Photographer: WTFast | Source: Unsplash

How to Increase Brand Equity by Dropshipping Merchandise and Swag via Printful and Shopify (Updated May 2023)

Who should read this?

I wrote this guide for the entrepreneur who has an established business or who is thinking about starting an online shop. The idea is to take your business to the next level by dropshipping merchandise without any upfront costs by using Shopify and Printful. Before reading this tutorial, all you will need is a Shopify account ($29/month) and a Printful account (FREE) to implement this strategy. That’s it! You do not have to outlay any capital for inventory. When someone places an order, the cost goes towards the dropship company, and you profit from the difference; it’s like magic.

If you are thinking about adding merchandise for your existing business or creating a shop from scratch then this post is for you. This is also for existing businesses or startups who already sell products online or offline, especially Shopify users. If you already have a logo, then this strategy will work well for increasing your brand equity and exposure. If you are a startup company, you can benefit by having your customers and users rock your t-shirts, hats, and other apparel. If you have an existing eCommerce company and you can benefit by adding additional items, Printful offers Phone cases, mugs, pillows, socks, tote bags, and canvas prints.

By offering official merchandise to your customers, you can organically increase your brand equity. Think about a happy customer that posts a picture on Instagram wearing your t-shirt or snapback! That’s free advertising plus an opportunity for new customer acquisition.

A little swag story.

A long time ago, I received an email from MailChimp, and they were giving out socks with their logo on them. I got it in the mail and was super stoked. I used to wear them all the time, and it just reminds me of how cool the company is. I am now more loyal to their brand.

I got curious and Googled “mail chimp socks.” Sure enough, there were many posts on Instagram and Twitter with customers posting pictures. One Twitter user tweeted, “Booya! Rocking my new @MailChimp socks! Thanks, MailChimp!”

I love these badboys!

This is guerrilla marketing at its finest. Now I am not saying you should get a ton of custom socks made for your company and give them out. But you can certainly run contests and promotions to help grow your brand with the ability to dropship merchandise anytime. For a great contest tool, I recommend Viral Loops. Contests and giveaways aside, you should definitely sell merchandise on your website for several reasons. For one, it helps increase brand equity, as discussed. Your loyal customers will proudly wear your apparel and help advertise your brand. If you get good at it, this could be a serious way to increase your company revenues. Lastly, seeing your logo on customer shirts and mugs is fun and cool.

What is Printful, and how can it help my business?

If you already have a Shopify store up and running, let’s get to the good stuff. If you are not running your store on Shopify, that’s okay. I will focus on using Printful, one of the most popular platforms based in Los Angeles. Printful integrates with most major platforms; see the note below. You can still use the service even if you have your own custom-built platform or there is no Printful integration with your software provider. I’ll explain the syncing and automation later on. Check out the video below to better understand what Printful provides as a service.

How Printul works in 2023

What is Dropshipping?

Note: Printful integrates with other store platforms besides Shopify. To see the full integration list click here, and scroll to the bottom.

For those of you who do not know what dropshipping is, it is selling products you do not hold inventory for in its simplest form. When an order comes through to your eCommerce store, your drop shipper sends the item directly to your customer on your behalf. Printful even goes as far as branding the packaging and packing slips with your logo and information! As far as your customer is concerned, the package and product came directly from you.

So let’s say a customer purchases a t-shirt from your online store. The order is completely automated if you sync Printful with your Shopify store! You will receive an email that your order came through (and you don’t need to do anything). Printful will also receive the order. They will then Print on Demand the t-shirt (they make one t-shirt when they receive the order), and then pack it and ship it to the customer with your branding and information on it! They even include a sticker with your design on the box, sweet! Printful will then send you an email notifying you that the order has been placed. You can even add the tracking information for that customer. Painless.

Create and sell custom products with print-on-demand dropshipping

If you're looking to start an online customization business, print-on-demand dropshipping is the perfect solution for you. With Printful as your pod solution, you can create and sell custom products without buying, stocking, or printing and shipping the products yourself. Printful takes care of everything from printing, packaging, and fulfillment to shipping your products directly to your customers. Once an order comes in, Printful handles everything, ensuring the fulfillment process is completely seamless. With print-on-demand dropshipping, you can easily scale up your business without worrying about the type of products printed. Whether starting small or aiming for a larger business, print-on-demand dropshipping is a great way to create a profitable customized product business.

How are Printful Products made?

Printful makes products using various methods, depending on the product itself. For apparel, such as t-shirts and tank tops, Printful uses on-demand printing technology to create the designs. This means that the design is printed onto a blank shirt using inkjet or direct-to-garment printing. Printful uses a method called dye-sublimation printing for products like hats and phone cases. This involves using heat to transfer the design onto the product, resulting in a high-quality, long-lasting print. Additionally, some products like mugs and pillows are printed using a process called digital printing, where the design is directly printed onto the product using a special printer. Printful can also offer embroidery options for items such as hats and hoodies. Printful strives to use the best and most advanced technology to create high-quality products that meet its customers' needs.

What Print-on-demand products are available through Printful?

Printful is a company that offers print-on-demand and a variety of customizable and personalized products you want. Their product range includes apparel such as t-shirts, hoodies, and phone cases, and specific products such as embroidered patches. Printful offers customers the best variety of sizes and colors to choose from to make sure every customer gets exactly what they want. Choose from a variety of popular brands, such as Gildan and Bella. These print-on-demand products are perfect for businesses on platforms like Shopify that want to sell unique designs without having to hold inventory. Printful's dashboard allows you to design from the platform., creating a personalized and engaging Shopify shop. With their t-shirt collection as the flagship product, Printful also offers several other print-on-demand apparel options to suit any business's needs.

Shipping Fees & Costs

I’m sure you are wondering what the shipping rates and costs are. There are a ton of products to choose to print on. An average t-shirt costs about 12.95, and 5 fees for each order to ship anywhere in the US. So about $19 per product (including packing and shipping). I like to sell my t-shirts for 24 plus 5 shipping, so 29.95 all in. That’s a 10% profit on one t-shirt or a 34% profit margin. You can play around with your own pricing. I’ve even seen companies that break even because they don’t care about making money on their merchandise. They just want their customers to wear their gear.

How to set up your Printful Account and Place your first sample orders

Enough reading; let’s get started. Set up your free Printful account by clicking here.

  1. From the Printful Dashboard ~ Click where it says “Connect your Shop.”
  2. Fill out your name, and email, and create a password.
  3. Next, connect your Shopify account by clicking on the Connect Your Store link. (The Printful also integrates with WooCommerce, Big Cartel, StoreEnvy, Tictail, BigCommerce, Gumroad, Opencart, and Magento.
  4. Click “Connect to an eCommerce platform, then select your platform.”
  5. You will then be prompted with directions on downloading the integration to your store. It’s pretty straightforward.
  6. Choose a product category, and select an item to order for your sample and you will get a discount
  7. Start creating your own real print by uploading clipart or your own design
  8. Use the mockup generator as a way to see what the product will look like

That’s it for now folks! Go ahead and create your drop-shipping stores, as there are no costs. For any other specific Printful questions, check their faqs page.

Part 2— How to Integrate Printful with Shopify

Here are some great resources for those considering creating your own online store. I recommend using Shopify, as I run several stores through their platform. It is by far the best eCommerce platform on the market today. It’s super easy to use, and pricing starts at $29 per month for a dedicated storefront. There are many other platforms out there that you can use, but in my opinion, Shopify is the best. Shopify also offers a world-class blog that they update frequently. There are tutorials for anything you can think of, along with their customers' success stories. It’s an absolutely valuable resource for newbies.

They even offer a 14-day trial so that you can test the waters.

The second thing you will need is a domain name and a website hosting service to host your website on. I recommend Blue Host as they offer excellent customer service. Click on the link, then set up a hosting account for as little as $3.49 monthly. They have upgraded packages as well if you plan on hosting more websites. Then the next step is creating your domain name. Type in the name of your business in the search field to see if it is available. Example: If the name of your business is “SnapTalk,” type Snaptalk.com into the box to see if it is available.

Pro Tip: If your URL or domain name is already taken, think about changing your business name to something unique if you can. This is why many startups choose silly unique names such as “Google,” “Hulu,” and “Etsy.” Type your ideal business name into Google and see what comes up. You do not want future customers searching for you on Google and mistaking you for another company. The more unique the name is the better. Choose something meaningful and returns almost no results in Google.

Advanced Tip: Run a Trademark search through the USPTO database by clicking here. Check to see if any companies have a similar business name or if there are existing trademarks. Do not file for a Trademark now; this is just good knowledge to know. You should apply for a Trademark once your business takes off. For one of my ventures Sweetberry, we spent the first two years of the business hustling and growing. After two years of tremendous growth and scaling to 20 restaurants, we finally got our Trademark approved! We spent a lot of money on Trademark attornies. For bootstrapped Entrepreneurs, I recommend applying for a Trademark through Legal Zoom. It costs around $500, and there is a long process (can take upwards of 6 months). Owning the Trademark “Sweetberry” will allow us to protect our business from impersonators or other similar businesses using our name. This simply gives us the right to defend ourselves, sue the offender, or send them a cease and desist letter to stop using our intellectual property.

Editor's note: Most of the links in this post are affiliate links.

Ready to start your own Printful + Shopify store?

If you're considering starting your own online store, Printful + Shopify is one winning combination. Shopify is an e-commerce platform that makes it easy to upsell, cross-sell, and personalize your customers' experience. Printful, on the other hand, is a print-on-demand (POD) service that lets you create and sell customized products without the need to pre-purchase inventory. Whether you're new to e-commerce or are looking to take your existing business to the next level, Printful + Shopify offers an easy and profitable way to get started. With a user-friendly interface, integrated payment processing, and robust marketing features, these two platforms make it easy to create and manage your own online store, sell products on multiple channels, and connect with your customers. If you're ready to start your Printful + Shopify store, there's no time like now!

How Does Shopify Integrate with Printful?

Shopify is a popular e-commerce platform allowing businesses to create and manage online stores. Printful is a print-on-demand and dropshipping service that helps businesses with their merchandise needs. The two platforms can integrate seamlessly, making it easy for businesses to fulfill their orders. To integrate with Printful, businesses can download the Printful app from the Shopify App Store and connect their Shopify store and Printful account. Once connected, businesses can sync and import their products, orders, and shipping information within the Shopify dashboard. The step-by-step process of integrating Printful with Shopify makes it simple for businesses to streamline their operations and focus on growing their business.

How To Connect Your Shopify Store With Printful?

To connect your Shopify store with Printful, you need to follow a few simple steps. First, sign up for a Printful account and follow the instructions to set up your store with Printful's fulfillment services. Next, install the Printful app in your Shopify store and connect the two platforms. This will allow Printful to automatically sync your products with their catalog, so you can easily create custom designs and add them to your store. Printful allows you to use their print-on-demand services and select from a wide range of products, including clothing, accessories, and home decor. As a supplier, Printful will handle the production, printing, shipping, and other logistics of fulfilling your orders. With Printful, you can run your Shopify store without worrying about managing inventory, production, or shipping.

How to Design Products, Make Mockups, and Upload Them to Your Store

To create successful products for your online store, following a well-planned design process is important. Start by brainstorming and sketching your original designs. Then, use design software to create digital mockups of your products. Once you've created your mockups, you can upload them to your online store using platforms like Shopify. To do this, you'll need to sync your Shopify store with a print-on-demand service like Printful. Printful provides an easy-to-use dashboard where you can select the printing method and sizing options for your products. When your products are uploaded to your Shopify store, create an eye-catching product page showcasing your product photos and descriptions. With Printful, you can create a wide range of products, from t-shirt collections to mugs and everything in between. By following these steps, you can create successful products for your online store and increase your sales.

What successful companies are using a store with Shopify with Printful?

Many successful companies drop ship their products using Printful, most notably Startup Vitamins. If you own a startup or are engulfed in the startup world, you have seen their motivational posters in an office somewhere. They offer everything from posters, apparel, iPhone cases, mugs, and pillows, which Printful has provided.

One of Startup Vitamins' original Canvas from Printful

Another really good example of an Art Ecommerce Store is Ikonick. The online art and canvas market has been extremely popular with other companies, such as Canvas Freaks. Dropship companies like Printful are a good place to start with their canvas and other art print options.

From the collection of Ikonick

How I’m Currently Using Printful

Let’s say you have a really awesome business, and you have customers that want to purchase your swag. One of my ventures Sweetberry, offers amazing acai bowls, smoothies, and wraps in restaurants all over the U.S. If you are from the area, come visit one of our locations :). We also physically sell merchandise and swag in our stores, such as t-shirts, mugs, tank tops, and snapbacks.

But what about online customers? There is a tremendous opportunity to increase revenues with additional products here. Our website averages 50k page views per month during busy seasons. Customers are organically finding us through Google and other avenues. They can order online to purchase our food and pick it up at one of our locations.

There is an opportunity to increase brand equity by offering swag and merchandise available for purchase on the website. If you check out our website, you will see a link for merchandise. Our customers love representing us. This gives us not only an opportunity to increase revenues but for free advertising. Nothing is better than your customer walking around with your t-shirt on or drinking their coffee out of a mug with your logo on it.

Note: I use Printful with Shopify store for $29 monthly, separate from my main website~ Sweetberry Merch.

Pro Tip: With any type of website, you should have at least one email pop-up to collect customer emails and market back to them. In my opinion, this is the best and easiest way to monetize your website. We utilize a pop-up box that converts at a 2–3% rate, which is pretty darn good. Now I can email market back to my customers the new swag on my website.

Advanced Tip: I use a Scroll Box pop-up through a service called SumoMe. Most of their tools are free, and they offer excellent resources and training via blog articles. The founder Noah Kagan is an incredibly smart entrepreneur who marketed for previous companies such as Facebook and Mint.com.

Many customers prefer Printful baseball raglans

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