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How to start an online store with Printful
Beginner's handbook

How to Start an Online Store with Printful

By Reading Time: 8 minutes

Starting an online store is a lot like trying to cook something from scratch: it can be overwhelming if you don’t have a list of ingredients and a clear recipe. 

So hi, I’m Juliana, and I’ll be your ecommerce chef today! To help you get started, we’ll go over my step-by-step recipe to create an online store with Printful. 

By the end of this blog post, you’ll have your own ecommerce store baked and ready, and be well on your way to making your first sale.

I’ve also prepared a great video that will help get you started:

Step 1: Create your Printful Account

The first step in this recipe is to create your Printful account.

Printful Sign Up page
Source: Printful’s login page

You can sign up with your Facebook, Google, Apple, or email account. It’s easy to do, and it’s completely free.

You have to choose which platform you’ll want to sell on and connect it to Printful. Once you’re logged in to your Printful account, go to the side menu in your Dashboard, and click Stores > Choose platform to see your options.

Connect your store to Printful
Source: Printful Dashboard

You can connect Printful to 20+ ecommerce platforms and marketplaces, so you have a wide range of different options to find a storefront that suits your needs the best. Keep in mind that with an ecommerce platform, your store will be a standalone website, but if you go for a marketplace, your store will be an account on that marketplace’s website. 

Take a look at the chart I’ve created with information about every platform and how to connect them with Printful, arranged by price, from lowest to highest.

PLATFORMtYPEBEST FORSETUP TIMEPRICE
ShopifyEcommerce platformSmall businessesVery fast$
EtsyMarketplaceArtists, beginnersVery fast$
WoocommerceEcommerce platformDevelopers, large retailersModerate$
PrestashopEcommerce platformDevelopers, large retailersModerate$
SquareEcommerce platformArtists, beginnersModerate$
Big CartelEcommerce platformArtists, beginnersFast$
WeeblyEcommerce platformArtists, beginnersModerate$
MagentoEcommerce platformDevelopers, large retailersSlow$
GumroadEcommerce platformArtists, beginnersFast$
ShipstationEcommerce platformDevelopers, large retailersModerate$
Launch Cart3rd Party integrationBrands, influencersFast$
WixEcommerce platformSmall businessesFast$$
SquarespaceEcommerce platformArtists, beginnersModerate$$
WebflowEcommerce platformArtists, beginnersModerate$$
EcwidEcommerce platformSmall businessesFast$$
BigCommerceEcommerce platformSmall businessesFast$$
StorenvyMarketplaceArtists, beginnersFast$$
Nuvemshop / TiendanubeEcommerce platformArtists, beginnersModerate$$
eBayMarketplaceSmall businessesSlow$$
Shift4Shop3rd Party integrationSmall businessesModerate$$
AmazonMarketplaceSmall businessesSlow$$$
Source: Printful Integrations

If you’re a developer, you can also choose Printful API to create custom solutions for your business. It’s simple to use and will be easy to integrate into apps and services created with any modern programming language. 

For the sake of example, today I’ll be using Shopify. To connect Printful to Shopify, simply install Shopify’s app to integrate with Printful. Click Add app, enter your store’s URL, then log in to your Printful account. Your accounts will be linked automatically.

We’ve also cooked up a demo store using our Shopify integration so you can get inspired and steal a couple of good ideas.

Step 3: Pick your products

Now that you’ve created your Printful account and connected it with your ecommerce platform, it’s time to choose your main ingredients: the products you want to sell. 

You can pick from Printful’s wide selection of products and make designs for different customization techniques like engraving, embroidery, or print.

Printful's custom product collection
Source: Printful’s Custom product collections

If you’re unsure which product to sell, you can read our blog post on how to choose products for your print-on-demand store.

Learn more: Top 10 Trending Products to Sell Online

Step 4: Create or upload a design

Once you’ve picked a product, you’ll be redirected to Printful’s Design Maker, our free and easy-to-use design tool to upload your own visuals or create new ones from scratch.

Upload your existing design on the Design Maker

The first step here is to cook up your product design with the software of your choice. If you need some help choosing one, you can read our blog post about the best 13 free Photoshop alternatives.

Once your design is ready, download it as a JPEG or PNG file. Then, go back to your product on the Design Maker, select Choose file in the left menu, and you’ll be able to upload your own file.

For your design to come out perfect, follow the design guidelines for each product on their product page. You can also read up on how to prepare the perfect print file to understand how to get your image colors and sharpness just right.

Create your own design with the Design Maker

The Design Maker has many built-in tools to easily create your visuals using fonts and pre-made graphics. They’re all waiting for you under the Design tab.

Printful's Design Maker
Source: the Design Maker

You can use the Text Tool to find your favorite font and compose eye-catching messages, or choose from the pre-made Quick Designs and edit the colors, graphics, and texts to create your visual. 

There are also over 150 customizable clipart collections you can use for free, and 100M+ Premium Getty Images at $1 per order placement. Basically, everything you need!

Advanced tools in Printful Pro and Printful Plus

You’ll be able to create lots of fantastic designs with the Design Maker free features, but if you’re looking for more gourmet design tools, you’ll want to try out Printful’s subscription plans—Plus and Pro.

Subscribing to Printful Plus will give you access to 2 exclusive design tools—the Background Removal Tool to remove the background of any image, and the Custom Mockup Maker to create professional-looking mockups with premade backdrops and props to display in your store.

Custom Mockup Maker
Source: Custom Mockup Maker

Printful Pro comes with everything Plus has, on top of marketing tools like Promo Maker to create ads and posts for social media and the Etsy Keyword Scout to find the best keywords to promote your store. Pro’s subscription also includes premium perks like free embroidery digitization and exclusive graphics.

Find out more about our subscription services in this subscription plans guide.

Create product templates

If you have a design + product idea you don’t want to lose, save it as a product template. A product template is a combination of your design and a Printful product. You can go back and edit your templates any time or add them to your store once they’re ready to be sold. To access your templates, go to Dashboard > Product templates.

Printful's product templates
Source: Printful Dashboard

Step 5: Add products to your store

Just like you can choose to bake, fry, or sauté potatoes, there are different ways to add products to your store: 

  • From your Printful Dashboard > Product Templates > and click Add to store
  • From your Printful Dashboard > Stores, click Add product
  • Right from the Design Maker after you’ve finished your design, by clicking Order

These 3 options will automatically redirect you to Printful’s Product Push Generator—our step-by-step system to add items from your Printful account to your store.  

1 – Select your product variants

The first thing you’ll need to do once you’re in the Product Push Generator is to select your product colors and sizes (these depend on your selling region and preferences). When you’re done, click on Proceed to mockups.

Product variants
Source: Printful Product Push Generator

2 – Choose your mockups

The next thing you need to do in the Product Push Generator is to choose which mockups you want for your store.

 Mockups show you what your designs will look like on the final product and make for awesome photos for your website—it’s like styling your plate to make the food look more appetizing. Pick the mockups you want to be displayed in your storefront, and then click Proceed to details to go to the next step.

Mockup selection in Printful
Source: Printful Product Push Generator

3 – Add product details

A title and a thorough description will let your customers know all the information they need on your product. Printful has ready-to-use descriptions, but we highly recommend customizing them and making them sound more true to your brand. 

Not only are these product details a great way to show your brand’s personality, but a well-written product description can also boost your SEO, making it easier for potential customers to find your products when they’re actively searching online.

When you’re done, click on Proceed to pricing next.

Product title and description in Printful
Source: Printful Product Push Generator

4 – Set your pricing and submit your product

When setting your prices, there are two things to think about. The Printful price, which is what we charge you for product fulfillment, and the retail price, which is what you sell the product for. 

If the All-Over Print Backpack costs $33 and your retail price is set at $45, the profit you make is $12. Make sure you take a look at our blog post on how to market premium products so they look like a steal for some fresh tips on how to promote your offering.

In this step in the Printful Product Push Generator, you’ll see 3 different figures:

  • The Printful price, which is what we charge for the products (it doesn’t include taxes, shipping, and other additional charges)
  • The retail price that you can manually edit to increase/decrease your profit margins
  • Profit, which is what you’ll make out of every sale

Once you’ve set your prices, click on Submit to store next to add the product to your ecommerce store.

Price setting in Printful
Source: Printful Product Push Generator

When you successfully add a product to your store, you’ll see it on your Printful Dashboard > Stores > View store just like in the example below.

Products in the Printful Dashboard
Source: Printful Dashboard

And now you head to your ecommerce platform to check out what your product looks like there. You can see here what my product looks like on my Shopify store:

How a product looks on an ecommerce platform
Source: Shopify

Step 6: Set up shipping

We are on the final steps of our ecommerce recipe. Next, let me show you how to think about your shipping pricing strategy. You need to keep in mind two things:

  • The shipping price you display on your store and charge your customers for
  • The shipping rate that Printful charges you to deliver products to your customers

Set up shipping on your store

It’s time to decide how you’ll charge your customers for shipping on your store—this will be your shipping pricing strategy. There are 3 different approaches you can take:

  1. Let customers know and pay the total price for shipping (the same as Printful charges you)
  2. Increase product prices to cover a percentage of shipping costs
  3. Set up free shipping by incorporating shipping costs in product prices

Setting up shipping rates can be different for each platform. Take a look in your ecommerce platform’s FAQs to find out how to add shipping rates to your store.

Printful’s shipping prices

Printful supports two different types of shipping rates:

  • Flat rates are fixed prices we’ll charge for shipping that you should charge on your store. Our shipping rates vary based on product dimensions and weight, fulfillment location, and shipping destination for each order. Check our shipping rates page for your products to choose a shipping pricing strategy that suits your needs.
  • Live rates are calculated in real-time during check-out, meaning your customer is automatically given the best rate available at that moment for shipping. It’s available for Printful customers using Shopify, Woocommerce, or Ecwid

To enable Live rates, head to Dashboard > Settings > Store > Shipping.

Shipping settings in Printful
Source: Printful Dashboard

Step 7: Set up a payment method

Your ecommerce store is almost ready to come out of the oven! Now you just have to set up a payment method on your online platform so your customers can pay you, and a payment method in your Printful account so you can pay us for fulfilling your orders.

Follow your ecommerce platform’s instructions to set up a billing method to charge your customers for orders. There are a bunch of different payment processors you can use, such as Paypal, Stripe, and Braintree

To set up a billing method with Printful, go to your Printful Dashboard > Billing > Billing methods. 

Printful's billing methods
Source: Printful Billing methods

All transactions go through your Printful Wallet that’s automatically created once you sign up with Printful. Each time an order goes through, your credit card, Paypal, or Sofort account will be billed and money will be deposited in your Printful Wallet. Then we withdraw the cost of fulfillment from there. It’s an automatic process, but you’ll be able to see all the transactions if you look at your payment history.

Add funds to your Printful Wallet

Manually adding funds to your Printful Wallet is a safe and easy way to secure your payments and decrease failed transaction rates. When a new order comes in, the cost for fulfillment will be withdrawn directly from your Wallet without the need to bill your payment method first.

There are a lot of benefits to adding funds to your Printful Wallet:

  • Avoiding the risk of failed orders due to insufficient funds
  • Saving up on transaction fees
  • Having fewer pending payments on your credit card (since too many small payments can be seen as fraudulent activity by some credit card providers)

You can add money to your Wallet with a credit card, Paypal, Klarna, or other provided local payment options. To add money, go to Billing > Printful Wallet, click Add money, and choose the amount you’ll deposit.

Step 8: Market your products and start selling

Congratulations! You made it to the end of our ecommerce store recipe. We’ve gone over all the ingredients you need, from setting up your accounts to figuring out how to get paid for orders.

Now it’s time to market your products to attract customers and start selling, so let me finish this blog post with some hot, straight-out-of-the-oven marketing tips:

Go ahead and get started! Don’t get discouraged, and remember that it sometimes takes months to perfect a recipe. If you get stuck in any of the steps, leave a comment below or let us know at [email protected] so we can help you out.

Read next: How To Start A Clothing Store—7 Essential Steps

Juliana is a Content Marketing Specialist at Printful with a background in corporate communications. She’s passionate about brand strategy and digital marketing.

Comments

  1. Zaid

    Good day, I am trying to add users to my printful account, however all they receive is an invite to sign up as new users

  2. Shea

    Hello, I’m most interested in using the Printful API to use Printful on my own website. I have no experience using APIs but am trained in other aspects of web development.

    It seems like everywhere that the Printful API is posted, it says it’s easy to use. However, I read through some of the documentation and can’t wrap my head around it. Do you have any or know of any tutorials specifically related to this? I just want to do something simple like display my products on a website and allow items to be added to a cart, followed by checkout.

    1. Esther Everson

      Hey, Shea! There are some examples of connecting Printful API here, however, we don’t currently have any tutorials available. I’d suggest researching this in communities like Facebook Groups or on Reddit, perhaps there’s something available. Youtube is also a great place to find video tutorials.

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