Thursday, February 20, 2014


Product Selection
CafePress has a nicely rounded out selection of apparel (including baby and maternity) and gift items. They have ceramics, stationary, and gifts for home and office. They offer embroidery, but it is limited to a pre-set shaped patch on certain apparel items. They also offer books and audio and video CDs.

Of the PODS reviewed here CafePress is the one which offers the most items for cars (like vanity licence plates, flags, etc.), the most travel accessories, and the most large home accessories (blankets, sheets, shower curtains), the most pet items (dog collars, bowls, etc.), and the largest amount of baby gear (diaper bags, blankets, bibs, etc.) .

Overall, CafePress has a relatively good product and printing quality. I have had a few things mis-printed, but they've always been good about replacing the item when there was a problem. So, if anything isn't like you expected, contact them. Every thing else I've ordered from them  from them (mugs, cards, ornaments) was excellent quality, though in my personal opinion the journals would more appropriately be called notebooks, as the cover is card-stock and the size is somewhat thin for a true journal.

CafePress has average prices.

Production & Shipping Time/Cost
CafePress has a reasonable shipping rate and processing time.

If you use their Basic Shops (their free shop version), you are VERY limited in how you can customize your shop. You have one logo you can add at the top, and an area you can add text to underneath, but NO custom HTML (URLS typed into the text area will be turned into links for you). You can have only one of each product in a basic shop (although you can open as many basic shops as you need). But it seems CafePress is moving away from basic shops and may do away with them eventually.)

You can now choose to pay a set price for a premium shop or pay a percentage of your earnings. With a Premium Shop you can organize your shop into categories and subcategories, and have as many products and designs as you want. You also have more flexibility to customize your shop. They have templates you can choose from or you can design your own. Unfortunately the templates contain some discontinued features, which are difficult to remove. I don't know why they haven't updated them.

Both premium and basic shops are fairly easy to set up (depending, of course, on how much you want to customize a premium shop). You can add multiple items at once, and also change things like prices and description in bulk.

Mark-Up/Commission Method
CafePress has two different pricing methods, one for shops, and one for it's marketplace, and a third for certain name brand items, and items it sells through third party venues like Amazon and Ebay. They set the base price in your shop, and you set whatever price over that you wanted to. On order through the marketplace you will get a percentage varying from 5% to 10% of the sale price, depending on different factors including participation on the site (I've written more about that here). Some very high participators will be hand chosen for a program where you have more responsibilities, and can earn up to 15% in the marketplace. You also receive volume bonus if you sell over a certain amount from your shops. Orders originating in the marketplace do not count towards this bonus.

Customer Base
CafePress has one of the best, most established, customer bases. It's possible to get quite a bit of sales solely from their marketplace. However, starting in June 2009 they removed all links to shops from the things you sold in the marketplace (so you still get sales from the marketplace, but will have less of a chance to gain repeat customers that way), and they changed their rules so that they could exclude designs from the marketplace they thought were redundant or otherwise unwanted (this doesn't remove them from your own shops, only the marketplace). Also, you don't have a choice on which color gets featured in the marketplace anymore (again, this doesn't apply to shops). So, while they have a large customer base, it is not quite as accessible as it used to be.

PARTNERSHIPS: CafePress has deals with various TV shows, movies, video games and groups to allow their designers to make designs associated with their brand. These include Star Trek, Lost, Twilight, and more. You can find more detail and the complete list of fan portals CafePress offers here. It also recently added customization, which is a little tricky to figure out, and somewhat frustrating because you can't use images in your image basket when making custom items, and have to upload images again, which is time consuming.

OTHER FEATURES: In July 2013 CafePress added some features that might help customer loyalty...allowing customers to like items, follow an artist, ect. Unfortunately, they are also requiring artists to be somewhat active in this new "community" or their commission is downgraded lower than 10%.

ISSUES WITH TERMS: I have read some criticism about their terms which may leave artists more open then they like to having their work used without their permission. Here's an article about it. I'm not sure how much of a risk this is, and I've never heard of CafePress selling anything with a design without paying anyone, but thought I would mention it so you could read and decide for yourself.

Their well established customer base and marketplace makes this a good shop to start with if you don't want to do much promotion (and if you don't mind only taking 10% of marketplace sales). If you are successful at promoting your shop yourself and don't need to rely on CafePress's marketplace promotion, you can take a higher mark-up, though.

Visit CafePress

Review last updated Feb 2014.  Moved from Squidoo.

(DISCLOSURE: I am part of the CafePress affiliate program and receive a commission on purchases by customers who visit through the links above).

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