stars POD Case Study


From Uploading the Design to Waiting for the Package to Arrive

PCs POD Case Study
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What's the Deal with Print-On-Demand?

Since the 2000s, when the first print-on-demand sites popped up online, we’ve seen a variety of platforms dedicated to bringing together artists and consumers. But which are the best print-on-demand companies? Artists who have decided to sell t-shirts online have discovered that going through this route is way easier than printing their own designs and trying to sell them in the ever-growing online t-shirt market.

Now, one of the obvious questions people ask themselves (and online) before starting their t-shirt business is:

What's the Best POD Site for My T-Shirt Business?

You don’t want your consumers to buy low-quality and itchy shirts as much as you don’t wish to see your artwork peeling off from a brand-new one. We were curious too, and even though we’ve done a ton of research into the best print-on-demand companies (e.g., our database on Where to Sell T-Shirts Online, our Directory of Best Dropshipping Websites, and our guide on How to Start a T-Shirt Business on a Shoestring Budget) we decided to do some sleuthing and figure out which one is the best. Just for you! 😀

And, how did we achieve this? We went through the process of ordering t-shirts from the five best print-on-demand companies (Spring, Society6, Threadless, Spreadshirt, and Redbubble), and throughout a series of posts, we’re going to review and test these shirts to the max. 

Plus, at Placeit by Envato, we’re always on the quest to discover the best print-on-demand solutions for sellers, creators, and entrepreneurs. Thus, we’re excited to introduce you to another gem in the industry, which we’ll reveal at the end of this blog. So, stay tuned!

T-Shirt Specifications

To figure out who was the best custom t-shirts, we ordered the exact same design on an adult unisex medium shirt and we selected the one each site listed as basic in black. The design we used was created using Placeit’s Ugly Christmas Sweater Template, and the t-shirts were ordered to look as similar as possible to the model shown below.

Reviewed Print-On-Demand Sites

Why Did We Choose These POD Sites?

POD Audience & Volume

We decided to review the largest companies and the ones we had heard more buzz about. We also wanted to include a selection of POD sites that cater to a variety of audiences. For example, Threadless, Redbubble, and Society6’s marketplace fall under more of an artsy category, while Spring and Spreadshirt have a wider consumer base.

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Uploading & Ordering

After deciding what print-on-demand sites to review, we created the design for each platform. In all of them, except Spring Direct (which will get to in a minute), you have to set up an account before purchasing your t-shirt. Two things to consider:

I. Redbubble has you verify your account before uploading your designs, so keep in mind that before using it.

II. Spring has two routes you can go through:

  1. Create a campaign and wait for it to be funded, or
  2. Use Spring Direct (the one we opted for), which lets you upload and buy your design without going through a campaign first.

Once we made our accounts, we proceeded to create our design. For most of them, it was quite easy, with two exceptions:

With Spreadshirt, we had an issue positioning the design on the garment. The uploader wouldn’t recognize that our design was a transparent PNG file, hence having an area without design. The automatic positioning was too small, but when we tried to resize the template it showed an error saying that we had gone over the printing area.

Issue with design position

Over on Threadless, we had some problems placing our design as well. The t-shirt sample shown to help you position your design correctly is a white tee which made it almost impossible to place our design, which had white elements on it too. We ended up just ordering with the automatic placing. 

Reposition of design

Other than those two hitches, the experiences for all of the platforms were seamless and in most cases hassle-free. Remember that before uploading, you’ll need a custom t-shirt design (one with a transparent background works best). All of them will ask you for a title for your artwork, so make sure to name it something catchy and descriptive.

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Shipping Times

Expectations vs. Reality

We ordered our tees on November 8th around noon. We wanted to record how long the t-shirts would take to get us to Oregon. Print-on-demand sites ship from all over the country: Threadless ships from Michigan; Spring from Rhode Island; Spreadshirt from Nevada; Society6, and Redbubble from California.

Shipping Distances From POD Sites to Our Offices in Oregon

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Shipping varied greatly from POD to POD. The quickest ones were Threadless and Society6 who took only a day to produce and ship our design. Then came Redbubble and Spreadshirt who both took two days. Finally, Spring took a whooping seven days to produce and ship.

Now, arrival dates varied a ton, too. USPS took two days to deliver for Spring, and three days for Spreadshirt even though it’s closer to us. Both Threadless and Redbubble used UPS, which took five days to deliver for the first one and seven days for the latter (even though we’re practically neighbors!). Finally, Society6 used DHL, which took five days to transport the t-shirt.

Ship & Arrival Dates

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We can’t really dock points off for shipping times, as all of them were well within the estimated frames they post on their sites. However, it was curious that the closer we were to the shipping site, the longer it seemed to take to get to us. About production times, it was interesting to see how long it took to produce the same shirt, with the same design. 

💡 Takeaway: When deciding where to print custom t-shirts, choose a site where people are happy with the whole process, from ordering to receiving the final product.

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Package State & Quality


Another aspect we were interested in checking out was the quality of the package and the state we got it in. All packages came in garment bags made with sturdy plastic. They were all water and tear-resistant and looked pretty good when they arrived. It’s also worth mentioning that Redbubble and Society6 stood out from the rest because their bags were branded.

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An Exciting POD Addition to Our Selection: Gelato!

Mockup Of A Macbook Standing On A Transparent Surface Featuring Gelato's Logo

As we mentioned at the beginning of this post, we’re thrilled to introduce yet another standout POD site that adds its name to the most remarkable companies within the industry. Gelato drives the world’s largest print-on-demand network connecting local print providers and e-commerce sellers. Its mission? To empower them to serve any customer, anywhere, with a cost-effective and sustainable approach. 🌍🌱

Founded in 2007 and based in Oslo, Norway, Gelato now produces and ships from over 130 printing facilities in 32 countries. Bringing over 15 years of expertise to the table, this company sets itself apart from other POD sites by optimizing its shipping and delivery times through local production operations. Now, as a seller, what else can you expect from Gelato? Let’s check it out!

Gelato’s user-friendly interface makes it very simple to browse through its product categories or find any resources you’re looking for. On top of that, its multiple integrations allow you to connect your store to the leading e-commerce platforms without any hassle.

Gelato offers different subscription plans tailored to your business’s needs, thus allowing you to scale your store more efficiently. Its free version, which includes production in 32 countries, allows you to integrate your store with Etsy, Shopify, and WooCommerce, along with other benefits.

This POD site has an extensive product catalog ranging from apparel and accessories to phone cases, home decor, and stationery. Plus, you can always check out its Bestsellers category to find the most popular items at the moment and instantly add them to your shopping cart.

Gelato values quality, which is why they harness the power of cutting-edge technology and sustainably sourced materials to offer a wide range of products for sellers who want to upscale their stores while still looking for eco-friendly options.

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Dying to see what the best POD site was? Check out our next post on this series, in which we go over the t-shirt unboxing and fit review in our quest to find out what print-on-demand site has the best custom t-shirts online! Also, try our  Make a Pillow Mockup With Placeit post for inspiration on more products you can sell on your POD business. Planning something for Black Friday? Check out this guide to help you get more sales.

My revenue from tshirts has gone way up since using Placeit’s mockups.
Sarah Williams 5/5
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