Best Print-on-Demand Online Merchandise Stores
You Don't Have to Be a Great Artist to Sell POD
One of the beauties of running a POD merchandise store, is that you don't have to be good at art!
Text, photos, patterns and simple graphics are all very popular on these sites. All you need is an eye for what's popular and a little creativity.
Humour is a particularly successful category, as are slogans.
What Are Print-on-Demand Merchandise Shops?
Print-on-Demand (POD) websites enable you to sell products online such as tee-shirts, mugs and bags, without holding stock or big investments. They have become big business and are a great way for you to make money from your art no-matter your circumstances or background.
Previously if an artist wanted to get their art onto products to sell, options were limited. You could license your work to manufacturers for a small amount per product, or invest lots of money getting products printed and sell them yourself. Many people still use these methods and make a good living from it. But luckily there is a new option for us all. POD doesn't require a big investment or dealing with manufacturers and agents and gives you complete control.
How It Works
Sign up to a site like the ones listed below. You upload your artwork and choose which products you would like it to be available on. Products are available in your own online shop and when someone buys one the POD company print, process and ship the item for you—they even handle returns and customer service. Products are only printed to order, so there is no stock left over. Each item has a base price (which goes to the POD site) and you choose how much commission you want on top of that. An average commission rate is about 10–25% and this is what you get on any sold products. You are then sent payments for your total commission at certain times of the year, depending on your chosen settings.
With over 2 million shops and 300 million products currently available, Cafepress.com is possibly the most popular POD website in the World and has a reputation for high-quality products and exceptional customer service.
- Based in: USA
- Product Range: 250-300, including clothing, gifts, home-wares, stationary and accessories
- Organic Products: Yes! T-shirts for men, women and children
- Customisable Store: Yes! Header, Featured Products, Categories, Templates and HTML
- Clothing Sizes: Vary by product but sizes include Men~ S-4XL, Women~ S-2XL and Women Plus~ 16-34
- Fees: 2 Options (see chart below)
- Your Shop URL: cafepress.com/SHOPID
- Compatible With Own Website?: They do not recommend embedding your store but there is a widget available.
- Extras: Shop performance bonus. Earn $100+ to get a 10–30% bonus on base sales for that month.
No Up Front Costs
10% (up to $10 USD) taken from Royalty Cheques
$6.95~ 1 Month
$18.45~ 3 Months ($6.15pm)
$34.95~ 6 Months ($5.83pm)
$59.95~ 12 Months ($5pm)
Hot on the tail of Cafepress is Zazzle.com with nearly 1 million sellers and 20 million visitors per month. They have shipped items to 225 countries, including Antarctica, and boast a huge range of products to choose from.
- Based in: USA
- Product Range: 350+, including clothing, gifts, home-wares, stationary and accessories
- Organic Products: Yes! Clothing and bags
- Customisable Store: Yes! Completely customisable to match your brand.
- Clothing Sizes: Vary by product but sizes include Men~ S-6XL and Women~ S-2XL
- Fees: None
- Your Shop URL: zazzle.com/MYSTORENAME
- Compatible With Own Website?: Flash Panel Widget
- Extras: Proseller Program. Earn $100+ (lifetime) to earn added benefits. Customers can comment on your products and can become 'fans', being updated on your latest products. Trending search topics listed on the Zazzle homepage.
Not Just for Artists
POD is an ideal additional income for charities and brands.
You don't even have to sell your creations. Print-on-Demand is a fantastic way to create team uniforms, promotional items and personalized items for special occasions such as T-shirts for hen dos or stickers for party bags.
The first and only UK based POD Merchandise website. Streetshirts.co.uk is not as big as the above two but still has a lot to offer including being the only one here that lets you use your own domain name!
- Based in: UK
- Product Range: 150, including clothing, underwear, toys, drinkware and accessories
- Organic Products: Yes! T-shirts for men and women
- Customisable Store: Yes! It can also be designed to be embedded into your own site.
- Clothing Sizes: Vary by product but sizes include Men~ S-4XL and Women~ XS-XL
- Fees: None
- Your Shop URL: streetshirts.co.uk/YOUROWNUNIQUENAME or your own Domain
- Compatible With Own Website?: Generated code for embedding.
- Extras: You can choose to have your design printed or embroidered onto items. Choose up to 16 colours from their pallet of 500. FREE shipping for the UK.
Spreadshirt.net is not the biggest POD store website, but it does have a lot of unique features to offer which I think gives them an edge over the others.
- Based in: Germany
- Product Range: 123, including clothing, gift certificates, home-wares, pet accessories and bags.
- Organic Products: Yes! Clothing for men, women and children/babies
- Customisable Store: Yes! Header, Footer, HTML and Colours
- Clothing Sizes: Vary by product but sizes include Men~ S-3XL, Women~ S-XL
- Fees: None or £6.66pm for premium (see extras)
- Your Shop URL: SHOPNAME.spreadshirt.net
- Compatible With Own Website?: iFrame embedding available. You can also add your shop to your Facebook page~ customers won't have to leave your page to order.
- Extras: Premium accounts includes no ads, personalised invoices, shopping incentives, multiple shops and newsletters. Sell your design in the marketplace and earn commission when others buy using your designs in their customised products. "Blog This" button on each product, making it easy to tell your audience about your products.
Where do you sell your custom merchandise?
Things to Consider Before Selling Personalised Merchandise Online
Which POD site you use will depend on your personal and business needs. Before you decide, make sure you take the following into account...
- Currency Conversion Fees: If you use a site that is not based in your own country, there may be an extra fee to pay when it comes to collecting your royalties. Check your payment settings and with your bank if you are unsure. I got caught out with this once. I got a cheque from Cafepress and lost most of it to the currency charges.
- Import Fees and Delivery Times: Consider where your main audience is from. If they are mostly in a different country to the POD site they will probably have to wait a long time for their orders and have to pay added import taxes which will put them off being repeat customers. Double-check with the sites (for example Cafepress.co.uk items are still sent from the USA NOT the UK) and try a test order.
- Marketing: As with all businesses, you cannot rely on your items to sell themselves. Just because they are part of another site, it does not mean you will be easily found. These sites are very popular and there is huge competition. Learn all you can about marketing online products and be prepared to spend more time telling others about your stuff than creating it.
- Copyright: Make sure you have the right to use the images on your products. This also goes for quotes, fonts, names and photos—you don't want to be sued for thousands, even if you didn't make a penny on it in the first place!
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.