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How to Start Selling Them

An excellent way to diversify an online merchandise store immediately is offering product customization. This gives customers the option to personalize prints, engravings, and even embroidered items to include their own text. In this article, we’ll explore how to sell WooCommerce customizable products with the help of Printful, which allows people to add their own names, slogans, or dates to commemorate special occasions.

Here are some items and customization types to give you an idea of what’s possible with product customization:

  • Apparel with personal or business names for special occasions like weddings, family reunions, or corporate retreats.
  • Wall art with customizable slogans.
  • Apparel and jewelry that includes a unique date, like for an anniversary.
  • Jewelry with a pet’s name on it.
  • Jewelry with any loved one’s name or initials.
  • Embroidered hats with unique team names, slogans, or event details.
  • Socks with the names of everyone at a wedding party.
  • A backpack with a child’s name on it.

And that’s just a small portion of what’s possible with product personalization. In the following sections, we’ll outline the tools needed to offer WooCommerce customizable products, walk through a step-by-step guide on configuring the tools, and explain some other apps that can get the job done as well.

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What tools are needed to sell WooCommerce customizable products?

By itself, WooCommerce doesn’t offer any way for customers to add personalized words to the items they purchase. However, there are several plugins that add intuitive designs or extra fields for customers to control personalization.

Technically, you could simply add an extra field to a product page for customers to type in what they’d like printed on an item. For example, you may already have a shirt design for a family reunion. All you need as the seller is the family name included on the shirt. A custom message field does the job for that, but we’re more interested in adding a solution for the customer to actually customize the product themselves. That removes extra work on your end, and it helps the customer see the finished product prior to ordering.

To make this happen, you need the following tools:

  • WordPress: It’s necessary to have a self-hosted WordPress site so that you can fully customize the website, install WooCommerce, and integrate with the Printful plugin.
  • WooCommerce: This is the plugin that turns your WordPress website into a fully functional online store. After installing WooCommerce, you can add products, collect payments from customers, and fulfill orders.
  • Printful: This is a company/platform that lets you upload your own designs to merchandise and sell them through WooCommerce. It’s also a print-on-demand operation, so every purchase gets sent to Printful, printed out, and sent to the customer without you having to mess with storage, shipping, or handling. Printful offers a wonderful WooCommerce plugin for the integration, and a tool for customers to personalize many of its products.

Make sure you have a WordPress site ready to go, then install WooCommerce and activate all necessary settings in the plugin. After that, you must create a Printful account and install the plugin on WordPress to complete the integration. View our guide on installing a WordPress plugin if you need assistance.

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Follow these steps to connect Printful with WordPress/WooCommerce:

Step 1: Make sure WooCommerce is updated to its latest version

It’s essential that the WooCommerce plugin is updated to its most recent version, both for the initial integration to work, and for the ongoing functionality of the Printful connection. Otherwise you may have trouble offering WooCommerce customizable products.

In WordPress, go to Plugins → Installed Plugins. Find WooCommerce and check if it requires an upgrade to a newer version. Select the Update Now link to proceed.

installed plugins

If everything is updated, you’ll simply see the current version without any links or warnings to update.

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Step 2: Enable the REST API in WooCommerce

The Printful/WooCommerce combination utilizes the Legacy WooCommerce API. Therefore, you must enable the REST API prior to integrating.

This only takes a few clicks by going to WooCommerce → Settings → Advanced → Legacy API. Finally, mark the checkbox to Enable The Legacy REST API.

legacy api for WooCommerce customizable products

Click the Save Changes button to move forward.

Step 3: Choose a permalink settings that’s not “Plain”

Printful also needs to have well-defined permalinks.

Most permalink structures from WordPress work just fine, except for one.

In WordPress, navigate to Settings → Permalinks.

The only one that causes problems for Printful is the Plain permalink structure. So, feel free to go with any other option. We typically recommend Post Name for SEO purposes. When working with Printful, you just want to avoid the Plain structure.

permalink settings

Choose the Save Changes button when you’re done.

Step 4: Install the Printful plugin to link your Printful account to WooCommerce

Under Plugins → Add New, install and activate the Printful plugin.

Once activated, click the Printful tab.

Printful offers a setup wizard that links your Printful account with WooCommerce. Remember, you should already have a Printful account created; make one at Printful.com.

Select the Connect button in WordPress to walk through the integration steps.

connect printful

Select the Approve button to give Printful Read/Write access to your WooCommerce plugin.

approve for WooCommerce customizable products

You can test if the integration was successful by going to the Printful dashboard. Choose the Stores tab and look for the name of your WooCommerce shop. You should find a green Active stamp next to the name, along with buttons to Add Products and View Store.

stores button

Moving forward, the process works by designing products, adding prices, and generating product photos in the Printful dashboard. Then, Printful syncs that information with WooCommerce for you to present the product pages on your WooCommerce site and sell them to customers. When a sale comes in, WooCommerce sends a notification to Printful to start printing and fulfilling the order.

How to set up WooCommerce customizable products

Printful calls this feature the Product Personalization Tool, and it’s offered on a wide range of items including direct-to-garment apparel, embroidered products, and jewelry.

Step 1: Add a product in Printful

To begin the process, go to the Printful dashboard.

Choose the Stores tab and locate the right WooCommerce store.

Click on the Add Product button.

add WooCommerce customizable products

This is where you have a chance to browse through the Printful product library. Printful offers printing, embroidery, and engraving for items like apparel, accessories, home goods, and office products.

Click on a product category that you want to sell (and one that actually allows for product personalization). For this example, we’ll go with Men’s Clothing.

pick a category

Each product category contains several styles, colors, and prices. Scroll through the brands to figure out which one makes the most sense in terms of colors, materials, and potential profit margins.

We’ll opt for the Unisex Staple Bella + Canvas T-shirt since it’s affordable, well-known, comfortable, and offers many colors.

unisex shirt

Step 2: Start designing your product

Printful brings you to its product designer, where you’re able to upload a design and make WooCommerce customizable products.

Click on the Drop Design Here button to upload a design asset from your computer. Most designers use some sort of relevant creation to complement the secondary text area that the customer can personalize.

Note: It’s also possible to choose product variants, like colors and sizes, on this page.

drop a design here

We’ve uploaded a “Family Time” design that’s meant for use at a family reunion.

We plan on placing a customizable text area below the graphic for people to add their family names and the year of their family reunions.

add a design

Step 3: Make it a customizable product

Go to Design → Add Text.

add text for WooCommerce customizable products

Printful creates a new design layer to type in some text.

It’s possible to use this for furthering the design of your merchandise, but we’d like to activate the Product Personalization Tool so that customers can take control of the text box.

To make this feature appear, you must first type some sort of text into the text box. After that, a new field shows up to Allow Text Personalization. Make sure you mark that checkbox.

Note: It’s also not a bad idea to include example text for your customers to see where the customization takes place.

We also recommend moving around the Customizable Text Area slider to expand the area of text that customers can edit. This often helps if someone plans on typing in a long name that may expand the current text box.

allow text personalization

Step 4: Incorporate other customizable features like fonts, colors, and shadows

To give customers more control over the design, consider checking off boxes for Colors, Fonts, and Outlines. It adds extra fields for the customer to edit these parameters separately, but you can also turn on default settings for all of them.

family name for WooCommerce customizable products

Click on the Proceed To Mockups button once you’re satisfied with the design.

go to mockups for WooCommerce customizable products

Step 5: Add product details and sync with WooCommerce

Printful is more than a product personalization tool. It also provides a print-on-demand service, along with product detail syncing to your WooCommerce store.

Therefore, you’ll want to fill in everything from the product title to the description inside Printful.

add title and description for WooCommerce customizable products

It’s also important to check the Product Visibility box if you’d like it to appear on your WooCommerce store. Finally, there’s a field to add the product to a category.

Click on the Proceed To Pricing button.

proceed to pricing

The final page in Printful helps you set pricing with a calculator. Here, you type in a retail price for all product variants and increase it by a certain amount or percentage. The last field presents your potential profit with that particular retail price.

Click the Submit to Store button afterward.

submit WooCommerce customizable products to store

After the sync, you can either view or edit the product in WooCommerce.

view in woocommerce for WooCommerce customizable products

Step 6: View the frontend product personalization tool

Here’s a look at the frontend (which you should check on your own site) to give you an idea of how the product personalization tool works.

In short, the customer lands on a product page and sees product variants, pricing, and descriptions.

With the product personalization tool from Printful, a Personalize Design button appears as well.

Note: We recommend including notes about how this is a customizable product in the title and description.

personalize design button

The customer can delete the default text to type in their own information (in this case, their own last name and the year of their family reunion).

We also included fields for them to adjust the text and outline colors.

frontend of WooCommerce customizable products

After all of that, WooCommerce puts the personalized product in the cart. The payment gets processed, and Printful receives a notification to fulfill the personalized order.

product added to cart

Which Printful product types offer personalization options?

Not every item in the Printful product library allows for personalization.

As of this article, the product personalization tool is available for:

  • Most direct-to-garment items
  • Embroidered products
  • Jewelry
  • Keychains
  • Wall art

Therefore, you can add the personalization tool to items like DTG (direct-to-garment) t-shirts, hoodies, sweatshirts, and most apparel items. Embroidery products, like hats, shirts, polos, and home goods, also have the personalization tool. All-over-print apparel lacks personalization options.

Keychains and jewelry are a little different since the customization tool is still there, but the personalization text gets engraved instead of printed or embroidered.

New products get added to this list from time to time, so your best bet is to start making a product, choose Add Text, then type in a bit of text to see if the Allow Text Personalization checkbox appears.

allow text personalization - WooCommerce customizable products

Conclusion

There are plenty of other tools to make personalization possible in WooCommerce. Printful is one of my favorites, but other plugins include Product Add-ons, Zakeke, and PPOM.

Other than that, let us know in the comments below if you have any questions about WooCommerce customizable products!

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