Awhile back, Cafepress decided to make some changes to their marketplace; they decided to price everything in the marketplace exactly the same. I suppose this makes some sense, but the way they've gone about it hasn't exactly been great. We should look at how things are panning out.
Cafepress has always let the shopkeepers set their own prices. They have also always strongly suggested using the "Premium" price tier. That's Ok by me, so all my shops have been set up that way. Recently, though, when they decided that for the marketplace all products should be priced exactly the same, they went against their previous notion of premium pricing, and priced everything rock bottom.
I am looking at my August sales here. I have sold 11 items between 5 shops on Cafepress. That's not exactly enough to make anyone dance a jig. But it's when I compare pricing that things get really ugly.
So far in August, I have made $14.30 from these 11 items, all sold from the Marketplace. With a cost of $25 per month for my 5 Cafepress shops, I am in deep doo-doo. [a highly technical term for a losing venture] Had these same items sold a few months ago when they were priced at the Premium tier, they would have brought me $37.53. Not a lot of money, but I would at least not be losing money. [the aforementioned "deep doo-doo"] So that really sucks.
Then the question is, would those items still have sold had they been priced a few bucks higher? Maybe, maybe not. It's hard to know what the tipping point is these days. Perhaps people are not spending quite so freely anymore. Still, it is a significantly smaller amount. Is Cafepress just looking for an increase in volume, which helps them, but at these prices, it doesn't help the shopkeepers. Which brings me back to the inevitable comparison with Zazzle.
Shops are free on Zazzle, which means it costs me absolutely nothing for the 14,000+ products I have listed there in 12 different, thematically focused shops. Those shops are Birds of Paradise, Biblical T-Shirts, Celtic Dreams, God Bless the USA, ottoblotto, Live Simply, Sun and Shadows, Turtle Hero, Zodiac Attack, Halloween Time, A Total Flake, and Obsessions. Whenever I get another idea for a design group, I can just open another shop. I sure couldn't afford to do that on Cafepress, which is making me re-think that relationship just a bit.
In the same time frame, I have made $24.95 in sales through Zazzle. Cost to me, $0. It's a big difference, and since Google Trends shows Zazzle still leading in searches over Cafepress, I wonder...