Dropshipping vs. DTF Transfers: Which is Better for Your Business?

Dropshipping vs. DTF Transfers: Which is Better for Your Business?

Dropshipping versus DTF Transfers (DTF) has become an essential topic of conversation for many small printing businesses. It is no surprise that these businesses are increasingly turning to online services and automated solutions to simplify their operations.

However, it is essential to understand the differences between dropshipping and DTF transfers to make an informed decision about which solution is best for your business. Knowing the differences between these two processes can help you decide which is better suited to meet your needs and goals.

What Is Dropshipping?

What Is Dropshipping?

Before we go into the details of this article, let’s first discuss what dropshipping is. Dropshipping is the process of ordering products from a third-party supplier and having them directly shipped to your customer.

Here, the seller does not keep goods in stock but instead transfers customer orders and shipment details to either the manufacturer, another retailer, or a wholesaler, who then ships the goods directly to the customer. Since the supplier will take care of production and shipping, dropshipping eliminates the need for you to have a physical inventory or handle fulfillment of the order.

How Does Dropshipping Work?

A young womman scanning a parcel tag

When an online retailer receives an order for a shirt, they will contact their drop shipping supplier and provide the required information. The supplier will then process the order (take care of production and packaging) and ship it directly to the customer. The online retailer never has to handle the product and can take care of customer service, returns, and refunds. This is an excellent way for businesses to save on inventory costs and shipping fees.

Pros Of Dropshipping

A young delivery man scanning a parcel tag with a smart phone inside a car before giving it to the destinataire


Low Overhead Costs

Dropshipping doesn’t require shirt storage or order shipment, which can lower your overhead costs for extra tasks like renting a space for storing products or sending shipments directly to customers.

Quick Turnaround Time

Dropshipping suppliers can often fulfill orders for shirts and designs quickly, allowing businesses to provide faster delivery times.

Multi-channel Selling

With dropshipping, businesses can quickly sell products on multiple channels, such as eBay, Amazon, and other social media platforms.

Business Location

Because dropshipping doesn’t require businesses to have a physical location, entrepreneurs can run their businesses anywhere.


Businesses can quickly scale their operations with dropshipping, adding more products, or increasing sales without investing in additional inventory.

Cons Of Dropshipping

A dropshipper scanning his stock

Lack Of Control

Businesses don’t have as much control over the process because the supplier is responsible for fulfilling orders and sending products. This could lead to issues such as late deliveries or incorrect orders.

Low Margins

Because of the additional fees associated with dropshipping, businesses may have lower profits than they would if they had their inventory and shipped orders out themselves.


With so many online retailers using dropshipping, it can be difficult for businesses to stand out.

Fraudulent Orders

With dropshipping, it isn’t easy to verify the identity of customers placing orders. This increases the risk of fraudulent activity, leading to business losses.

Compromising Quality

Because the supplier is responsible for shipping products, businesses don’t have complete control over product quality. This could lead to customer dissatisfaction if products aren’t up to standard.

Inventory Management

Up-to-the-minute updates on what is available in stock may not be possible. No one likes ordering something only to find out it’s unavailable, which poorly reflects on the customer’s experience with your brand and damages your reputation.

Businesses that use dropshipping need to be aware of the inventory levels of their suppliers to ensure that orders can be fulfilled quickly and customers aren’t left waiting for their products.

Direct-To Film-Transfer (DTF Transfer)

Folded T-shirts

Direct-To-Film Transfers is a printing method that creates high-quality image transfers that are heat-set onto various surfaces. During this process, heat presses are used to press the transfer paper into the fabric.

Unlike other printing methods such as heat transfer vinyl or sublimation transfers, DTF printers allow businesses to print their designs directly onto the substrate, creating a professional look. Digital transfers can be applied to a garment like cotton, t-shirts, and other forms of fabric.

This process is ideal for small business orders since it does not require large setup costs or screens to create the design. The artwork can be created digitally and printed directly onto the transfer film.

When properly made and applied, DTF prints blend right into the fabric. In short, they offer almost all the advantages you are looking for in a heat press transfer. The resulting products from this printing method usually possess vibrant, full-color designs that will hold up under repeated washings and wearings without fading.

Equipment And Tools Needed For DTF Transfers

Below, we list the tools and equipment needed for Direct-To-Film Transfers:

DTF printer: A DTF printer is a specialized machine that is used to print the design onto the transfer film. DTF printers are cheaper than other digital printing printers. For example, DTG printers can cost twice as much as DTFs.

Heat Press: A heat press is used to press the transfer film into the substrate fabric.

Ink: You can either use water-based ink or plastisol ink. Other printing methods use different kinds of ink. For example, sublimation transfers use sublimation ink.

Transfer paper: This type of paper is specially designed to be used with DTF printers and heat presses.

Substrate fabric: This is the type of fabric that will be decorated using the direct-To-Film transfer method. The most common substrates are cotton, polyester, and nylon fabrics.

Teflon sheet: This sheet is placed between the heat press and the substrate fabric to protect it from any potential damage.

Dropshipping Versus Making Your Own DTF Transfers

Young woman takes notes of orders from with laptop. Dropshipping business owner working in her office. Startup business. Online sales.



The most significant difference between dropshipping and making your own DTF transfers is the level of control businesses have over their products. Those who make their own DTF transfers can have complete control over the quality of their products and be able to update inventory levels quickly and accurately. With dropshipping, businesses don’t have control over the quality of the products they sell.


Dropshipping can be cheaper in the short term since businesses don’t need to carry inventory or pay for setup costs. However, businesses need to remember that with dropshipping, additional fees are associated with each order, which can add up over time.

In the long run, DTF transfers are more price-effective due to lower per-unit costs and no additional fees associated with dropshipping. Businesses only have to invest a one-time cost for the transfer paper and equipment needed for printing.


With dropshipping, businesses may have to wait for products to be shipped from the supplier. This could lead to delays in orders being fulfilled. In contrast, with DTF transfers, businesses can print and ship orders quickly since they don’t need to wait on a third-party supplier.


With DTF transfers, businesses have the advantage of having complete control over their branding. They can create unique designs and logos to help them stand out from competitors and establish a strong brand identity.

In contrast, dropshipping relies on third-party suppliers who may not provide the same level of customization or personalization regarding product branding.


With dropshipping, businesses depend on third-party suppliers to fulfill orders and maintain inventory levels. This lack of control could lead to problems with customer service and delays in orders being fulfilled.

In contrast, with DTF transfers, businesses have complete control over their products and the speed at which they can produce, vet and ship them.

Customer Relationship-building

With DTF transfers, businesses can create unique designs and logos to help them build customer relationships. This allows businesses to create a positive customer experience and establish a strong brand identity.

On the other hand, dropshipping relies on third-party suppliers who may not provide the same customization or personalization regarding customer relationship-building.

Also, when it comes to DTF transfers, customers can be conversant with the design process. They can view the artwork being transferred to the fabric and be more involved in their purchase. This adds another level of customer satisfaction and engagement.

Which Should I Go For?

When deciding whether to use dropshipping or make your DTF transfers for your business, it’s essential to consider the quality of products you want to offer customers, cost-effectiveness, and how quickly orders can be fulfilled.

DTF transfers offer businesses the advantage of higher-quality prints, lower per-unit costs, and faster order fulfillment times. On the other hand, dropshipping can be cheaper in the short term and may provide more convenience for those who prefer to outsource orders. Ultimately, it’s up to each business to decide which option is best for them, depending on their needs and preferences.

No matter which option you choose, it’s essential to understand the differences between dropshipping and making your DTF transfers to make an informed decision for your business.

Remember the quality of products, cost-effectiveness, time factors, branding opportunities, and control over customer relationships when weighing your options. Researching and comparing each option can help you ensure that your business is making the best decision for its specific needs.

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