could you point me in the direction of this? Also, if you want to discuss this further, I’d love to talk one-on-one, write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Hi Amy! I appreciate you stopping by and leaving a comment! Just to be clear, there are other options. Don’t feel like you can’t shop around. Try Gear Bubble, Print Aura, Scaleable Press, Tee Launch and I’ve heard really good things about Thread Me Up. But I haven’t used any of them aside from Print Aura. But they weren’t any better and the interface was a mess. 🙂
Agreed. ThePrintful.com sells my product to me at HIGH RETAIL. That’s a no-go. Think about it folks. If they bought & warehoused massive quantities of shirts at low wholesale, wouldn’t they be able to sell us a blank t-shirt for less than $15? GOUGE!!!
I’m sick of their exorbitantly high prices, excruciatingly slow fulfillment, and painful lack of attention to support issues. Got an order problem? Forget about it! The chain of idiotic emails to resolve it will drive you bonkers.
Have I had a bad experience with Printful? #YouBetcha
We, the vendors, have to try to sell shirts for high retail+30% to be worthwhile. Who’s going to pay $26+ for a t-shirt anywhere except California?
Delivery? lol If you buy a VERY EXPENSIVE t-shirt and pay higher than normal shipping, don’t you want to receive it sooner than 14+ days? If you go with Printful, your customers will hate you. Forget about return customers! They learn about you the first time.
Want to see how your garments look after printing? BUY your own stuff at RETAIL! Hahaha. And the interface for buying your own stuff is pitiful. You cannot just buy from what you have set up in your “store”. LOL I think Printful is two or three Russians working in their garage. Their small time dealings with me left me doubting that they have ANY shirts in a warehouse. I think they buy them as we order them, and thus their prices are so ridiculously high.
Printful will leave a bad taste in your mouth about starting a tshirt business. You cannot run a business when you’re paying higher than retail for the products yourself. Your chances of making a go of it at retail++ are slim to none. With the emphasis on NONE.
Realistically, this is what you should expect from all novice “suppliers” like them. They believe that their quick to launch system is worthy of their high prices. I suspect that they’re all just as inexperienced in business as Printful, and equally unqualified to be called “printers” or “wholesalers”.
So, What ARE they good for? Printful is good only as a short term EXPERIMENT. Use ’em for much less than a year to discover what your hot product would be. Try EXTRA hard on your caring service to your own customers so as not to allow Printful (or other) to tarnish your business name in the duration. Run with your hot print product to a REAL WHOLESALE PRINTER and buy quantity at a way lower price and handle fulfillment in a way more efficient manner than Printful does for you. Grow and prosper on your own, as you would never have had the chance to with Printful.
Hey Steve! I understand your frustration. My experience was a little better than yours, but I also had a VA who managed contact with them. So I didn’t have to run them down directly. Due to issues with quality and ship times, we went back to printing our own in house. But I like what you said.
I’d still use them in the future as a testing ground for new ideas, before I devote pricey resources towards new brands. In the mean time there are other options. Try Gear Bubble, Print Aura, Scaleable Press, Tee Launch and I’ve heard great things about Thread MeUp.
Hey Arsha, thank you for the great article and comments. What VA do you use?
Hey Jim! Honestly, it’s a friend I’ve known from being online. But I’d try UpWork. I’ve have some successes finding people there.
whats a VA?
Virtual Assistant, offshore employee of sorts.
Hi everyone, I love this article but I am a bit overwhelmed here! I was excited about Printful being a good choice for me, but after reading this I am not that sure… I do not live in the states, I live in Mexico, and here we don’t have any companies that offer POD services. I’m just starting my business, and having someone to print, and ship my products seemed a great way to start, specially since the blank T-´shirt brands here are not that nice and buying an american apparel T-shirt here is quite expensive. So for days I have been looking for a good option to do so in the states, but the more I look, the more companies I come across so it is kind of overwhelming. Can someone here recommend another option? I have to say that I’m looking for good quality and costumer friendly companies. I would expect to have to wait 2 weeks for shipping to Mexico, but it seems to long for shipping inside the states. Or is that normal? Thank you for your help, and again, great article!
Hi Jordy! Unfortunately I don’t know many on-demand print companies that ship to Mexico without it being a high cost. All of the companies I know are US based. But they are still worth looking into. Try Gear Bubble, Print Aura, Scaleable Press, Tee Launch and Thread MeUp.
Thank you! I am actually not looking for POD company that will ship all my products to Mexico, what I mean was that to test every one of the companies buy buying a T-shirt from them and have it delivered it to mexico would be a bit expensive and quite a long process if it takes more than 3 weeks to deliver international. That is why I thought about asking here, my consumers will most likely be in the states. 🙂
I loved your article cause it was very linear and a good perspective.
If your customers are in the states, then you can still use a U.S based POD company. The order is submitted online to Printful (or any other POD) so it doesn’t matter where you are. Otherwise, consider investing in a t-shirt printer off eBay or look for a local printer that will do small orders in Mexico and ship them yourself?
Thank you Terry, That is the idea, I am looking for local printers to have the product available for people in Mexico. But I also want to try an U.S based POD. That is why I posted this question about Printful. Thank you 🙂
hola!! encontraste un servicio que te interesa? Me gustaría saber si aún estás en la búsqueda o si ya tienes una solución. Saludos!
Hola!!! aun sigo en la busqueda. tuve que poner en pausa un poco para no apresurarme y mejor ofrecer una buena calidad a buen precio.
Site up and all designed on Shopify. Products synched and ready to go. And I was just about to launch my marketing campaign and then I read this. I am kinda freaking out. At this point, I feel like there is no turning back. I really pray they have improved on many of these issues. Sigh.
Hey Angeline! I understand. Try not to stress over it. Give it a try. My experience with them wasn’t that bad. In fact, I’d definitely try them out again for any new projects before investing in equipment or resources. It’s a great way to test a concept without spending a lot of money. Good luck!
I’m currently using Printful via Shopify. I use some of the Printful items – and some I handle in-house. I really have been satisfied with Printful. I think it’s a great opportunity to test some items/designs etc without having to carry so much inventory (great for a start up, or low-overhead business like mine. I think the writer of this post was fair in representing the good and the bad. At the end of the day, just starting out – Printful is a great option – or – it has been for me. Just wanted to throw some encouragement your way!
So Angeline! It’s been 4 months..OHHH PLEASEEE tell me..How are things going with Printful? I too want to use them because I LOVE their all-over printing! Would you recommend I use them?? Thank you SO MUCH for your help!!
Angeline, thoughts? I’m at the exact step you were 7 months ago. And also freaking out. Inputs?
Printful is expensive. I would have to sell my t-shirt for minimum of $26 probably $30 to make any profit. When t-shirts are abundant in stores for around $10-$15. Has anyone tried custom cat or other POD shirt cos?
I sell shirts for $30. You can definitely sell shirts at a higher price, you’d just need create more of a brand. Also look into Teechip. I hear their prices are reasonable.
Great article and review. I am on the fence of launching a t-shirt line with a print on demand service. I can do it internally with vinyl, but it is so time consuming. I noticed you said you do things in house… Tshirts? If so, what did you end up doing? Vinyl, transfers, sub, dtg? Thanks!
In house we do all of the above! lol Screen print, transfers and sublimation. However, I prefer NOT to use vinyl. It’s just too time consuming but the quality is great, for one color designs.
I hear ya! Vinyl annoys me, greatly LOL. I don’t do sublimation on garments because overall, my customers hate polyester. I may try Printful. See how they do 😀
Sure! Let me know how it works out. The Printful’s quality is just ehhhhh. lol But it’s a great starting point. Also, look into Teechip. I’ve heard good things about them. Good luck!
I was literally JUST on TeeChip’s site. I don’t know if that’ll work for what we are trying to do. We would prefer our own site that is linked to an on-demand printer.
Ok. I understand. There are a few other options. GearBubble, ThreadMeUp, Print Aura, Scaleable Press, Spreadshirt (they have a Shopify app), Galloree, Amplifier and tons of others. Just be aware, most of these are newer companies and won’t have many reviews available. So you’ll just have to try them out.
My question is this: I want an online pod company sending my shirts out, but what If I want to have my own supply of product so I can go out to festivals and whatnot? Can I order a moderate amount of product for the base rate and not pay what the customers pay? If anybody knows anything please help!
Yes you can! Most companies will allow you to order in bulk for shirts that you need for special occasions. Just keep in mind that some companies will not give you a discount for your bulk orders.
Sorry and nope! You’ll need to have a site setup. If you’re looking for something with a storefront included I’d suggest Spreadshirt or Teechip.
I prefer the Bella+Canvas. But they are also a bit higher end. It really just depends on your audience. Most of my customers are women and prefer the softer and slimmer cut options.
I couldn’t agree more. Awful service. Charing around £14 for a tank, i sell for £24.99 and then find out my customers get a £12 customs charge on top, which i have to pay also, leaving me with no profit at all. I have worked with other U.S companies and they always declare as a ‘GIFT’ and price the tank as $5 (not retail price) and none of my customers ever get a customs charge. They told me “Falsely stating a dollar amount on the packing slip can result in legal actions and even result in Printful no longer being able to ship through certain countries.” Which is false. As a UK brand we always declare out tees as ‘GIFT’ and set the price £3 per cotton tee. That way none of out international customers get any ‘customs’ chargers. Even China do this for samples and what not. I would stay far far away if you are a UK seller, they will not help you at all and you will NOT make any profit. Awful Service.
Oh wow! Sorry to hear that. This is something I never even considered. So who did you decide to use?
We are in talks right now with some new dropship companies. I will update you after a month or so, to see how things go. But they told me for certain we wont run into any ‘custom charges’. Printful has been nothing but a headache recently. They should only be a US service. Maybe lower the prices on some items too. As they charged you ridiculously.
Well keep me posted! I’d love to hear how this works out.
That’s not false actually. In the US any person who knowingly submits false or misleading export information through the Shippers Export Declaration (SED) (or any successor document) shall be subject to a fine not to exceed $10,000 per violation or imprisonment for not more than 5 years, or both. Source: U.S. Code: Title 13 : Section 305 http://digbig.com/4fqcw.
The sender’s failure to complete the form properly can delay delivery of the item or inconvenience the sender and addressee. Moreover, a false, misleading, or incomplete declaration can result in the seizure or return of the item and/or in criminal or civil penalties. Source: http://pe.usps.gov/text/Imm/immc1_002.html.
So, while I understand your frustration with this matter. This is not The Printful’s fault, they are in fact following the law.
Thanks for the post, this was very helpful to me!
AH! I fell for Printful too despite reading this article. While the reps at Printful have been responsive with my issues, the service – outcome is horrible! My first order had two of five items returned due to printer error (they refunded) and the second order went past the fulfillment deadline. I was told a manager would call me back. Called back to find him gone for the day. Then was told by a chat rep that supervisors don’t make return phone calls. Um really? A+ for the idea F- for the execution
Hey Jake! It’s definitely a gamble. Great for a “throw away” site, not so great if you’re trying to build a brand.
Just came across this review as I’m preparing for launch in a few days :/. I feel apprehensive as quality would be a huge concern for me. I want to build a brand, but I’m wondering if I should just try them out and see what happens. Or would you suggest a better alternative? (I’m not able to do anything in-house at the moment)
Honestly, just order a few samples to test the quality and delivery time. Then hope for the best! lol 🙂 You can also try Teelaunch. I’ve heard good things from their users.
First off, full disclosure: I am a graphic artist working for a custom apparel printing company. I have been doing this for about 2+ years and have dealt with screen printing AND direct-to-garment printing daily.
I have been looking around at POD centers outside of my company because keeping up with shipping things would be tiresome. I haven’t started using Printful or any other POD company, but I can speak for the DTG process. I already know my in-house pricing and even have a discount at my job (obviously), but if I can have the shipping and printing handled by someone else, things would go faster for me and I can focus more on the art, the hustle, and my small idea of having a T-Shirt brand. I already know how to separate art for screen printing (or just start off vector to begin with) so if things get big enough, I can just have my employer print the shirts for much cheaper than a fulfillment center. This is just me testing the waters and seeing what I’d like to do.
***SOMETHING ENTREPRENEURS NEED TO KNOW ABOUT DTG PRINTING!***
I read the part about the quality of the prints and it’s obvious that some things weren’t known to the article writer about the process. When you print Direct-to-Garment you “technically” can print on just about any fabric, however, most DTG printers need 100% cotton for best results (I assume this is the case for Printful’s DTG printers). When the article writer brought up the quality difference between dark garments, light garments, and tri-blend garments, there’s a reason for the difference.
To print on dark colored garments, you have to PRETREAT the garment to accept ink, print a layer of white to support the color, and THEN print the color. This is best done on 100% cotton shirts and is only necessary on dark colored garments. The colors and print quality will be about 98% consistent across the board on all pretreated 100% cotton shirts. However, when you print on light colored shirts, no pretreat or white layer is needed, therefore it is printed directly into the shirt. The results of this can be mixed depending on the detail of the art and fine lines. Detail can appear “fuzzy” because of the direct to garment nature where the ink is in the fibers of the shirt and stretch and shift with the shirt, different than pretreated garments and screen print. Once more, the print is still consistent but there might be issues with “ribbed” fabric for the previous given reason. Next there are the issues with the tri-blend shirts. Tri-blend is referring to the mix of cotton, polyester, and sometimes rayon, to create the heathered pattern in shirt fabric and there is usually at most 60% cotton (for standard sport grey shirts) or far less, like 30-20% cotton, in these shirts. They CAN be pretreated, but the pretreat doesn’t hold as well on the polyester of the shirt. This causes problems through out the rest of the process and the end result is can often be a weird, crackly, peeling print.
Now you may be asking WHY would Printful offer tri-blend at all then? You can offer competitive shirt selections without tri-blend shirts. EVERYONE LOVES THEM. Especially dark heathered grey–my personal fave to work with. My company discourages against pretreating tri-blend shirts, but printing directly on them can have a unique look that still looks good and feels soft.
In the end, If you don’t want your designs to print badly, don’t use POD for tri-blend shirts. If you aren’t ok with the slight variability of printing on the shirt directly, don’t use POD for light colored shirts. I love screen print and hope that one day I have a cool screen printed shop like Electric Zombie, but for now, DTG is what I’ve got. You’re not gonna find a POD that will screen print one or two shirts on demand. You just aren’t. I wrote this post to defend the print method a bit. I don’t work for Printful or any other POD fulfillment center, as disclosed above.
ALSO, do your research about products. Don’t just go with Gildan or American Apparel. Learn about the t-shirts guys! Don’t blame everyone on the printers! Bella + Canvas and Next Level are just as good. Just my two cents.
Thanks you so much for this complete review. I’m living in Canada and I’m looking for a drop shipping solution. With the huge difference between USD and CAD and the lack of general quality + the long processing + shipping time, the margina will be too thin. Also quality and control are 2 importants aspects for me. Many thanks and long life for your business.
I just wanted to know. Is there an app in shopify to inform my customers that the product is out of stock?
They allow this on the Shopify backend (online or within the app). Under each product you can select for Shopify to count inventory, then just type in ‘0’ (zero) for that product.
I have a question, i have sold one of my shirts from my store for 18.00 + 6.00 shipping, printful askes 17.71 for making the shirt and shipping it out, BUT my profit they said will be 6.29. Just realizing that the profit is going into the price you pay printful. So i “made a profit” of 6.29 but thats going to pay for printfuls price of 17.71, so negative 11.42. $18 is alot for a graphic tee. I did the math and id have to sell a shirt for $30 and $6 shipping in order to make .58 cents? is that really a good profit for a business?
That math doesn’t add up. $17.71 is your costs, anything over that is profit.
Check your math, dude. Looks like you’re doing too much subtracting.
I came across with this company http://www.cmykonline.com.au and these guys are fantastic. The guy at the reception has a great customer service. He was willing to help me and find out what needs to be done although he did not understand well about what I needed. He transferred me to a sticker specialist in the end, which I ended up doing the business with these guys. Trust me, I don’t regret using them.
I’m absolutely disgust with their service! I’ve started 2 weeks ago and everything went well. They are definitely overpriced (A LOT) but I thought that’s because they are probably the best in this business and I was willing to pay for it. That’s before today… A client has ordered a shirt 4 days ago and today I’ve received an email that is out of stock?!? OUT OF STOCK? 4 days after the order is made you tell me that the shirt is out of stock? They are going to refund me, yea, okay, but who is going to refund me for the money I’ve put to advertise and bring a client to buy?? They should inform beforehand that the items are low or out of stock, NOT AFTER the friggin order is made! Not after I’ve put my money to bring a customer to my site! I’ll never give them another chance, this is an direct insult!
Just the day before, I’ve praised them to a friend and told him “they are the best, yea they are pricier but that’s because they are on top of their game” – what a mistake…
I’m very close to launching a handful of items via Printful. I have an established brand, going on 2+ years as a side business, but needed to offer more “options”. There are three factors on deciding to do this. One, I don’t have a large area for storage of items I fulfill myself, so i have to be picky about what I stock in house. Two, I wanted to test different designs. Those that end up being more popular I can get made in bulk via one of my suppliers and just transfer over the fulfillment settings to myself and unsync with Printful. Third, I’ve been debating about investing in DTG machines myself, so I’ve wanted to see how the quality is first hand.
I haven’t quite launched, but I’ve got about 13 different products (with color and sizing variations setup). I received a bunch of sample prints and it’s mixed, a few of them had mid-aligned white bases which has a “ghosting” effect when the color print is on top. I’ve made them aware, waiting on resolution. If they don’t implement a proper QC check to reprint these, then I won’t do business with them.
My main issue right now is shipping. Like I mentioned, I’m only having 13 products fulfilled by them, but most often my customers will add in other items to their order. These will likely be items I fulfill so I need to be cautious about shipping costs. Currently, if I decide to stick with Shopify’s built in shipping, I would just need to adjust the weight to be on the more “costly” side of the things to make up the difference. I’m also attempting to configure a new app called “better shipping” which does per product shipping with different rules for shipping/areas, etc. However I’m also running into the same issue is how do I properly calculate shipping for very lightweight items and items fulfilled by Printful…. it’s proving to be very hard and I’m not really interested in losing money on Printful orders with the already very low margins.
Curious to know if there is anyone else fulfulling their own items along with items from Printful and how you’ve gone about shipping prices/structures.
Just ordered as well from printful, as wanted to see the quality; few of the prints were way off centre and at an angle… it’s a nice idea, but not sure if its great if you want control of the quality of your product
I’ve used thePrintful for over 3 years and find their service great. Yes that are a little pricy but the drop ship model works great and makes running our site http://www.GymPosters.com a breeze. We’re mostly selling posters worldwide which have better margins than our shirts. We JUST added phone cases, leggings, mugs, pillows and hats which we paid them to help design. That was also a smooth process so now we’ll see how they perform on printing and shipping these new products. Overall we find them easy to deal with and perfect for a start up.
I wasn’t sure if posters were still a viable product to make money on these days. Are you selling them with framing too?
Yeah we sell them worldwide and can be with or without framing as well as canvas. Most people get without the frame to save on shipping:
Great looking website! Is that Shopify?
Thanks Ghassan. No it’s a custom site we built. Glad you like it:)
Might be just a coincidence but Printful is just down the road from you guys.
Actually it is a coincident. I bought the site from a firm in Maryland and Printful was in glendale at the time. They recently relocated to Chatsworth where we are so they follow us:).
I don’t know what you consider recently. I’ve been with Printful for the past three years and they have the same Chatsworth address for three years. I can send you an invoice from August 20, 2014.
The fact is they don’t have good customer service anymore and their delivery times went from fair to unacceptable.
Great article. I came across it because I’ve been using Printful for 6 months and I’m so sick of them that I’ve been researching other options. I agree completely with the fact that they are over-priced (which would be worthwhile if the out-of-stock problems and lead times weren’t so terrible). I placed an order for a customer who needed two shirts for a gift. I placed that order on December 31. Today is January 9 and the order is still sitting there. I chatted them on Friday, almost a week later, because they hadn’t been started on. It took a day to get back to me and tell me they were out of stock but had been ordered and would be in within 48 hours. I checked in this morning, 9 days later, and they are still out of stock and won’t be in today. Probably not tomorrow. I NEVER got an email (or any other) notification that they were out of stock, but the agent told me they were ordered on January 5. That means my order was sitting there being unfulfilled and ignored for SIX DAYS before the replacements were even ordered. And I was never notified. It took another hour of my time to figure out what was going on, contact my customer multiple times, and all the while deal with a customer service rep who was unapologetic and rude. I nicely told her about the problem and the time period, and I explained that I was never notified. Instead of apologizing or acknowledging that this was unacceptable, she just told me I should keep checking my dashboard and understand that if my order is just sitting there that the shirts are probably out of stock. So apparently Printful needs babysitters. They aren’t going to be successful in the long term if their customers are expected to only have enough sales that they have time to sit around and babysit each order until it reaches the point that it has been sitting there too long…and then they’re expected to contact customer service…just to be told to keep watching their orders sit there and do nothing.
I’m still new. Haven’t really release my store since I’m working the UX and making sample orders. I just read this review and it’s just confirming some of my suspicious and it’s making me anxious. So far, although this review has been written over a year ago, the main issues I’m facing is the fulfillment period (expect over 3-4 business days for orders to begin shipping, so if you’re offering expedite shipping or overnight, it’s a GREAT suggestion to notify your customers in reality it’d be more like 5 business days). Another issue is the highly frustrating ‘out-of-stock’ issue. I’ve had to change color/size in 3 orders due to unavailability. I have a feeling this is going to be a major issue when clients begin to order through my store. And again, Printful does NOT notify you, which means you’ll have to be on top of things at all time checking each individual order to see if any is still ‘partially fulfilled’. Also, the all-over-print products – Printful indeed has a disclaimer about sublimation. I’ve ordered those shirts and I say – you can NOT offer those products on a decent store. Due to the sublimation process, the print quality is below acceptable and as I client I would immediately return a product like that in the event I’d bought it. I agree it’s a very user friendly platform, but keep in mind there’s a lot of legwork and CRM to be done just so we as small business don’t look like completely amateurs and unprofessionals when those issues arise.
I have used Printful only for my hats and hoodies for about 3 months. I hate the delay in shipping and the cost of the product is too high. There is no heads up when an item is out of stock. If you are serious about your brand I suggest starting with a small inventory then going from there. Profit if you are able to use Printful will be minimal and the turnaround time to get products to your customers is not worth it. I will be moving away from them completely this month as I rather pay out of pocket to control inventory, shipping, and have better numbers.
Does Printful currently offer any greeting card products? I don’t see any, but thought I’d ask. That’s the only thing really keeping me from using Printful. I’m considering replacing all the POD places I’m setting up and linking to from my website. I’m using Zazzle and a Threadless Artist’s Shop and I’m considering RedBubble and Society6. There’s so many pros and cons here to discuss, but ultimately, I prefer the idea of having a dedicated e-commerce site, rather than external links on my website that lead to to 3rd party fulfillment, where a buyer may potentially see something else they like. The thought of using Printful with WooCommerce seems great, however, I’m hearing a lot of issues about out-of-stock products with no alerts and longs waits. That seems like a good way to lose a customer. I don’t know how common this is, but it’s a concern. So torn on which way to go, but POD in any case seems like a good way to start.
I will go local ..even in 2017. Printful prices are 13.50 per shirt. Too high to make a decent profit. Plus I need to see it before they decide to run the shirts. These online companies take too long and there are issues with the kind of tees they use and the quality of the dye. Going local means no set up cost, no shipping cost and a faster turn around.
That was exactly my conclusion after trying Printful… I will start locally, if it grows up and I have the resources I will consider shipping.
I’ve been with Printful for several years now. The service was great but I have notices more and more products shipments delays as well as just average customer services the past six month . I’m waiting to have prints shipped that were ordered April 18-19th/2017. The order was mixed up, which I understand can happen. Today is May 9th/2017 and they still haven’t sent out the replacements. When talking to a customer support person they can’t even give a timeline and have no clue when. Printful states on their website: “97.66% of our orders are shipped within 5 business days. More than a half of our orders are shipped within 3 business days or less.” This absolutely NOT TRUE. I still have orders waiting to be fulfilled from the end of April. While the situation is still somewhat controllable it is very disappointing and I hope this is just temporary hiccup.
Printful is horrible. I was in the process of starting a custom, artistic leggings business and on my final round of samples I receive an order where all of XS sizes look like they were made for an 8 year old girl. I had ordered XS before to shoot demo photos with my wife who is an XS and the fit was great. The latest order that I received was about 2 inches smaller in width and my wife could not even get her foot through the bottom of the legging without almost ripping it. I contacted customer service and they instructed me to take photos showing the discrepancy and I did as they instructed. To my dismay and disbelief the customer service rep instructed me that there was not enough of a discrepancy for them to replace the faulty products. I could not believe that they would just blatantly leave me out to hang and eat the cost as well as the time I wasted with regards to shipping, and then disputing the order.
As you can see in the images below there is a huge difference between the XS I ordered before and one of the XS that just came in. How can a clothing company tell you that there is room for error over up to 2 inches in size. Would you buy something that was 2 inches smaller or larger? That’s crazy.
I guess if you don’t mind gambling with your time and money then Printful is your ticket. I’d stay away.
https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/67c568e736497d8bc90ace97cf1d0d3c4f96fc653eb8a3facc843cd7b490bacd.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/e1904823c07fc57547353b079eaaea62552aec49fa2cfb97c20a8ad739df58d6.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/264ac0e2bfb209999ba7d762b1bd65cf6096071d68b77b562c1ed798a9d48177.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/0c5fe0abceebda434ae0eccb27e5ff66103b2625f506a831e4ec9313afee7a64.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/83c8458c70df2063178e15858c94de6ef1049291adf812251e8190c191ab7ff6.jpg
Liva from Printful here. It’s really too bad about the leggings! I see that you eventually resolved the issue with our customer support team, so I hope that all is well in the end. Once again – sorry for this error.
I think they’re a really professional company, and with the news that they are opening a warehouse in Europe it’s only getting better. +1 for us at http://www.fitness-posters.com
Good Post… what kind of services online do you try, apart of Printful?
Hi all, just stumbled across everyone’s comments on Printful… Very interesting! I’ve been spending the last few months building my store testing designs etc.. I’m close to launching and am using Printful as my POD. A lot of what’s been said has confirmed my own thoughts and suspicions… I’ve been considering using Print Aura for some products… Has anyone had any negative experiences with the they’d like to share?
Did not know about the none returns. That really sucks. Still giving them a shot will see how it turns out. http://www.sunsetsandhearts.com/journal/2017/10/8/fuck-trump-t-shirt-now-available just starting with them. Fingers Crossed.
After first integrating with my WooCommerce store, I thought Printful was going to be a winning option. We had some minor quality glitches (printing off-center) at the beginning, but the customer support team assured me this is a minority and that MOST of the tees should be printed centered. My first few embroidery jobs came out BEAUTIFULLY.
Then everything went downhill pretty quickly: the next few sample ordered were riddled with quality issues. The printing itself was fine. But the design was WAY off-center and sometimes entirely skewed. And the digitization on the next three embroidery projects produced a product that looked entirely different from the design.
I had ongoing conversations with the Printful team, asking what I can do to help prepare the artwork to help produce an end-product that won’t get returned by the customer. The Printful team recommended that I put an “outline” around very embroider project. But we never found resolution on the t-shirts: the production team simply said matter-of-factly that having a design printed off-center or skewed (by as much as an inch at the bottom of the design) was an acceptable level of error per their quality standards.
MEANING: Printful, in my experience, is an easy solution to test new product marketability but NOT a good solution for the end product. Not because the actual print quality was a concern, but because the Printful production team is incapable or unwilling to print a tee centered and straight. And they’re quick to excuse any errors with their (evidently poor) quality standards.
Insights that came to surface from my conversations with them:
1.) You can print 4CP on a white or super light garments without the white base. AND you can print 100% black on white or light garments without the base. In almost every other situation, they’ll lay the white down and they can’t support requests to NOT print the white base.
2.) Embroidery looks sharp. But I submitted my artwork as flat, outlined AI paths and they still managed to screw it up by recreating the artwork. I definitely wouldn’t pay the Printful production team to create the artwork. They clearly have no concept of design.
I’ve decided that Printful just can’t produce the quality that I’m looking for and I’m in search of a new solution. This may require up-front costs to go with a traditional silk screen shop. But managing inventory costs is a better solution for me than dealing with repeated customer service and return/refund situations caused by Printful’s poor quality.
I have considered this company… their site is great, integration with woocommerce and wordpress is great but the quality of their tshirt sucks. I completely agree with you… if you plan a buddies weekend and need a few t-shirts this could be an option. If you plan to create a serious brand Printful is not an option, the profit margins are really low and the quality of the product sucks. I posted a bad review and they kindly refused to post it on their website.
https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/83e5bb3e63cfcc871d18b493e1cf504a4ed29d998f204bd704bf08a6fb15bb89.jpg (printful quality)
https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/7f43100bbb953badf43a31763f2de767b4d23daa6efa20591eba7b21484cfbaa.png (another merchant) https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/ceb0cf7459235754c82d04feffac60b2db388aa18cb760fdf15ef70fac7638b3.jpg (their email refusing to post my review on their website).
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