So you’ve decided that you want to start dropshipping. Good choice, right? Most people would agree. After all, the ecommerce market is worth over $400 million. Dropshipping lets you in on the action without the overhead of a traditional business.
Dropshipping means no warehouse, shipping costs, transportation, etc. Instead, another entity handles everything from manufacturing to shipping. You’re free to sell products at your leisure.
Sounds great, right? While dropshipping is great, it’s also not that easy. You need a platform that can separate your dropshipping business from the rest of the pack. Think for a minute.
Do you have the suppliers to start dropshipping? Do you know the profitable markets? Chances are, you don’t. And that’s okay. There are plenty of businesses that can help you start dropshipping.
But not every dropshipping business is created equal. That’s why today, we want to take a look at three top dropshipping print on demand options for novice dropshippers. Let’s get started!
Check out my quick comparison video on Printful Vs Redbubble:
CustomCat aims to be the one-stop-shop for your dropshipping print service needs. They keep ordering simple, the products varied, and the shipping times consistent.
CustomCat, first and foremost, is a screen printing company. They focus on putting logos, designs, etc. on clothing, jewelry, wallets, home decor, shoes, bags, jackets, and more. What’s more, CustomCat also prints on premium brands. They carry Adidas, Augusta, Boxercraft, among other high-end manufacturers.
Depending on your business, the high-end branding might work against your business. The better the brand, the higher the prices.
CustomCat for Dropshipping
CustomCat offers basic Shopify integration, along with WooCommerce integration. They also offer custom API integration (for your website) and a basic CSV ordering platform. Each integration (besides the CSV) also allows for deep integration.
Shopify, WooCommerce, and custom API integration also offer access to buyer data, mail server integration, conversion tracking, and sub-user IDs.
Buyer data, mail server integration, and conversion tracking allow your business to store user data that gives insight into your both your demographics and campaign success.
Sub-user IDs allow for backend task delegation. You’re able to assign team members roles within your specific campaigns.
CustomCat offers pricing that varies based on which subscription plan you’re using. CustomCat Lite offers no monthly fee, but products cost more. T-shirts start at $8.00, mugs start at $5.50, and hoodies start at $18.50.
The CustomCat Pro plan costs $30 per month. However, t-shirts cost $6.00, mugs cost $3.50, hoodies cost $16.50, and other products also cost less.
As far as dropshipping goes, CustomCat offers relatively low prices.
CustomCat, on average, ships products 2-3 business days after the purchase. Shipping options vary, but most orders take 1-7 days. International shipping times rise to 4-15 days.
CustomCat offers easy dropshipping integration. You’re able to integrate CustomCat into popular platforms as well as your own platform. And CSV integration is also available for those kickin’ it old school.
However, CustomCat does have a major drawback. Namely, they don’t offer discounts for bulk orders. This is fine for normal dropshipping applications, but can create problems if you’re looking to create large, promotional merchandising campaigns.
Printful is what we call the “full package.” The platform offers a wide range of products, numerous integrations, integration workarounds, simple payments, low pricing, a large product selection, and more. Without giving away our review, Printful is impressive.
Printful offers an extensive product catalog, offering: clothing, jackets, hats, iPhone cases, socks, mugs, beanies, posters, towels, and more. Like CustomCat, you have a vast product selection. However, Printful does cost more than CustomCat.
Printful for Dropshipping
If we look down on Printful for being slightly overpriced, we love Printful because of how well it caters to the dropshipping crowd. And after all, dropshipping is the focus of this article.
Printful integrates into an impressive amount of ecommerce platforms. There’s integration for all the basics: Shopify, Etsy, WooCommerce, and then some. Here’s a rundown of each individual ecommerce platform:
- Big Cartel
There’s also a custom API for those interested in creating their own order platform, as well as an option for manually submitting orders. Plus, Printful supports something called ShipStation. ShipStation acts as a bridge to unsupported platforms, like Walmart and Ebay.
Printful also offers what they call the Printful Wallet. You’re automatically billed when someone orders through your platform (read: you order), but the money goes into your Printful Wallet. The wallet lets Printful process your payments quickly and also improves refund times.
Printful doesn’t come with a subscription fee, which is nice. However, that means you’re not eligible for any merchandise discounts. What you see is what you pay, and then a little bit more for Printful’s fee.
Price wise, Printful can get expensive. Their rates vary by platform. Shopify costs one price, while WooCommerce costs another. Instead of breaking down each platform’s pricing scheme (which would be an article itself), we’ll leave you with a link to Printful’s website.
If there’s any downside to Printful, it’s that pricing seems arbitrary. Using the wrong platform? Too bad, you’re stuck paying higher rates.
Printful shipping times are standard, though their manufacturing time is slightly longer than CustomCat. Apparel takes 2-7 business days to create and non-apparel takes 2-5 business days. Shipping itself takes the standard 3-5 days, with expedited options available.
Out of our three companies, Printful offers the best dropshipping-centric option. You can choose from endless products and integrate the platform with endless ecommerce storefronts. However, you’re paying the price for that integration.
RedBubble is nothing like Printful or CustomCat. Okay, that’s a little over the top. All three companies do sell custom t-shirts. However, RedBubble isn’t a print-on-demand platform. Likewise, they’re not focused on the dropshipping market.
RedBubble offers artists, companies, and every-day people the opportunity to create their own custom clothing designs. There are no plugins, no storefront integrations, and nothing that really facilitates dropshipping.
However, that doesn’t mean RedBubble doesn’t have a drop shipping application. You can still place orders on behalf of your customers through the platform, just like any other dropshipping platform.
RedBubble for Dropshipping
RedBubble operates as an online storefront. You can either place orders through RedBubble on behalf of your customers, or you can direct customers to RedBubble’s website.
Yes, it’s a drawback that you can’t customize the product display. Though that’s looking at the glass half empty. RedBubble employs a team of experts that have already decided the product display for you.
Is the lack of customization disappointing? Yes. But you could argue the lack of options creates an environment that maximizes sales.
RedBubble is free to use. The website pays for its own hosting fees, design team, etc. However, they do take a cut from your purchases. Both RedBubble’s cut and your company’s profits fall under the same pricing scheme.
You set the “base price” for every item, and that base price covers RedBubble’s service fee and item manufacturing costs. Your profit comes from a percentage (usually around 20 percent, though brands can set their own margins) of the base price.
A brand’s actual profit varies depending on base price, and base price varies on the delivery address. Base prices fluctuate because of differing local products, taxes, material costs, etc.
Shipping times vary based on buyer location, the product order, and more. Typically, manufacturing takes 1-3 days. Once the order ships, users can track their products through RedBubble’s “Where’s my order?” page. Users can also choose between various expedited shipping options.
RedBubble isn’t your standard dropshipping option. The platform is best for those only looking to try out dropshipping without investing time and money into advanced platforms like CustomCat or Printful.
Summing it Up
Choosing the right dropshipping platform comes down to your specific needs. If we had to break it down, we’d classify the three platforms into different categories. CustomCat is the “local business.” They’re perfect for smaller dropshippers who want a personal touch.
Printful is the established business. They offer the most options and thus command the highest prices. Printful also has the slowest delivery times, thanks to their higher workload.
RedBubble works best for those curious about dropshipping, though the platform isn’t suited for large orders.
While we hope our list helps make your decision easier, only you can choose the correct platform for your needs.THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS. PLEASE READ DISCLOSURE FOR MORE INFO.
Hi guys..this is Brian. I started my first e-commerce company in college designing and selling t-shirts for my campus bar crawl using Print-On-Demand. Having successfully established multiple 6 & 7 figure e-commerce businesses (in women’s fashion and hiking gear), I think I can share a tip or 2 to help you get succeed.