The 6 Best Print on Demand Companies to Sell Customized Products in 2021
Want to start your own business, build your brand and create a passive income? Print on demand makes your first steps in eCommerce a lot simpler.
Print on demand (or POD) websites allow you to manufacture and ship products with your own custom designs. Unlike traditional printing plants, these services don’t require you to order in bulk, or order inventory at all. In fact, most operate as dropshipping platforms, which means that they handle order fulfillment and shipping for you.
As a merchant, you can utilize print on demand services to sell your own designed and branded products. Most print on demand sites allow you to integrate the service into your own online store.
This guide will help you get started with print on demand dropshipping, as well as showcase today’s top print on demand sites.
How Print on Demand Works
Print on demand sites let you customize white label products with your own designs. Sell t-shirts, bags, mugs, books and more. Simply upload your designs, connect your POD service of choice with your eCommerce website, and you’re ready to start selling.
One of the great things with print on demand services is that they operate as dropshipping platforms. That means you can sell your custom merchandise on a per-order basis, without needing to invest in inventory. To make things even more convenient, these services handle order fulfillment and shipping for you, making the entire process as hands-off as possible.
Why Print on Demand Is Great for New eCommerce Businesses
Print on demand is a simple way for newcomers to start their dropshipping eCommerce businesses. As a merchant, you don’t need to stock up on inventory, so you assume much less of a risk. Some platforms even go as far as requiring no initial investment, so there are virtually no upfront costs.
Often, shipping and order fulfillment can act as a barrier for a newcomer to online retail. Setting up an entire system to facilitate shipping can be expensive and complicated, especially if you wish to ship outside of your region or country.
With print on demand, these obstacles are taken care of, allowing you to start generating sales immediately. Not having to worry about storage management, packing or shipping means that once the orders start coming in, you’re able to generate a passive income.
However, print on demand is not entirely hands-off. Online retail is a crowded market, with a seemingly endless number of merchants. For your business to succeed, you need to invest time, effort and money in marketing.
There are also some potential downsides to print on demand. By not purchasing in bulk, your wholesale costs may end up being higher. Your risk is lower, but so are your profits. Additionally, having packaging and shipping taken care of for you, can strip you of some of your control and creativity. For example, rather than simply sell products, many retailers prefer to create an entire purchasing experience, one which includes a packaging concept. With many POD platforms, you may find it’s much harder to fully customize the experience.
Print on demand is especially useful for businesses looking to capitalize on their brands by offering custom-designed products. Additionally, it’s a great way to make money as an artist—designers can provide their fans with the opportunity to buy their branded merchandise.
The 6 Best Print on Demand Companies for 2021
Printful is a well-established print on demand site that puts entrepreneurs first. In addition to providing you with your own storefront on Printful, they also enable easy integration with most popular online store platforms, such as Wix eCommerce, as well as marketplaces like Etsy and eBay. Orders are automatically forwarded when received, making the cross-platform integration seamless.
Printful’s product selection varies and covers all popular categories. You can find anything from apparel to phone cases, homeware and jewelry. There is a huge variety of designs to choose from, or you can add your own, maintaining your ownership rights as well.
Established businesses often prefer to have their own branding on products. Being geared towards entrepreneurs and businesses, Printful provides high-quality white label products with customization options for labeling and packaging.
Printful is a free to use platform that has no minimums. Products are priced per item and you only pay for what you sell. So, you can decide on a profit margin that suits you, according to the products you offer. Though paying per sold item relieves you of risk, you can also buy in bulk, which gives you a substantial discount. Your inventory can then be stored at Printful’s warehouses, so you can offer your customers same-day shipping as well.
Printful offers worldwide shipping with an array of partners, so rates are competitive.
To complete the package, Printful offers graphic design, photography and video-making services, as well as a mockup generator, so you’re sure to have professional high-quality product images, letting you shift your focus towards making sales.
Start creating your products with Printful today.
Printify is another veteran in the game. They provide a large variety of custom-designed apparel, homeware and accessories, covering all classic print on demand products. You can also design your own products, maintaining ownership of your designs.
Though Printify doesn’t offer you a storefront of your own on their site, it does offer seamless integration and automatic syncing with online store platforms and marketplaces, including Wix.
This print on demand site also works through dropshipping, meaning they fulfill and ship orders for you. Start your online store, connect Printify, then forward the orders you receive to Printify automatically or manually.
As a platform that caters to business-minded designers and artists, Printify allows you to order samples of your custom products. This way, you can ensure you’re satisfied with the quality of both the products and printing before you dive in and start selling. You can also utilize their mockup generator to create product images, making sure your catalog looks as professional as possible.
Printify allows you to start off for free, facilitating up to 5 online stores per account with unlimited designs and no minimums. Prices are fixed for both products and shipping, so you always know what your expenses are, and you can set your retail prices to bring in the profit margin you desire. Similar to other dropship platforms, you buy only what you sell, relieving you of the risks of building up stock.
Start selling customized merchandise with Printify.
Redbubble is a popular print on demand site for up-and-coming artists and designers. It offers its own marketplace and doesn’t integrate with other online stores or marketplaces. This may make Redbubble less appealing to those who already operate a store online or aspire to sell on multiple sales channels.
However, if you’re an artist looking to sell custom merchandise, this platform may be perfectly suited for you. Redbubble provides you with your own storefront on the site, which you can customize to fit your brand. The product catalog is as impressive as any other, covering clothing, accessories, homeware and gifts.
As a marketplace, Redbubble may help you get found by your first customers. You can upload your artwork and choose any number of products, which shoppers can browse either in the general marketplace or on your store. Once someone buys a product with your design, you get paid. You also maintain 100% ownership of your design. Note that Redbubble does not offer some of the useful extras provided by other print on demand websites, such as graphic design services or a mockup generator.
Redbubble is free to join and lets you determine your own profit margins on top of a base price which is set for each product. They ship worldwide and offer a free return policy, ensuring your customer’s satisfaction. You get paid once a month, as long as you’ve earned the minimum of $20. If you haven’t, your payment carries over to the next month. Payouts can be made to your bank account if you reside in the U.S., UK or Australia, or via PayPal if your business is located elsewhere.
Sell on Redbubble.
Society6 differentiates itself from other print on demand sites by being all about the art and the artist. In addition to offering classic products that can be found on other POD services, they offer a wider range of printed art options, including frames and stretched canvases.
The site also houses a vibrant community of artists, so you can engage and receive feedback from both creative peers and customers.
Society6 operates as its own marketplace, without providing an integration with other online stores or marketplaces. When you sign up, you get your own shop on the site.
The platform is free to use. Artists sign up, customize their stores, upload their designs with the correct dimensions for each product and start selling. Though Society6 may use your artwork to promote their brand, you maintain ownership of it.
With Society6, you have less control over pricing. They set the retail price, from which you receive 10% when your products are sold. This excludes printed art, for which you can set your own profit margin. Artists are paid via PayPal on the first of each month, with a 30-day clearance period, meaning you receive your payment 1-2 months after a sale is made.
Of course, like all print on demand services, Society6 handles your order fulfillment, inventory storage and shipping.
Sell your art with Society6.
SunFrog boasts the largest amount of traffic in the print on demand industry. Though their product range includes classics like mugs and posters, the real focus is on clothing. More specifically, SunFrog is a massive platform for t-shirt designs.
SunFrog is a marketplace of its own and does not integrate with other stores or marketplaces. Still, they offer the unique ability to promote products designed by other artists for a commission. SunFrog also offers templates and its own design tool, so you can create your own tees without a graphic design background.
Once you sign up, you can open your own collection, which is basically your store. You can choose to promote both your own designs and others’. The site also provides you with free promo images when you upload your designs, so you know your collection will have a professional look.
Signing up is free and pricing is flexible—to a degree. As an artist, you can set your price within a provided range. For every product sold with your design, you receive 10% of the retail price. But SunFrog offers commissions for sales as well. For any sale you make, you receive 15% of the retail price, regardless of design ownership. If you sell your own designs, the two commissions add up to 25% of the retail price. Payment can be received via PayPal, Payoneer, direct bank deposit or wire transfer.
As an artist, you maintain ownership of your designs, but give some usage rights to SunFrog.
SunFrog lets you track visits and conversions and even create retargeting marketing campaigns, which is a huge plus for ambitious business owners.
Similar to most print on demand platforms, SunFrog handles your orders and ships worldwide.
Sell custom-designed t-shirts on SunFrog.
Zazzle is another very popular print on demand site. It differentiates itself by offering greater customization options compared to other platforms. For example, shoppers can customize their own products before purchasing.
This print on demand site doesn’t integrate with other online marketplaces and eCommerce platforms, so you’re limited to the on-site marketplace.
Upon signing up, you’ll be asked whether you’re a designer, maker or associate to create a storefront. Designers upload their designs to dropshipping products and sell them on the platform, like on other POD sites. Makers sell their own manufactured products on the site, but they’re tasked with shipping themselves. Associates sell existing products from others for a commission. Designers and makers both retain ownership of their designs.
Signing up is free and designers can set their prices 5-99% above Zazzle’s base price. Associates receive a 15% commission on sales made through their store. Payouts are issued on the first of each month with a 30-day clearance period.
Design and customize products on Zazzle.
Tips for Merchants Selling Products Using Print on Demand
Selling your custom-designed merchandise takes more than choosing the right print on demand service. You can do more to ensure the success of your online business.
First, make sure you design for your niche. It’s always best for a business to know its target audience. Once you have a firm grasp on who your customers are, keep them in mind during all stages of production, including product design. Selling the right product to the right crowd will help your business keep thriving.
Second, invest in marketing. As previously mentioned, succeeding in eCommerce isn’t always simple. To beat the competition, you need to expose potential customers to your brand. A good way to go about this is by running your own blog. Get your business noticed by producing high-quality content that your customers will find interesting, while using the right keywords and proper SEO tools to maximize traffic to your site.
Increase your exposure through social media. You can use Facebook Ads and other forms of paid advertisement or go the organic route. Either way, being active and producing great content on social media will increase your brand’s visibility. Make a point of engaging with other users, encourage them to create their own content with your products and make sure to share when they do.
Product videos work best on social media. Creating professional, visually appealing videos for your products causes viewers to engage and share, boosting your brand awareness and perception.If you’re not a savvy videographer or editor, you can always use tools like Wix Video Maker.
Another proven method to boost sales: take advantage of holidays and events. Tailor your holiday marketing by offering discounts and special sales during these times. If you operate in a niche market, you can take advantage of events that speak to your crowd. For example, offer limited edition comic book-inspired clothing and accessories leading up to Comic-Con.
Possibly the most important tip of all: integrate your print on demand service with your own online store. This opens up endless marketing and business opportunities, while maintaining and owning your own digital real estate. With your own eCommerce website, you decide the rules. You can design and operate your business as you wish, as well as integrate numerous other third-party apps as you grow.
Want to design and sell your own products? Create an online store and start your print on demand business today.
Managing Editor, Wix eCommerce
Daniel is the Managing Editor at Wix eCommerce, where he uses his experience as a merchant, journalist and marketer to create content that helps online businesses grow.