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Printful’s next chapter: we’re expanding to Europe

By Nora Inveiss on July 31st, 2017 - Reading time: 4 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?

Right now, it’s not possible to decide on fulfillment location; it’s determined by our internal system. Order routing ultimately depends on product availability, destination, and the facility’s manufacturing capacity at the time.

If you order one of our products available in Europe, and the end destination is to a European address, there’s a high likelihood that the order will get printed at our Europe location.

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!

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    1. Nora Inveiss Post author

      I recommend using our live rates – international shipping from the US to EU is pretty cheap.

      1. Jai

        When do you think the shipping cost will change within the EU? Because people will not pay $10,- for shipping a shirt that’s around $20,- or $25,-

          1. Gionata

            Hi Nora, on the 1st of September you wrote that you had just updated the european shipping pricing, but I can’t find any other than 10 USD for worldwide shipping.
            My shop is based in europe and aims to ship mostly in Europe, I’d like to know when european rates will be available for us. Thanks

          2. Nora Inveiss Post author

            Hey Gionata – you can see Europe rates when you place a new order (screenshot). We’re working on updating that info to our shipping page as well; I know it’s confusing at the moment.

    2. David de Segur

      Nora,

      That is grest news about Europe. I was about to set up with you, out of the UK, selling in the US, but seeking another provider for Europe to keep costs down. This news, together with your new integrstion with Etsy, is great stuff. I need a single reliable source that can print and deliver in the US and Europe, which you now can.

      Davide.

    1. Nora Inveiss Post author

      Yes! We’ll keep everyone updated on new product launches with emails and notifications 🙂

  1. Stefan

    When you say shipping costs will be the same as from LA, it will costs 5$ for Europe and 10$ for the rest of world, is it right?

    1. Nora Inveiss Post author

      No, sorry if that wasn’t clear! The flat rate cost would be $10 for Europe, although we’re working on a lower flat rate. Live rates are also the same as it would cost from LA to Europe, which can be on average about $5.

          1. Nora Inveiss Post author

            Once you enter a new order to the EU, you’ll see EU shipping options (screenshot). We’re working on updating our shipping page as well to reflect this info.

    1. Nora Inveiss Post author

      Thanks for the suggestion 🙂 Next on our radar is likely Australia, but we’re still ways away from opening a new location.

  2. Jon

    Sorry what’s the point of having a warehouse in Europe if costs will to ship to Europe will be the same as if Shipping from LA? My main market is Europe and one reason I couldn’t use Printful was prohibitive shipping rates and times for local European market … so I decided to use another local provider …

    1. Nora Inveiss Post author

      Fair enough – do what works for your business!

      The benefits of Printful’s Europe location are exemptions from customs fees to EU member states and quicker transit times. For now our international live rates are still competitive, but we hope to offer better rates as we become more established. We’re also working on a European flat rate to make that more affordable as well.

  3. Joanne

    Most exciting news ever, we are just starting with Printful and we have significant consumers in Europe we are already shipping to…..all I can say is YAY!

  4. Arthur

    woot 🙂
    Looking forward to the tshirts and all-over-printed stuff being added as well for the most part, so congrats to your expansion.

    Btw, “Spreadshirt“ here in Germany have a wide variety of tshirt brands that they use for their print orders… (American Apparel being among them, and tri-blend mix stuff and other fancy stuff). Perhaps if you were to take some of their employees hostage you can make them cough up some of their suppliers to you, hehe >:D who knows…

    1. Nora Inveiss Post author

      Haha not a bad idea 😉

      For now the brands we’ll be supplying are Gildan, Anvil, and Bella+Canvas because they’re available globally. And we’re very close to launching cut & sew sublimation t-shirts, which will be available in Europe as well!

    1. Nora Inveiss Post author

      We have our eyes on Australia next! But we’ll be able to fulfill products to Asia from Europe.

  5. Maura

    I’m extremely happy! I do love your products but importing from USA was not cheap for us in the EU

    I can finally expand my store products.
    Good job guys.

    1. Nora Inveiss Post author

      No, Next Level won’t be available in Europe. It’s an American brand that isn’t widely available globally, so it’s not at our suppliers in Europe. We’ll be supplying Gildan, Anvil, and Bella+Canvas as those are all global brands.

    1. Nora Inveiss Post author

      Paldies par ieteikumu! Mēs bieži izvērtējam jaunus produktus un mums ir interese pievienot vairākus stilīgus, mūsdienīgus kreklus.

      Jūsu zināšanai, kad pievienojam jaunus produktus, mēs balstamies uz vairākiem faktoriem, kā piemēram pieejamība pie mūsu piegādātājiem un drukas kvalitāte. 🙂 Variet droši iesniegt produktu ieteikumus šajā lapā (ideāli angliski, lai visi var saprast!)

  6. Sascha

    Sorry, if I missed the information – has production in Europe already started, or is it just announced?

    Thanks for the answer (even if it has already been answered before).

    1. Marianna Zvaigzne

      Hey Sascha, that’s right, production has already started! We’re already printing enhanced matte posters and cut & sew products.

  7. Nate

    Hi, just wanna clarify my understanding, so if the customer from EU will order a gildan 6400 shirt from my store, the system will detect it and will forward the order the EU location? Is that correct? Do i have to change the shipping rates? Because as what mentioned, its ranging from $5-$10. I usually ship less than lb tho.. Thank you.

    1. Nora Inveiss Post author

      Hey Nate,

      Yep, if your customer orders a product that we have available in Europe to an address in Europe, it will most likely be fulfilled at our Europe location. We now have a European flat shipping rate and live rates you can offer.

  8. A-W

    Hi,
    How will I know if my orders are being fulfilled in the US or in the EU?
    I’ll need to change the shipping address accordingly.

    1. Nora Inveiss Post author

      Right now it’s not possible to tell while you’re placing the order. But if you order a product that’s available in Europe, there’s a 99% chance that it’ll get fulfilled there.

  9. govy

    when are you going to update the shipping rates? I’ve been holding on an order for almost a week now because it ships to the UK and no shipping with tracking is available. I wish we could still have the option to send for the USA until you fixed your EU shipping prices. I’m lucky that my customer is patient but otherwise that will be a massive issue.

    1. Nora Inveiss Post author

      Hi Govy! Our shipping rates have been updated – we have a new Europe flat rate and live rates. I’ll be sure to add that info in this blog post as well.

    1. Nora Inveiss Post author

      Hey Andrey! If an order to Russia contains a product available at our Europe location, it’ll be fulfilled and shipped from there. Transit times will be the same as other European countries – between 5 and 10 business days.

  10. Martin

    I tried your European available t-shirts, with the hope of getting them fulfilled in Europe. But no, fulfilled in the States. I guess I must be the 0.01%. It was a sample order, specifically to see how the European side works, and to try out those specific tees. So much for being fulfilled in Europe. I was hoping for something a bit more definite. Shipping times are important to me.

    1. Nora Inveiss Post author

      Hi Martin! I looked up your order and I think the issue here was that one of your shirts in that order isn’t available at our Europe location – the Bella + Canvas 3001 in steel blue. The only blue Bella + Canvas 3001 shirt we have in Europe is Navy. So rather than splitting up the order, both shirts were fulfilled in the US. Sorry this prevented you from testing our Europe location.

  11. Saxon

    I live in the UK and am really looking forward to using this service especially as it expands. Is there any plans to introduce printing on metal jewellery

    1. Nora Inveiss Post author

      Hi Saxon! Glad to hear Printful will help your business grow!

      We’re always considering ways to expand our product offering, although printing on metal jewelry is in the works for the near future. Feel free to leave your request here though!

  12. Mario

    I hope this means that the chance of customs fees is 0.
    With my last sample order send from the US I had to pay €18,- at delivery. While with previous orders there were no fees at all.

    1. Nora Inveiss Post author

      That’s correct, Mario! If an order is printed at our Europe fulfillment center to a customer in the EU, they don’t have to pay additional customs.

  13. Stessy

    This EU fulfillment is so interesting, HOWEVER, the inability to tell in advance if the order is fulfilled from the US or EU is a deal-breaker, especially for those that get their sales from Ebay. 99% certainty of EU shipment is not enough. Those other 1% will likely generate a negative rating on Ebay due to the delay.

    1. Nora Inveiss Post author

      Good point! We’re working on a new order routing system that lets you see where your order is being fulfilled. It’s definitely a huge bonus to know where your order is coming from.

  14. 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)?

  15. 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.

  16. 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!

  17. 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?

  18. 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.

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