The print on demand fulfillment business is relatively new, but over the years, it has developed and is now a popular way of making money for many online business owners.
However, the technology behind it isn’t exactly new as is the white label service that companies that print and ship offer for independent designers and sellers.
If you’re looking to create your own clothing line, monetize your audience, or offer custom products that cater to a specific niche, print on demand makes this possible without inventory management.
The challenge lies in picking the best print on demand company you can use to bring your vision to life as there’s a lot of research that goes into it. Similarly, each platform has its own unique features, product catalog, and shipping considerations to factor in as you make your decision.
Two of the best print on demand sites are CustomCat and Teelaunch, which we’ll pit against each other in this comparison post.
There are certain key factors that you need to consider before picking the best print on demand site for your needs and these will help you pick between CustomCat and Teelaunch. These include
- The printing techniques and customizations the site offers
- Unique offerings or features that differentiate them from the rest
- How long production takes once a customer places an order, where the company ships from, shipping calculations, and standard shipping times
- Overview of the product catalog, which includes the products you can create or customize on the site
CustomCat and Teelaunch integrate with Shopify so you can build a branded online store to sell your custom products where your target market spends most of its time.
CustomCat is a premier print on demand fulfillment solution you can use to create, customize, sell, and distribute high-quality custom products across the world.
Through its web-to-product “paperless” manufacturing and fulfillment solution, CustomCat ensures the setup process is eliminated, and your custom products are shipped between 1-3 days on average. This is because the operator error is done away with thus the shipping process is faster.
Once you upload your designs through the app for embroidered, DTG, and dye-sublimated products and a customer orders a product from your store, the app automatically processes, prints, and dropships it to the customer without any effort on your part.
The order is then shipped and your customer will receive automated tracking emails so you can focus on business growth.
Some of the benefits of using CustomCat include higher margins, fulfillment speed and quality, bulk upload or exporting of products all at once, and an in-depth product catalog. Its proprietary personalization feature is also available which allows your customers to customize designs by adding a name or custom text to any digital design from your store.
Teelaunch is also a print on demand fulfillment company that’s fairly simple to use and doesn’t need extensive technical knowledge.
The service takes your design ideas and orders when someone places an order on your site, prints the product ordered, and ships it to your customer. Teelaunch also acts as a customer liaison in case anything goes wrong with the product.
You don’t need any inventory to use Teelaunch, and you only pay for the items that have been printed, which is when you sell something. This way, you focus on your core business and growth, while Teelaunch manages everything else.
CustomCat offers direct-to-garment (DTG), 3D dye diffusion, sublimation, and embroidery printing options. Its digital printing technology is the only one in the USA that can offer 1200 dpi resolution with a soft-hand feel quality on apparel.
The embroidery technology ensures sew files are correctly created for each type of fabric thus enabling perfect file generation for on-demand jackets, caps, bags, and polos.
Its dye-sublimation technology enables mugs, cell phone cases, hairbrushes, jewelry, and other products to be printed on demand.
Unlike CustomCat that uses its own printing technology, Teelaunch uses third parties for some of its product offerings, which means the quality may be inconsistent based on the product.
The print process is DTG, or direct-to-garment, done using an inkjet printer, while sublimation printing using heat to transfer dye to the fabric is for the all-over printing work.
CustomCat wins in this Teelaunch vs CustomCat category by a considerable margin. Its in-house printing services ensure that print quality is monitored and delivered at the highest level. Its digital printing technology that facilitates 1200 dpi resolution further sets it apart, and above Teelaunch.
CustomCat offers several features, the main ones being:
- Embroidery, which is available for items like caps, polos, and cloth bags among others
- High-quality photographic prints in full-color HD for various apparel
- Coupon codes you can customize for repeat customers
- Upsell strategies you can incorporate at checkout to increase the size of customers’ orders
- Mail server integration so your mailing list can include your buyer data
- Buyer data is available so you can save and use it to target different audiences with specific email lists
- PayPal immediate credits and payouts once your products are shipped to the clients
- Split testing allows you to test multiple colors, sizes, and designs to see what works on different campaigns
- Sales conversion tracking that tracks your ad conversion rate and retargeting efforts using different pixels
- Sub User IDs allow you to assign your team members different roles so they can view and manage campaigns
A native Shopify app that lets you upload designs to the Teelaunch system without leaving your store, so you can focus on business growth
- Payment options via credit or debit card (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover), plus PayPal and Payoneer
- Variety of 65 different physical items to print your designs on at the lowest prices
- Etsy push feature that relieves you of the time you spend to create and upload products. With this feature, you can simultaneously create a listing in Etsy
- Customer Personalization helps you create overlays for specific products and give customers the option to upload photos behind your design or wherever you want to set the transparent area. It’s intuitive and easy to use even from a cell phone.
- Australian Canvas facility, which opens up the possibility of shipping a canvas to more customers outside the US without paying too much for shipping costs. The costs will be similar to shipping in the US because the items will be produced in Australia.
- Combo Apparel section allows you to design different apparel items and sell them as a pair in your store’s listing. You can place one design on the pieces you want, or two different designs, so your customers get a great user experience and you, in turn, increase your conversion rates.
- Manual Order Processing feature that lets you put orders on hold until you upload the new customized file, and then they’re sent into production automatically.
- The multi-mug option feature lets your customers pick the size of mugs they want. One design is uploaded to different mug sizes, and a drop-down menu appears from where the customer picks their preferred size.
- New mockups are available that add some exciting lifestyle mockups replacing the standard ones Teelaunch offers. The new mockups include stickers, pillows, canvas, mousepad, posters, shower curtains, dog bowls, wall flags, beach towels, glass cutting boards, tapestry, and beer steins among others.
CustomCat comes out on top once again. Its unique feature pool is quite large. Custom mailing and customer targeting clearly helps artists make more informed decisions about their customers. Plus, CustomCat goes beyond regular print on demand service offerings, which sets it apart.
CustomCat has a huge catalog of products with more than 550 items and counting. If you want a variety of items but don’t mind using a simple design tool, you can go with CustomCat and still get competitive pricing and fast order fulfillment times.
A wide range of brands are available with CustomCat’s product catalog if you go with a paid plan, plus you get discounts on the entire catalog with your package.
Among the products they offer include laptop sleeves, t-shirts, sweatpants, jewelry, drinkware, pet accessories, jerseys, windbreaker pants and jackets, and much more. They add more trending products continuously with demand, which are of the highest quality and customer ratings.
Teelaunch has upped the ante in terms of the product options it offers to sellers. Besides the basic apparel they started with, they have new product categories including categories such as accessories, apparel, all-over print, drinkware, jewelry, home, lifestyle, pets, wall and office among others.
You can get products like tote bags, hoodies, t-shirts, coasters, pillows, tanks, tees, mugs, tumblers, Bluetooth speakers, headphones, backpacks, dog bowls, journals, mousepads, flags, tapestries, and kitchen items too.
Their catalog is limited but you can personalize items to your preference or customers’ liking. Overall though, the selection is solid enough to fill out your online store with products.
CustomCat wins in this CustomCat vs Teelaunch category once again. Unlike Teelaunch, which has limited products, CustomCat has more customized products.
CustomCat produces orders in the US, but within 2 to 3 business days, they’re usually ready to ship. From here on, it takes between 1 to 7 business days and 4 to 15 days for domestic and international shipping respectively.
Domestic shipping is about $4.99 to the US, and for each additional item, it costs $1.50, while international shipping costs $7.50 for the first item and subsequent items cost $5.95.
Teelaunch’s shipping is not the fastest. The backend experience is fairly good for online business owners, and it lets you control the product creation process via a dashboard. It also automatically enters tracking numbers for shipments in its system, which you can get on each order page, and see the orders batched out to production.
With the manual order feature, you can create exchange or replacement orders manually if you want, and choose whether to have the app batch out your orders automatically.
This way, you won’t have to manually pay for order processing, just enter a credit card and change the settings to ‘on’ for automatic order processing.
You can also add your store logo to your packing slips to customize branding and add insert stickers and cards too. Shipping times aren’t as exact as those of CustomCat. They batch orders out every 4 hours, but this doesn’t mean they’ll be sent to production for about 24 hours.
During the off-season, Teelaunch gives a 3- to 6-day estimate for the processing and printing of orders, which jumps to 9-12 days on holidays. Once orders are processed, they’re shipped to customers.
The actual shipping times are as follows:
- 1 day for orders placed to be sent to production
- 3-6 days in production and printing
- 4-5 days for orders to ship and get to the customer
- 8-12 (off-season) days and 15-18 (peak season) days total shipping time
For international shipments, there are different timeframes for different countries, but on average, it takes at least three weeks to arrive.
There is no clear winner in this category. Product shipping from both platforms depends entirely on their shipping partners.
Generally, printing options and production time also determines how soon delivery will be made. There is no clear-cut difference in terms of shipping between both POD platforms. So, it is a tie for this round.
CustomCat’s support team is very responsive, helping with any issues so you can understand the causes of various problems.
They also take responsibility and refund you all the costs where the fault is from their company, but you are responsible for preparing print files, which if not done, the fault is on your end.
To avoid such instances, order test samples of products to see if there are any issues before making them accessible to customers on your store.
You can reach them via email, phone, or an online contact form, but there’s a blog with helpful articles.
Teelaunch has service reps who are pleasant, but the company’s policies can be frustrating. For common issues like lost orders, Teelaunch replaces them as long as the maximum time for the order to arrive has passed.
They no longer offer size exchange requests but transferred these to the store owner, and they replace misprints and damaged items but you have to send a photo of the item. A blog is available plus a help page with FAQs and support documentation.
CustomCat wins in this CustomCat vs Teelaunch category fairly. They offer their customers several support channels to reach out whenever they have complaints.
On the other hand, Teelaunch seems not to have an effective structure in place for its customer support service.
CustomCat’s pricing is affordable and competitive. A Free plan is available that lets you pay for products only, but it prices products higher than those in the Premium plan that costs $30 monthly, with access to cheaper product prices with higher volumes.
A free trial is also available with the paid plan. Some of the products and their pricing include $6 for a unisex t-shirt, $18.50 for a pullover hoodie, $11.22 for an embroidered baseball cap among other items you can find on their official catalog page.
Teelaunch also offers reasonable pricing, but you have to stay competitive and keep a good profit margin at the same time. Their prices for apparel and accessories are good, though some like home goods and jewelry are a bit pricier.
Examples of their pricing include $8.50 (plus $5 shipping) for men’s t-shirt, $18.50 (plus $8 shipping) for a unisex hoodie, and other prices you can find in the Teelaunch product catalog. You can make personalization profits as Teelaunch adds more products that customers can personalize.
- Both Teelaunch and CustomCat are easy to use POD platforms.
- With either CustomCat or Teelaunch, you get an API for custom store integration.
- They both have a wide range of products.
- Both CustomCat and Teelaunch integrate with Shopify.
- Although both CustomCat and Teelaunch integrate with Shopify, CustomCat integrates with WooCommerce while Teelaunch integrates with Etsy.
- While teelaunch has a personalization tool, CustomCat does not.
- Unlike Teelaunch that supports only three methods, CustomCat supports four printing methods.
- CustomCat facilitates POD fulfillment using their in-house team, while Teelaunch outsources their order fulfillment to third-parties.
- CustomCat has both free and premium pricing, unlike Teelaunch that offers only free pricing plans.
- Teelaunch can ship customized products worldwide, unlike CustomCat that only ships to specific countries.
- Reliable customer support
- 24/7 production
- Vast range of products
- Relatively higher profit margin
- Top of the range and variable printing methods
- Shipping may take longer for regions outside the US
- Doesn’t have monthly membership fees
- Simple and easy to use
- No minimum orders
- Product selection is wide and good
- Automatic order processing
- Handles printing, packaging, and shipping
- No limit on products you can stock or monthly orders
- Ships worldwide
- You can choose profit margins
- Long shipping times
- Customer service is wanting
- Return and exchange policy can be better
- Doesn’t include shoes in product inventory
- Fewer printing methods to choose from
There are multiple POD sites competing against CustomCat in terms of demand service, printing options, product range, and even profit margin.
Some print on demand companies even integrate with eCommerce platforms like the Shopify App, Etsy, WooCommerce, and Amazon, which makes the print on demand industry highly competitive.
Here are some of the best CustomCat alternatives and competitors:
- Fine Art America
Similar to CustomCat, Teelaunch also has a long list of competitors in the dropshipping and POD industry.
Some Teelaunch competitors even go as far as making provisions for different order fulfilment centers and printing locations. Some specialize in particular products, while others outsource some parts of the production process.
Here are some of the best Teelaunch alternatives:
- Print Aura
Choosing the best print on demand company between CustomCat and Teelaunch isn’t hard to figure out now that you know what each one offers and what makes them unique.
You can pick one from the two that best fulfills your needs and business objectives and goals. For this comparison though, the clear winner is CustomCat.
Although Teelaunch is easy to use and available for free, it doesn’t offer great customer support that’s much needed by any online store owner in times of difficulty. Plus, CustomCat offers a large product range and affordable prices for its wide product catalog selection, and the shipping times are manageable.
The main downside is it doesn’t ship items worldwide as Teelaunch does, but overall, it has more unique features, better customer support, it’s easy to use, and it offers integration with Shopify and WooCommerce besides offering an API for further integrations.
CustomCat is also more reliable as it ensures your items look and feel the way you want, unlike Teelaunch that outsources the printing to third parties so you’re not assured of getting the best quality products, even though they handle everything else.
Ideally, you need a partner with more strengths, product offerings, and the ability to scale with your vision so as to make a meaningful difference in your store’s growth, which CustomCat does very well.
Tom loves to write on technology, e-commerce & internet marketing.
Tom has been a full-time internet marketer for two decades now, earning millions of dollars while living life on his own terms. Along the way, he’s also coached thousands of other people to success.