Etsy Accepts First Print-on-Demand Drop Shipping App, Printful

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Etsy has approved its first print-on-demand dropshipping app integration. Sellers on the marketplace can now have their artwork printed on a variety of merchandise such as mugs, t-shirts, leggings, dresses, and pillows at Printful’s production plants and have those items drop shipped directly to customers using Printful, a Latvian-based company.

“We applaud Etsy on adopting more professional services for their sellers,” said Printful CEO, Davis Siksnans in a press release. “Sellers can continue devoting time to their craft while leaving logistics to third-parties like Printful.”

Etsy has an open API which means third-party developers like Printful can build software that integrates with the platform. Before accessing the API companies must go through an application process so that Etsy can ensure that each company is able to comply with their policies while keeping sellers in compliance as well. Approximately 235 companies have built apps that integrate with Etsy’s API including Marmalead, Viratltag, and GoDaddy Bookkeeping. Printful is now part of the Etsy app library. (I found this video helpful for understanding how APIs work.)

“We’d pitched several times to allow us to do a straight integration with Etsy, but it wasn’t successful, but several months ago we tried again and we were a bit scared, but now they approved it. So that’s changed. I can only guess what’s going on behind the scenes at Etsy that’s allowed this,” head of marketing, Raitis Purins, says. He says the Printful app hasn’t changed in that time. “We tried for several years. Many, many follow-up emails,” says Purins. Etsy declined to comment for this article.

Etsy is the thirteenth ecommerce platform integration for Printful. Others include Shopify, ShipStation, BigCartel, WooCommerce, Storenvy, and Amazon.

Up until now Etsy sellers could use Printful’s services by signing up for ShipStation, an online shipping application that had already integrated with Etsy. With Printful’s Etsy integration that intermediary step is no longer necessary.

Printful charges no minimum order and no monthly fees making it an affordable way for sellers to begin using the service. All products are printed in-house and many, such as the leggings and pillows, are cut and sewn in-house as well. “When an order comes through we charge you our retail price and whatever is left over is your profit,” Nora Inveiss, content marketer at Printful, explains.

According to Inveiss, customer service is a priority. “We’re available almost 24/7 by chat, phone and email,” she says. Sellers can add their own logo to the packaging and create a customized packing slip so that the entire experience reflects their own branding.

Printful orders take up to seven days to ship, but Purins says the average shipping time is closer to three. T-shirts start at $8.95 and leggings at $20.95. Other products include mugs, phone cases, hats, socks, posters, pillows, dresses, tote bags, and beach blankets. Printful also provides a mockup generator so that sellers can see their design before ordering and can use the mockup in their shop listing.

Baseball leggings designed by Melanie Dunn, printed, cut, sewn, and shipped by Printful. Available in Melanie’s Etsy shop and shown here using Printful’s mockup.

Etsy seller Melanie Dunn has used Printful for a year to print and ship her custom-designed leggings, dresses, and shirts through her Etsy shop, Cuttlefish Graphics. A graphic designer based in Bowling Green, Ohio, Printful allows her to sell a large variety of products without investing in inventory.

“I’ve been waiting for this integration since I added Printful as a production partner so I’m pretty excited it’s finally here,” she says. “The integration saves me over $25/month in third-party (Shipstation) costs.”

Illustrator Rachel Ignotofsky uses Printful to create and ship posters and apparel. On her Etsy shop she notes that although she’s currently on a book tour, orders will continue to ship via Printful’s facilities.

The company has two production and fulfillment centers in the United States – one in L.A. and the other in Charlotte – and nearly 400 employees. They’ve recently opened a third production center at their headquarters in Riga, Latvia.

Watch an overview of Printful in this company video.

Printful was founded in 2013 by Lauris Liberts, who in 2004 co-founded Latvia’s first social network, Draugiem which now has 2.6 million registered users. Liberts’ Draugiem Group has gone on to found and fund a whole suite of startups including Startup Vitamins (a poster company specializing in irreverent office decor for startups), and Printful which was originally built to print and fulfill Startup Vitamins’ orders.

Printful is a white label service meaning that ecommerce shops don’t have to disclose who is printing and shipping their products. Etsy sellers who use the service need to disclose that they’re using a manufacturing partner on the About page of their shop per Etsy’s requirements. “If you work with a production partner to produce any items you have designed — even if your partner was found on Etsy Manufacturing — you are required to disclose this information in your relevant listings. This information will also appear in the About section of your shop, if you have one.”

Beyond print-on-demand and drop shipping, Printful is adding additional services to better assist ecommerce sellers including warehousing and fulfillment (still in beta), graphic design, and product photography. “We have an in-house team of designers and photographers so if you’re someone who is interested in starting an ecommerce store but maybe you don’t have the designing or photography skills you can contact us and we’ll create the designs and photography them for you,” explains Inveiss.

Etsy was founded in 2005 as a marketplace for handmade goods, although critics say its struggling to hang on to the purity of this original mission. For some sellers, and perhaps for some buyers, a print-on-demand drop shipping service may feel at odds with those values. Purins says, “With Printful you can start selling on Etsy doing nothing. Basically you just have to own your designs and you’re able to start selling through Etsy. That’s basically our business model.”

Inveiss acknowledges this dissonance. “I see the opposing point of view, too, but I think ultimately this will make Etsy and operating an online store more accessible,” she says. “I think Etsy is still a place for craft makers and people who love to DIY. Even with Printful you still get to create your designs and experiment and be creative.”

Printful’s acceptance into the Etsy app store may signal that the door is now open for other print-on-demand and drop shipping companies to integrate with Etsy in the future.

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