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Printing Meets Tech – the behind-the-scenes of the Printful office

By Julia Gifford on February 7th, 2014 - Reading time: 2 minutes

This post was written by our CFO when she first joined the Printful team as an intern in 2013.

Starting from the first day at Printful I was amazed how IT-advanced it is. Even though the products themselves aren’t very technical in their nature, the way they’re produced and sold, is. From custom-built iPod apps to shared screens around the offices, the tech in the office has one goal – to make sure the fulfillment process goes as smooth as possible.

Custom-built iOS app for best possible fulfillment

The first thing that strikes you as unnecessarily tech-y when you walk in the office is the use of iPod touches. Every person in the printing team has one of these, and it contains a special app that our developers custom-built.

The iPods are meant to have all the information at their fingertips at all times – no more running to the computer and back to double check what order was meant go where… 

An iPod touch with our custom-build app

An iPod touch with our custom-build app

The iPods show you a multitude of things;

  • First of all, you see all of the info about a certain order. Then you can choose to print it, and the app tells you which printer it’s coming out of. So no more lost posters.
  • It automatically prints out the correct packing slip, so that the printed products go to the right people. You can keep track of the status of the order – for example, mark it as “packed”, so that you know that everything’s ready to be shipped.
  • The app reads barcodes, so that you can scan a package and know what was inside it.

So with all of the clicks at their fingertips, our fulfillment team can make sure that the right things get printed out, easily found, packaged, and sent to the right people. Cool, isn’t it?! This takes fulfillment to the next level – ditching the old-school handheld devices that companies like FedEx and UPS use. That also means that we have the flexibility to customize our app to suit our own printing system.

UPS delivery

A UPS employe with an old-school hand held scanner device thing

 Screens for visibility, accountability, and timely shipments!

The screens that we have hanging in both of our offices (in Latvia and LA) are also an original creation to make everyone’s lives easier. Besides showing you basic office stats (like time, temperature, humidity, etc.), it also shows us how many orders haven’t been fulfilled yet.

When everyone sees the screens, it keeps us on the same page. You know how much still has to be done, and it keeps everyone accountable. Not to mention, the little yellow boxes show us how many of that product have to be printed ASAP so that we can make our promised delivery time.

You see everything that's important

You see everything that’s important

Above all, these are not just “nice-to-have” things. We actually really need it to work efficiently as a remote team.  With the back-end being developed by the best programmers and designers from the  Draugiem Group in Latvia (Draugiem.lv is the only national social network in Europe which still overtakes Facebook), the colleagues in Latvia can keep their processess streamlined with the ones here in L.A. We see our e-commerce platform (also custom built),

Finally, we can manage to do twice as much because combined our team is able to work 24 hours a day. That’s real efficiency!

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  1. Giorgio

    Awesome! nice to see the behind the scenes! cool way to keep thibgs organized, and as you said to keep everyone accountable! awesome thanks for sharing!

  2. Tom Schmit

    Interesting Zane. Thanks.
    But……. you kind of disparaged the FedEx and UPS handhelds without saying why. Could you possibly be a bit more explicit? Why are your devices better?p

    1. Zane

      iOS just fits our needs better.
      1) It’s a very flexible system. If we need to update our application, our iOS developers can do it instantly;
      2) It’s an affordable all-in-one off-the-shelf solution: it has a camera and an app for scanning barcodes;
      3) It has a high resolution screen, which is important for a clear image recognition since we are in printing business;
      4) It uses our wi-fi, so we don’t have to have a GSM contract;
      5) it is very light and portable.
      Can we wish for more?

  3. Jason

    Can you handle 500- 5000 orders a day in posters and prints?
    Im working on a celebrity project.
    It will have tv and radio exposure.
    We may have slow days and do 50… but we will have big days too.
    Please let me know asap.


  4. Dravasp Shroff

    You should develop an app for merchants who want to get updates about their sale orders shipping tracking and delivery including returns feature.

    Also another suggestion would be if you could integrate your mockup generator into our website and take orders directly when placed on to our website on mobile and tablet platforms.

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