A Deep Dive into Shopify vs Printful: Expert’s Insights
In the world of print on demand (POD) and dropshipping, choosing the right platform is crucial for the success of your business. Shopify and Printful are two popular options that cater to the needs of online entrepreneurs, print-on-demand businesses, e-commerce ventures, startups, and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
Let’s dive into a comprehensive comparison of Shopify vs Printful to help you make an informed decision.
- Shopify is best for entrepreneurs and businesses looking for a comprehensive e-commerce platform that offers extensive customization options, order fulfillment, inventory management, and a wide range of sales features.
- Printful is best for those primarily focused on print-on-demand services, dropshipping, and seamless integration with existing online stores.
Shopify vs Printful: The Key Difference
Shopify focuses on providing a comprehensive platform for establishing an online business. It is built to be an all-inclusive platform where businesses can set up an online store, manage inventory, accept payments, and even handle shipping processes. While it’s not specifically designed for POD or dropshipping, Shopify does integrate with several POD and dropshipping providers, creating a well-rounded solution that can cater to various business needs.
On the other hand, Printful is a platform that specializes in POD and dropshipping services. Rather than being an all-in-one eCommerce platform, Printful is laser-focused on providing high-quality, custom print products and a seamless dropshipping service.
Shopify vs Printful: Pros and Cons
Pros and Cons of Shopify
- Comprehensive E-commerce Tools: Shopify provides a wide range of features, including inventory management, marketing tools, analytics, and payment gateways. It offers a complete solution for building and managing your online store.
- Extensive App Store: Shopify App Store offers a vast selection of apps and integrations to enhance your store’s functionality. From marketing and SEO tools to customer support and automation, you can find the right apps to meet your specific business requirements.
- Customization Options: Shopify allows you to customize your store’s design, layout, and content using its intuitive drag-and-drop editor. You have control over branding, creating a unique storefront that aligns with your brand identity.
- Monthly Subscription Fees: Shopify operates on a subscription-based model, requiring you to pay a monthly fee. While it offers various pricing plans, this recurring cost may not be suitable for businesses with tight budgets or those just starting out.
- Transaction Fees: In addition to the subscription fees, Shopify charges transaction fees for each sale made on the platform. This can eat into your profit margins, particularly for high-volume businesses.
Pros and Cons of Printful
- Print-on-Demand Expertise: Printful specializes in print-on-demand services, offering a wide range of customizable products. Its expertise in printing and fulfillment ensures high-quality products and reliable order processing.
- No Upfront Costs: With Printful, you don’t need to invest in inventory upfront. You only pay for products when an order is placed, allowing you to focus on marketing and generating sales without the financial risk associated with stocking inventory.
- Limited E-commerce Features: While Printful offers a strong print-on-demand solution, it lacks the comprehensive e-commerce features found in platforms like Shopify. It does not provide full control over inventory management and marketing tools, which may be limitations for businesses that need those features to grow their businesses to the next level.
- Printful’s Product Range: Although Printful offers a variety of products, its selection may not be as extensive as that of other print-on-demand providers. If you require specific products beyond Printful’s offerings, you may need to explore other options.
Shopify vs Printful: Infographic
|Pricing||Have to pay a subscription fee to use it.||No subscription fee.|
|Apps and integration||Could integrate with other e-commerce platforms as well as sales and marketing tools.||Could integrate with e-commerce platforms only.|
|Sales features||Only Shopify has: Inventory Management and Stock Keeping Unit (SKU).|
|Help and Support||Provide support via phone, live chat and email.||Provide support through live chat and email. There is no phone support.|
Shopify vs Printful: In-depth Comparison
Shopify offers different subscription plans to accommodate businesses of all sizes. The pricing ranges from $5 to $2000 with 4 different service packages for customers to select from.
*Note that Shopify offers A SPECIAL DEAL for new merchants: You can use Shopify for free for 3 days and only need to pay $1 each month for the first three months.
You can click here to get this deal.
Shopify charges transaction fees on top of their subscription fees, which vary depending on the chosen subscription plan. The transaction fees range from 0.5–2% depending on the subscription plan you’re on. However, using Shopify Payments, the platform’s integrated payment gateway, can help you avoid these additional charges.
In addition to the subscription and transaction fees, Shopify may impose extra costs for add-ons, themes, apps, and integrations. While some of these are free, others come at an additional expense. It’s essential to carefully evaluate your business’s needs to determine which extras are necessary and factor in their costs.
Printful operates on a different pricing model. Instead of subscription fees, Printful charges a fixed margin on each product sold. In other words, you don’t need to pay for subscription fees when starting a POD business on Printful.
The pricing depends on the specific item being fulfilled, such as t-shirts, hoodies, mugs, or phone cases. You can find detailed pricing information on the Printful website.
Compared to Shopify, it seems that using Printful may be more costly. Since Printful charges fees on each item sold, the more orders you get, the more you have to pay them. Meanwhile, the subscription fee for Shopfy is fixed and will not be affected by the number of orders you place.
Printful does not charge any transaction fees. The pricing you see for each product already includes the production cost and the fixed margin. This approach allows you to have a clear understanding of your profit margins when setting the selling price for your products.
While Printful does not impose transaction fees, it’s important to note that shipping costs and taxes are not included in the base price. You should account for these additional expenses when calculating the overall cost of your products. Additionally, if you choose to integrate Printful with an e-commerce platform like Shopify, you might incur any fees associated with the integration.
Table comparison in terms of overall pricing
|Subscription fees||$5 – $2000||Fixed margin on each product sold|
|Transaction fees||0 – 2%||$0|
|Additional fees||Varied based on orders||Varied based on orders|
|Conclusion||Depend on your business model to choose the better one.|
Shopify is the winner in terms of pricing as it is more cost-effective in the longer term.
Sales Features both Shopify and Printful have:
- E-commerce Platform: Both Shopify and Printful offer an e-commerce platform that allows you to create and manage your online store. These platforms provide a user-friendly interface for managing products, orders, and customer data.
- Integration: Both platforms integrate with various third-party applications and tools to enhance your e-commerce operations. You can connect them with popular services like social media platforms, email marketing tools, and inventory management systems to streamline your business processes.
- Customization: Shopify and Printful provide customization options to create a unique and branded shopping experience. You can customize your storefront, product pages, and checkout process to align with your brand identity and provide a seamless user experience.
- Order Fulfillment: Both platforms offer order fulfillment services. Printful specializes in print-on-demand products and handles the printing, packaging, and shipping of your custom merchandise directly to your customers. Shopify provides fulfillment options through its integration with various fulfillment centers and dropshipping services.
Sales Features only Shopify has
- Inventory Management: Shopify includes robust inventory management tools that allow you to track stock levels, receive notifications for low inventory, and manage product variants. This feature is beneficial if you sell a wide range of products and need comprehensive control over your inventory.
- SKU (Stock Keeping Unit): Shopify allows you to assign unique SKUs to your products, making it easier to track and manage inventory. SKUs are alphanumeric codes that help identify each product variant and streamline your inventory management processes.
considering the sales features that work for scalability as well as the product range available, Shopify is the better choice.
Apps and Integrations
Shopify provides a robust ecosystem of apps and integrations—8,000+ apps—to enhance your online store’s functionality and streamline various business processes. Some key apps and integrations available on Shopify include:
- Product Customization: Shopify offers apps that enable product customization like Printful, Printify, etc., allowing customers to personalize items like unisex t-shirts, mugs, hoodies, yoga pants, jewelry, posters, and more. These customization options can enhance customer engagement and drive sales.
- Shipping and Fulfillment: Shopify integrates with popular shipping carriers, enabling you to offer real-time shipping rates to your customers. Additionally, you can seamlessly connect with fulfillment centers and dropshipping services to automate order fulfillment and improve efficiency.
- Marketing and Sales: Shopify provides a wide range of marketing apps and integrations to boost your online store’s visibility and drive sales. These include email marketing tools, social media integrations, affiliate marketing platforms, and SEO optimization apps.
Printful focuses primarily on print-on-demand services and offers integrations that are specifically tailored to enhance your POD business. Some notable apps and integrations provided by Printful include:
- E-commerce Platforms: Printful seamlessly integrates with popular e-commerce platforms, including Shopify, WooCommerce, Etsy, and more. This integration allows you to sync your products, inventory, and orders, making it easier to manage your print-on-demand business.
- Payment Gateways: Printful supports various payment gateways, including major providers like PayPal and Stripe. This allows you to offer flexible payment options to your customers, ensuring a smooth and secure transaction process.
Not only could Shopify support e-commerce platforms, but it could also connect to marketing and sales tools as well as delivery websites. Meanwhile, Printful’s integration capacity is still limited to platforms that support e-commerce only.
It is obvious that Shopify is the one that takes the lead in this comparison category.
Ease of Use
Shopify is known for its user-friendly interface and intuitive design, making it accessible even for users with limited technical expertise. Some key aspects that contribute to Shopify’s ease of use include:
- Set-Up and Configuration: Shopify simplifies the process of setting up an online store. With a straightforward onboarding process and a user-friendly dashboard, you can quickly configure your store, manage products, and customize your storefront without requiring extensive technical knowledge.
- Theme Customization: Shopify provides a wide range of professionally designed themes, allowing you to create a visually appealing online store without any coding skills. You can easily customize the look and feel of your storefront, add product images, and showcase your print-on-demand items such as t-shirts, mugs, hoodies, jewelry, posters, and more.
- Simple App Integration: Shopify offers a vast ecosystem of apps and integrations that enhance the functionality of your online store. These apps can be easily installed and integrated into your store, allowing you to expand your sales channels, enhance marketing efforts, and streamline various business operations. This means everything is brought to your table, making it super easy for you to grow your business.
Printful focuses on providing a seamless and user-friendly experience specifically tailored for print-on-demand businesses. Here’s why Printful is considered easy to use:
- Integration with E-commerce Platforms: Printful integrates smoothly with popular e-commerce platforms, including Shopify, WooCommerce, and Etsy. This integration allows you to sync your products, inventory, and orders seamlessly, simplifying the management of your print-on-demand business.
- Product Mock-up Generation: Printful offers user-friendly tools for generating product mock-ups. You can easily upload your designs, visualize how they will appear on various products like t-shirts, mugs, hoodies, yoga pants, jewelry, and more, and make necessary adjustments to ensure a high-quality result.
- Order Management and Fulfillment: Printful’s order management system is designed for ease of use. It provides a clear overview of your orders, including status updates, production, and shipping information. Once an order is placed, Printful handles the printing, packaging, and shipping of the products directly to your customers.
If you value a comprehensive e-commerce platform with extensive customization options and a wide range of apps and integrations, Shopify is a strong contender.
Shopify is renowned for its scalability, offering features and tools to accommodate businesses of all sizes. Here’s how Shopify is well prepared for your business to grow, even exponentially:
- Flexible Plans: Shopify provides different subscription plans, allowing you to choose the level of features and resources that align with your business needs. As your business grows, you can easily upgrade to a higher-tier plan to access additional functionalities and increased storage capacity.
- App Marketplace: Shopify offers a vast ecosystem of apps and integrations in its App Marketplace. These apps can extend the functionality of your store, providing scalability options for inventory management, marketing automation, customer support, analytics, and more. As your business expands, you can leverage these apps to enhance various aspects of your operations.
- Server Infrastructure: Shopify handles the server infrastructure, ensuring that your online store remains accessible and responsive, even during periods of high traffic. This scalability ensures that your store can handle increased customer visits and transactions without compromising performance.
Printful’s scalability focuses on meeting the needs of print-on-demand businesses. Here’s how Printful supports scalability:
- Integration with E-commerce Platforms: Printful seamlessly integrates with popular e-commerce platforms such as Shopify, WooCommerce, and Etsy. This integration allows you to leverage the scalability features provided by these platforms, including their server infrastructure and scalability options.
- Production Capacity: Printful operates multiple production facilities to handle high order volumes efficiently. As your print-on-demand business grows, Printful can accommodate increased demand and ensure timely production and delivery of your custom products, such as t-shirts, mugs, hoodies, jewelry, posters, and more.
- API Access: Printful provides API access, enabling you to build custom integrations and automate various processes. This scalability option allows you to streamline your print-on-demand operations and efficiently manage a growing volume of orders.
If you seek comprehensive scalability with a wide range of features and resources for overall e-commerce growth, Shopify is an ideal choice.
On the other hand, if you operate a print-on-demand business and prioritize scalability within the specific context of print-on-demand services, Printful provides the necessary tools and production capacity to meet your scaling needs.
Shopify is still the winner in this comparison round since it could provide support in a larger capacity compared to Printful, which focuses on print-on-demand services only.
Help and Support
Shopify is known for its extensive support resources and reliable customer service:
- Help Center: Shopify offers a comprehensive Help Center that includes documentation, tutorials, guides, and FAQs covering various topics. It serves as a valuable self-service resource for troubleshooting and finding answers to common questions.
- 24/7 Support: Shopify provides 24/7 customer support via live chat, email, and phone. This round-the-clock availability ensures that you can reach out for assistance at any time, regardless of your geographical location.
- Community Forums: Shopify maintains an active community forum where users can interact, seek advice, and share insights. Engaging with the community allows you to tap into the collective knowledge and experience of other Shopify users.
- Customer Support: Printful offers customer support via email and 24/7 live chat. Their support team is responsive and strives to address inquiries promptly. You can rely on their assistance for any questions or concerns related to the print-on-demand process, product quality, or order fulfillment. However, they don’t offer phone support.
- Knowledge Base: Printful maintains a knowledge base that provides detailed information and step-by-step guides on various topics, including integration, product creation, order management, and shipping. This resource can help you navigate through different aspects of using the Printful platform.
So, on the one hand, Shopify excels with its 24/7 customer support, extensive documentation, and active community forums. It provides comprehensive resources for troubleshooting and learning.
On the other hand, Printful only provides customer support through live chat, email, and community forums, specifically tailored to the needs of print-on-demand businesses.
Shopify is better in terms of customer service.
- Secure Hosting: Shopify hosts your online store on a secure and reliable infrastructure. It employs robust security protocols, including firewalls and encryption, to safeguard your data and prevent unauthorized access.
- Payment Security: Shopify ensures secure transactions by integrating with reputable payment gateways that comply with industry standards, such as Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) compliance. This ensures that customer payment information is protected during the checkout process.
- Data Protection: Shopify regularly backs up your store data to safeguard against data loss. In the event of an unforeseen incident, you can rely on these backups to restore your store to its previous state.
- Two-factor authentication (2FA): Printify applies two-factor authentication in order to strengthen the privacy of users’ data and protect accounts from unauthorized access.
- Data Encryption: Printful utilizes secure socket layer (SSL) encryption to protect data transmitted between your online store and their platform. This encryption ensures that customer information remains confidential and protected.
Shopify is the winner as it provides all the security methods Printful has, plus some more advanced measures.
Themes and Designs
Shopify provides a wide range of professionally designed themes and customizable options to create visually stunning online stores, specifically:
- Theme Selection: Shopify offers a diverse selection of themes, both free and paid, to suit different industries and aesthetics. These themes are designed to be mobile-responsive, ensuring that your store looks great on any device.
- Customization: Shopify’s themes can be easily customized using the platform’s intuitive drag-and-drop editor. You can customize the layout, colors, fonts, and other visual elements to match your brand identity and create a unique storefront.
- Third-Party Themes: In addition to Shopify’s own themes, there is a wide range of third-party themes available in the Shopify Theme Store. These themes are created by independent designers and offer even more options for customization and design flexibility.
Printful’s focus is primarily on print-on-demand services rather than pre-designed themes In fact, they don’t provide as many design themes and shop customization options as Shopify.
However, Printful offers design tools and mock-up generators to help you create visually appealing product representations:
- Product Mock-ups: Printful provides mock-up generators for various products, including unisex t-shirts, mugs, hoodies, yoga pants, jewelry, posters, and more. These tools allow you to visualize and present your designs on different products effectively.
- Design Tools: Printful integrates with design tools such as Canva, allowing you to create and customize designs for your print-on-demand products. These tools provide flexibility and creative control in designing your merchandise.
Shopify is the winner as it offers a more extensive selection of pre-designed themes and comprehensive customization options.
Shopify vs Printful: Table Comparison
|The Verdict||Overall Winner|
|Pricing||Subscription fees, transaction fees and Additional fees||Fixed margin on each product sold|
|Sales Features||E-commerce Platform + Integration + Customization + Order Fulfillment + Inventory Management + SKU||E-commerce Platform + Integration + Order Fulfillment + Payment Gateways|
|Apps and Integrations||8,000+ apps available||Specific integrations for print-on-demand business.|
|Ease of Use||User-friendly interface + App integration + Simple setup||User-friendly experience + Integration with e-commerce platforms|
|Scalability||Flexible plans + App marketplace + Server infrastructure||Integration with e-commerce platforms + Production capacity|
|Help and Support||24/7 support via live chat, phone, and email + Help Center + Community Forums||24/7 live chat + Email support + Knowledge Base|
|Themes and Designs||Wide range of professionally designed themes + Customization||Theme selection + Customization|
Who should use Shopify? And who should use Printful?
Who should use Shopify?
Shopify is an ideal choice for the following target customers:
- Online Entrepreneurs: Shopify provides a comprehensive e-commerce platform with robust tools and features. It is suitable for online entrepreneurs who want a user-friendly solution for managing their online stores, regardless of the industry.
- E-commerce Businesses: Existing e-commerce businesses looking to diversify their product range, including print-on-demand items, can benefit from Shopify’s integration capabilities. It offers seamless integration with various apps and tools to enhance inventory management, order fulfillment, and payment processing.
- Startups and SMEs: Small and medium-sized enterprises and startups seeking an easy-to-use, scalable, and cost-effective e-commerce solution can leverage Shopify’s extensive features. It allows them to establish an online presence quickly and efficiently while providing room for growth.
Who should use Printful?
Printful caters specifically to the needs of print-on-demand businesses. It is a suitable choice for customer groups below:
- Print-on-Demand Business Owners: Printful specializes in print-on-demand services, making it an ideal platform for businesses that create custom merchandise such as t-shirts, mugs, posters, jackets, and more. Printful’s seamless integration with various e-commerce platforms streamlines the order fulfillment process for print-on-demand businesses.
- Online Entrepreneurs: Online entrepreneurs looking to expand their product offerings without the need for inventory management can benefit from Printful. Its print-on-demand model allows entrepreneurs to offer a wide range of customizable products without the upfront costs and risks associated with stocking inventory.
Shopify vs Printful: FAQs
The answer is: If you need advanced ecommerce features to develop your business faster. While Printful specializes in print-on-demand services, it primarily focuses on order fulfillment and product customization. However, if you want to create a comprehensive online store with advanced e-commerce features, including inventory management, payment gateways, and customization options beyond print-on-demand, Shopify can complement Printful by providing a robust e-commerce platform.
Printify is a print-on-demand platform similar to Printful. Both platforms offer product customization, order fulfillment, and integration options. However, Shopify is a full-fledged e-commerce platform that encompasses a wide range of features beyond print-on-demand, such as inventory management, marketing tools, and a larger selection of themes and apps. Printify integrates with Shopify, allowing you to combine their print-on-demand services with Shopify’s ecommerce capabilities.
Yes, you can make money with Printful. Printful enables you to create and sell custom products without the need for inventory or upfront costs. By setting competitive prices and marketing your products effectively, you can generate profits. However, success depends on factors such as product quality, design uniqueness, effective marketing strategies, and customer demand.
Print-on-demand can be profitable on Shopify if you approach it strategically. By identifying popular niches, creating unique designs, optimizing product listings, implementing effective marketing campaigns, and providing excellent customer service, you can generate sales and profit margins. The key is to offer high-quality products with compelling designs that resonate with your target audience.
Yes, you can integrate Printful with Shopify. Printful offers seamless integration with Shopify, allowing you to sync your store, add print-on-demand products, and automate the order fulfillment process. The integration enables you to manage your products, track inventory, and process orders seamlessly within the Shopify platform.
With the Printful integration, Shopify handles the front-end of your store, while Printful manages the back-end, including order fulfillment and shipping.
When a customer places an order on your Shopify store, Printful automatically receives the order details and proceeds with the production and shipping processes. Printful’s shipping rates are applied based on the destination and the products ordered, ensuring a streamlined and hassle-free shipping experience for you and your customers.
Shopify vs Printful: Conclusion
Choosing the right platform depends on your business goals and requirements. While Printful focuses on print-on-demand services and order fulfillment, Shopify offers a comprehensive e-commerce platform with advanced features. By integrating Printful with Shopify, you can combine the strengths of both platforms and create a successful online business.