Do you know about print-on-demand? POD could be a great addition to your Shopify business if you’re looking for another product to move through your Shopify store. Thousands of Shopify users make plenty of profits each year using the POD model, and you can get yourself a piece of that action if you want it.
What Is Print on Demand?
Print-on-Demand describes a service that prints your designs or content onto a physical product. We’ve all seen those photos of cool tee shirt designs floating around our Facebook feeds, and that’s a POD campaign in action.
You can create POD campaigns on almost any item you can think of, from tee-shirts to coffee mugs, cellphone cases, and even fine watches! Most POD platforms also offer a shipping option, with some allowing you to ship directly to the customer from their warehouses.
With a POD platform, you do the design work and the marketing, while the POD platform worries about the production and logistics. We think POD is one of the easiest ways for entrepreneurs to start a low-risk business with a small budget.
Our Favorite Case Study – Chris Record
Chris Record is an excellent example of a POD success story. Chris was one of the early adopters of POD, combining it with social media marketing on Facebook ad manager to produce fantastic success.
Chris saw that they were closing “Candlestick Park,” the old San Francisco Giants stadium beloved by baseball fans across the city, the state, and the country. Chris took the opportunity to have a design artist put together a few tee shirt designs and then sold them through the ad manager on Facebook.
Chris’s campaign was a tremendous success, and he raked in over $1,000,000 from that one idea. Sure, we’re not saying that you’ll replicate Chris’s success, but it shows you what’s possible if you manage to strike it rich on one campaign.
How to Choose Your Products
T-Shirts are a popular POD campaign, and there are tons of places to get prints. However, before you start your POD business, you need to plan your venture to assure your success. There are so many strategies to POD that you need to stick to one, or you risk never understanding what’s working for you and what isn’t.
Select a strategy, such as selling designs on premium apparel, and then stick to promoting that strategy until you get the results you want. For instance, you might start off selling cartoon characters on coffee mugs. That doesn’t take off, so you switch to selling Celtic designs on scarves and tote bags.
One design probably won’t get you the results you want. Therefore, it’s better to pick a niche and then target your efforts at promoting to that market as effectively as possible.
In many cases, your sales don’t depend on the design and quality of your product. It relies on your skills as a marketer to find prospects and sales opportunities from a variety of online sources.
The 10 Best Print on Demand Apps and Companies
Starting your POD career is as simple as creating a few designs, and uploading them to a website or app. There are plenty of options, and each of them has something a little different to suit a specific niche or audience you want to target. Here are our top choices for the best POD apps and websites.
Printful is probably the most successful and in-demand POD site. The company offers a wide range of products and plenty of features to help you start your first product design. You get mockup generators and other services like logo design available on the site.
Printful is an excellent choice for almost any POD campaign, with an excellent range of high-quality products, and a fast and efficient logistics service. Add your branding to packaging, as well as packaging inserts and interior labels to push your brand.
Printful offers its members graphic design services and plenty of helpful tutorials on internet marketing. If you’re ordering in bulk, then you can negotiate discounts of up to 30%, depending on quantity.
Read our full Printful review here.
Products ship from warehouse locations in the US, Europe, or Mexico, with more than 50% of all orders ready to ship in 3-days. Standard shipping fees of $3.99 apply for the US and requires 3 to 4-business days for arrival.
Your shipping costs may vary depending on the product, and with any discounted rates for additional items.
Printful provides you with a direct-to-garment, printing, and embroidery service. You get cut and sew, as well as sublimation printing services, depending on the products you order. Add tear-away tags to items and include stickers and inserts for an additional marginal cost.
The built-in product mockup generator is a nice touch, allowing you to see how your design looks on the product you want to sell. Sometimes the best designs might not look good in the mockup phase, allowing you to avoid making a costly mistake with your project.
Printful also comes with integration to most commerce platforms and online marketplaces, including everyone’s favorite, Shopify. Printful also provides a 20% discount for sample orders.
Printful is a good choice for beginners and experienced POD entrepreneurs. The well-rounded and flexible system is easy to scale as your business grows.
POD Item catalog and services include the following.
- Tee shirts (American Apparel, Bella + Canvas, Gildan)
- Sweatpants, joggers, and leggings
- Backpacks and tote bags
- Mugs and phone cases
- Bean bag chairs
- Framed posters
- More than 220 products
- Template product Icon
- Free Sales Training – How to Quickly Start a T-Shirt Store
Printify provides you with access to a network of partners around the globe. As a result of this model, you get access to plenty of products, and fast shipping times to any worldwide shipping destination. The outsourcing of the printing to multiple companies around the world allows for faster delivery to your customers, and improved cost efficiencies on your products.
The convenience of working with printers and shippers around the world is great for your customers and a must for anyone that wants to offer fast shipping times.
However, you do get a lack of consistency in the type of printing quality and product quality, depending on who you place your order within the supply chain. The setup of your account might also be more intensive when working with this platform.
Read our full Printify review here.
This private vendor network allows you top tap into local producers that are willing to take your business. Having the printer in your country of destination for your order dramatically reduces your shipping costs to the consumer.
This platform offers you direct-to-garment, cut-and-sew, as well as sublimation and embroidery services. Some of the services are not available from all suppliers, so check with the partner before placing your order.
Upgrading to the monthly plan gets you an additional 20% off your orders, which is great for new businesses that are starting to scale and want to reduce costs. The fast shipping from the partner network also comes into play when you want to be first-to-market with a specific design trend.
Printify has one of the largest product selections and fantastic margins. It’s an excellent platform for cost-effective POD solutions on a variety of products. The fast shipping and partner network adds up to fast delivery to satisfied customers.
POD Item catalog
- Tee shirts and hoodies
- Canvas wraps and framed prints
- Fridge Magnets and stickers
- Swimwear and skirts
- Sneakers and high heels
Spreadshirt is the parent company for SPOD. This platform offers entrepreneurs one of the fastest turnaround times in the POD industry, with 95% of all orders ready to ship within 48-hours of receipt of payment. The speedier shipping times add up in the eyes of consumers, and the faster you get your customers what they order, the better your chances that they order with you again.
SPOD doesn’t have the same depth of inventory in its product line as Printful, but it’s still got all of the core products you would expect to find in any POD campaign. SPOD makes up for the lack of product items with favorable pricing, and a user-friendly virtual product designer.
The simple shipping calculator works out your shipping total based on the value of your order, rather than the size and weight of the items. This method provides simple and easy calculations that help newbies through the learning phase of their business.
Products ship from warehouses 48-hours after receipt of payment. Shipping starts at $3.57 for US deliveries, with an arrival time of between 3 to 8 business days.
Plenty of POD options for a variety of printing methods, including laser transfer, digital transfer, thermal sublimation, digital direct, or special flex, depending on your product requirements.
The product customization app that lets you personalize your order using images or designs. You also have the option of choosing from over 50,000 free designs on the platform. SPOD over a 20% discount for sample orders.
Those entrepreneurs looking for the fastest shipping and delivery times will find SPOD an excellent platform.
It might not have the same catalog range, but the fast dispatch and shipping times make it a useful platform for time-sensitive projects. The customization tools and competitive pricing make SPOD a top choice for newbies to the POD game.
POD Item catalog standouts
- Classic tee shirts (prices starting at $6.39)
- Premium organic materials in tee shirts
- Adjustable Baseball caps and aprons
- Women’s fitted tank top – longer-length
- Camping mugs
- Crew socks – 7-inch
- More than 110 product options
For those entrepreneurs looking to start an online apparel brand, you can’t beat the quality of the garments on offer with Apliiq. This company has its headquarters in downtown Los Angeles, one of the fashion capitals of the world.
Apliiq offers plenty of customizable options for your apparel designs, allowing you to create designer-label-quality garments. With bulk orders starting at 10-units, you can take advantage of the 20% discount when ordering for your online store.
Apliiq is another fantastic option for online entrepreneurs looking to start a fashion brand. The Apliiq partner network offers you the chance to upgrade to a plan that features 100-custom labels sewn into any of your products, all for a subscription fee of $100 per year.
Instead of paying for sample batches, you get to pay for a quality-assurance process. If you select this option, you have an in-house employee at the factory, check on the quality and consistency of your products before shipping.
Production on custom orders can take up to 7-days. That’s a concern if you’re trying to impress your customers with a speedy service. However, the quality of the garments on offer from Apliiq is worth waiting for, and the premium apparel is top-quality that your customers will love.
Apliiq also runs a shipping service based on the weight of your order. Shipping rates start at $3.99 in the US, and they ship internationally to over 150 countries around the globe. If you have a rush order, then you can pay an additional 10% for emergency delivery to your customers.
With Apliiq, you can add a custom-branded label, tags, or patches to your garments, giving your products an authentic feel. Apliiq also offers screen and digital printing services for all bulk orders, as well as embroidery, applique, and cut-and-sew options for all your designs.
The custom labels and top-quality garments available from Apliiq make them a standout offering in this review. The shipping times may be slower, but your customers will endure the wait if they understand the quality they are getting with their order.
Entrepreneurs who are looking to start a high-quality fashion label. The range is somewhat limited, but you can build an excellent high-quality niche label with the right designs and marketing.
POD Item catalog
- Pocket tee shirts with designs on the pocket.
- Premium-quality joggers
- Hoodies featuring interior-lining prints
- Snapback caps
- Denim and eco-friendly clothing options
This platform is an excellent choice for newbies starting a career in POD. Teelaunch is another versatile service offering a wide variety of items in their product catalog, and various printing methods including digital and laser printing, and many others.
The electronic mockup service is a great touch, allowing you to get a feel for the product before you commit to your order. You also get professional-grade marketing and lifestyle photos of your product with its design, allowing you to create your marketing campaigns using useful materials.
There are plenty of unique items available, including Bluetooth speakers, and you get reasonable fulfillment speeds, and an excellent customer service team ready to assist you with any issues.
Production can take anywhere from three to six business days, depending on the complexity and size of your order. The company keeps a wide variety of products in warehouses in the US, Canada, and the UK.
Shipping costs will vary depending on the size and weight of the product and its destination. The site has a complete breakdown of the shipping costs to specific destinations around the globe.
Tumblers and cooking boards receive laser engraving and etching, and you get the standard direct-to-garment and cut-and-sew or all-over print for your apparel.
This site allows users to upload photos to personalize orders, and they integrate high-quality mockup software that includes lifestyle photos for your marketing campaigns.
An excellent all-round POD service, suitable for beginners and experienced marketers. Easy to use, and a smooth user experience from site to customer. Let’s not forget the competitive pricing on products and reasonable shipping times.
POD Item catalog
- Tee shirts (Next Level, Bella + Canvas)
- 3-piece canvas sets and monogram handbags
- Color-changing mugs and Bluetooth speakers
- Balloons and dog bowls
- iPhone cases and phone chargers
- Penryn backpack
If you need a company that can handle large-scale POD jobs, CustomCat is your best option. This company has a catalog of over 550-items, and they’re always adding more. CustomCat offers decent quality in its products, a simple design tool, as well as reasonable shipping times and rates.
The paid plan costs you $30 per month, and you get access to discounts on the entire range of products in the catalog. You can’t expect to get the right balance of quality and competitive pricing in many POD vendors. However, with CustomCat, it’s as close as you can find to an affordable POD provider with good prices and reasonable product quality.
All orders ship from the United States in two to three days from payment receipt. Domestic shipping around the US can take up to seven business days, while international orders can take between four to 15-days, depending on the size of the order and the destination.
Domestic shipping rates in the US are $4,99 for the first item and then $1.50 for any additional items. International shipping costs $7.50 for the first order, and then $5.95 for every extra item.
CustomCat keeps it simple with your standard direct-to-garment, sublimation, 3D-dye diffusion, and embroidery services for their products.
The paid plan option gets you exclusive access to competitive discounts. The $30 membership fee is well worth the money in rebates if you’re moving plenty of product.
CustomCat is excellent for newbies to POD looking for a provider to cater to the USD market. The local availability and huge product range give you plenty of choices when selecting which products you want to sell. The discounts are also great for new businesses trying to cut costs.
POD Item catalog
- Tee shirts (Bella + Canvas, Gildan, Dickies, and more)
- Sweatpants and laptop sleeves
- Pet accessories
- Windbreaker jackets and jerseys
- More than 550 items
Lulu is a thriving online platform for self-publishers. Lulu Xpress is the print-on-demand branch of Lulu, making it easy for authors and publishers to print and sell everything thing from calendars and journals to books. The customization options are endless, and there is so much variety on offer that any publisher will love this platform for its diversity.
Lulu Xpress is the preferred POD platform for photographers, writers, creative-types, and educators. These individuals all have established audiences they can leverage and monetize. Lulu Express sells most of the typical merch you expect to find in a POD catalog.
However, we like the personal touch it offers for artists and creative types, allowing you to turn a webcomic into a graphic novel for the coffee table. For those that have concerns about scaling, Lulu keeps distribution channels open to other retailers like Amazon and retail book stores.
However, Lulu Xpress provides a safe and secure environment where you can test strategies and ideas. You also get the opportunity to retain profits selling directly to your market with your brand, circumventing the need for traditional publishing.
Most items ship between three to five business days after receiving payment. Lulu Express runs fulfillment centers in the United States, Canada, the UK, and Europe. Shipping is available to over 150-countries, with fees starting at $3.99 for US orders.
Lulu Express offers digital printing solutions, as well as options of paper, print, and color quality. Custom binding options, matte, or glossy finishes, whatever you want to create, Lulu Express is there to print your demands.
Lulu and Lulu Express are a self-publishing dream. If you want to avoid the corporate publishing houses, and still manage to sell all your work on the top retail sites like Amazon, Lulu Express is a great choice.
The ideal choice for authors, cartoonists, or any self-publishing creative person. Combining this platform with social media marketing strategies can help authors and other creatives reach a broader audience.
POD Item catalog
- Self-published Novels
- Photo-quality Photobooks
- Colorful Cookbooks
- Professional Journals
- Promotional Artbook
- Educational Workbooks and Textbooks
- Novelty coffee table books
- Poetry Journals
- Calendars and Magazines
- Comics and Graphic Novels
T-Pop is a European POD platform focuses on customizing apparel and accessories. When your customers order from your Shopify store or independent webpage, they receive all your branding on the packing slip and box. Your customers get an authentic feel to the entire shopping experience, and they’ll never guess you’re using a third-party POD service.
When you reach more than a 100-item monthly sales volume, you can add branding to the inside labels of all your products for an additional €2.50. We like the environmentally friendly “zero plastic” packaging, which you can also promote as a selling point in your sales posts.
T-Pop does a lot to ensure they run an ethical and responsible supply chain, and even the packaging features recycled materials.
All orders come from manufacturing facilities in France, with production taking between two to four days, depending on the order quantity. Orders ship locally within France in two to three days, or to the rest of Europe in three to seven days. International orders will arrive at destinations in five to ten days.
With T-Pop, you get direct-to-garment printing options for cotton apparel. There is also a sublimation dye available for polyester merch and other accessories.
The authentic white-label experience of this offering makes it a real contender if you want your customers to think you’re a real merch dealer and a genuine brand. Branded and eco-friendly packaging is also a nice touch.
Suitable for people living in Europe, and those looking to push a brand with a premium feel. The printed labels and packaging make it an excellent choice for e-commerce retailers in Europe that need a drop shipping service.
Product Item catalog
- T-shirts and hoodies
- Aluminum water bottles
- Tank tops and sweatshirts
- Tote bags
- Ceramic and metal mugs
- Cushions and covers
- Onesies and baby bibs
JetPrint – Print on Demand
JetPrint is in a different type of POD market. This company specializes in selling premium watches as its core product. The watches are all fantastic value, with a premium design and excellent finishes. You get plenty of models to choose from, with loads of variety in the straps, colors, sizes, and styles.
After finishing the upload of your design to the platform, JetPrint goes to work in producing a collection of marketing photos that display the final product. The watches look great, and they’re planning on expanding into other items, like hardshell phone cases.
The average production time for your order is between three to five business days. This company offers free global shipping on all orders, but the average shipping time is 14 to 20 business days. Therefore, this service might be better suited to entrepreneurs that are working with thinner margins.
You do have the option of taking the express shipping service for an additional $15, and you can expect delivery in five to nine business days, which we think is rather slow at that price.
This company prints your designs on watches. They use the watch face as the primary design feature, but there are plenty of options to customize colors, straps, and materials.
There aren’t many companies out there that offers a POD watch service. We expect this company to dominate this niche forever, provided they keep up the quality of the product they have on offer. The high-quality mockups of the marketing materials make excellent sales literature for campaigns.
This POD solution is something different and makes for an excellent option for corporate gifts. If you’re looking to impress clients or hand out corporate gifts to your customers, this company has a vast range of gift watches.
You might expect the watches to have a cheap feel. However, when we checked them out, they look authentic, with good design features and premium materials.
POD Item Catalog
- Genuine leather strapped watches
- Steel strapped watches
- Magnetic-steel strapped watches
- Perpetual watch calendars
- Hard iPhone cases
- Tapestries for walls
Teespring is the site that spurred the success of our case example earlier. Teespring has a wide range of catalog items available, and it’s easy to upload your designs with the drag-and-drop editor.
You get some decent mockups with your product, and a sales URL to help you with your marketing campaigns. With affordable commissions, Teespring is a great choice for entrepreneurs that are starting online and don’t have access to any supply chain resources.
Unfortunately Teespring no longer offers a Shopify app but you can use them as a stand-alone site now.
Teespring focus of direct-to-garment and digital printing services, with sublimation printing also available. The quality is ok, but not up to the standards of other POD providers like Apliiq.
You get the option of including a custom packing slip with your order. If you take a paid plan option, you get access to further discounts, and custom branding, along with private label features and packaging stickers.
An excellent choice for those entrepreneurs that want to test designs quickly. The monthly fee of between $11.99 to $19.99 is worth the money if you value speed as a priority and want to get your successful designs to market as soon as possible.
Product Item catalog
- Tee shirts and leggings
- Flip flops and tote bags
- Throw pillows
- iPhone cases
What Does It Take to Succeed?
As you can see, there are plenty of options to select when choosing a print-on-demand platform for your next creative idea. All it takes to be a success is using the right tools and following a proven strategy for success. You can look through online communities for ideas and tips for growing your POD business.
While POD allows you to leverage a fulfillment service for your Shopify store, it’s still going to take plenty of hard work in promoting your store page and products. Sure, you don’t have to worry about fulfillment, and that’s a blessing, but you’ll still have to put in the work to ensure your product sells.