First off, I actually use the app, so this review of Teelaunch will be as truthful as possible. My store currently sells six figures worth of print-on-demand goods every year. If you already get what this is about, you can skip to the review section a few paragraphs down.
Teelaunch is a print-on-demand app that connects directly with your Shopify store. This allows you to create an entire catalog of products without spending tons of money on inventory. I first used Teelaunch in 2017 when I needed a replacement for Teespring in my Shopify store. Although I’ve toyed with other print-on-demand apps, I’ve ended up sticking with Teelaunch through the ups and downs.
Before we get into the full Teelaunch review, let’s talk about the print-on-demand model.
What Is Print-On-Demand?
Print-on-demand is essentially using a 3rd party to fulfill your orders. The orders come in through your store and automatically connect with manufacturers who can print and ship your items to the customer directly.
This ends up saving you thousands of dollars in equipment costs and inventory. You don’t have to worry about production, which allows you to spend more time creating products, a brand, and marketing your eCommerce store.
Print-On-Demand VS Dropshipping
Although they are similar, print-on-demand and dropshipping are quite different.
Print-On-Demand is using a fulfillment company to produce products you create. The company is manufacturing other store owner’s designs and products; they do not sell their own products.
Dropshipping is offering products already sold elsewhere than your store. When you get an order, you send it to the supplier for fulfillment. You charge a premium and keep the difference.
Teelaunch is a print-on-demand (POD) app focussing only on Shopify stores. You do not sell on a platform they provide, rather, you connect the Teelaunch app to Shopify and upload your own design to the products offered.
You are able to place your designs on products such as shirts, tote bags, mugs, and even things like laser engraved cutting boards. They charge a base price per item, and you set the retail price. Whatever the difference is, you keep as profit.
This makes it possible to launch an eCommerce store with a lot of SKUs for only the price of the designs you had made. If you make the designs yourself, you can launch for only the Shopify subscription price. Essentially, you don’t pay Teelaunch anything until you sell something.
Companies like Teelaunch have enabled entrepreneurs to get in the eCommerce game for little to no risk. My company sells novelty apparel for stage performers, and we have made six figures every year selling with this model.
Teelaunch Review: Should You Use Teelaunch For Your Print-On-Demand App?
Teelaunch Review Criteria
All print-on-demand apps and companies will have their flaws, so it’s crucial to weigh the pros and cons of each. It will be hard to get a perfect customer experience with this model, but the goal is to get as close as possible.
We decided to base this review off of 5 categories:
- Print Quality
- Product Options
- Pricing & Margins
- Shipping Times & Customer Service
- Platform Usability
1. Print Quality
Many store owners focus on pricing and margins, but print quality will make or break your print-on-demand eCommerce business. Teelaunch also uses 3rd parties for some of their product offerings, so quality can even be inconsistent depending on the type of product.
Since I’ve been selling on Teelaunch for years, I can see first hand what type of quality they produce. For this review, we will base the quality off of 3 sample items: a t-shirt, tote-bag, and cutting board.
For the apparel, most of the printing is DTG or Direct To Garment. DTG is done via an inkjet printer. For the all-over print options, the garments are sublimated. This means heat is used to transfer dye onto the fabric.
Quality Example 1: District Women’s Tee
As you can see, the print quality is pretty good. Since you’re printing on fabric, you’re probably never going to have perfect ink lines like a stripe of paint, but Teelaunch usually provides consistent quality.
The only thing I’ve noticed with their garments is when you look close up, they can look granulated, almost as if not enough ink was used.
Tip: Always use a design image with a high resolution for printing
Quality Example 2: Tote Bag
We haven’t had too much trouble with tote bag quality; there are some occasions where the ink bleeds a little, probably due to printing on the canvas-like material. Sometimes, the closer you look, the more they can appear blurry from the bleeding.
Overall, the totes are suitable, and we haven’t received any complaints about quality from our customers.
Quality Example 3: Laser Etched Cutting Board
The final example is a laser-etched cutting board. They come in two sizes, both on the smaller end. The one pictured is zoomed in, but they also have handles. The cutting boards were recently added, and they’re great!
This is a real example right from my desk, and the quality is impressive. Since it’s cut with a laser, the amount of dark vs. light lines will vary, so they all won’t necessarily look the same. They have been a big hit with our customers.
2. Product Options
Over the years, Teelaunch has stepped up its product options for sellers. They started with basic apparel, which was a great idea, and every year they have added new product categories. This is one of the reasons we have stuck with them.
Types of products offered
Last time I checked, there were about 124 different products offered. These products are divided up into categories and sub-categories, including:
- Accessories: This includes things like tote bags, mugs, stickers, and phone cases.
- Apparel: Men’s and women’s t-shirts, hoodies and tank tops. Kid and baby options are also available.
- All Over Print: Tees, tanks, and shoes.
- Drinkware: Mugs, beer steins, and tumblers.
- Home Goods: Coasters, towels, pillows, etc.
- Jewelry: Bracelets, necklaces, and jewelry boxes.
- Lifestyle: Bluetooth speakers, backpacks, and headphones.
- Office: Journals, notebooks, and mouse pads.
- Pets: Dog bowls and pet bandanas.
- Wall Art: Flags, canvases, tapestries, and posters.
- Kitchen: Plates and cutting boards
Teelaunch also offers a limited catalog of items that can be personalized, such as mugs, scarfs, gloves, and hats.
Options like these are the reason we gave it close to five stars. Sure, there are items I wish they would add like baseball caps and socks (Bring back the socks, please). Overall, this is a solid selection and more than enough to fill out your Shopify store with a wide variety of products.
3. Pricing and profit margins 4.5
Figuring out your profit margins is one of the most important things to do when deciding on a print-on-demand company. You need to make sure you can cover all your costs, including inventory and customer acquisition.
Teelaunch’s pricing is very reasonable, and it’s also one of the biggest reasons I’ve stuck with them so far. Of course, quality is key, but pricing is a close second. Your profit margin is relative since you control the retail cost of goods, but you also have to stay competitive and not charge a ridiculous price for a basic cotton t-shirt.
When it comes to apparel and accessories, I will rate Teelaunch as having very good prices. As for some of the other categories, say jewelry and home goods, they’re a little on the steep side.
Let’s take a look at some examples of pricing and potential profit margins. For the sake of ease, we will include shipping costs into the retail price as if we were offering free shipping in our stores.
Here is the pricing structure for some of the most popular apparel items Teelaunch offers:
1. Gildan Men’s T-Shirt
- Teelaunch price: $8.50 + $5.00 Shipping (US)
- Reasonable retail price: $25.00 + Free Shipping
- Gross Profit Margin: $11.50
2. Next Level Women’s Triblend T-Shirt
- Teelaunch price: $11.00 + $5.00 Shipping (US)
- Reasonable retail price: $27.00 + Free Shipping
- Gross Profit Margin: $11.00
3. Unisex Hoodie
- Teelaunch Price: $18.50 + $8.00 Shipping (US)
- Reasonable Retail Price: $35.00 + Free Shipping
- Gross Profit Margin: $8.50 + Free Shipping
4. Canvas Unisex 3/4 Raglan
- Teelaunch Price: $13.00 + $5.00 Shipping (US)
- Reasonable Retail Price: $27.00 + Free Shipping
- Gross Profit Margin: $9.00
The following examples are items we’ve had success with. The accessory prices seem to vary greatly so check out a full pricing list HERE
1. Toe Bag
- Teelaunch Price: $10.00 + $4.50 Shipping (US)
- Reasonable Retail Price: $25 + Free Shipping
- Gross Profit Margin: $10.50
2. Ceramic Mug (White)
- Teelaunch Price: $3.50 + $5.00 Shipping (US)
- Reasonable Retail Price: $20 + Free Shipping
- Gross Profit Margin: $11.50
3. Wood Cutting Board With Handle (Small Size)
- Teelaunch Price: $12.50 + $5.50 Shipping (US)
- Reasonable Retail Price: $27 + Free Shipping
- Gross Profit Margin: $9.00
4. Monogrammed Adult Scarf
- Teelaunch Price: $11.00 + $4.00 Shipping (US)
- Reasonable Retail Price: $30 + Free Shipping
- Gross Profit Margin: $15.00
For the most part, you’re looking at gross profit margins of 80-100% give or take. You may be a little nervous when factoring in customer acquisition, but you also need to figure on people adding multiple items to the cart. It’s important to offer upsells and cross-sells. More products offered means bigger cart values if you’re doing things right.
Margins on the personalized items will always be higher, and so you can lead customers with those as a strategy. Teelaunch seems to understand this and has been adding many more products that customers can personalize.
4. Shipping Times & Customer Service
I bundled these two things into one category since they all affect the customer experience. This is by far the most frustrating thing about Teealunch. To be fair, shipping will never be incredibly fast with the POD model, but I believe it can get faster.
Teelaunch Shipping Times
The language around shipping times is not straight forward with Teelaunch; they seem to try and cover situations like the Holiday season with a ‘well, it’s busy, you know’ attitude.
The time between order placed and order sent to production: They batch out orders every 4 hours, but they still may not be sent to production for around 24 hours.
During the off-season, they give a 3-6 day estimate for orders to be processed and printed. THIS DOESN’T MEAN IN THE CUSTOMERS HANDS. During the holidays, this jumps up to 9-12 days.
After orders are processed, they are shipped out. In my experience, they use a jumble of shipping services depending on the time of year and production facility. Orders usually arrive about 4-5 days after shipping.
So, what’s the actual shipping time?
- Order placed to sent to production: 1 Day
- In production and printing: 3-6 days
- Order shipped and arrives to the customer: 4-5 days
- Total shipping time: 8-12 days (Off-Season) and 15-18 days (Peak Season)
International shipping times
These are kind of a mess, and they have different times for each country. We’ve found that international orders usually take at least three weeks to arrive.
Another area Teelaunch could work on. For the most part, dealing with their service reps is pleasant, but their policies tend to be a little frustrating at times. Here are some key ways they handle common issues.
Lost Orders: If the tracking gets stuck or a lost item is reported, Teelaunch is great about replacing the order, as long as the max time has passed that the order may arrive.
Sizing Exchange Requests: They used to allow customers to exchange one size up or one size down. However, recently Teelaunch changed its policies, and they no longer offer this. The store owner eats the cost of any size exchanges.
Damaged items and misprints: Teelaunch will replace these, but lately, they’ve been making customers send photos in of the damaged items. This seems a little unnecessary as the percentage of customers taking advantage is probably less than .50%
5. Platform Usability
Teelaunch has a fairly good backend experience for store owners. You can control the entire product creation process through your Shopify dashboard. Creating a product is easy and they provide helpful templates for product types to help your designer.
You can also create multiple products at once and choose if you want to offer them as single products or bundled together with a dropdown menu for different styles.
Tracking numbers for shipments are automatically entered in the system, and you can find them on each order page. You can also see what orders have been batched out into production.
One feature recently added is the ‘manual order’ feature. This allows you to create replacement and exchange orders manually if needed.
You can also choose to have Teelaunch automatically batch your orders out. This saves you from manually paying to process orders. All you need to do is enter a credit card and change the automatic order processing settings to ‘on.’
Another useful feature they offer is the ability to add your store logo to order packing slips, enabling you to customize the branding experience. You can add insert cards and stickers as well.
Review Summary and Results
Overall, Teelaunch offers a good print-on-demand option for your Shopify store, but there is still room for improvement. The primary reason I have stuck with them is for the product selection and margins, but if something better comes along, I won’t hesitate to move platforms.
They are a good option if you’re looking to fill out your store with a variety of product types and want something that integrates well on the backend of Shopify.
There is definitely an opportunity for a new POD company to come in and shake things up.