Print-on-demand companies make it possible to start selling custom products in minutes. You can use these services to do things like:
- Start an ecommerce business from home.
- Kickstart a print-on-demand clothing line with no startup capital.
- Monetize a social media audience.
- Expand an existing business with new product lines.
Sounds great, right? But before you can get started, you need to answer this question: what is the best print-on-demand site for you?
This isn’t an easy question to answer.
There are so many print-on-demand sites to choose from and tons to think about — what should you look for when choosing a print-on-demand service?
In this article, we’ll explore 5 essential things to consider when selecting a print-on-demand service and check out 10 of the top print-on-demand companies in 2021.
But first, let’s get on the same page — what are print on demand companies exactly?
(Disclosure: This website is a part of Shopify inc. media properties. Although we strive to publish objective, accurate, and factual content, this article may contain biased opinions.)
What Are Print-on-Demand Companies?
Print-on-demand (or ‘POD’) companies are businesses that provide a complete ecommerce fulfillment solution — this includes sourcing and storing products, printing products and packaging materials, and shipping orders to customers.
Print-on-demand is a type of dropshipping. All you need to do is create eye-catching designs, configure your products, and sell them online — a print-on-demand company will take care of the rest!
Most services offer a variety of print-on-demand products, such as:
- Phone covers
You can see some print-on-demand product examples from Printful in the image below:
Some companies also offer less conventional print-on-demand merchandise options, like:
- Sneakers, boots, and flip flops
- Yoga pants, leggings, joggers, and jeans
- Jackets and sweatshirts
- Bedsheets and blankets
- Pillows and throws
- Watches and jewelry
- Wall art
- Kitchen accessories
- Garden accessories
- Kids clothing and toys
- Headphones and speakers
- Bags and bottles
- Face masks
Types of Print-on-Demand Companies
There are two main types of print-on-demand companies:
- Print-on-demand services: These allow you to sell products on your own website and via third-party marketplaces like Etsy.
- Print-on-demand marketplaces: These are dedicated print-on-demand platforms where you would sell your designs on products alongside other sellers.
In this article, we’re going to focus on print-on-demand services.
Why? When you sell on an ecommerce marketplace, you can’t develop a standalone brand. As a result, it can be challenging to differentiate your products from competitors and grow a sustainable business.
On the other hand, when you sell products via your own website, you can build a loyal customer base and grow your business without any limitations.
Top 10 Print-on-Demand Companies
What are the best print-on-demand companies out there in 2021? Here are our favorite print-on-demand sites to consider:
Printful is one of the most popular print-on-demand companies out there.
It offers more than 220 different products and provides a range of printing options, such as direct-to-garment, cut-and-sew, sublimation, and embroidery. You can also add custom tags to your products and include stickers and inserts in the product packaging.
Printful’s mockup generator makes customization easy, and the service integrates with all major platforms, including Shopify and Etsy. Plus, products are typically ready to ship in 2-5 business days.
Printify provides access to an extensive network of print-on-demand suppliers around the world. As a result, you can choose the best supplier in your country for fast and cost-effective shipping. Of course, this also means that shipping times and product quality will vary depending on the supplier you choose.
This print-on-demand company enables businesses to customize more than 300 products in many ways, including embroidery, sublimation, and direct-to-garment printing.
Printify also offers Premium and Enterprise plans which provide significant discounts for businesses with a high turnover.
CustomCat is a US-based print-on-demand company, and orders are typically ready to ship in just 2-3 business days. This print-on-demand shop offers a few printing options, such as direct-to-garment, sublimation, 3D dye infusion, and sublimation.
CustomCat also boasts one of the largest print-on-demand merchandise catalogs available — so it’s a good choice if you’re looking for unique print-on-demand products.
SPOD is one of the fastest print-on-demand companies out there, boasting a 2-day turnaround. It also provides a handy shipping calculator.
SPOD offers many different printing options, including digital direct, laser transfer, special flex, and sublimation. And you can use the service to sell more than 100 products. You can also use SPOD to enable customers to customize products with their own designs and images.
T-Pop is one of the best print-on-demand companies in Europe, with orders printed in France. This print-on-demand company focuses primarily on apparel and accessories and allows users to customize and sell 36 different products.
T-Pop offers a complete white-label print-on-demand service, offering customizable packing slips and packaging. This print-on-demand company is also committed to preserving the environment with “zero plastic” packaging and 100% recycled paper packing slips.
Jetprint is one of the best print-on-demand companies for watches and other exciting product categories like shoes, yoga accessories, and homeware. For this reason, it’s an excellent choice for those looking to bootstrap a business around a particular product or niche.
Once you upload your designs, this print-on-demand service will automatically generate professional-looking product photos to show off your products from multiple angles.
Orders are usually ready to ship in 3-5 business days.
teelaunch allows you to sell print-on-demand merchandise via Shopify and Etsy. It also provides an impressive range of products that aren’t as generic as many typical print-on-demand products — including electronics, apparel, and homeware.
Teelaunch offers a few different printing options, such as direct-to-garment, cut-and-sew, all-over print, and laser etching.
Production typically takes 3-6 business days. There’s also a manual order tool that you can use to order products to sell in person.
Gelato is a global print-on-demand company with more than 100 print partners in 30 countries, delivering products to over 200 countries and territories. It also integrates with all the top online sales channels, including Shopify.
Gelato also provides an extensive library of products, such as apparel, wall art, and stationery. Plus, this print-on-demand company works fast, claiming to produce and deliver most orders within just 72 hours.
Gooten is a popular print-on-demand site offering a range of printing options and products, such as apparel, homeware, and travel accessories. Products are typically produced and shipped within 1-6 business days.
Gooten’s API and integration options are more complicated than many print-on-demand companies. However, this means it’s very developer-friendly and offers more flexibility.
Printy6 is a print-on-demand site for Shopify based in China. As a result, shipping takes longer and costs more than many other print-on-demand sites.
However, Printy6 offers many eye-catching and cheap print-on-demand products, including a large range of clothing, accessories, and homeware. Plus, production time only takes 1-3 days.
3 Top Print-on-Demand Marketplaces
Now that we’ve covered our top 10 print-on-demand services that allow you to create your own branded experience, here are 3 of the best print-on-demand marketplaces that you can sell your designs on:
- Redbubble: Sell your art on more than 70 different products in tons of product categories to an international customer base.
- Zazzle: This platform has close to 30 million visitors each month, and it allows you to customize and sell more than 1,300 products.
- Society6: This platform allows you to sell your designs on a range of products, including a wide selection of premium wall art and decor.
5 Things to Consider When Choosing a Print-on-Demand Supplier
Whichever print-on-demand company you choose will play a crucial role in the success of your business. So, it’s essential that you make the right decision for you.
So, what makes a print-on-demand company a good bet? What should you look for when picking a print-on-demand supplier? Here are 5 crucial things to consider:
1. Quality Products
Let me give it to you straight: It doesn’t matter how stunning your designs are if the products fall apart after a week.
For this reason, it’s best to shortlist a few of your favorite print-on-demand suppliers and then order a few test samples from them. This way, you can experience the products’ quality firsthand.
When it comes to printed products, it’s also important to check whether the ink rubs off easily.
And don’t just investigate the products you want to start selling now — try to get a sense of the quality of all the products on offer. You never know, you may wish to expand your product line in the future.
2. Fast Shipping Times
Thanks to services like Amazon Prime, customers now expect rapid shipping times when shopping online.
So, it’ll be challenging to establish a good brand reputation and earn repeat business from happy customers if delivery takes a long time or products arrive late.
For this reason, it’s vital to consider the average shipping time when choosing a print-on-demand company. Ideally, you want customers to receive their products within 1 week of placing an order.
3. Reasonable Product costs and Shipping Rates
Although quality and speed are essential aspects of a thriving business, costs are perhaps even more critical.
Choosing a print-on-demand company with high product and shipping fees may mean smaller margins — meaning that you’ll make less profit per sale. This can have a knock-on effect that hinders your business growth, as you’ll have less money to reinvest into things like Facebook advertising.
Still, it’s best to focus on how much you’ll make per sale, rather than simply comparing print-on-demand services’ fees. For example, paying higher prices for better quality products may allow you to sell them for more money. Check out Shopify's profit calculator to calculate your margins.
4. Customization and Printing Options
Print-on-demand companies often offer different customization options. Depending on your needs, you may require plenty of customization and printing options or just a few.
So, do you plan to sell products with simple logos? Or are you planning to express your artistic potential with a myriad of designs? It’s also worth considering what customized packaging options each print-on-demand company offers.
Whichever print-on-demand site you use, make sure it suits your design and branding needs.
5. Integrations with Other Platforms
Different print-on-demand services allow you to sell via various channels. Ideally, whichever print-on-demand company you choose will allow you to sell via multiple channels such as:
Also, make sure you have room to grow. For example, perhaps you only want to sell on Etsy right now. However, it’s a good idea to make sure there are other options available. This way, you won’t have to switch to a different print-on-demand service in the future.
Summary: Start a Print-on-Demand Business Today
Print-on-demand is an exciting business opportunity that’s perfect for first-time entrepreneurs. In summary, here are 10 of the best print-on-demand companies to consider in 2021:
When deciding which print-on-demand service to work with, keep in mind these five questions:
- Are the products and printing methods high-quality?
- Is the shipping fast and reliable?
- Are the product costs and shipping rates reasonable?
- Does the service provide the printing and customization options you want?
- Can you sell products via your preferred online channels?
Which print-on-demand site has caught your eye? And what products do you want to start selling? Let us know in the comments below!