Blog / Beginner's handbook / How to Switch Print-On-Demand Suppliers
According to a scientific study published by the National Library of Medicine, moving is one of the most stressful events in life. The study doesn’t include stats on moving from one print-on-demand (POD) service to another, but we know that can be pretty stressful too, so we’d love to help alleviate some of the anxiety you might be feeling and talk you through the process.
This might be hard to believe, but switching POD services can be easy, rewarding, and even fun! In the end, we know you’ll do what’s best for you, your store, and your customers, and that’s the most important thing.
If you’re reading this post, you probably already have a successful online store. Congratulations! It is truly a challenge to wrap your mind around all things ecommerce-related, let alone start turning a profit. You have to worry about store setup, creating beautiful designs, calculating shipping costs, taxes, promoting yourself on social media… The list goes on and on.
So, you’re killing the game, but you’re a little dissatisfied with your current POD supplier, or just want to see what else is out there? Or maybe you’ve had a bad experience with customer service at another company? Maybe you just want to offer your customers new and interesting products. In any case, we totally understand your desire to explore another POD service.
Here’s what you should do:
There are a few things you should look for in every print-on-demand company you research, and many questions to ask. A good first step is reading reviews of each company to see what current users say. What are the pros and cons?
You can also learn about how each company handles things like returns and customer service. Take a look at the products. Is there a good range of items that meets your needs? Do the prices match the quality? What about the pricing model?
Overwhelmed yet? Take a deep breath. It will all be OK. Here are some important things to look for as you start doing your research.
As you’re deciding what kind of products to sell, keep in mind that cheaper isn’t always better. Sometimes, cheap products are lower quality than you and your customers might hope for. It’s important to strike a good balance of price and quality to keep your customers happy and ensure that your designs look great on the product you’re offering.
When researching price and product quality, you can always check out what current customers have to say about a POD company in their reviews. Because people often leave reviews based on experiences that are extremely negative or positive, read as many as you can, and take them with a grain of salt.
Because with POD you don’t have to order in bulk, sometimes it’s also a good idea to make a test order. That way, you can hold the products in your own hands and compare the quality against the price for yourself.
One important thing to research about every POD company you’re interested in working with is their product selection.
Switching POD suppliers could be a great time to take a step back and think about the products you’ve offered in the past. Did they work well with your designs? Are they what your customers want? Do they fit within your niche?
If the answer to all of these questions is, “yes,” look for products similar to those you’re already offering. But if not, look for a selection of products that could help you shake things up.
Each company offers something a little different. At Printful, for example, we’re constantly adding new products in categories including clothing, accessories, and home & living. Maybe we offer something you didn’t know you could personalize like engravable jewelry or camper mugs.
Our customers have success selling products like our Unisex Premium T-shirt, Unisex Heavy Blend Hoodie, Classic Dad Hat, Cuffed Beanie, White Glossy Mug, and Enhanced Matte Paper Poster.
Finding out where your potential POD partner is located is also important because this determines where your products will be shipped from, and how long it will take your products to get to your customers.
Ask yourself whether the company ships to every country you’re interested in selling to.
Printful is a global service with locations across Europe and North America. We’ll always fulfill orders from the closest available location. This means we’re closer to your customers, and we can reach them faster. Your customers can also shop in their preferred currency. We offer US dollars, Australian dollars, Euros, Pounds, and Yen.
This one is simple. Is the website user-friendly? How easy is it for you to upload and create designs your customers will enjoy? Does your POD supplier work with your current ecommerce platform and any others you might want to work with in the future?
If you have questions about how to use the website or how to run your store, can you get answers quickly?
If this is important to you, look for a service that’s constantly evolving and adding new solutions, instead of standing still.
If you’ve done your research about Printful and our competitors and decided to use our service, first of all, we’re so excited to have you join us! Second of all, we know you’ve got a bit of work in front of you to switch over and continue successfully running your store. We’ll talk you through that process now.
Creating a Printful account is free and easy, and will help you see if it works for you. Once you create an account you can play around with features like our Design Maker to create original designs. You can also use our Mockup Generator to see how your designs will look on Printful products, and you can use these mockups in your store. This tool is easy to use, and it will warn you if there’s an issue with the size or location of your design.
You can do a lot in the Design Maker including:
We publish guidelines on how to create print files for each of our products, so make sure your current designs meet these standards. You can find the guidelines by clicking on a product and scrolling down to the File guidelines tab.
Once you have a Printful account, you can link it to your accounts with one or more of the many integrations we offer with ecommerce platforms and marketplaces. Find out if we already work with the platform you’re using, or if we offer something you’d like to try.
We’ve published detailed guides with video tutorials on how to set up and connect your store to Printful depending on which integration you choose to use. Each integration is a little different, but, generally, you’ll need to:
If you’ve built your store yourself, we also invite you to take advantage of our custom API (Application Programming Interface). This involves some extra programming knowledge but offers more customization and control. The API for Printful will automate sending orders from your online store to our system so that you don’t have to lift a finger. To do this, you’ll either need to hire a programmer or have some experience yourself.
If you need help using our API, you can reach out to our developers directly. If you want to set up the API but don’t have programming experience, we can help with that too. If your store has more than 1,000 orders per month or $25,000 in orders that will be fulfilled through Printful, our programmers will set up your API for free.
You probably already have some great designs ready to go and saved to your computer, and maybe you’ve already taken the time to play around with the Design Maker. Now it’s time to add products to your store. Depending on the platform you’re using, you’ll use the Product Push Generator or a manual sync process to add products and create mockups.
When you’re ready to add products to your store, creating mockups on Printful is a great way to show off your products. We recommend naming your product something unique, personalizing the description to attract customers, and setting a price that will make you a profit, which we’ll talk more about below.
For now, here’s how to add products:
If moving your products to Printful sounds difficult because you have a lot of products and designs to deal with, we offer a Store Setup Service for an extra fee to help you make it happen.
Once that’s done, you just have a few more steps to complete before you’re ready to accept orders.
Now you’re ready to watch the orders roll in.
You can’t assume that “if you build it, they will come.” Your journey isn’t over when your store is set up. There’s still plenty you can do to get more sales and exposure in the marketplace.
That’s why we’re constantly creating content to help you. We’ve created all kinds of useful articles and videos with marketing tips about everything from how to be successful using Instagram hashtags to how to reduce shopping cart abandonment.
We also have a variety of extra, paid services. For an extra fee, we offer Graphic Design, Photo, and Video Services. We can help you dream up a logo, take professional photos of your products, and edit raw video you send us to promote your store on your storefront or your social media channels.
If you’re selling any non-POD products, we offer a Warehousing & Fulfillment Service that will save you space and time. You ship us your products, we store them in one of our warehouses and fulfill them to your customers when they place an order.
Everyone is different, and I’m sure you have some specific questions I can’t answer for you here. But our customer service team is ready and willing to talk you through this process. You can get in touch with them through the chat feature on our website. If you’re browsing on a desktop, this little yellow button of majesty is featured on the lower, right-hand side of your screen. Keep in mind that sometimes these channels get busy and that we respond as soon as we can.
Phew. We know this process is a journey, but we hope this article has made it a little easier. We also hope to stick with you throughout your ecommerce journey and support you on your way forward. Remember that we’re always posting new content here, on social media, and on our YouTube channel that will offer practical advice about all aspects of running your store and being a successful small business owner.
Caroline is a former journalist turned marketer. She is a content marketing specialist at Printful and is becoming increasingly obsessed with social proof.