Apr 25 2009

Cafepress Heads for Self Inflicted Ruins

Published by at 9:56 pm under Cafepress,POD News,T-shirt News

April 22, 2009 started out to be a normal day for many artists who sell their merchandise at Cafepress, Once the leader in Print on Demand companies. Then the Bombshell hit. Shopkeepers being forced to accept 10% over a newly bloated base sticker price for all merchandise sold in the marketplace. Either that or opt out of the marketplace and lose those sales all together. Since most shopkeepers add at least $7 to say a $20 base price shirt, they will be forced to accept a $2 profit instead.
Needless to say Cafepress is digging it’s own grave as many of what is known as the Top Shopkeepers are now taking their designs elsewhere so as not to lose what for many of them is the sole income.

As one blogger puts it:
Lavender Newswire

In short, CafePress.com has screwed the shopkeepers — the artists, the designers, us, me. They’ve pulled massively boneheaded crap (designed to increase their profit margin while decreasing ours)

CafePress will undercut designers who sell on the marketplace and on their own shop. says Irregular Times read the entire article with this powerful headline: CafePress Announces Big Price Hikes for Buyers, Big Commission Cuts for Sellers

In more detail and obvious upset is the blog Wolfstad.com – who touches on not only this latest faxpaux by Cafepress but the earlier stabs in the back shopkeepers have recently been forced to withstand.
The article entitled:
CafePress Virtually Lays Off Thousands of Shopkeepers reads:

What CafePress announced yesterday that is making everyone very mad is that they will fix all prices in their marketplace and give shopkeepers only 10% of the final retail price. 10% is very low, as some shopkeepers have markups of as high as 30% to 40% to make a living. If in the past a t-shirt had a base price of $15 and the shopkeeper decided to have a $5 markup the t-shirt will sell for $20 and the shopkeeper will get $5. In the new scheme CafePress will be able to determine the retail price of all products in their marketplace and give the shopkeeper only 10%. So if they decide to sell the t-shirt for $18, the shopkeeper will get only $1.80. That is a huge cut in earnings.

read more…

Yet another blogger (The Kamranistan Blog) writes:Cafepress Slashes Royalties For Contributors by 75% While Increasing Its Own Profits by 40%.

There is a new uproar at the infamous Print On Demand company known as Cafepress. It was announced yesterday that they will make some changes that will benefit the customers and make their shopping experience better. This includes cleaning up the Cafepress marketplace by sorting and throwing out redundant designs to make browsing easier. This is something that fellow shopkeepers have been asking for for so long, so that’s the great part of the changes to be made in June. But what isn’t cool, is how we shopkeepers will benefit by making a measly 10% from marketplace purchases. As of right now, the agreement is that shopkeepers set their own prices whether the products are sold from the marketplace or directly from our shops. If a t-shirt’s base price is $14.99 and we set our markup to $8 that means that the final selling price to the customer would be $22.99. Now according to the new changes coming soon, shopkeepers will only receive 10% of $14.99 if the item is sold through the marketplace. Why is that bad? Well how would you feel if you were used to having your freedom as agreed in the TOS to sell your products at a reasonable price set by you and only you….only to have the agreement change and told that you will earn a whopping $1.49 for your design. A design that many shopkeepers have spend countless hours on on many days just to make a living.

So what is the answer? What do the shopkeepers do now? In the words of yet another blogger: Zazzle ’em, Baby! words bolded by blogger Marianne Dow, a member of AVCOSA – Antiques, Vintage & Collectibles Online Sellers Assoc says:

So, what’s a seller to do? Well, you can run over to Zazzle, where they will welcome you with open arms. Zazzle will even give you a FREE SHOP.

Yes, it will be a lot of work – set up a shop, learn a new system, re-upload your images, and edit them to fit the Zazzle merchandise. Not to mention, change all the info and links on your own websites and blogs — and business cards, and… well, it’s a big ole hassle. But that is Cafepress’s fault.

At least Zazzle is there. Along with their larger selection of items to put your images on. And the freedom to sell at the price you set!

I was coming here to post the same thing!
This is absurd!!!!! So many shopkeepers ar PO’d and leaving.
I am leaving also! My work is worth a LOT more than 10%

says a post from a member of T-shirt Forums
Not to mention the huge fallout caused by Cafepress for all but removing the incentive volume bonus structure as reported in this blog: T-shirt Chat

I saw this coming a long time ago when marketplace sales were showing in my sales when I knew for a fact they were not marketplace as I see in my statcounter that they went directly to my shop because of my ads- and I worried about something fishy going on then- Oh well.. beef up your other PODs guys..

Over at Cafe Press Shopkeepers Unite the point is made quite clear:

Imagine if you have a store in a mall with two doors into your store… one from the mall and a private one for the store that only your customers know about. The stuff in your store costs one price for people that come in the private door and a different price for the people coming in from the mall – set by the mall owners. Same store, different prices. And then the mall claims that they are “not affecting” your store’s bottom line. Sure.

As I write this, the 6 million plus CP shopkeepers are mobilizing on the very CP community chat forums used to announce the policy changes, and in addition on facebook, yahoo and other blogs and boards on the web. We are alerting the national media and producing our own “counter” press releases because, quite simply, we outnumber them.

Apparently unbeknown to most shopkeepers this has been in the plans for quite sometime as I find in an old post from Direct Aug 2007:

Basically, CafePress member merchants upload their designs to CafePress. The company gives them an online store to sell from, produces the item on demand, handles payments, ships the order, and sends off a check to the merchant.

All of which brings us back to tagging. When the merchants send their designs to CafePress, they tag them with keywords that describe the categories to which they’re relevant, much the way users uploading photos or bookmarks to community sites tag their output to describe and organize it properly.

Gradually it dawned on the CafePress operators that they could use those tags to build more relevance into the product ads that the company ran on its network of Web site affiliates. Most of these are blogs, which tend to match the merchandise offered by CafePress in the strength and contrariety of their opinions.

“The tagging infrastructure is the foundation of how we allow people to search our marketplace,” says Maheesh Jain, CafePress co-founder and vice president of business development. “With the rise of contextual advertising and of blogging in general, tagging is becoming a big element in how people are identifying the content of their posts. So it just made sense for us to connect blogs and Web publishers to the content on our site through tagging.”

I will end with my very favorite blog on the topic – TSHIRT ENTREPRENEUR ONLINE

What Is Next For Cafepress?
Posted by: jjackson72

I’ve been chatting with some fellow disgruntled Cafepress shopkeepers about what the next shoe to drop over at that site will be.We’ve already had premium shops limited in size, price increases on basic items (strange because other companies are not following suit), and now the retooling of the volume bonus among other things that hurt shopkeepers while bolstering their bottom line.

Again, I don’t disparage Cafepress for wanting to make more money. What I disparage them for is doing it on the backs of those of us that make them successful and giving no significant notice of these changes for the most part. Call us “employees”, call us “business partners”, call us “independent contractors”, I don’t care which. The fact is that whatever you call us, we are Cafepress.

Make sure you go to the blog and read the entire article it is very well written and quite satirical albeit possibly more truism than not.
Read the article here:What’s Next for Cafepress
Well done jjackson72 !

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  1. Kramer auto Pingback[…] information. http://www.edpadgett.com/blog/archives/2007_09_01_archive... [Found on Ask.com ] TeeHee Tshirt Blog » Cafepress Heads for Self Inflicted Ruins So many shopkeepers ar PO’d and leaving. I am leaving also! … I’ve been chatting with some […]

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