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  5. Shopify vs Teespring: There’s One Clear Winner in 2022

Shopify vs Teespring: There’s One Clear Winner in 2022

Emma Ayres Emma AyresWebsite Development Expert October 13, 2022
October 13, 2022
Building a profitable print-on-demand (POD) business isn’t just about offering products that your customers want. You need to have a strong set of business tools that help you to evaluate your financial health, see what’s selling well, and determine where your customers are coming from.

Both Shopify and Teespring offer these tools, but that’s where the similarities end. Teespring is a POD marketplace that dropships your custom products, while Shopify is an e-commerce platform that allows you to build an online store. So, which model is best for your business?

After a week of testing both platforms, I can confidently say that Shopify is the better platform for building a profitable POD business. With tons of management and marketing tools, plus dozens of POD integrations for your business, you’ll have everything you need to get started.

That’s not to say Teespring is bad. Teespring is free to use, and it could be a good testing ground for your products if you’re just starting out. However, the basic storefront, limited product range, and barebones marketing capabilities mean there’s very little scope to expand your business on this platform.

Already convinced? Get started with Shopify for free. Otherwise, let’s dive into why Shopify is my top pick for POD businesses.

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A Quick Note on Teespring

Teespring is in the process of rebranding as Spring, but Teespring.com is still being used by both sellers and customers. To avoid any confusion, I’ll be referring to this marketplace as Teespring throughout this comparison.

Templates

Only Shopify Lets You Build a Storefront Unique to Your Business

When it comes to templates, it almost feels unfair to compare Teespring to Shopify. Shopify’s e-commerce platform has a website builder with 90+ templates. Teespring only offers one basic storefront layout with limited customization, but that’s because it’s a marketplace, not an e-commerce platform.

Teespring's creator storefronts
Teespring lets you upload a custom header image to your storefront – and that’s about it
This means that your Teespring storefront will look just like everyone else’s. The only hope you have to capture visitors’ attention quickly is with your header image. There’s no variation in the customer experience, which makes it harder to secure return customers. Fortunately, Teespring’s storefronts are mobile-friendly, so you won’t have to worry about how your storefront will look across devices.

Shopify template example
It’s a lot easier to capture visitors’ attention with Shopify’s modern and customizable themes
Shopify’s themes are modern, mobile-friendly, and give you a lot more flexibility to create a unique POD store. The biggest downside is that you can only change the layout and content of your homepage – the layout of your other pages will be determined by the template you choose. With literally thousands of third-party templates available, however, you’re bound to find one that’s a perfect fit for your business.

Features and Ease of Use

Shopify’s Learning Curve is Steeper – But It’s Worth the Effort

Teespring is really easy to grasp. If you’re new to the industry, you’ll be happy to hear that Teespring walks you through how to design products, upload your own artwork, and set up your storefront. There’s even a handy calculator in the design tools sidebar that shows how much profit you can expect from each sale.

That being said, if you want to design your products directly on Teespring, its design tools are extremely basic. You can only add text (with a decent range of font and formatting options) and upload an image. If you want a more professional look, you’ll need to use a third-party design tool to create your own designs – or consider using another POD service entirely.

On that note, Shopify has 130+ POD integrations, many of which have their own design tools. For instance, you’ll be able to design products for free with Printful, and its design tool lets you use stock images and clipart. You can even choose to have your design embroidered – something Teespring doesn’t offer.

Shopify's dashboard starter guide
You’ll get plenty of help with setting up your Shopify store
Shopify is a great e-commerce platform, but it takes a while to get used to, particularly if this is your first time setting up an online business. But don’t let Shopify’s massive range of features intimidate you – you’ll get all the help you need to get started. You’ll find an easy-to-follow starter guide on your dashboard. Plus, you’ll get access to over 100 video tutorials, a comprehensive knowledge base, and even daily free webinars.

Apps

Shopify’s App Marketplace Gives You a Ton of Flexibility

Apps, plugins, add-ons – whatever you want to call them, it’s undeniable that they’re vital to building an e-commerce powerhouse. Shopify has 7,500+ apps in its marketplace that cover marketing, design, customer service, and more. There are over 700 apps alone for social media marketing, so you’ve got plenty of choice when it comes to extending Shopify’s already jam-packed feature offering.

Shopify's app library
Just make sure you budget for Shopify’s apps – not all of them are free
Teespring doesn’t have any apps, just a handful of built-in integrations that make it easy to share your products online. You can connect your Teespring account to Instagram, YouTube, Twitch, Discord, Streamlabs, and Linktree. Like most of Teespring’s features, its integrations are pretty basic, but it’ll get the job done if you’re just starting out.

E-Commerce

Build a Powerful E-Commerce Store With Shopify

E-commerce is another area where it doesn’t feel entirely fair to compare Shopify and Teespring because, honestly, it’s not even a competition. Teespring is just a marketplace, so it won’t offer you the tools that Shopify has to build a fully functional e-commerce store.

Okay, maybe “just a marketplace” is being too harsh – you can build a profitable e-commerce business on Teespring, but it’s just not ideal. You’ll be able to sell your designs on over 65 different products for free, but there are quite a few limitations.

One glaring issue is that Teespring doesn’t support offline sales, unlike Shopify. Even if you purchase products in bulk from Teespring and store them yourself, you won’t be able to use Teespring to keep track of your offline sales and inventory.

Shopify's POS app
You can use Shopify’s POS app to search for customer orders placed offline, too
Not only does Shopify allow offline sales, it has a whole suite of tools to support this. Shopify’s Point of Sale (POS) software and hardware allows you to accept payments and fulfill orders in person. This software connects to your online store, too, and it’ll automatically update your website’s inventory following each in-person sale.

So, while you can sell online with Teespring, Shopify gives you tons of tools to build a much larger and more scalable business.

SEO

Shopify Gives You a Ton of SEO Tools

The biggest benefit of using a marketplace like Teespring is that everything is listed under that marketplace’s domain name. All the hard work those marketplaces do to get their websites to rank higher on search engines means that your products get a visibility boost, too. Sounds great, right? If you go with Teespring, you’ll have to say yes because this is all the SEO support you’ll get.

On the one hand, it’s a great way to get your business some exposure without having to worry about search engines. On the other hand, you’re relying on Teespring to stay up to date with search engine algorithm changes. Larger marketplaces like Amazon typically have the resources to do that, but it’s hard to be just as confident with smaller, more niche marketplaces like Teespring.

Shopify’s SEO tools give you a lot more control over your marketing. Shopify website structures are already optimized for search engines, so you won’t have to do everything yourself. However, all the front-end optimization – things like meta tags, keywords, alt text, etc. – are down to you.

Shopify Experts directory
All these SEO experts have been vetted and approved by Shopify
You’re not left to figure it out alone, though. Shopify has some fantastic SEO guides in its help center that cover the basics, and handy links to more in-depth guides from SEO experts. You can also hire a Shopify Expert to help you optimize your site, which is a great way to get set up quickly if you’ve got room in your budget.

Pricing

If You’ve Got Money to Work With, Shopify is Worth the Investment

Teespring doesn’t charge any upfront costs, but that doesn’t mean it’s completely free. When you design a product on Teespring, you’ll see a base cost for your product, which is the amount Teespring takes from the total sale price. The difference between the base cost and your selling cost – the profit – is yours to keep.

This isn’t all that surprising – it’s the basic business model that most POD services follow, including those that are available through Shopify. Still, although Teespring is relatively cheap, it’s not ideal. You can’t really build a business on Teespring alone, so you’re investing in a solution that will significantly limit your long-term gains. If you want a complete e-commerce solution to power your POD business, it’s worth paying for Shopify.

Shopify offers a 14-day free trial plus four paid monthly plans (Starter, Basic, Shopify, or Advanced). If you’re working with a limited budget, the Starter plan is a good choice. You won’t get the full website builder, but you’ll be able to sell on social media using pre-built product and checkout pages.

If you can afford it, though, I recommend starting with Shopify’s Basic plan. For $29.00/month, it’ll give you everything you need to build a thriving business. You’ll get Shopify’s fantastic website builder with unlimited bandwidth, unlimited products, and tons of marketing tools.

To put the price into context, you only need to sell three t-shirts on Teespring at the recommended price to pay for Shopify’s Basic plan each month. That’s before factoring in the discount for paying yearly, too.

On top of Shopify’s monthly fee, you’ll have to budget for some additional costs. If you don’t use its own payment gateway, Shopify Payments, Shopify will charge a small fee for each sale. Some POD apps may also charge a monthly fee or have upfront costs, but that’ll vary depending on which of the 130+ apps you use.

With that being said, Shopify pays for itself once you’re selling a handful of products each month. Unlike some other e-commerce platforms, Shopify’s clear about what fees it charges, so it’s easy to set your profit margins to cover them. And with so many POD apps available, you can easily shop around to find the best value service for your product range and sales volume.

Here’s a quick comparison showing why you’re better off paying for Shopify if you can.

Shopify Teespring
Starting Price $29.00 Free (sort of)
Storefront customization Website builder with 90+ templates, plus hundreds of third-party template options Basic storefront with limited customization
POD design tools Advanced (available via POD apps) Basic
SEO and marketing tools Built-in analytics, customer segmentation, marketing automation, and SEO tools, plus 1,500+ third-party apps Built-in marketplace analytics, 6 social media integrations
Other integrations Thousands of free and paid third-party apps covering customer service, store management, and more None
Customer support 24/7 live chat and ticket system, knowledge base, video tutorials, webinars, community forum Email, knowledge base, video tutorials
Additional fees Domain name, small per-transaction fee, payment processing fees, app fees Teespring take a large cut from every sale, third-party processing fees for profit payouts

Support

Good Luck Finding Teespring’s Support

One of my pet peeves – both as a customer and a reviewer – is when a company doesn’t make it easy to find its support channels. And I’m not joking when I say I had to use Google to find Teespring’s help center because I couldn’t find a link to it anywhere.

Eventually, I learned that Teespring’s customer service for sellers is only available via email from Monday to Friday, 8:30 am – 9:00 pm EST. There’s also a decent knowledge base with video tutorials that you can access via a tiny link. Confusingly, there’s a different knowledge base and customer service email address listed on the Spring rebranded domain.

On the plus side, I received a response to my inquiry within an hour, which isn’t bad for an email support channel.

Teespring customer support
Teespring returned a disappointing answer, but at least I didn’t have to wait long to get it.
By comparison, Shopify has customer support options galore. Support is available 24/7 via live chat or a ticket system. You’ll also get a comprehensive knowledge base, tons of video tutorials, free daily webinars, and a good old-fashioned community forum. I sent a ticket through my test account, and I got a response 4 hours later.

Shopify's customer support
Shopify’s response wasn’t just helpful – I got some free resources, too
Sure, the response took longer to arrive, but it was a lot more helpful. The customer service agent even provided some free resources to help me set my business up (and don’t we all love a freebie?). Overall, Teespring can’t compete with the accessibility or quality of Shopify’s customer service.

Need More Than the Basics? Go With Shopify

While both Shopify and Teespring are good options for print-on-demand products, only one lets you build a comprehensive POD business. With a fantastic website builder, tons of e-commerce tools, and integrations with industry-leading POD platforms, Shopify gives you everything you need to build a profitable business.

Teespring isn’t a bad place to get started and test the market, though. For a free tool, it covers the basics pretty well. But it just can’t compete against a fully-fledged e-commerce platform.

Here are the key things you need to know:

Shopify
Teespring
Templates
90+ modern and mobile-friendly templates
Fixed storefront layout – you can only customize the header image and add your own logo
Features & Ease of Use
130+ POD integrations so you have access to advanced product design tools, plus tons of learning resources
Basic design tool and quick-start guide
Apps
 7,500+ free and paid apps covering marketing, design, customer service, and more
No apps, but 6 built-in social media integrations
E-Commerce
Tons of fulfillment options – dropship, ship from your own location, or take orders online for in-person pickup
Online dropshipping orders only
SEO
Built-in SEO tools and automatically generated sitemaps
SEO boost from hosting products on Teespring
Pricing
Free (sort of)
Support
24/7 live chat and ticket system, knowledge base, video tutorials, webinars, community forum
Email, knowledge base, video tutorials

FAQ

Does Teespring work with Shopify?

No, you can’t integrate Teespring with Shopify. While you could link your two stores together, it would be a little redundant to do so. Shopify has a ton of POD integrations, most of which come with more advanced product design tools and options. For example, Printful’s design tool lets you choose between embroidered and printed designs – and it’s free to use.

Is Shopify free to use?

No, but Shopify has a 14-day free trial so you can see if you like it before you commit. There aren’t many free e-commerce website builders out there, but if you’re working with a limited budget, there are cheaper options available. Take a look at our top 10 website builders in 2022 to see our top picks.

Do t-shirt businesses make money?

Yes, t-shirt businesses are still profitable – if you use an e-commerce platform with tools that help you attract customers, secure repeat business, manage your orders, and more. Depending on your budget, you can either use a software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform or build your own website.

Can I sell anything on Shopify?

Yes, as long as it’s within Shopify’s acceptable use guidelines. These are all common sense things, like not selling anything that’s illegal or protected intellectual property. This gives you plenty of scope to add new products to your catalog as your business grows.

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