Printful’s Next Chapter: We’re Expanding to Europe
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 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 will continue to add even more products over time and offer the same options on both continents. You can keep track of our available products here!
2. How will shipping change?
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, the 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 collect VAT on orders that we fulfill in Europe with a destination address in the EU unless you submit a VAT ID.
It’s 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 is 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 you choose whether you want your orders fulfilled in the US, Mexico, or Europe.
In your dashboard, go to Stores –> Orders and check the locations where you want your orders fulfilled. We recommend using all of our locations so we can route your orders to where they’ll be fulfilled the fastest.
If there’s a problem with an order (eg. the product is out of stock in one of your preferred locations), 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?
You can pay Printful in EUR or USD! Go to Billing –> Billing methods and choose which currency you want to use for each store.
Remember that this doesn’t change the billing method on your storefront – you can do that in your ecommerce platform’s settings.
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!