Print-on-demand sites are an extremely popular way for creators and entrepreneurs to offer products without investing in a large inventory. Print-on-demand allows your customers to order a product from your eCommerce site and have the service print the design and ship it directly to them.
Print-on-demand services are entirely hands-off for the seller and most offer services with no up-front costs. This makes them extremely beneficial to a variety of services and businesses, such as t-shirt businesses or custom printed coffee mugs. All you need to worry about is setting up a store on the service website or integrating the service with third-party sites like Etsy and eBay. There are many sites and options out there, so let’s take a look at our choices for the best print-on-demand sites.
Choosing A Print-On-Demand Website
Look at several factors before you decide which print-on-demand service you use. There’s a variety of sites out there, and each offers different inventory and different features and benefits.
Some things to consider when making your decision for a print-on-demand site:
What is the production time before the item ships? A website might advertise 2-day shipping, but that might not include the production or lead time. Read the fine print on the website or read reviews to find out how long the process is between a customer placing an order and the item shipping. You also want to know the standard shipping time (how long the item is in transit) and the cost. Customers don’t like paying astronomically high shipping costs.
What printing types and styles do they offer? Most websites provide sublimation printing, which doesn’t chip and is dishwasher safe. They might also offer different types of printing, like embroidery or screen printing, which changes the quality and aspects of the product.
Look for special offers or unique features on the site. For example, Printful (below) allows you to connect your designs to an Etsy or eBay shop for dropshipping. They also allow you to pre-fund a wallet on the website so that incoming orders are automatically paid for.
Go through the product catalog with a fine-toothed comb and look for what is offered, the quality and features, and what designs you can print on each product. You might also want to know how large your designs can be. Your custom artwork will look different on a small coffee mug than a large hoodie, so research printing area sizes. Read through site reviews for the quality of the items to see how well they hold up through regular use.
Another option is to order a test item for yourself. If you plan to sell coffee mugs mainly, you might order one of your designs on a mug to try it out for a while and test the features for yourself. If the design starts chipping or peeling after a couple of cycles in the dishwasher, you should switch to a different website.
Check the eCommerce websites with which the service integrates. Printful works with Etsy, but CaféPress (below) is designed for you to create an in-house shop on their website. If you plan to sell T-shirts on Etsy or eBay, you might choose Printful over CaféPress to have an independent site from the print-on-demand service.
However, hosting a shop within Café Press’s platforms opens you to an audience outside of Etsy or eBay. Many customers shop directly on Café Press, which has partnerships with trademarked franchises like Bob’s Burgers and Spiderman.
Best Print-On-Demand Sites
CaféPress is designed around independent shops hosted on the main website. Unlike other print-on-demand services like Printful, CaféPress advertises your designs directly on their site and lets you set up a customized shop with your artwork on over 250 products. You earn a commission on each product sold, and you have the potential to earn bonuses. There are no up-front costs or set-up fees, and the site comes with a 100% satisfaction guarantee for their products.
CaféPress can ship your items worldwide and offers promotional tools to drive traffic directly to your shop for increased sales. There are also sponsored promotions to increase your sales conversions further.
This print-on-demand site is an excellent option if you’re not interested in integrating a product printing service with a third-party website like eBay. Many third-party sites come with hosting or listing fees that can add costs to your business, but a CaféPress store is free to set up and to add as many designs and products as you want.
Printful is a highly popular print-on-demand site that offers fast production times and integrations with a variety of eCommerce websites. Most orders are ready to ship in 2 to 5 business days, and the standard shipping option starts at $3.99 with 3 to 4 days transit time. Shipping costs do get higher for larger items like hoodies and multi-item orders, but the price point stays reasonable.
Printful offers a built-in mockup generator to help you get your designs uploaded and ready to sell quickly. The site also provides size guidelines to aid in the design process so that you don’t end up with artwork that doesn’t fit on your desired products. The printing options include sublimation, embroidery, cut and sew, and direct-to-garment. Printful integrates with Etsy, eBay, Shopify, WooCommerce, Wix, Amazon, and many more.
SpreadShop is one of the more popular print-on-demand services that offer customized shops hosted on their main website, similar to CaféPress. SpreadShop handles the payments, production, and shipping for your sales for no up-front cost. You can open a free SpreadShop store and sell your custom artwork on their wide variety of products. You earn a portion of the revenue for each sale, and SpreadShop advertises that most shop owners earn an average of $25 on T-Shirt sales, $48 on hoodie sales, and $20 on coffee mug sales.
SpreadShop doesn’t limit creators to stores on their website — you can also integrate the print-on-demand service with third-party websites. There is also an in-house design creator feature in the premium package that lets you develop custom designs in a streamlined process to help you realize your vision faster.
This print-on-demand site is ideal for creators who want multiple options for selling their products. If you wish to keep your merchandise entirely on SpreadShop or simultaneously integrate with other eCommerce websites, SpreadShop offers the versatility you might not find elsewhere.
SPOD is a print-on-demand service that is owned and powered by Spreadshirt. The lead time averages 48 hours before a product ships, which is one of the fastest turn around times in the print-on-demand industry. Shipping starts at $3.57 for standard domestic, and the transit time is 3 to 8 business days. Shipping costs are based on the total order value instead of the quantity and size of the items.
A unique feature is that SPOD allows your customers to customize their products before they buy them. Users can add photos or words to your designs to make them uniquely their own. Other sites offer a similar feature, but SPOD is by far the easiest and fastest customization tool available.
SPOD is the best choice for people who are new to print-on-demand sites and for those who want to offer speedy fulfillment times to their customers.
Final Thoughts: Best Print-On-Demand Sites
Print-on-demand sites are a great choice if you’re a creator or entrepreneur looking to sell custom items or products. They allow you to sell your products, without the hassle and risk of investing in a large amount of inventory upfront. Make use of this guide and find the best print-on-demand service that offers what you need. All that’s left to do is get selling!