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Print-on-demand has come a long way from the days where you could make a fortune selling custom Birthday or Surname t-shirts on Teespring. They were fun… though…~ Ronnie
If you’ve been around long enough you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about!
Times have changed though. Facebook has tightened its ad policies and the cost to run ads has gone through the roof. (but there's a solution to this, keep reading!)
HOT TIP: You'll risk losing your FB advertising privileges if you try selling these the “old way” with Facebook ads.
Innovation in printing methods and the surge of competing print-on-demand (POD) companies have blessed online sellers with an insane amount of choice.
Now POD sellers can knock together a design and sell it on just about any product…
Leggings, dog hoodies, cushions, shower curtains, car seat covers, and more! The AWESOME added bonus with these products is the huge profit margins, which means Facebook Ads are still a great option.
One of my favorite print-on-demand suppliers to hit the market in recent years is a slick little outfit called Subliminator. They’re taking on the big guys and doing a heck of a job at it, too.
Join me as I give you a full behind-the-scenes tour of Subliminator so you can make the decision if they are a good fit for your eCommerce business.
Who and What is a Subliminator?
Subliminator is a lean POD startup founded in 2018 by a veteran clothing designer and all-round nice guy from the Netherlands, Hicham Amrani.
He's often mistaken for Vin Diesel. The resemblance is uncanny, right? 🤣
Not only is Hicham one of the most talented designers I’ve seen, but he’s also an absolute perfectionist when it comes to quality and service. Two very important factors when it comes to POD products!
Specializing only in cut & sew sublimated products, Subliminator filled a gap in the market by providing high-quality sublimated garments at an affordable price.
If you’re wondering what cut & sew sublimation is, think “all-over-print”.
Basically, your design is printed onto large sheets of fabric and then cut and sewn together to give a crisp, seamless finish.
Let’s dive into the product range now and you’ll get a full understanding of this printing method and how amazing the products look.
When Subliminator launched they only offered hoodies, leggings, and sweatshirts in their product range, with hooded blankets being added soon after. They started small, rather than trying to be everything to everyone.
👇 This is a little throwback to their early offerings in 2018
Sellers now have a range of 35 different apparel, accessory and homeware products to choose from.
The best-selling apparel items include hoodies, leggings, and t-shirts, while the more unique products include car seat covers, basketball & baseball jerseys, tumblers, and jigsaw puzzles.
According to the updates from the creators of Subliminator, they are still looking to release an additional 30 products or so by the end of 2021.
This will essentially DOUBLE their current range of products!
Subliminator Product Quality
Whilst the company is run out of the Netherlands, all of their printing and fulfillment originates from their facility in China.
Even though the majority of physical goods in the western world are made in China, there is still a stigma attached to print-on-demand products from the far east.
This is where Subliminator proves all the nay-sayers wrong. The quality of their product is by far the best out there when compared with competitors.
I sing the praises of the product quality because I’ve personally purchased many samples and actually wear the clothing myself!
Here’s what I love most about the overall quality of the Subliminator products.
Something that many sellers will overlook is the color of the garment and the stitching. The industry standard is to use only black or white stitching on cut & sew products.
Subliminator goes the extra mile and actually uses whatever color stitching is required to match the color of the print.
Across a variety of their products, Subliminator offers the option of “Fashion” or “Athletic” fabric. I've personally tested both and there are some differences.
The Athletic blend is more like a traditional, shiny spandex-type product that is typical with sublimation printing.
Because the Athletic fabric is 95% polyester and 5% spandex, you'll get a vibrant shine look with brilliant colors. This fabric is very smooth to touch, on both the outside and inside of the garment.
The Fashion blend on the other hand is softer and has a slightly “fluffier” feel to it, especially on the inside.
The print quality is the same however it is not quite as vibrant as the Athletic blend, given that the Fashion blend contains 20% cotton, 75% polyester, and 5% spandex.
This doesn't mean to say it doesn't look as good, the fashion fabric is actually my personal preference, but it's just a “softer” look and feel.
In comparison to competitors Subliminator is priced really well, but don't make the mistake of thinking that their quality is lacking because they are “cheaper”.
One great thing is that all of their prices include shipping.
Take a look at more of Subliminator's product pricing here.
Shipping Price, Speed & Tracking
As mentioned above, all of the prices on Subliminator's website and inside the app include standard shipping.
There are some minor price variations depending on shipping locations, all of which are clearly outlined in the app where you will see prices broken down into regions.
Standard & Express Shipping
Subliminator uses USPS for the standard shipping to the USA, which is included in the prices, but they do also offer express shipping for an additional fee.
You can easily upgrade eligible orders inside the app to express shipping.
Express shipping is handled by DHL Express, FedEx Express, and TNT Express, depending on the customer's location.
You might not think there is a difference but with the huge range of options for express worldwide shipping services available, I can assure you that the current services Subliminator uses are not the cheapest but they are the most reliable.
I've mainly sold to the USA and Australia and my general experience has been around 2-3 weeks from order to delivery. Whilst this might seem like a long time, in the print-on-demand game it's pretty standard.
I've had USA-based providers take a lot longer than this!
Express shipping will shave off a lot of time, with orders arriving in less than a week sometimes.
Subliminator publishes their standard production and shipping times on their website which I have found to be realistic, if not a little bit of an overestimate.
“Tracknator” Tracking Dashboard
Always keeping consistent with their cutting-edge app features, Subliminator has created another great feature that allows customers to track their orders from within a custom dashboard.
This means customers can track their order on a custom tracking page, rather than going to a third-party tracking website that might be in another language or might be difficult to understand.
Subliminator has, without a doubt, one of the most technically advanced and streamlined Shopify apps available when compared to other POD providers.
Here are a few reasons why the app rocks!
Good product mockups are hard to come by and whilst sites like PlaceIt are great for standard products like t-shirts and coffee mugs, it's nearly impossible to find accurate all-over-print product mockups.
Subliminator absolutely crushes it when it comes to their 3D mockups. They offer a range of different perspectives, settings/scenes, and model ethnicities for all of their product mockups.
“Designator” Free Designs
Inside the app, you'll find a heap of top-quality, free apparel designs that you can use in your own store.
The Ugly Christmas Designs are an absolute winner in their own right, something that can make you a lot of money in Q4!
At the time of writing this review, Subliminator can only be integrated with Shopify. Etsy and WooCommerce integrations are planned for the end of 2021 or early 2022, but that doesn't mean you can't sell the products elsewhere.
If you're wanting to sell Subliminator products on Etsy, you can get away with a Shopify Lite plan for only $9 a month.
You'll just have to process your Etsy orders manually on the Subliminator app. There's a handy guide here that shows you how.
“Customnator” Product Personalization
This is a real game-changer in the POD scene. With Customnator, you can add personalized text and image fields to your products and allow customers to personalize their products in real-time on your store.
The great thing about Customnator is that it provides a completely hands-off process for you as the seller. That's right, no more manual design work or manual orders!
This is a festively cool feature that is normally reserved for savvy photoshop users, but thanks to the ingenuity of the Subliminator team, you can now use this inside the app without needing to learn photoshop!
What is it exactly? Well with one click you can give your product a knitted sweater look. This is perfect for those Ugly Christmas Sweatshirts!
Subliminator vs Printful Comparison
There's no denying that Printful is one of the biggest names in the POD game, so it makes sense to do a quick comparison between the two.
For the sake of this comparison, we will look at just a few standard products.
Subliminator vs Printful Pricing
Let's look at the most common cut & sew sublimated products, remembering that Subliminator's pricing below includes USA shipping.
Subliminator vs Printful Shipping Times
Printful quotes 9-14 business days on their website, which isn't too dissimilar to Subliminator who quotes 8-16 business days for delivery to the continental USA.
I would call this one a tie because we all know that total delivery time is largely based on what USPS is doing behind the scenes, which is totally out of the POD company's control!
Subliminator vs Printful Product Quality
Having tested both suppliers, it's hard to pick a clear winner when it comes to quality.
The Hoodies & T-Shirts from Subliminator are very tough to beat, but Printful really excels with the quality of their leggings.
(Our buddy Dan sold 5mill worth of Printful leggings, you can read his story here.)
In terms of quality, Subliminator may have the upper hand when it comes to quality control but this is purely speculation based on the feedback from other customers in the Printful and Subliminator Facebook groups.
I'm going to call this one a tie and say that both are pretty much on par with quality.
And The Overall Winner Is…
Well given that the quality and shipping are pretty similar with both Printful and Subliminator, it really comes down to price in this comparison.
This means that Subliminator is the victor here purely based on the fact that they are much more competitive on price.
Facebook ads are pricey and we need as much margin as possible so, in my personal opinion, you'd be crazy not to pick a more affordable option if all other factors are the same!
Pros and Cons of Subliminator
Ok, let's take a glance at the overall pluses and minuses of Subliminator, based on all the factors we have just covered.
Pros – What's Great
- Product Mockups
Having great mockups you can not only use in your store but also in your ads is an absolute must.
- Shopify App
It's just awesome, but you already know that by now.
They offer fantastic email and live chat support which I've always found to be very reliable.
- Facebook Community
You'll find that your questions get answered by Hicham himself in the Facebook group very quickly if someone in the community doesn't already know the answer.
- Product Quality
I don't need to keep harping on about this, but the quality really is out-of-this-world.
- Free Designs
You can literally launch your own POD store just using the designs that Subliminator gives you for free.
- Express Shipping
The fact that they avoid using cheap logistic partners to maintain a certain level of speed in delivery is a big win.
- Seller Competitions
Sure this might be a bit of a novelty, but you can win some serious bucks if you sell some decent volume in Q4!
Cons – What's Not So Great
- Shipping From China
This has nothing to do with quality, let's get that straight!
Mainland China takes about 2 weeks off in February for Chinese New Year celebrations. This means your orders literally come to a grinding halt for two weeks while the whole of China takes a break. Not a major disaster, but a pain nonetheless.
- Lack Of Branding & Packaging Options
I'm sure it's on their radar for the future, but it would be amazing to have the option of custom branded packaging, inserts, and tags for a small added fee, regardless of quantity.
- Solid Dark Colors Not So Good
This is not a Subliminator issue as much as it is a sublimation printing issue. If you're printing mainly solid dark colors you can expect to see some white parts at the seams of your products.
The Final Word on Subliminator
It's no secret that I have a serious man-crush on Subliminator, but it's for good reason.
Was I skeptical at first when I saw that the products are all manufactured in China? You can bet your damn wonton I was!
The truth is though, there is nothing wrong with sourcing products from China if you know what to look for.
Even though I'm sure Subliminator will grow to be “one of the big guys”, you just can't go past the personal touch and great customer service that they provide to their sellers.
Pair their great customer service with their awesome products, competitive pricing, and innovative Shopify App and you've really got the (almost) perfect all-over-print app.
If you've got any comments, questions, or suggestions regarding this article or anything POD-related, hit me up in the comments below and I'll respond as quickly as I can!
Thanks for reading! 🙂