Print-on-demand companies (POD) are on the rise. Consumer trends are ever-changing, and as more of us seek quirky, custom products, online merchants are looking for the best print-on-demand companies to create and fulfill these kinds of orders.
If you’re an online merchant, you may have already started researching different print-on-demand providers. In that case, you'll know there’s an abundance of platforms to choose from. However, each one comes with its own unique features, and pricing varies depending on your business needs and the package you choose. That’s why we’re comparing two major print-on-demand companies, Printful and Apliiq. Here, we’ll talk you through everything you need to know, from critical features to pricing, pros and cons, and faqs.
So, without further ado, let’s crack on.
Printful vs Apliiq: What’s Printful?
Printful is a print-on-demand service that offers warehousing and fulfillment services to help online merchants fulfill and ship high-quality products and merch.
Printful was founded in 2013, and since then, the company has grown from strength to strength. In 2019, they celebrated their 10m fulfilled products milestone. Then, in 2020, the company began to expand its services and enter new markets. As a result, Printful is a strong competitor in the print-on-demand world. They’ve even won awards like Forbes 2021 ‘Americas Best Startup Employers.'
Prinftul offers its services to online businesses and people wanting to gift personalized t-shirts (or other items) to family or friends. Whenever a purchase is made (by you or your customers), Printful automatically receives the order, fulfills it, and ships it.
The service is free to set up, and there are no minimum order requirements or monthly fees. Printful also offers its customers a range of features like private packaging, branding options, product labeling, creative design, and more.
Printful vs Apliiq: What’s Apliiq?
Apliiq was founded in 2009, and since then, the company has generated a staggering $845,000 in funding. They’ve been recognized by the Huffington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Comedy Central, and many other reputable names.
Like Printful, Apliiq is another print-on-demand company that helps online merchants bring their brand ideas to life. Apliiq also offers fulfillment and shipping services, so managing your store has never been easier. However, Apliiq specializes in streetwear clothing, so you can't use their printing services for other custom items like mugs and canvases.
Apliiq enables you to work with their artists to design your own labels and clothing. You can order samples and/or your entire collection in bulk. If you opt to do so, you'll benefit from a discount. Apliiq is free to use, but you’ll incur costs for shipping products. In addition, their dropshipping services mean you won’t have to worry about looking after your own inventory.
Printful's: Pros and Cons
As this review comes to a close, let's take a quick look at both platform's pros and cons, starting with Printful's pros:
- There are lots of integrations to choose from
- It's free to use
- You'll benefit from competitive shipping rates.
- There are plenty of customizable options.
- Printful's ‘Mock generator’ is unique. It can help your store stand out by providing customers with accurate visuals of what your products will look like.
- Some options (like patches/embroidery) aren’t available.
- You have little control over the fulfillment process and the quality control of your products.
- Order fulfillment can take longer because each product is printed on demand.
- Some branded options are limited (e.g., you can’t provide Printful with your own poly mailers, boxes, or tissue paper like you can with Apliiq)
Apliiq: Pros and Cons
Now let's take a look at Apliiq's pros and cons:
- Apliiq's product catalog is extensive.
- Customization options are varied, as are its printing methods.
- You pay on-demand, so you don’t have to worry about monthly fees.
- Inventory, fulfillment, shipping, and returns are managed for you.
- Apliiq only caters to streetwear and streetwear accessories, so you don’t have as many options as you do with Printful.
- Integrations are limited to only Shopify and Flamory.
- There are fewer warehouses and fulfillment centers than Printful.
Printful vs Apliiq: Printful's Key Features
Now we’ve touched on the central premise of Printful’s services, but what key features does it offer? Let’s take a closer look below.
Printful has its own unique mockup and print file generator. This feature allows customers to bring their brand’s vision to life and create print ideas to customize their unique products.
Simply choose a product from the product catalog, upload an existing design to the product (or create a new design with the generator), and place it on it.
You can do this to get a simple, visual idea of what your product will look like. Alternatively, if you’re happy with the final image, you can use it on your store to promote your product.
You can create mockup images for all products, from t-shirts, leggings, totes, and hoodies to canvases and phone cases.
Warehouse and Fulfilment
With Printful, you can take advantage of their dropshipping services. You can store products at one of their warehouses, and when a customer makes a purchase through your online store, Printful will fulfill and ship the orders for you.
Printful offers same-day shipping for warehouse orders placed before 12pm. In addition, you can store inventory at several fulfillment centers across Europe, America, Canada, Latvia, Spain, Barcelona, or Riga. For a complete list of fulfillment centers, head over to Printful's website.
Printful offers its customers an extensive product catalog, including:
- Men and women’s clothing
- Kids and youth clothing
- Home living
- Collections (including loungewear, fall and winter clothing, gifts, eco-friendly clothing, and more).
Simply pick an item from the catalog you want to customize, upload your design to Printful or create a text-based design using Printful's editor and order.
This is great for anyone looking to customize apparel to create their own clothing line. You don't have to worry about investing in printing equipment, inventory, or minimum order volumes.
Custom Branding Options
With Printful, there are numerous ways to brand your products. Their range of custom branding options include:
- Pack-ins: These could be custom flyers or coupons, business cards, branded stickers, postcards, or hand-written cards. You can choose any of these to include with your order for that personalized touch.
- White-label branding: You can brand the inside label of your t-shirt directly through Printful’s platform. According to their website, this costs $2.49 per label. You can also print custom labels on the outside of your t-shirts for the same price.
- Branded stickers: You can add branded stickers to your packaging to promote your business, completely free of charge. This can be done directly through Printful's dashboard.
- Printful return address: You can use Printful’s return address. They'll take care of shipping and returns for you, but your address and company name will be the ones listed on the packaging. That way, your partnership with Printful isn’t explicitly apparent to your customers. Instead, you can focus on boosting your brand awareness rather than promoting Printful.
Printful has several shipping options available. On average, fulfillment takes between 2-7 business days, and the average shipping time is 6 business days (depending on delivery method/destination).
Each product has its own shipping price, and this price varies depending on the country you’re shipping to. For example, t-shirts shipping to America cost $3.10 for the first product and $1 for each additional product.
The Printful mobile app allows you to run your Printful store from anywhere. The app is currently available for both iOS and Android, and it has powerful capabilities, including:
- Order creation
- You can confirm incoming orders (so Printful can fulfill your orders and send them to your customers)
- Contact customer support
- Order hold (place orders on hold, or remove order holds, when necessary)
- Track orders (You can see the progress of your order and track it all the way through the fulfillment and shipment process)
If you’re a Printful user, you can join their affiliate program. After you sign up, simply promote your affiliate link to your audience and earn a 10% commission on every order you make. According to Printful, their affiliates have made a combined $1.3m in commissions. The ways you could promote your affiliate products are seemingly endless.
For example, you could:
- Run a blog: Create blog posts or articles with affiliate links, talking about how to use Printful, review pieces, pros and cons pieces, or ‘how to’ guides.
- Run influencer promotions: If you’re an influencer (or have a large following online), you could run promotions and competitions to generate interest in Printful.
- Use Youtube: You could publish videos on Youtube reviewing your experience with Printful, encouraging others to use the service.
Printful has a range of creative services that you could take advantage of. Here, you’ll work directly with Printful. Just tell them what you need, and they’ll get back to you with a quote and start designing. Simple, right?
Printful's creative services include:
- Merchandise design: Typography design, pattern design, vector graphics designs, and other custom designs.
- Print file editing: Reformatting files, recreating files to a higher quality, changing the color of designs, Photoshop editing, other print adjustments.
- Illustration design: Character design, line art design, colored graphic design illustration, digital painting design.
- Branding design: Logo design, logo redesign, sticker design, business card design, brand style guide design.
- Social media design: Facebook cover design, Instagram, Facebook ads, and blog post graphics.
Because Printful designs everything from scratch, it can take up to two weeks to complete orders. They also work with a prepayment system, meaning they’ll only start fulfilling your orders once you’ve covered your fees.
Printful offers its users several integrations, including:
…and many more.
Printful vs Apliiq: Apliiq's Key Features
Now we’ve had an in-depth look at Printful’s essential features, let’s see what Apliiq has to offer.
Like Printful, Apliiq has an extensive product catalog for customers to browse, including:
- Women’s clothing
- Men’s clothing
- Kids and youth clothing
They also have a range of collections including, ‘eco-friendly,’ ‘hot-new’ and ‘face-scarves.’
With Apliiq, you have a few different printing options to choose from, including:
- Digital printing: You can print realistic photo artwork in multiple colors.
- Screen printing: Upload your artwork to custom shirts.
- Embroidery: If you don’t want to print, you can stitch your designs instead. With Apliiq, you can embroider hats, joggers, hoodies, and more.
- Applique: With this option, you can create your design from fabric and stitching. Stitch your own designs onto hoodies, sweatshirts, and more. Here, Apliiq takes your design, traces it onto fabric, then cuts it out and sews it onto a garment.
Plus, all of Apliiq’s printing techniques are environmentally friendly. Everything is non-toxic, non-hazardous, vegan, organic, and biodegradable.
With Apliiq, you can benefit from the following branding customization options:
- Custom clothing tags: Design your own branded tags for your clothing. These can be flat beanie labels, neck tags, folded clothing tags, and more.
- Custom packaging: Send Apliiq your custom packaging, and they’ll use it to ship the orders you choose.
- Packaging slips: You can send off customized packaging slips to customers with each order. You can include information like social media handles, a thank you message, sticker inserts, and more.
Please note: According to Apliiq, custom options are only available if you send out more than 250 orders a month.
You’ll have the choice of creating your own product descriptions or letting Apliiq generate a description for you. You can edit these descriptions whenever you like, according to your own preferences. You can also change your settings at any time so that you can have a mixture of auto-generated descriptions as well as your own work.
Apliiq offers a range of shipping options. However, standard shipping is only available on dropshipping orders.
In addition, to standard shipping, the following are available for sample and bulk orders:
- Upgraded shipping: This option takes 2-7 days to ship, and it’s available for items weighing 16oz or more.
- Rush shipping: Shipping timescales aren’t listed for this option, but Apliiq brand it as an “extremely fast” shipping service. This is available for shipments of all sizes.
Apliiq also ships internationally using USPS to over 150 countries worldwide.
Apliiq integrates with Shopify and Flamory. Flamory is software that allows you to create online and offline bookmarks.
Printful vs Apliiq: Their Similarities
- Both companies offer dropshipping services.
- Both provide a range of customization options to choose from
- Both are compatible with Shopify stores
- Both manage your inventory for you
Printful vs Apliiq: Their Differences
- Apliiq offers other services like embroidery design and patches, which Printful doesn't
- Printful allows users to design products like canvases and mugs, whereas Apliiq specializes in clothing.
- Apliiq’s specialty is ‘streetwear,’ whereas Printful is more varied
- Apliiq’s integrations are limited (just two), whereas Printful has a much more comprehensive range of options
Printful vs Apliiq: Printful's Pricing
Printful is free to use. However, Printful charges you for the fulfillment, shipping, and applicable taxes. These charges seem to be given on an individual quote basis, so contact Printful directly for more information.
Printful vs Apliiq: Apliiq's Pricing
Like Printful, Apliiq is free to use, but you’ll have to pay for shipping costs. Also, like Printful, Apliiq works on a ‘pay as you go’ basis, meaning you’ll only pay for items as you use them. You’re not billed for any of your products until a customer makes an order from your website.
Each product from the product catalog has a different price, and shipping rates vary according to country.
Q: What payment types do Printful and Apliiq accept?
A: Apliiq accepts all major cards and PayPal, as do Printful.
Q: Can you track orders with Printful and Apliiq?
A: Yes, both providers allow you to track your orders and provide shipping information to your customers.
Q: Do Printful offer bulk discounts as Apliiq do?
A: Yes. For more information, click here.
Printful vs Apliiq: Our Final Verdict
Hopefully, you now have enough info to make an informed decision between our two competitors. While both of these services are print-on-demand, they have different capabilities, and your choice will depend on the nature of your eCommerce store.
For example, suppose you’re looking to sell more than just clothing. In that case, you may want to choose Printful, which has a broader range of homeware and other accessories on offer.
On the other hand, if you’re looking to design streetwear clothing, Apliiq has a vast product catalog.
You should also consider which ecommerce platforms you want to sell on. Integrations are essential, and although Apliiq has a range of superb features on offer, your choice of integrations is limited. In contrast, Printful is much more suitable for retailers looking to sell on well-known platforms like Amazon, eBay, and more.
What are your thoughts? Which print-on-demand business will you opt for? Printful or Apliiq? Or, are you considering another competitor, like Printify, Spreadshirt, Spod, Customcat, Print Aura, Teespring, or Teelaunch? Tell us all about it in the comments box below. Speak soon!