How does Printful work? Printful Business Model Discussed


how-does-printful-work-blog-imgPrintful Inc., founded in 2010 by Lauris Liberts and Davis Siksnans, is a US-registered printing sewing and delivery outsourcing company affiliated with the Latvian company group Draugiem Group. The company is headquartered in Riga, Ojāra Vācieša Street, Latvia. A country of just two million people was never known for its global corporate leadership but five years ago, two young entrepreneurs started a business that has now successfully become one of the world’s most successful printing, fulfillment, and dropshipping companies. It has also employed hundreds of people on both sides of the Atlantic. Today, we’ll be doing explained analysis of the Printful business model and know- “how does printful work”.

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Printful Business- The Beginning

The startup was started five years ago by Lauris Liberts and Davis Siksnans, two young entrepreneurs. The two founders had met each other when, at the age of 18, Davis started working with Lauris. Lauries was and still is, a serial entrepreneur. His countrymen and other people who know him describe him as the Latvian Mark Zuckerberg.

The Printful business idea emerged in his mind from a business that had already been launched by Lauris Liberts called StartupVitamins. The business offered services such as selling posters, clothing, and other items with motivational quotes for the entrepreneurial community. While he was in the U.S. printing all these items physically from his home, Davis Siksnans was busy working on marketing and software designing in Latvia. As the business started growing, there was a need for a good drop-shipping partner that fulfills their requirements and satisfies the customer entirely. At that point of time, they lacked API, so they weren’t able to submit orders automated from the system. After lots of searching for a dropshipping partner, they couldn’t find any reliable one so they decided to start their own drop-shipping business.

After five years of successfully running the business, it has evolved from a startup offering 3 products: t-shirts, canvas, and posters, to a $64 million turnover business that offers embroidery, screen printing, and many more thousands of items to over 7 lakh business customers.

Key reasons behind the company’s extraordinary performance:

  1. The first key is the hard work and zeal towards the outperformance of younger generations. Siksnans says: “One is that the younger generations are trying to stand out; they’re not buying as many branded items from Gap or Abercrombie & Fitch or H&M and instead are buying smaller brands and, increasingly, printed apparel. This has benefited print-on-demand greatly.”
  2. The second key is the growth of social media platforms and the popularity of social media influencers who makes money through online advertising or opening their own e-commerce shops.
  3. Another key towards the success of the business is the building of partnerships with many prevalent e-commerce platforms like Shopify from a very early stage.

Printful Business Model

Above, we have already discussed the history and the global emergency of printful. Now, we will move on to discussing the printful business model in detail.

Printful is basically an on-demand printing and fulfillment company that is helping people to turn their ideas into physical products and create their own brand. If someone wishes to create an online brand and is looking for a fulfillment partner, or is looking to gift someone a personalized t-shirt, printful has got him/ her covered. One can easily make a purchase through the platform, the order is automatically received by them, fulfilled, and then delivered to the desired address successfully in the best quality possible. The company delivers products that make a lasting, and meaningful impression.

Printful is working to offer merchants, artists, and other creators an opportunity to run a successful online business without investing any money in production and logistics. The company is entrusted to take care of everything related to the printing process, product storage, and delivery, allowing business customers to dedicate their time to create a design on the Design Maker tool present on the platform and advertise their product.

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As per reports, the company has experienced rapid growth in the past years with its revenue increasing by almost 80 % and exceeding $200 million in 2020. Since its launch, Printful has sold over 32 million customized products to customers all over the world and has performed great during the global pandemic. Its partnership with the most popular eCommerce platform such as Shopify, Etsy, WooCommerce, Wix, etc has helped a lot in attaining such heights.

Here are the few key features of the company:

  1. Global fulfillment: We all know how important and life-changing global fulfillment can be for a business. The opportunity to introduce your products to new customers and position yourself as a “global brand” can create a strong brand position within the hugely competitive market. Printful has been successful in providing global fulfillment to its customers at very good shipping rates.
  2. User-friendly designing tools: Printful allows its customers to create customized and unique designs using its Design Maker tool. One has the option to choose hundreds of clipart, shapes, symbols and has access to 80 million photos and illustrations from Getty Images. It is a perfect tool for creating unique and in-demand product styles for a business.
  3. No minimum order headache: Investing a lot of money and filling up the stockroom seems difficult for many new business owners. To avoid this headache, printful doesn’t limit its customers with the minimum order compensation. One can save money and avoid the leftover stock. The products are created only when the customer places an order.
  4. No upfront costs: Printful does not charge any monthly cost or upfront fees. It will only charge you for fulfillment and shipping that also only when you receive an order from your customer and finalize it through the Printful platform.
  5. Automated procedure: Printful has a partnership with almost every marketing and e-commerce development platform such as Shopify, Wix. You can easily take orders and import the order from your store to the printful platform automatically to complete the fulfillment process quickly and easily.
  6. Custom branding: Printful offers a personal branding option to its business customers. From labels to packing, everything can be delivered under your brand name.
  7. Best-in-class quality: Every item ordered through printful comes with reliable quality. Brands can make impressions with quality items on their customers.
  8. 24/7 support: Printful offers 24/7 support to its customers, design services on the platform, and software tools to help you in keeping your online store running smoothly.

Customer procurement channels:

Effective email marketing

  • The platform acquires emails by offering downloadable content and via exit pop-ups
  • Maintains brand awareness through emails
  • Uses discounts and key takeaways to customers to encourage a second purchase


  • Printful offers technical integration with almost all popular e-commerce platforms including, Shopify, Etsy, Wix, etc.


  • Targeting users using Facebook ads
  • Youtube ads
  • Google ads

Blogging and social media marketing

  • Printful provides quality information regarding business tricks and tips as a source of traffic on its platform
  • It is creating huge brand awareness through, almost all social media platforms.

Printful Products

  1. Men’s clothing:
  • T-shirts
  • All-over shirts
  • Polo shirts
  • Tank tops
  • ¾ sleeve shirts
  • Long sleeve shirts
  • Embroidered shirts
  • Jackets
  • Hoodies
  • Sweatshirts
  • Sweatpants & Joggers
  • Underwear
  • Leggings
  • Shorts
  1. Women’s clothing:
  • T-shirts
  • All-over shirts
  • Tank tops
  • Crop tops
  • Embroidered shirts
  • ¾ sleeve shirts
  • Long sleeve shirts
  • Hoodies
  • Sweatshirts
  • Jackets
  • Sweatpants & Joggers
  • Leggings
  • Skirts
  • Shorts
  • Dresses
  • Swimwear Sports bras
  1. Kid and youth’s clothing:
  • T-shirts
  • All-over shirts
  • Long sleeve shirts
  • Jackets
  • Hoodies
  • Hats
  • Baby bibs
  • Leggings
  • Baby bodysuits
  • Swimwear
  1. Hats:
  • Dad hats/ Baseball caps
  • Snapbacks
  • Tucker hats
  • 5-panel hats
  • Mesh hats
  • Beanies
  • Bucket hats
  • Visors
  1. Accessories:
  • Tote bags
  • Laptop cases
  • Duffle bags
  • Drawstring bags
  • Fanny packs
  • Backpacks
  • Phone cases
  • Jewelry ( bracelets, necklaces, earrings)
  • Socks
  • Face masks
  • Keychains
  • Flip Flops
  1. Home/ Living:
  • Water bottles
  • Coffee mugs
  • Blankets
  • Pillows
  • Posters
  • Framed Posters
  • Canvas printing
  • Flags
  • Towels
  • Embroidered aprons
  • Bean bags
  • Pet products
  • Postcards
  • Notebooks
  • Stickers
  1. Hats:
  • Dad hats/ Baseball caps
  • Snapbacks
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Printful is still working to explore more products to add to its business model. Let’s wait and watch what new it adds up this time.

Printful’s top competitors

Although Printful is an outstanding option and one of the most excellent tools for business owners looking for on-demand and dropshipping services yet it is not the only platform present in the market offering the same services. Let’s discuss some of the best alternatives to Printful:

Printify is again an excellent tool for business owners who wants to deliver a wide range of products to customers. This platform has more than 250 product options to choose from. Its key features are as follows:

  • It outsources your printing orders and fulfillment
  • Printify doesn’t warehouse the products of its customers like Printful
  • Printify has integration with Etsy, WooCommerce, and Shopify only whereas Printful has a partnership with numerous eCommerce platforms

Here, the international shipping takes 10-30 days.

Features common in Printify and Printful:

  • Both these dropshipping businesses provide print-on-demand custom products such as clothing, accessories, home/ living collections, etc
  • They both are very user friendly
  • No minimum order limits on both the platforms
  • 24/7 customer support
  • No setup cost required

Teelaunch is another similar platform that delivers on-demand dropshipping. It is a relatively new player in the market. The out of the box part of the business is that there are many engrossing products available on this platform. For example, customized bamboo cutting board, bath mat, garden flag, rugs, framed canvas, insulated water bottle, pint glass, yard signs, wood cutting board, wine tumbler, spiralbound notebook, shower curtain, platters, plates, backpacks, etc. Here are the product categories present on the website:

  1. Accessories
  2. Apparel
  3. Drinkware
  4. Home Goods
  5. Kitchenware
  6. Lifestyle
  7. Monogram
  8. Office
  9. Pets
  10. Wall Art

Its key features are as follows:

  • It is exclusive made for Shopify
  • It provides 50% off on samples for store owners
  • Shipping time is approximately 5 to 6 days
  • Unlike Printful, It provides an option for shipping from Australia

We have discussed the topmost competitors of Printful at the present time. However, there are more on the list. Namely,

  1. SPOD
  2. Apliiq Dropship
  3. CustomCat
  4. Lulu Xpress
  5. T-Pop
  6. JetPrint: Print On Demand
  7. AOP+ Easy Print on Demand
  8. Teefurry
  9. Society6
  10. Spreadshirt
  11. Spreadshop
  12. Teespring
  13. Redbubble

Who are Printful’s investors?

According to Crunchbase, Printful has successfully raised a total of $130 million in funding from Bregal Sagemount on May 24, 2021. This year, the company has seen a revenue rise of around 80% amid the e-commerce boom. Latham & Watkins and Goodwin Procter are the sponsors of this investment which has lifted the printing and warehousing company’s valuation above $1 billion. The company has scaled a team of 1800+ people across 8 accomplishment hubs all around the world.

How does Printful work?

Printful print-on-demand business platform allows its business customers to launch an online store with zero investment. Here, we will dive deep into the working of the Printful business model to answer this question- “How does Printful work?”

Printful’s Print-on-demand drop shipping

First of all, let’s understand how print-on-demand dropshipping works with Printful. Here are the few simple steps to be followed to get started with it:

  1. Sign up on the platform and connect your online store using one of the various e-commerce integrations present
  2. Create your high-quality custom products using the Printful Design Maker tool
  3. Fill your online store easily with as many products as you like without keeping inventory or worrying about leftovers
  4. Now, your major role is in the marketing part only. You have to work hard on building your own brand. Printful posts various content on its blog for inspiration and tips to help business owners build their brand.
  5. When a customer buys something from your online store, the order is automatically imported to Printful. They charge the fulfillment cost and you are left with the profit from your retail price.
  6. The order’s printing, packing, add pack-ins, and shipping everything is done under your brand name through Printful.
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Printful’s Warehousing and Fulfillment

Let’s move on to discussing the working of Printful’s warehousing and fulfillment.

With Printful’s warehousing and fulfillment services, you (as an online store owner) can store your products in Printful’s warehouses. Whenever an order is made by your customer from the online store, the order is automatically imported to Printful from your store. As soon as the data is received, Printful packs the order for your customer and ships it directly to him/her under your brand name. Here are the few steps to be followed to access this facility:

  1. Create a free account on Printful and connect your online store using one of the various e-commerce integrations present on the platform
  2. You have to submit your product descriptions and send the inventory to them once they approve for storage
  3. Sync the products that you send them with your online store management system
  4. Now, just focus on promoting your online store through advertising on all social media platforms, build your brand, and make your sales while they take care of your store’s orders
  5. When an order is received from your online store, Printful automatically gets the order, fulfills it, and charge you the fulfillment and shipping fee
  6. Printful packs your order and ships everything directly to your customers under your brand name
  7. When your stock runs low, Printful send you an email to inform you about it

Pros and Cons of using Printful

Printful pros:

  • User-friendly interface
  • Quick effortless setup
  • Low-risk dropshipping business model
  • Warehouses both in the US and Europe
  • Huge list of high-quality products
  • White-label printing
  • Branding services
  • Available integrations with the most popular platforms
  • Easy-to-setup API
  • 24/7 support
  • Product personalization options
  • Printful app for iOS and Android
  • Product mockup generator
  • No monthly fees
  • No minimum order purchase
  • No outsourcing

Printful cons:

  • Can’t mass edit product variables
  • Limited product mock-up images
  • Higher shipping fees compared to other providers
  • Shipping delivery takes longer than usual – average shipping takes 4 business days


According to Forbes, online shopping is predicted to grow more in 2021 if retail sales goes to decreasing particularly because of the social distancing norms. Millions of startups have come up with their online shops, merging in the POD market across numerous platforms. Shopify claims to be the third-largest U.S online retailer, Etsy reports an increase of 26.4% in its seller base, and Printify also shows a growth trend as its monthly average count has seen triple-digit growth from 2019 to 2020. All this shows how actively business owners are moving towards online platforms.

Also, the personalization trend continues to grow especially in the Gen Z community. They are highly influenced by social media influencers on Instagram, Tik Tok, and Youtubers. Being a part of the ongoing trend, Print-on-demand businesses should constantly work to offer new and innovative items to meet customer’s changing demands.

If you are willing to launch an on-demand printing and fulfillment services providing platform similar to Printful( Printful clone), Ncrypted Technologies has the right solutions developed by our capable and innovative workforce. We offer customized and innovative features as per your requirement to let you launch a successful on-demand printing and fulfillment services providing platform.


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