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Printful’s Next Chapter: We’re Expanding to Europe

By Reading Time: 5 minutes

We’ve come a long way since 2013.

Printful started when an ambitious entrepreneur launched an online store and printed posters in his living room to make it work. Then he took it to the next level and started printing posters for other online stores. Before he knew it, Printful had grown from humble startup in LA to helping thousands of entrepreneurs run wild with their dreams and launch businesses of their own.

Now we’re ready for another challenge: we’re opening our first fulfillment center in Europe. It’s an exciting step in Printful’s history with new opportunities for all of us. Keep reading to get the full scoop!

Why are we expanding to Europe?

The short answer:

Europe has 700 million buyers and an ecommerce market that’s poised to grow. (PS, that’s twice as many people than in the US!)

The long answer:

We’re an industry leader in the US and now we’re ready to make our mark in a new continent. Ecommerce hasn’t taken off in Europe like it has in the US, but it’s getting there. Ecommerce revenue in Europe is expected to reach 250 billion euros in 2017 (compared to 131.6 billion in 2013). We see the potential and we’re getting in on the ground floor now.

Although you can already sell internationally with drop shipping, our Europe location makes the process smoother. It’ll be easier for European entrepreneurs to open online businesses, and for our existing customers to reach a European audience (whether you have one already or want to expand your reach).

There’s room for growth here – for Printful and for you!

Plus: we have European roots

Printful’s founder and CEO are both from Latvia, and part of our team is already located in the country’s capital city, Riga (I’m looking at you devs, designers, marketers, and CS reps!).

We know our way around Latvia’s market, so it’s more comfortable to get established here than an unfamiliar location. We also had a bunch of helpers that were more than ready to lend a hand setting up!

There are few drop shippers with in-house printing facilities both in Europe and North America, and now we’re one of them.

Now let’s get practical. What changes for you?

Let’s start with the obvious: you can target a whole new market.

Orders that are fulfilled in Europe and that go to a destination in Europe will have quicker transit times. And orders going to EU member states will be exempt from customs.

Establishing this location will be a gradual process, so you might not feel any new benefits right away. But remember that we’re working on development in the background – sourcing and launching more products, installing new equipment, coordinating partnerships, and more.

Now let’s answer some more specific questions you might have.

1. Which products are available?

The first product categories fulfilled in Europe are enhanced matte posters and cut & sew tops, dresses, skirts and leggings (except yoga leggings), and DTG t-shirts (we’ll start by stocking our most popular models, colors, and sizes).

We won’t be be able to offer every single t-shirt model in Europe because they’re not all available or reliably stocked with our European suppliers. Availability in Europe will be a huge factor for adding new t-shirts moving forward, so we’ll have more options available over time.

We plan on adding embroidery by the end of the year, and other product categories will eventually follow. You can keep track of our available products here!

2. How will shipping change?

Basically:

Cost = same competitive live rates

Transit times = much quicker

For now, it’ll cost the same to ship a product to a European country from our Europe location as it would from LA or Charlotte. That’s because orders don’t get routed until after checkout. So during checkout, shipping price is calculated as if the order is shipping from the US.

We plan to make this process smoother over time, and maybe even lower European shipping prices as we become more established in Riga. Our live international shipping rates are already competitive.

Bonus: transit times will be quicker – an average of 5-10 business days. And if the order is going to an EU member state, it won’t be charged customs duties.

3. Will VAT apply to orders shipped from Europe?

VAT stands for Value Added Tax. It’s a tax in Europe that’s placed on each stage of the supply chain (eg. production, sale, delivery charges) for goods and services.

Printful will cover the cost of VAT for now, but we’ll likely start charging you in the fall.  

It’ll be similar to the way we handle sales tax. You submit your VAT ID to us and after we’ve verified it, we won’t charge you VAT, but you’ll be responsible for collecting it from your customers. Unlike sales tax, VAT will be calculated based on Printful’s product prices, not the end retail price.

Read more about VAT in our FAQs.

4. Can I choose which orders go to the US and which go to Europe?

Yes! You can’t manually route each order on your own, but we have a setting that lets us fulfill orders to Europe in Latvia.

In your dashboard, go to Stores –> Edit. You’ll see a checkbox under the “Store” tab that looks like this:

If you check that box, we’ll fulfill products that are available in Europe at our Latvia facility if they’re shipping to an address in Europe.

If there’s a problem with the order (eg. the product is out of stock in Europe), we’ll email you so you can decide what to do – wait for stock to replenish, route it in the US, choose a different product, or cancel.

5. Which currency can I pay with?

To keep pricing simple and streamlined, we’ll continue operating in USD. This might change down the line, though!

The one exception is that shipping labels will display value in Euros. That’s to eliminate confusion and possible hold-ups at European post offices and sorting facilities.

So, what do you actually need to do now?

We’ll automatically print orders in Europe when applicable – meaning if it’s a product we have available and the end-address is in Europe or a neighboring region. But there are a few things you can do to prepare:

1. Add products that are available in Europe to your store

Not everything is available in Europe. So if you do want to sell there, make sure you offer products that can be fulfilled at our Europe location. Browse what’s available here!

2. Edit your store’s messaging

If being “made in America” is part of your brand, you might want to update it. We still print in the US, but it’s a good idea to mention somewhere on your store that you also print in Europe so your customers don’t get confused.

3. Add Europe shipping info to your store

Let customers know that products fulfilled in Europe will have much quicker transit times.

4. Familiarize yourself with the market

Treat this as a new business venture. Do your market research. Look at the popularity of ecommerce in each country. Understand how your niche fits in, and how you need to communicate it to a new audience. This will take time for you to do too – research, test, learn, repeat!

Onwards and upwards!

Buckle in and get ready for this next adventure! We’ll keep you updated on our progress and let you know of new updates that are relevant to you. 

Got any questions in the meantime? Share in the comments!

Nora covers all things ecommerce for the Printful blog. She appreciates good dad jokes, new books, freshly baked cookies, and evening jogs.

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  1. Artem

    Hi! I’m launching a posters store, but the problem is that US sizes aren’t suitable for European frames (for example, IKEA frames). if you are expanding to Europe, maybe you should add European sizes of posters (50cm x 70cm, 70cm x 100cm, etc)?

  2. Nils

    I couldn´t find a special europe-to-europe shipping rate. it´s only “worldwide” which costs 10$ and is much to high to be competitive.

  3. Chris Witham

    Hi,

    I just added a new product, checked it was available from the EU fulfilment centre in the correct sizes and colours etc and then synced it up with my new Etsy shop. Once in the Shop Manager on looking at the shipping section it has defaulted to shipping from the US which won’t work as I’m only shipping to the UK market for now?

    Is this an API issue or am I missing something? Thanks.

    Chris

    1. Nora Inveiss Post author

      Hi Chris,

      The rates you get when you push a product through Printful assume that products are fulfilled in the US. So if you’re selling to the UK audience, then disable our rates and manually create your own.

      Hope this helps!

  4. Frans

    Just to clarify when 2 orders is placed for same product that is on the EU list by my customer for the same product a week apart.
    First order arrive from EU no problem
    Second order arrive Longer Lead time and also with additional customs and shipping cost(shipped from US as EU did not have stock)
    How do I prevent this from happening or do I miss understand this?
    I also do not see the EU shipping rates or flat rates posted anywhere?

  5. Raphael

    so the european location adds no value seeing that us rates apply and you can´t garant that it will be sent from europe, so i can´t even offer a lower standard price..

    1. Nora Inveiss Post author

      The European location does give you faster (and now cheaper) shipping, as well as customs exemptions for EU customers! As we said in the blog post, benefits will be gradual as we continue to develop this location 🙂

    1. Nora Inveiss Post author

      Hey Vladi! We do have an Amazon integration and we’re currently working on some updates to how it works. It’ll be able to integrate with Amazon UK.

  6. Bev Anderson

    Hello
    Can you tell me if I can use this in the uk as we are uk based ?
    Also with regard on the website will the pricing be in US dollars or Uk Stirling
    Thank you
    Kind regards Bev

    1. Nora Inveiss Post author

      Hi Bev!

      Yes, you can use Printful if you’re based in the UK! Note that if you want us to fulfill orders in Europe, then make sure you only sell products that we have available at our Europe location. You can take a look at the full list here.

      We’ll always charge you in USD, but you can edit the currency on your storefront to whichever one you wish.

  7. George

    Hello Nora!

    Sorry my english first of all 🙂

    I am from Romania( Europe ) and i want to ask..If i put in my shopify store ONLY products that are available for Europe and US(so only this products, not that ones that are only for US), can i have customers from Europe(and you made the product in europe) AND customers from US ( and you made the product in US ) ?

    If its like this, custom duties are free?
    Shiping it is for a tshirt 5 dolars ( the same for european customer and for american customer )?

    I wait your answers with a lot of interest and if it s possible i want to ask some few questions more after this.

    Thanks a lot!

    1. Nora Inveiss Post author

      Hi George!

      Yes, in most cases we fulfill orders based on the shipping destination. So if you offer products that we have both in the US and Europe, we’ll most likely fulfill orders to the US in the US, and orders to Europe in Europe. Then your end-customer doesn’t have to pay customs.

      You can take a look at shipping here, but rates from EU to EU are similar as US to US. We also have live rates, which are usually cheaper.

      I’ll gladly answer any other questions! Or you can also reach out to support@printful.com, or hop on live chat.

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