Print on demand (POD) is on the rise.
In fact, it has become one of the most appealing e-commerce modes because of the advantages it holds over the conventional e-commerce model.
For starters, print on demand does not require a lot of capital to start up.
Also, unlike traditional e-commerce store owners, POD merchants are not burdened with inventory management and a huge catalog of products.
By merely signing up on a print on demand fulfillment platform, sellers can easily create product designs unique to any brand and send to customers across the globe without much stress.
And print on demand e-commerce isn’t just some recent invention. In fact, early birds like CafePress and Zazzle have existed for more than a decade.
Even Amazon has a stake in the industry since the introduction of Merch by Amazon in September 2005.
But before we go into any more details about Printify and Customcat, let’s better understand the concept of print on demand as an e-commerce business model.
What is Print on Demand Ecommerce?
TLDR: A print on demand company is one that creates its own custom designs and places them on ready-made white-label products which are stored on a server, to be printed only when an order has been received.
While a print on demand fulfillment company handles all the processes that come after the designers submit their designs, including printing and shipping the products to customers.
Sellers get to save a lot of money with this business model as they do not purchase the printing equipment and materials themselves, and they don’t have to bother with storing blank products, packaging, or shipping.
This leaves them only with the responsibilities of creating the designs and promoting the finished products.
Things to consider before choosing a print on demand platform
Even though your job as a seller only involves designing and promoting, you still have a big decision to make before you choose a print on demand service. There are several factors to consider:
1. Product range
Before you choose any print on demand platform, first look at the number of products that are available for you to sell.
After all, you’ll be looking to make as many sales as possible.
Different platforms have different categories of products. Some have just T-shirts; some have T-shirts, hoodies, and mugs, and so on.
You’ll want to choose a platform that has a wide product range available, because if you make a design and put it out there and a buyer is interested in the design, they can choose from a variety of products to buy the design on, rather than when there are only a few products available.
This way, you will not lose sales.
2. Price base
If you are starting a campaign, every platform has a base price for that product, and you can only decide your selling price by adding to the profit margin on top of that base price.
What this means is that the lower the base price, the more profit margin you can get.
3. Delivery timeline
One of the most important factors to consider for your client and yourself is how much time it will take the company to deliver products to clients.
It usually makes sense to look for the platform that has the shorter shipping timeline, especially since your products will be going to different countries.
Look for the platform that delivers products under 3 weeks, otherwise, your client will get bored and start asking for their refund.
4. Shipping fee
Usually, shipping charges vary from country to country.
For example, if the platform exists in the UK and someone wants to order from the UK, the delivery charges will be less, but if someone orders from China, the delivery charges will be higher.
So it’s important to know the delivery charges for each country to be able to determine the average selling price in that region.
5. Marketing options
It’s also important to first determine the marketing tools a platform has before opting for it.
For example, tracking pixels are very important if you hope to upscale your campaign.
If you run Facebook and get a good number of visitors to your product page, you’ll want to capture information on those who are visiting your page.
And you can use the resulting data to create a lookalike audience or for retargeting ads.
Who is print on demand ideal for?
Print on demand is a good fit for just about anyone.
For sellers without any audience and starting from scratch, POD e-commerce is the way to go as it comes without the hassle of inventory management, handling orders, and shipping.
For bloggers, influencers, and those with an existing audience, print on demand is one of the best ways to upscale their business and create another stream of income without new monetary investments.
Offline businesses are also not excluded. They can employ POD fulfillment services to produce wares for their staff and offer promotions to customers.
Print on demand will surely help to cut down on a large chunk of processes since all you have to do is focus on sales and customer satisfaction.
Printify vs. Customcat: Which should you use?
So now that you have a clearer picture of what print on demand is about, the big question is:
Who should you use?
Usually, it comes down to two choices:
You can sell your products through a marketplace or create your own store.
If you are using a marketplace, your order will come via platforms like Amazon or Etsy and will be automatically sent to your fulfillment partner.
Once the partner ships the product, the information will be sent back to the marketplace, and the tracking info will be sent to the buyer.
The other option gives you more control over your business since you will be creating your store on top of independent platforms like Shopify or WooCommerce.
If you are going to do this, you can use Printify or Customcat to handle the fulfillment end of the business.
Let’s get into the comparison between both of them.
Printify handles most of the hard work.
They have the products, allow you to customize those products, and then, you can import those products to your store.
And they handle the billing, distribution, and the entire physical side of it so that you can focus your attention on selling the products.
Printify works with site builders such as Shopify and WooCommerce.
The process is basically three steps:
You create a product, modify, and sell it, they handle the rest, and you get your commissions.
One thing about Printify is that it works a bit differently from most other print on demand platforms being that they do not own any printer of their own.
What they do is serve as a connector between printers, drop shippers, and customers, just like Uber.
This system does help in reducing cost.
For example, if your target market is in North America, Printify lets you choose your printer from that region since using a printer from Eastern Europe or anywhere else will raise the shipping cost that your customer will have to pay.
And choosing a printer from a location close to your customer also means that your customers will get their products a lot faster.
How it works
Printify is one of the simplest POD sites to use, even if you have no previous advanced technical knowledge.
The platform assists you at each step from the moment you sign up for an account to when you put a product up for sale.
Signing up is free and does not require that you enter your credit card information.
Once you have successfully registered, you will be prompted to choose a name for your store and add some additional information before you can proceed with the next step.
After that, you can look through their catalog to choose which product to sell.
They have over 200 products including T-shirts, hoodies, phone cases, accessories, mugs, and lots more.
Once you have selected the product you will like to sell, it’s time to start designing.
Remember, your design is 100% yours so you can add any of your artwork and logos.
And when you have uploaded your design, you can first send yourself a sample to see how it looks like in real life.
If you are satisfied with the final physical product, then you can add it to your store and start sending it to customers anywhere in the world.
Once a customer orders, Printify typically handles product printing within 2-3 days
Printify is one of those print on demand platforms that is barely missing any product.
They have a huge collection of products, and each category has subcategories within them. For example, within the Printify t-shirt category, there are other subcategories of shirts including hoodies, long sleeves, tank tops, sweatshirts, etc.
Integrating Shopify with Printify
It is very easy to add and sell products with Printify, especially through Shopify.
It takes only a few minutes to connect to your Shopify store and even fewer clicks.
To get started, login to your Printify account and click on the three-lined dots on the top right-hand corner to reveal a dropdown.
From the list, locate the ‘My Stores’ tab and click on it.
To connect to Shopify, click the ‘Connect’ button in front of your store name and choose Shopify.
You will be prompted to add your store’s URL, after which you can install the Printify app on your Shopify store.
Once you have successfully installed Printify to your Shopify account, you can now carry out any actions from within your Shopify account including add, edit, and delete products.
Integrating WooCommerce with Printify
If you are a WordPress user and you want a bit more control over your store than Shopify can allow, you can opt to use WooCommerce instead.
It takes only a couple of minutes to integrate WooCommerce and Printify.
To begin, first enable the REST API from your WordPress dashboard and save changes.
Then back on your Printify account, click on the three dots in the top right-hand corner, and then on ‘My Stores’ just as in integrating to Shopify.
Still click on the connect button in front of your store name, only this time, connect to WooCommerce instead.
Add your WooCommerce store link to complete the process.
Delivery time and rates
Although Printify delivery rates depend on your print provider, its prices all over the world are reasonable and competitive.
As for its shipping time, in the US it usually takes 5-7 days, while Canada may sometimes take up to 15 days.
Delivery to other countries may be as early as 10 days or take up to a month.
You can make use of then Printify shipping calculator if you have opted for Shopify’s advanced plan during registration.
It allows you to easily charge your customers without having to manually add Printify’s flat shipping rate to the shopping cart.
To enable it, go to your store’s setting and check the box under the shipping calculator.
Printify customer service is fast and effective.
In addition to that, they also have a help center on their website that is fully packed with resources to aid you when you hit a roadblock.
Image source: Printify
You can search for advice and answers on issues relating to getting started, ordering and production, shipping, setups and integration, design tips and mockup generation, plus a lot more, all from their team of experts.
Printify has three pricing tiers that are differentiated by the number of orders and stores per account.
The free plan costs nothing; the premium plan is priced at $29/month, while the enterprise plan is based on custom pricing.
Customcat is more like a business partner than a fulfillment app.
It is a Shopify app and a fulfillment service that prints your products, ships it out to customers, and handles everything on the fulfillment side.
All you have to do is install the app and upload your designs so that you can start selling those products, and that’s it.
Shopify is recommended for a lot of reasons, but most because it’s much more inexpensive than all the other providers out there.
It is easy to use and great for starting up your print on demand products.
Customcat offers a variety of products – over 300 of them – including T-shirts, bags, hoodies, mugs, cell phone cases, and a lot more.
How it works
Customcat works only with Shopify, and it takes just a few clicks to install.
To get started, go the Shopify app store, search for the Customcat app, and install it.
You will be required to choose a plan based on your needs. Meanwhile, your account will remain inactive until you have completed your registration.
To complete your registration, go to your setting page.
There, you will fill out your personal information, business information, and billing details.
Once you have submitted these changes, your account will turn from inactive to active and you can start designing your product on your canvas.
To add a new product, first go to the design library and select the ‘Add Product’ option.
From the catalog, choose the product you want to design and start designing.
Select your preferred printing technology, as well as your custom design, and add it to your product.
See that your product meets your expectations before you finally export it to your Shopify store for customers to see and order.
And that’s pretty much it.
Customcat offers 300+ different styles of T-shirts, hats, jackets, mugs, and many more.
Its product catalog is categorized based on several aspects including decoration method, gender, product, and brand, which makes it easy to track down your choice.
Image source: Customcat
Delivery time and rates
Customcat charges a flat rate of $3.99 in the US to ship the first product, and $7.95 for places outside the US.
For additional products, they charge $1.50 per product within the US and $5.95 per product for other countries.
The standard shipping time is 1-7 days within the US, and it may take up to 15 days for countries abroad.
Customcat is probably the most affordable print on demand platform on the market at the moment as it prices based on products.
To get access, head over to this page for the full price sheet.
As you can see from this review, Customcat does go toe-to-toe with Printify, and that says a lot, as Printify is up there as one of the best in the industry.
If you are just starting out and looking for a simple and affordable store, then Customcat will not be a bad place to look.THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS. PLEASE READ DISCLOSURE FOR MORE INFO.
Efose says he is a polymath, which reflects in his work. He excels at inbound marketing, tech, and business. He has a rich experience of working with renowned digital marketing agencies in the past. Often writes for top blogs.