Printful, a product of Latvian incubator Draugiem Group and the same team behind motivation startup poster maker Startup Vitamins, and the similar Behappy.me, is launching its drop shipping and custom print API and service today to let anybody set-up-shop selling custom posters, t-shirts, canvases, and other merchandise.
Of course, targeting the Long Tail of custom merchandise isn’t exactly a new idea, you may rightly say. However, the company thinks the key selling point of its service is the degree of automation that its API offers so that orders can be directly transferred without manual input, and from which Printful can take care of the additional heavy lifting: printing and, crucially, fulfilment and world-wide delivery. Though — again — other on-demand printing services, such as Print Aura or Pwinty, also offer an API.
Targeting small businesses or any website that wants to sell bespoke merchandise, the specific problem that Printful is setting out to solve is not being able to automate drop shipping and printing for one-off orders. Through its API and own facility in Los Angeles, it wants to provide those Long Tail producers and brands with the opportunity to set-up-shop without the financial risk of large pre-orders — printing and fulfilment is on-demand and one-off orders are openly encouraged — or without creating too much additional overhead/labour.
In other words, if the team were launching Startup Vitamins today, they’d be the perfect target customer for Printful. (See a similar example that’s doing just that here.)
Printful says it also differentiates itself from competitors with the range of products it offers. These include t-shirts, posters, canvases, framed posters, with more products being added over time. Monetization-wise, each product has a fixed wholesale unit price, with varying shipping charges depending on required turn-around and location. Sellers can then choose what to charge the end-customer and keep any profit.