Starting an online store is a lot like trying to cook something from scratch: it can be overwhelming if you don’t have a list of ingredients and a clear recipe.
So hi, I’m Juliana, and I’ll be your ecommerce chef today! To help you get started, we’ll go over my step-by-step recipe to create a print-on-demand online store with Printful.
By the end of this blog post, you’ll have your ecommerce store baked and ready and be well on your way to making your first sale.
Here’s a video that will help get you started:
The first step in this recipe is creating your Printful account.
Source: Printful's signup page
Sign up with your Facebook, Google, Apple, or email account. It’s completely free and easy to do.
Choose which platform to sell on and connect it to Printful. Log in to your Printful account, go to the side menu in your Dashboard, and click Stores > Choose platform to see your options.
Source: Printful Dashboard
You can connect Printful to 20+ ecommerce platforms and marketplaces, so you have a wide range of options to find a storefront that best suits your needs.
|Ecommerce platforms||Online marketplaces|
|Your store is built as a standalone website||Your store is an account on the marketplace’s website|
|Traffic to your site comes from your marketing activities and search engines||Each marketplace comes with its own search engine that offers an additional source of traffic|
|Greater freedom to personalize your store as you see fit||Limited options for personalization determined by the marketplace|
|Payment processing is set up separately (most platforms offer apps or add-ons for this)||Most marketplaces offer built-in payment processing|
|Ideal for sellers looking to grow their own brand||Ideal for sellers who want to start out on an already known marketplace|
Take a look at the chart I’ve created with information about every platform and how to connect them with Printful, arranged by price, from lowest to highest.
|PLATFORM||TYPE||BEST FOR||SETUP TIME||PRICE|
|Shopify||Ecommerce platform||Small businesses||Very fast||$|
|Etsy||Marketplace||Artists, beginners||Very fast||$|
|Woocommerce||Ecommerce platform||Developers, large retailers||Moderate||$|
|Prestashop||Ecommerce platform||Developers, large retailers||Moderate||$|
|Square||Ecommerce platform||Artists, beginners||Moderate||$|
|Big Cartel||Ecommerce platform||Artists, beginners||Fast||$|
|Weebly||Ecommerce platform||Artists, beginners||Moderate||$|
|Magento||Ecommerce platform||Developers, large retailers||Slow||$|
|Gumroad||Ecommerce platform||Artists, beginners||Fast||$|
|Shipstation||Ecommerce platform||Developers, large retailers||Moderate||$|
|Launch Cart||3rd Party integration||Brands, influencers||Fast||$|
|Wix||Ecommerce platform||Small businesses||Fast||$$|
|Squarespace||Ecommerce platform||Artists, beginners||Moderate||$$|
|Webflow||Ecommerce platform||Artists, beginners||Moderate||$$|
|Ecwid||Ecommerce platform||Small businesses||Fast||$$|
|BigCommerce||Ecommerce platform||Small businesses||Fast||$$|
|Nuvemshop / Tiendanube||Ecommerce platform||Artists, beginners||Moderate||$$|
|Shift4Shop||3rd Party integration||Small businesses||Moderate||$$|
If you’re a developer, you can choose Printful API to create custom solutions for your business. It’s simple to use and integrate into apps and services created with any modern programming language.
For the sake of example, I’ll be using Shopify. To connect Printful to Shopify, install Shopify’s app to integrate with Printful. Click Add app, enter your store’s URL, then log in to your Printful account. Your accounts will be linked automatically.
We’ve also cooked up a demo store using our Shopify integration so you can get inspired and steal a couple of good ideas.
Now that you’ve created your Printful account and connected it with your ecommerce platform or marketplace, it’s time to choose your main ingredients: the products you want to sell.
You can pick from Printful’s wide selection of products and make designs for different customization techniques like embroidery, all-over print, direct-to-garment (DTG), or direct-to-film (DTF) print. For some products, you can combine DTG print with embroidery.
If you’re unsure which product to sell, you can read our blog post on how to choose products for your print-on-demand store.
Once you’ve picked a product, you’ll be redirected to Printful’s Design Maker, our free and easy-to-use design tool, to upload your own visuals or create new ones from scratch.
The first step here is to cook up your product design with the software of your choice. If you need help choosing one, read our blog post about the best 16 free Photoshop alternatives.
Once your design is ready, download it as a JPEG or PNG file. Then, go back to your product on the Design Maker, select Uploads in the left menu, and you can upload your file.
For your design to come out the way you imagined, follow the design guidelines for each product on their product page.
The Design Maker has built-in tools to easily create your visuals. You’ll get access to fonts, clipart collections, ready-made designs, and background patterns.
You can use the Text Tool to find your favorite font and compose eye-catching messages, or choose from the pre-made Quick Designs and edit the colors, graphics, and texts to create your visual.
There are also over 300 customizable clipart collections you can use for free and 80M+ Premium Getty Images at $1 per order placement. Basically, everything you need!
If you have a design + product idea you don’t want to lose, save it as a product template. A product template is a combination of your design and a Printful product. You can go back and edit your templates at any time or add them to your store once they’re ready to be sold.
To access your templates, go to Dashboard > Product templates.
And if you have various stores or many templates, you can organize them into collections.
Just like you can choose to bake, fry, or sauté potatoes, there are different ways to add products to your store:
From your Printful Dashboard > Product Templates > Add to store
From your Printful Dashboard > Stores > Add product
On any open product page, click Add to store
These three options will automatically redirect you to our step-by-step system to add items from your Printful account to your store.
You’ll first need to select your product colors and sizes (these depend on your selling region and preferences). When you’re done, click Continue.
The next thing you need to do is choose which mockups you want to use for your store.
Mockups show you what your designs will look like on the final product and make for awesome photos for your website—it’s like styling your plate to make the food look more appetizing.
You can choose between standardized templates (basic mockups) and customizable templates you can build yourself (custom mockups).
If you pick basic mockups, you can pick flat lay mockups in preselected settings and visuals with different models. When you’re done, click Continue.
You can customize any mockup by changing backgrounds, layouts, and props when choosing custom mockups.
Once you’ve selected the mockup you want to personalize, press Select and continue.
You’ll be taken to the window where you can change the background and design elements like text, clipart, and props.
When you’re done, press Continue. Here’s a handy video if you’d like to get extra guidance and tips for this process:
A title and a thorough description will let your customers know all the information they need on your product. Printful has ready-to-use descriptions, but we highly recommend customizing them and making them sound more true to your brand.
Not only are these product details a great way to show your brand’s personality, but a well-written product description can also boost your SEO, making it easier for potential customers to find your products when actively searching online.
When you’re done, click Continue.
When setting your prices, there are two things to think about. The Printful price is what we charge you for product fulfillment, and the retail price is what you sell the product for.
If the All-Over Print Backpack costs $33 and your retail price is set at $45, the profit you make is $12. Make sure you look at our blog post on how to market premium products so they look like a steal for some fresh tips on promoting your offering.
In this step, you’ll see 3 different figures:
Printful’s price, which is what we charge for the products (it doesn’t include taxes, shipping, and other additional charges)
Retail price, which you can manually edit to increase/decrease your profit margins
Profit, which is what you’ll make out of every sale
Price your products right
Use our guide to review Printful costs and learn how to price your products to make a profit.
Once you’ve set your prices, click on Submit to store next to add the product to your ecommerce store.
You can also select the option to offer free shipping on your products. Studies show that 68.2% of global shoppers were more likely to buy a product online when offered free delivery. If you turn this option on, the shipping costs will be automatically included in your retail price.
Once you’ve set your prices, click Submit to store to add the product to your storefront.
When you successfully add a product to your store, you’ll see it on your Printful Dashboard > Stores > View store, just like in the example below.
Source: Printful Dahsboard
And now, head to your ecommerce platform to check out what your product looks like there. You can see here what my product looks like on my Shopify store:
Set up your store’s taxes in three steps
Use our step-by-step guide to understand your tax obligations, learn how to find professional tax advice, and set up taxes on your storefront.
We are in the final steps of our ecommerce recipe. Next, let me show you how to think about your shipping pricing strategy. You need to keep two things in mind:
The shipping price you display on your store and charge your customers for
The shipping rate that Printful charges you to deliver products to your customers
It’s time to decide how you’ll charge your customers for shipping on your store—this will be your shipping pricing strategy. There are 3 different approaches you can take:
Let customers know and pay the total price for shipping (the same as Printful charges you)
Increase product prices to cover a percentage of shipping costs
Set up free shipping by incorporating shipping costs in product prices
Setting up shipping rates can be different for each platform. Look at your ecommerce platform’s FAQs to find out how to add shipping rates to your store.
Learn more: A Complete Guide to Ecommerce Shipping Pricing
Printful supports two different types of shipping rates:
Flat rates are fixed prices we’ll charge for shipping that you should charge on your store. Our shipping rates vary based on product dimensions and weight, fulfillment location, and shipping destination for each order. Check our shipping rates page for your products to choose a pricing strategy that suits your needs.
Live rates are calculated in real-time during checkout, meaning your customer is automatically given the best shipping rate available when an order’s placed. It’s available for Printful customers using Shopify, Woocommerce, Launch Cart, or the Printful API.
Head to Dashboard > Settings > Store > Shipping to enable Live rates.
Source: Printful Dashboard
Your ecommerce store is almost ready to come out of the oven! Now you have to set up a payment method on your online platform so your customers can pay you, and a payment method in your Printful account so you can pay us for fulfilling your orders.
Learn more: Your guide to Printful payments and pricing
To set up a billing method with Printful, go to your Printful Dashboard > Billing > Billing methods.
Source: Printful Billing methods
All transactions go through your Printful Wallet that’s automatically created once you sign up with Printful. Each time an order goes through, your credit card, Paypal, or Sofort account will be billed, and money will be deposited in your Printful Wallet. Then we withdraw the cost of fulfillment from there. It’s an automatic process, but you’ll be able to see all the transactions if you look at your payment history.
Manually adding funds to your Printful Wallet is a safe and easy way to secure your payments and decrease failed transaction rates. When a new order comes in, the cost for fulfillment will be withdrawn directly from your Wallet without the need to bill your payment method first.
There are a lot of benefits to adding funds to your Printful Wallet:
Avoiding the risk of failed orders due to insufficient funds
Saving up on transaction fees
Having fewer pending payments on your credit card (since too many small payments can be seen as fraudulent activity by some credit card providers)
You can add money to your Wallet with a credit card, Paypal, Klarna, or other local payment options. To add money, go to Billing > Printful Wallet, click Add money, and choose your deposit amount.
Congratulations! You made it to the end of our ecommerce store recipe. We’ve gone over all the necessary ingredients, from setting up your accounts to getting paid for orders.
Use our Promo Maker to create original and captivating visuals for ads or social media branding. You can use 100+ templates in 6 different sizes for different platforms, create animated marketing materials, and do it all without leaving your dashboard.
Go ahead and get started! Don’t get discouraged, and remember that it sometimes takes months to perfect a recipe. If you get stuck on any of the steps, leave a comment below or let us know at [email protected] so we can help you.
Juliana is a Content Marketing Specialist at Printful with a background in corporate communications. She’s passionate about brand strategy and digital marketing.