Last Updated on April 22, 2023 by Ewen Finser
Print on demand mugs are a great way to promote your brand or company. They offer a unique and affordable way to get your message out there, and they’re perfect for any event or promotion. But with so many different providers out there, how do you choose the best one for your needs?
I’ve done print on demand mugs a few times before and I’ve had good experiences with all of them, but there are a few things you should keep in mind when choosing a provider. You need to know what you want and you also need to be aware of the potential pitfalls.
Bottom Line Up Front
If you’re looking to print mugs on demand, the best provider is Etsy. However, there are other providers that also offer great services. The main thing to keep in mind is what you need from your provider, and also be aware of any potential problems that could arise.
Mugs are a great promotional product because they’re useful. Everybody uses mugs, and so when you give somebody a mug with your company logo on it, they’re more likely to remember you. They’ll also appreciate the fact that you were thoughtful enough to give them something they can actually use.
Another reason mugs are such a good promotional product is because they’re affordable. You can get mugs for pennies on the dollar, and so you can easily order a few hundred without breaking the bank.
The Pitfalls of Print on Demand Mugs
One potential pitfall of print on demand mugs is that you might not be able to get exactly what you want. Some providers have very specific requirements, and so if you don’t fit their mold, you might not be able to get the mug you want.
Another potential pitfall is that the quality of the mug might not be as high as you’d like. This is especially true if you’re working with a lower-quality provider. If you’re not careful, you might end up with mugs that are poorly made and that don’t last very long.
Prepare In Advance
Here are some tips to help you choose the best print on demand mug provider for your needs.
1. Know What You Want
This may seem like an obvious point, but it’s worth repeating. You need to know exactly what you want before you start looking for a provider. Do you want a simple design or do you want something more complex? What type of mug do you want?
2. Consider Your Budget
Print on demand mugs can be very affordable, but they can also be quite expensive. It all depends on the provider you choose and the options you select. Make sure you know how much you’re willing to spend before you start looking.
3. Look For Discounts and Coupons
Many print on demand mug providers offer discounts and coupons, so be sure to search for them. You may be able to get a better deal if you order in bulk or if you use a coupon code.
4. Compare Providers
Once you know what you want, it’s time to start comparing providers. There are a few factors you’ll want to consider, such as price, quality, turnaround time, and customer service. Take your time and choose the provider that offers the best value for your needs.
5. Ask for Samples
If you’re still not sure which provider to choose, ask for samples. This way, you can see the quality of their work and decide if they’re the right fit for you.
6. Check Reviews
Finally, be sure to check reviews before you make your final decision. There are a lot of print on demand mug providers out there, and not all of them are created equal. Read reviews to see what other customers have to say about a particular provider.
By following these tips, you should be able to find the best print on demand mug provider for your needs. Just take your time, do your research, and don’t be afraid to ask for samples. With a little effort, you’ll find the perfect provider for your next event or promotion.
What to Look For In a POD Mug Provider
When looking for the best print on demand mug provider, there are several factors you’ll want to consider. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
Of course, price is always a major consideration. You’ll want to find a provider that offers competitive prices without sacrificing quality. You also want to research order requirements like minimums, setup fees, and shipping costs. The point of on demand printing is to save you money, so be sure the provider you choose can help you do just that.
2. Quality and selection
In addition to price, you’ll also want to consider quality. Make sure the provider you choose offers high-quality mugs that will look great and last for years. Also make sure you look into the option like size, color, and finish. You want mugs that will represent your brand well, so choose wisely.
There are ceramic mugs, travel mugs, and even glass mugs. Each has its own benefits and drawbacks, so it’s important to choose the right one for your needs.
3. Turnaround time
Another important consideration is turnaround time. You’ll want to find a provider that can get your mugs to you quickly and efficiently. But again, you don’t want to sacrifce quality for speed. Make sure you find a provider that can strike the perfect balance between speed and quality.
4. Customer service
Finally, don’t forget to consider customer service. You’ll want to find a provider that is responsive and helpful if you have any questions or concerns.
By keeping these factors in mind, you should be able to find the best print on demand mug provider for your needs.
Best Places to Buy Print on Demand Mugs
Now that you know what to look for in a provider, it’s time to start shopping around. Here are some of the best places to buy print on demand mugs.
1. Printify: Best Overall for Custom Mugs
Printify is one of the largest print on demand companies with extensive product range options, including mugs!
The system is easy to use and designed to scale your production of winning mug designs, minimizing all the complicated supply chain and sourcing logistics. Basically, you can just focus on designs and marketing.
With Printify, you get complete control over the design and can’t easily modify or tweak on their platform before production.
Printify Minimum Orders
The minimum order for Printify is one item. However, depending on the product and the printing method chosen, there may be additional fees or requirements associated with a single item.
For example, the cost of a single mug may be higher than ordering multiple mugs due to the setup fee associated with the design imprinting. It is also important to note that certain products have minimum order quantities for certain printing methods, such as embroidery.
Printify Turnaround Time
Printify offers a variety of turnaround times depending on the product and fulfillment option you choose. Standard fulfillment for most products takes 5-7 business days, while express fulfillment takes 3-5 business days. Additionally, Printify offers minimum orders for most products, ranging from 1 piece to 50 pieces.
Printify offers a variety of printing methods and uses high-quality materials for all its products. They uses digital, screen, and embroidery printing methods to ensure that all products are printed with vibrant colors and sharp details (based on their vendor list here). Additionally, Printify only uses eco-friendly inks for printing, which are non-toxic and safe for the environment.
Printify Customer Service
Printify offers a variety of customer service options to help customers with their orders. Customers can contact Printify via email, phone, or live chat. Additionally, the company has an extensive help center with FAQs and tutorials to answer any questions customers may have.
Printify Shipping Costs
Printify shipping rates vary based on what type of item you are printing & where you are shipping. Check out this page for the latest info by vendor and type.
Printify Return Policy
Printify offers a 30-day return policy for all products. Customers can return products for a full refund within 30 days of purchase, provided that the product is unused and in its original condition.
Printify Other Products & Services
Printify offers a wide range of other print on demand services for virtually any merch imaginable.
2. Printful: Best Pay As You Sell Option
Like Printify, Printful specializes in SCALING production & they have a good selection of mugs to work with.
Basic print on demand mug options include:
- 11 oz. white standard mug
- 15 oz. white mugs
- Enamel mugs
The big difference between Printify and Printful is that while Printify has a monthly service fee, Printful offers a per product pricing model. This way, you only get charged when you make sales.
Printful requires a lower up front dollar committment, more customizable product options, an easier to use interface, and flexible integration with more third party tools. This makes it the ideal solution to VALIDATE your idea first.
Printful Minimum Orders
Printful has NO minimum orders, meaning you get get started with just 1 order or sample. This makes it fast and cost effective to iterate new mug designs, but there’s also no bulk discount at play here.
Printful Turnaround Time
Printful typically has a turnaround time of 2-7 business days. This includes the printing and shipping time of your order. The exact turnaround time can vary depending on the product, shipping method, and other factors.
Printful offers a high-quality product. Their products are printed using premium materials and the highest printing standards in the industry. They use eco-friendly inks that are CPSIA compliant, meaning they are safe for children’s clothing and accessories. Printful also offers a satisfaction guarantee on all of their products.
Printful Customer Service
Printful offers excellent customer service. Their customer service team is available 24/7 and they offer a variety of contact methods including email, phone, and live chat. They also have an extensive knowledge base with helpful resources and tutorials on their website.
Printful Shipping Costs
Printful costs vary depending on the TYPE of mugs. You can see all of the mug options here, but here’s a standard 11 oz. mug pricing matrix as an example:
Printful Return Policy
Printful offers a 30-day return policy on all of their products. Customers can return any item for a full refund within 30 days of purchase. Customers are responsible for the cost of return shipping.
Printful Other Products
Just like Printify, Printful offers all manner of printable merchandise outside of just mugs. This makes it super easy to expand your popular mug designs to other categories with a few clicks.
Etsy is a great place to find print on demand mugs. You’ll find a wide variety of options, and the prices are generally very reasonable. The great thing about Etsy is that you can buy from individual sellers, so you know exactly who you’re dealing with.
With Etsy, you don’t get 100% control over the design, but this could save you time while still giving you a semi-custom design. The artists on Etsy have already created the design, you just need to customize it with your text.
Etsy can get pricey. Some sellers offer bulk pricing while others do not, so your minimum order quantity and price will vary. In general, you can order as few or as many as you want, so it’s a great way to get exactly what you need, even if it’s only 2-3 items.
The turnaround time on Etsy varies depending on the seller, but it’s usually within 2-3 weeks. Keep in mind that shipping times can also vary, so if you need your mugs sooner, be sure to check with the seller before you order.
The quality of mugs on Etsy is generally very good. However, it’s always a good idea to read reviews before you buy, just to be sure. Especially because every seller offers a different product.
Etsy is known for its great customer service, so you can feel confident that you’ll be taken care of if you have any problems with your order. Most sellers are very responsive when reaching out to them through the Etsy ecommerce platform. I’ve only had several instances in which the seller wasn’t very accommodating.
You’ll always incur additional shipping costs with Etsy, and they vary by seller. The good news is that you can usually get an estimate before you purchase, so there are no surprises. And if you’re buying from multiple sellers, they’ll often combine shipping to save you money.
The return policy will also vary by seller, so be sure to check before you buy. That said, I’ve never had any problems returning an item on Etsy. The process is usually very straightforward. However, I have encountered situations in which I had to pay the return shipping.
Sellers on Etsy make all kinds of things. You’ll be surprised to find items beyond just the regular t-shirts, cell phone cases, and water bottles. You’ll find custom wall art, home decor, jewelry, and more. So if you’re looking for something a little different, Etsy is definitely worth checking out.
Amazon is another great option for print on demand mugs. You’ll find a wide variety of options, and the prices are generally very reasonable. The great thing about Amazon is that you can get a business Prime account that comes with all kinds of perks, even after the free two-day shipping.
You won’t get free two-day shipping on custom orders, but depending on the seller, you’ll still get free shipping on orders over a certain amount. Plus, you’ll have the added peace of mind that comes with dealing with a large and well-established company.
There’s typically not a minimum order on Amazon, but what you’ll find are sellers who package their items in bulk. It’s common to find mugs and tumblers in sets of 8 or 12, so when you place your order, you’re already getting more than one.
The turnaround time on Amazon is also generally pretty fast. Most sellers have their items in stock and ready to ship, so you can usually expect to receive your order within a week or so.
Like Etsy, the quality of mugs on Amazon varies depending on the seller. But in general, the reviews are very helpful in making a decision. People who shop Amazon are generally very honest with their reviews, so you’ll know up front if you don’t think your purchase is going to pay off.
Amazon’s customer service is excellent. You can always reach out to them if you have any problems with your order, and they’ll usually be able to help you resolve the issue quickly and easily.
Amazon has a variety of shipping options. Some are free and some aren’t. In general, you can get free two-day shipping with your Prime account, but it depends on the item. Custom items are more difficult to get shipped quickly because they have to be printed. However, they’re probably still free.
Amazon has a generous return policy, but on custom orders, it can be hit or miss. The seller may not accept the item back, but if you’re unhappy, Amazon will sometimes cover the cost of the item for the seller, just to make you happy.
There’s no limit to the items you can order from Amazon. There’s less customization here than on Etsy, but you can literally find almost anything you’re looking for. They have day-to-day business needs, marketing materials, supplies, and so much more.
CafePress is a great option for print on demand mugs. They have a wide selection of mug styles, and you can even upload your own design. The prices are reasonable, and they offer free shipping on orders over $50, which you’ll likely meet if you’re placing a big order for your business.
What you’ll love about CafePress is that they’re well known in the print on demand world. They’ve been around for years and have a great reputation. You can be confident that you’re dealing with a company that knows what they’re doing.
The minimum order on CafePress is one mug. You can order more than one, but you don’t have to. This is great if you just want to test out a design or two before committing to a larger order. You can order your top 3 designs and then pick your favorite in person.
CafePress has a pretty quick turnaround time. Most orders ship within 3-5 days, and you can even get express shipping for an additional fee.
The quality of CafePress mugs is good. They’re made with durable materials, and the designs are printed well. The only downside is that they don’t have a ton of color options. If you want your mug to be a specific color, you might be out of luck.
CafePress has excellent customer service. You can reach them by phone, email, or live chat, and they’re always quick to respond. They’ll work with you to make sure you’re happy with your purchase.
CafePress offers free shipping on orders over $50, which is great if you’re placing a large order. If your order is under $50, shipping will be around $6. Sometimes if you’re printing on demand, it can be tough to meet a minimum order, so this may work against you.
CafePress has a great return policy. You can return your purchase for any reason within 30 days, and they’ll even pay for return shipping. That’s a win, because Etsy will require you to pay the return shipping most of the time.
In addition to mugs, they offer all kinds of drinkware like tumblers, water bottles, glasses, flasks and coasters. You can also choose from accessories like buttons, flip flop, patches, puzzles, license plates, magazines, and keychains. They also have home decor and stationary. The options are endless and CafePress has more selection than anyone else on our list.
Zazzle is another well-known provider of print on demand products, including mugs. They have a wide selection of mug styles, and you can upload your own design. What you’ll love about Zazzle is that they offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If you’re not happy with your mugs for any reason, they’ll make it right. That’s the kind of customer service you can’t put a price on.
Much like the others on our list, Zazzle is a great option for print on demand because there’s no minimum order. You can order one or more of anything you want.
Zazzle’s turnaround time is a little longer than some of the other companies on our list. Most orders ship within 5-7 days, but they do offer expedited shipping for an additional fee.
The quality of Zazzle mugs is great, but they do lack some customization. While you can customize nearly any mug, colors are limited. However, they have dozens of different sizes, shapes, and designs, and you can also customize some pre-made designs.
Zazzle offers phone and email support, but they lack a live chat option, which can be frustrating at times. Busy professionals don’t want to wait for a call or email back, and live chat is so much easier. Nonetheless, they do offer responsive and helpful service if you need it.
Shipping varies widely on Zazzle based on what you order, but Zazzle allows you to generate a shipping quote without making a purchase. This is a great tool for those who want to budget their order ahead of time and have a better idea of how much it will cost.
Zazzle does allow for returns of damaged or incorrect items, but they generally shy away from returns on custom items simply because you don’t like the result. If you’re unsatisfied, Zazzle asks why you’re requesting a return so they can prevent further returns in the future.
Zazzle specializes in gifts, so they have a lot of drinkware, clothing, home decor, and accessories. They’re also a fantastic place to get party supplies for an upcoming conference or seminar. You can customize menus, party favors, snacks, and other party items.
Final Thoughts on POD Mugs
Print on demand mugs are a great way to promote your business or show off your personality.
With so many providers to choose from, it can be tough to decide which one is right for you. Hopefully, this guide has helped you narrow down your options and find the perfect provider for your needs.
- Looking for a small batch test? I find Etsy to have a wonderful selection of mugs to work with, at least to ideate a design in small batches.
- Looking to scale production but without risking money up front? Get started with Printful here and pay online when you make sales via your online store.
- Ready to go big? Once you know your costs, try out Printify here to scale production and reduce per unit overhead.
Question: How do professionals print on mugs?
Answer: Mug printing is done with a process called sublimation. Sublimation is a printing technique that uses heat to transfer dye onto a substrate, in this case, a mug. The dye is transferred onto the mug in the form of gasses, and then it solidifies into the design when cooled.
Question: Are custom mugs dishwasher safe?
Answer: Most custom mugs are dishwasher safe. However, I recommend hand washing to prolong the life of your custom mugs. All of the custom mugs I’ve purchased have worn out faster in the dishwasher as opposed to hand washing. Sublimation does fade over time.
Question: Is selling coffee mugs profitable?
Answer: Most businesses don’t make a lot of money selling mugs. It’s mostly a promotional item that you can use for marketing. They make great giveaways at events, and you can also place them at your register as an impulse buy if you have a retail store. The return on investment lies in word of mouth and offering a fun and useful freebie to your potential customers and partners.