(Ever wonder how some of your favorite bloggers and podcast stars always seem to have a new t-shirt for sale. What about you?
Since we’re stuck working remotely and you’re tired of looking at the walls of your home, how about starting a t-shirt store with Shopify.
Take a look at this article… [J A Epperson])
Braveen Kumar – Products to Sell
Sep 19, 2020 15 minute read
Print on demand services to create custom products.
With custom products, you can create your own clothing line, monetize your audience, or cater to a specific niche. Print on demand is a fulfillment model that makes all of that possible without having to hold your own inventory.
But choosing the best print-on-demand company to work with and bring your vision to life can require a lot of research. Each platform has its own distinct catalog of products, shipping considerations, and unique features that will factor into your decision.
To help narrow your list of options, we’ve reviewed 10 of the best print-on-demand sites for designing, selling, and shipping your own custom products.
The 10 best print-on-demand companies
The following print-on-demand sites are free to start with and require you to pay only for the cost of the product and shipping after someone has placed an order:
JetPrint: Print On Demand
AOP+ Easy Print on Demand
To make it even easier to choose the best print-on-demand site for your specific needs, we’ll look at these key factors:
Shipping: How long does production take after a customer has placed an order? Where does the company ship from? What are its standard shipping times? How is shipping calculated?
Printing options: What printing techniques and customizations do they offer?
Unique features: Are there any unique features or offerings that set them apart from the rest?
Recommended for: Who is this print-on-demand solution best for?
Product catalog overview: What are some of the customizable products the service offers?
All of the print-on-demand companies on this list integrate with Shopify, letting you build a branded online storefront to sell your own custom products wherever your audience spends their time.
Shipping: Products are usually ready to ship within two to five business days from the US, Mexico, or Europe with 50% of orders ready in under three days. Standard shipping to the US starts at $3.99 and takes three to four business days (see their shipping map for other destinations). Shipping costs depend on the product with discounted rates for additional items in the same order.
Printing options: Printful offers direct-to-garment, embroidery, cut and sew, and sublimation printing depending on the product. You can also add tear-away tags to your products, as well as inserts and stickers to your packaging for an additional cost for a more branded customer experience.
Unique features: A built-in mockup generator means you can be ready to sell in minutes. Printful also boasts the most integrations with marketplaces and commerce platforms—including Shopify. They also offer a 20% discount on sample orders.
Recommended for: Both beginners and experienced entrepreneurs who want a flexible, well-rounded solution to start on that can scale with them.
Printful is one of the most popular print-on-demand companies, offering a wide range of products to customize and features to help you get started that range from mockup generators to services like logo design. Whether you want to sell apparel, prints, home decor, or accessories, you can find what you’re looking for in Printful’s catalog.
For an additional cost, you can also add your own branding to your products and packaging, including inside labels and packaging inserts to help encourage repeat business or promote another product line. Printful also offers services from graphic design to marketing videos, as well as bulk discounts of up to 30%.
T-shirts (American Apparel, Bella + Canvas, Gildan, etc.)
Sweatpants, leggings, and joggers
Tote bags and backpacks
Bean bag chairs
And over 220 more
How to quickly start a profitable print-on-demand store
In our free 40-minute video workshop, we’ll get you from product idea, to setting up an online store, to getting your first print-on-demand sale.
Shipping: Ships within 48 hours from the US, starting at $3.57 for domestic shipping with an estimated arrival time of 3 to 8 business days. Costs are based on total order value rather than individual products or quantity. See SPOD’s shipping calculator for more details.
Printing options: Digital direct, thermal sublimation, digital transfer/laser transfer, special flex, depending on the product you want to create.
Unique features: A product customization tool that lets customers personalize their purchase with their own images, your own designs or over 50k free designs offered by SPOD. It also offers a 20% discount on sample orders.
Recommended for: People new to print on demand who are looking for speedy fulfillment, simplified shipping, and competitive prices. If you want to give customers the ability to personalize your products, such as a t-shirt sporting a picture of their dog, SPOD also has one of the best customization tools in the game.
SPOD is a print-on-demand site owned by Spreadshirt. It boasts one of the fastest fulfillment times in the industry—95% of orders ship within 48 hours—which makes for a satisfying experience for the end customer.
While it may not offer the largest variety of available products, it does offer some of the most competitive prices and an easy-to-use product designer.
It also has a simple pricing model for shipping, which is based on the value of the products you order. With most print-on-demand companies, calculating shipping costs can quickly become complicated for orders containing multiple products from different categories. With costs based on order value, SPOD makes it easier to create shipping rules that maximize your profitability while using upselling and cross selling to encourage customers to add more to their cart.
Classic t-shirts (as low as $6.39)
Premium organic t-shirts
Women’s longer-length fitted tank top
7-inch crew socks
And 110 more options
Shipping: Printify is a vendor network, which means it sources and prints products from partners around the world. That also means that products, shipping costs, location, packaging, and production times will depend on the print provider you choose.
Printing options: Direct to garment, sublimation, cut and sew, embroidery, and more, depending on the print provider and product.
Unique features: You can upgrade to the monthly premium plan for 20% off all orders, which can allow for better profit margins when you’re ready to scale.
Recommended for: Anyone looking for a flexible and cost-effective print-on-demand solution that lets you find a printing partner that ships specific products from a specific region of the world.
Printify is notable in that it gives you access to a large network of printing partners distributed around the world. This not only means a larger variety of products to choose from, it also lets you select your printer based on the country you want to sell in for faster and more cost-effective shipping.
Altogether, Printify offers some of the best margins and the largest selection of products available. The inherent trade-off is that the quality of the products and the printer’s service can vary based on who you work with. Also, choosing to work with multiple vendors that will require further setup.
Canvas wraps and framed prints
And over 250 more
Choosing the best print-on-demand company to work with and bring your vision to life can require a lot of research.
- Apliiq Print On Demand
Shipping: Production can take up to seven days for orders. Apliiq offers weight-based shipping starting at $3.99 to the US and ship internationally to over 150 countries worldwide (see their international shipping page for their shipping rates table). For faster fulfillment, you can pay a 10% rush order fee or choose an expedited shipping option.
Printing options: Add your own branded label, clothing tags, or embroidered patches to create products that truly feel like your own. Apliiq also offers digital print, screen print (for bulk orders), cut and sew, appliqué (where your designs are sewn on as a separate fabric), and embroidery options.
Unique features: Add custom labels, clothing tags, and patches to brand your products. Apliiq offers more robust customization than other platforms with the ability to design the interior lining of a hoodie or add pockets, patches, and more to your clothing.
Recommended for: Anyone who’s serious about fashion and starting their own clothing line with premium apparel at a higher price point, especially if you want to order in bulk to have products on hand to sell offline.
If you want to start a clothing line that puts design and quality above all else, there are few better options than Apliiq. Based in downtown LA, it offers a wide range of customization options that let you create your own retail-quality private label apparel products.
With better wholesale discounts than most print-on-demand providers (starting at 20% off for a bulk order of 10), Apliiq is a great partner for anyone who wants to start a fashion brand and sell through a mix of online and offline retail channels.
For $100 a year, you can upgrade to a plan that includes 100 custom woven labels that will be sewn onto your products. Instead of offering a discount on samples, like most companies, you pay a markup for quality assurance, wherein an in-house production artist will review your product and make minor tweaks to your design. That way, when you’re ready to dropship or buy in bulk, you can be confident that customers will receive the best version of your product.
Pocket tees (designs on the chest pocket)
Hoodies with print on interior lining
Premium snapback hat
Shipping: Production usually takes three to six business days, after which orders are ready to ship from facilities in the US, Canada, or the UK. Shipping costs depend on the product and destination. You can see Teelaunch’s full breakdown of product costs for details.
Printing options: Direct to garment and cut and sew all-over-print for apparel, and laser etching for products like tumblers and cooking boards.
Unique features: Teelaunch offers a product personalization tool that lets customers add their name or upload their own photo to a product. It also autogenerates high-quality professional product mockups, including lifestyle photos for some items.
Recommended for: Anyone looking for an all-around solution for creating quality products. Teelaunch makes it easy to source high-quality items at competitive prices.
Teelaunch is another solid and versatile print-on-demand partner. What stands out the most is the quality of the mockups it generates for you—it gives you professional-looking product images to use in marketing materials and even lifestyle photos for some of its items.
With a competitively priced catalog of quality products (including rather unique items like Bluetooth speakers), reasonable fulfillment times, and a responsive customer support team, Teelaunch has all the ingredients to help you build a print-on-demand business.
T-shirts (Next Level, Bella + Canvas, and more)
3-piece canvas sets
And over 120 more
Shipping: Orders are produced in the US and usually ready to ship within two to three business days. From there, it takes about one to seven business days for domestic shipping and four to 15 days for international shipping. Domestic shipping to the US costs $4.99 for the first item and then $1.50 for each additional item, while international shipping is $7.50 for the first item and $5.95 for each additional item. See CustomCat’s FAQ page for details.
Printing options: Direct-to-garment, sublimation, 3D dye diffusion, and embroidery printing.
Unique features: An optional paid plan for $30 a month gives you access to some of the lowest prices in the industry ($7 tees and $3.50 mugs).
Recommended for: Sourcing hard-to-find products as they boast one of the largest catalogs on this list.
CustomCat is a large-scale print-on-demand company with the biggest catalog of products on this list—over 550 and counting. If you’re looking for a variety of products and are OK with a simple design tool, CustomCat is a good all-around partner with competitive prices and fast fulfillment times.
It offers a wide range of brands and products to choose from, along with a paid plan of $30 a month to get a discount on its entire catalog.
T-shirts (Bella + Canvas, Dickies, Gildan, and more)
Windbreaker jackets and pants
And over 550 more items
- Lulu xPress
Shipping: Ships within three to five business days to over 150 countries from fulfillment centers in the US, Canada, Europe, and the UK. Starts at $3.99 to ship to the US. See Lulu’s pricing calculator for details.
Printing options: Digital printing with the option to choose paper type, trim size (from pocketbook to A4 landscape), print quality and color, binding type (perfect bound, hardcover, etc.), and matte or glossy finish.
Unique features: With Lulu, you can also sell your books on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Lulu’s own marketplace, or even as an ebook.
Recommended for: Authors, teachers, comedians, illustrators, and creatives of all kinds who want to monetize their talent or their audience with a book or calendar product.
Lulu xPress is the print-on-demand arm of Lulu, an online platform for self-publishers. It makes it easy to create and sell your own print products, from books to calendars, that you can customize in a variety of ways.
Lulu xPress is great for writers, photographers, educators, and creatives, especially those with an established audience that they want to monetize. Outside of the standard merchandise that creators typically sell, Lulu lets you convert digital content into a physical item, such as turning your webcomics into a coffee table book.
Best of all, using Lulu doesn’t close you off from other distribution channels with more reach and scale, such as retail book stores and Amazon. Instead, Lulu xPress is an easy way to test an idea or retain more of your profits by selling directly to consumers under your own brand, bypassing all the gatekeepers of traditional publishing.
Novelty coffee-table books
And other print products
You need to find a reliable service to partner with to ensure your products look and feel the way you want.
Shipping: Orders are printed in France and take two to four days before they’re ready to ship. From there, orders within France arrive in two to three working days, the rest of Europe in three to seven days, and international orders in five to 10 days. Shipping rates are weight based, which you can dig into on T-Pop’s shipping page.
Printing options: Direct-to-garment for cotton apparel and sublimation dye for polyester and accessories.
Unique features: White label customer experience with fully customizable packing slips, plus eco-friendly products, printing, and packaging.
Recommended for: Selling within Europe or anyone looking for a quality print-on-demand company with an ethical and eco-friendly supply chain and business practice.
T-Pop is a print-on-demand company based in Europe that focuses on apparel and accessories. When customers receive your order, everything from the packaging to the packing slip will bear your brand. With a monthly sales volume of 100, you can also add your brand to the inside labels of your products for 2.50.
What makes T-Pop stand out is its commitment to the environment, from “zero plastic” packaging—advertised on it for customers to see—to 100% recycled paper packing slips.
It goes the extra mile to ensure its supply chain is as ethical as possible. Its main supplier, Stanley/Stella, is part of the Fair Wear Foundation, an organization focused on ensuring compliance with labor laws in the manufacture of apparel products.
Metal and ceramic mugs
Cushion and cushion covers
Baby bibs and onesies
- JetPrint: Print on Demand
Shipping: Average production time is three to five business days. It offers free global shipping with an average arrival time of 14–20 business days. However, it also offers $15 express shipping for delivery within five to nine business days. See their FAQ page for details.
Printing options: JetPrint focuses mainly on watches with the ability to print your own designs on the watch face. It offers many different watch types, colors, and straps to customize the final product.
Unique features: Automatically process orders, setting a timeframe that allows you to make changes or corrections if needed. JetPrint also gives you the ability to automatically generate a variety of high-quality mockups and detailed specs to use on your product page.
Recommended for: Anyone interested in starting their own custom watch company with a drop-shipping fulfillment model.
JetPrint specializes in a unique product category within the print-on-demand space: watches. With different styles, straps, and colors to choose from, you can design your own watches to sell on demand. Shipping is simplified into free and express options with international coverage, making it easy to advertise free international shipping to entice customers to shop with you.
Once you’ve designed your product, JetPrint will automatically generate a collection of product photos that show off your watches from several angles.
While JetPrint’s focus has largely been on watches, it’s also expanding its catalog to include other product categories, such as home decor and phone accessories.
Genuine leather strap watches
Steel strap watches
Magnetic steel strap watches
Perpetual calendar watches
Hard phone cases
- AOP+ Easy Print on Demand
Shipping: Production usually takes three to five business days (seven to 10 for all-over-print), after which it will ship from one of its fulfillment centers in the US, Europe, or the UK. Shipping costs depend on the product with discounts on additional items in the same order. See AOP+’s shipping rates for details.
Printing options: AOP+ focuses on dye sublimation all-over-print (hence the name) and direct-to-garment printing.
Unique features: Include your own custom packing slip in orders. You can also unlock discounts of up to 10% off, along with other custom branding options, like packaging stickers and private labeling features, with AOP+’s paid plans.
Recommended for: Anyone who wants to quickly launch and test their designs on a large variety of products or is open to paying a monthly fee ($11.99 to $19.99) to bring their unique vision for a custom print-on-demand business to life.
As its name suggests, AOP+ focuses mainly on easy all-over-print products. You simply upload a design and choose which products you’d like to create, making it perhaps the fastest print-on-demand app to get started with. It also prints everything in-house, which allows for better quality control.
While AOP+ offers a free plan that includes many of the features you’d expect from a print-on-demand company, its paid plans are where it truly shines, giving you access to both discounts, various customization options, and more.
Organic tote bags
Hard phone cases
And over 200 more items
Print on demand’s strongest appeal is giving you a low-risk way to try your hand at selling custom products. As we’ve covered above, you need to find a reliable service to partner with to ensure your products look and feel the way you want and are reliably shipped to your customers.
At first glance, many print-on-demand companies can seem interchangeable, especially if all you want to do is start an online t-shirt business. But it’s important to choose a partner based on where its strengths lie, the products it offers, and how it can scale with your vision. Once you know what you want, your partner’s distinctive catalogs, pricing, and feature sets make a meaningful difference.
Illustration by Eugenia Mello
About the author
Braveen Kumar is part of the content team at Shopify where he develops resources to help aspiring entrepreneurs start and grow their own businesses.
Remember to check out my Online Course – My XYZ’s of Excellence – 26 Days to Excellence in Business Leadership and Life – “One Day at a Time.”