Printful is one of my favorite print on demand platforms. Their products are high quality, their platform is easy to use, and their customer service is great. Given how great Printful is, we’ve all wondered if we could just skip the middleman and sell directly from Printful. That would definitely make our ecommerce lives easier, right?
It is not possible to sell directly from Printful because they do not offer online storefronts. Currently, Printful needs to be paired with a selling platform like Shopify, Etsy, Woocommerce, ect in order for customers to be able to see and purchase Printful products.
It would be AMAZING if Printful were to one day release their own storefronts so that Printful could be the one stop shop for your ecommerce store, both on the selling end and the production end.
Alas, for now, we all need to figure out the selling end of things on our own.
I know this can get really confusing. Don’t worry, we’re going to clear everything up.
Before we get started though, sign up for a free Printful account if you haven’t done so already. All of this is a LOT easier to understand if you have your own Printful account to look at and play around with.
Printful accounts are free – you only pay for the products you order – so there’s no risk to signing up and it will REALLY help with the learning process. Then, when you’re done, you can order yourself some awesome merch as a reward 🙂
Ok, to get started, let’s talk about how Printful works.
How Printful Works as a Print on Demand Company
Printful is a print on demand company, which means they produce orders individually as they come in. This saves sellers the large upfront costs of ordering their merchandise in bulk. Printful serves as a production partner and needs to be connected to an online storefront that collects orders.
Let’s use a real-life example to better illustrate this. I have an Etsy shop where people can buy shirts, mugs, and other fun stuff. When someone buys one of my products, they’ve purchased that product from me and my shop.
That said, I don’t have the equipment I would need to manufacture shirts and mugs with my designs on them on my own. So, I need to get some help. That’s where Printful comes in.
When I get an order on Etsy, I send it to Printful. I personally pay Printful for the cost of producing and shipping the item. I’ve made sure to account for this cost when listing my products on Etsy, so I’m still making a profit.
For example, let’s say that it costs me $18 to print and ship a shirt with Printful. So, in my Etsy shop, I list it for $25. Factor in a few dollars for Etsy fees and I’m still making a profit.
Ok, so back to producing the product.
Printful does have the equipment needed to make shirts and mugs with my designs on them (plus a ton of other great products), so that’s great.
What’s also great is that, when Printful finishes making my customer’s product, they will package it and send it straight to my customer.
When the customer receives the product, they still associate it with my store. The product doesn’t say that it has come from Printful and doesn’t have Printful branding on it. It’s still a product from my store – I just got help manufacturing it.
Printful serves as a middleman, helping sellers produce the products they sell in their stores. Printful is NOT a store itself, which is a very important point. So important that we should talk about it more.
Printful Isn’t a Storefront
Printful does not offer a customer-facing platform for selling products. Orders need to be submitted to Printful by ecommerce sellers on behalf of their customers who purchased their products on other platforms such as Etsy or Shopify.
If you’ve ever done any online shopping, you know the equally fun and soul-sucking nature of scrolling through page after page of products (awesome digital art accessories, anyone? Is that just me?).
Printful doesn’t give customers a place to do endless amounts of scrolling.
Printful is solely a seller-facing platform. It’s where you, as the seller, store a database of products that you can order at any time to fulfill the orders of your customers.
The customer never interacts with Printful. EVER! Sorry, that was dramatic 🙂
This means that you need to pair Printful with a platform that offers an online storefront where your customers can purchase your products. I have a full guide about setting up Printful with your Etsy shop that you should read if you’re interested in selling with Etsy.
What do I mean by “integrate”? This means that every time you get an order on one of these platforms, the order will be automatically sent to Printful, produced, and shipped to your customer. It’s AMAZING!
There have been many many times when an order has come into my Etsy shop, automatically sent to Printful, and shipped to the customer while I do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! I know, “absolutely nothing” isn’t a phrase we hear often in the ecommerce world, but that’s how good Printful’s integrations are.
Even though it would be neat for Printful to offer their own customer-facing storefronts someday, their integrations are so good that it’s not even really needed.
Personally, I love the powerhouse pair of Printful and Etsy. Printful is a beast of the PoD world, while Etsy is a beast of the ecommerce world. Sounds good to me.
Selling directly on Printful isn’t possible, but there are a TON of other possibilities that you have with Printful. Make sure to sign up for your free Printful account and discover those creative and money-making opportunities for yourself.
Diana has been an artist for over 25 years and has training in drawing, painting, digital drawing and graphic design. Diana’s latest obsession is digitally drawing with Procreate and creating t-shirt designs with Canva. Diana has experience selling her art across a number of platforms and loves helping other artists learn how to make money from their art as well.