The CafePress Marketplace launched four years ago as a way to showcase shopkeeper designs to a broader online retail audience. Since then our catalog has grown to over 300 million products, and each month over 11 million shoppers visit CafePress to find unique and expressive products.
While our Marketplace growth has benefited many shopkeepers, others have seen commissions flatten or decline as the Marketplace becomes more saturated with redundant content. It is clear to us that to continue growing our Marketplace, we need to deliver a higher-quality shopping experience to customers, continue to invest in customer acquisition, and maximize conversion.
To do this we’re making two key changes:
- Beginning today: We’ll be making changes in our search platform and algorithm to ensure we’re better delivering the designs and merchandise shoppers are looking for. This includes bringing the best designs to the front, and reducing redundant designs.
- Beginning June 1st: We’ll start setting prices in the Marketplace, and Shopkeepers will receive a 10% commission off the final retail prices from all Marketplace sales. This change provides our shoppers with consistent pricing that’s competitive with other online retail stores. It also allows us to better invest in a quality retail experience and continued growth.
These changes DO NOT impact the pricing, markup, or sales you are driving in your own shops.By separating our Marketplace pricing from the prices you set in your shops, we’re able to preserve shop base pricing and continue to support shopkeepers who drive their own sales.
On June 1, 2009 the current Shopkeeper Agreement, Shop Services, and Pricing Policy will change to reflect the new changes to the CafePress Marketplace. The major changes are to the Shop Services and Pricing Policy.You can review the new Seller Services (currently Shop Services) and Shop Pricing Policy (currently Pricing Policy).
We’re launching the next generation of the CafePress Marketplace. Through these changes, we’ll increasingly deliver a more positive experience for shoppers – all while poising ourselves for the next burst of growth. Specifically, we’re paving the way for a more streamlined shopping experience. This includes changes to the search platform and site merchandising. It also includes adjustments to pricing and updating to our commission model. Each of these changes is designed to foster continued growth and further promote our offering. Additionally, we’ll also be making enhancements to help Shopkeepers enjoy a stronger brand presence for their own shops.
- Search Platform and Marketplace Algorithm Changes
- New commission structure for Marketplace sales
- Increased Shop Branding
Search Platform and Marketplace Algorithm Changes
1. What search platform and algorithm changes will be rolling out over the next few months?
All changes we’ll be making to the search platform and algorithm will be gradual, rolling out over the course of many months.These changes aim to achieve the following goals:
- Help shoppers more easily find products they’re looking for, through search and site navigation
- Better expose those quality designs on the first few pages of search, by securing “premium shelf placement” for quality and innovative designs
- Reduce design redundancy
In early May you’ll see new Marketplace navigation. This new navigation will give customers more clarity about the types of physical merchandise we sell.In addition, the new navigation structure will better expose the vast topic areas available in our catalog.
2.How does CafePress know what buyers want?
Based on search and sales data, we know what items shoppers gravitate towards. We’re now taking a more proactive role in making sure that these products are easier to find.
3.What do you mean by reducing redundancy?
A simple search on any popular search term, like “army”, is a great example. Chances are you’ll get 20 or more very similar designs in the first few pages. Some of the designs are likely to be high-quality, but the shopping choice often lacks diversity.Reducing redundancy means pushing the most unique assortment of designs onto the first pages, so that customers can find what they’re looking for within the first few pages of search results.
4.What topics are considered saturated or redundant?
Topics that are typically popular or mainstream tend to be saturated with many designs.A few examples: search for “dog” and you come up with 630,000 designs; “army” you get 102,000 designs, “Christmas” you get 268,000 designs, etc…
5.Do these changes address tag spam?
Yes, this is a step towards addressing tag spam.As you can imagine, tag spam cannot easily be fixed with one solution and we will continue to address it in the coming months.
6.Will my designs continue to show up in the Marketplace?
Making your designs eligible for promotion in the Marketplace remains unchanged so long as you’re opted in and have your images tagged.
7.How will this impact my placement in the Marketplace?
Placement in the Marketplace will vary from design to design, depending on many factors.A design on page one of a popular, saturated topic may not appear on page one after these changes roll out. In contrast, many quality designs that have had poor placement may now see higher placement in search results.
8.Is CafePress confident this change will improve a shopper’s experience in the Marketplace?
We are confident that we’re taking the right steps. The most immediate changes will give shoppers consistent pricing and less redundancy for popular/saturated topics.We will continue to work to improve the shopping experience in the Marketplace over the next few months.
This change is all about listening to our customers. They tell us we’re making it way too hard for them to find relevant, quality designs.We are confident that these changes will improve the overall shopping experience
9.Will there still be a link to my shop from the Marketplace?
We realize that different pricing for the same product in the Marketplace, and in your shops, could cause customer confusion. We are working on a solution for customers to quickly see, within the Marketplace, other designs and products you offer. Look for these changes in the upcoming months.
New commission structure for Marketplace sales
1.Why is CafePress setting the pricing in the Marketplace?
Inconsistent pricing on the same product makes shopping confusing for customers.Customers need to know that they can find quality designs at a great price – always.Also, by taking control of the pricing, we can ensure we’re seasonally competitive and that we can respond to market conditions along with other online retailers.It also lets us offer timely promotions and sales that can maximize conversion during key seasonal retail periods.
2.Why change the commission structure for Marketplace sales only?
We’ve recognized that the economics of the Marketplace are different from the shop platform. With the Marketplace, we spend a great deal of resources to drive quality traffic through marketing and search engine marketing. However, with the shops platform, shopkeepers invest time and money to generate their own traffic and sales. By separating Marketplace pricing from Shop pricing, we are able to maintain competitive base prices for shops – while avoiding the need to ask our shopkeepers to help fund growing Marketplace traffic.
The 10% commission structure gives us the ability to take a more proactive role in managing a good retail experience, and to make a continued investment in customer acquisition (search engine marketing, advertising and other marketing initiatives) that will grow our Marketplace.
3.Are there plans to change the commission structure for Shops?
No, we have no plans to change the commission structure for basic or premium shop
4.Did CafePress consider other options before deciding on the new commission structure?
Yes, we considered many other options.We understand these changes impact sellers and our decision was made only after careful consideration. These changes are critical to the vibrancy of our long-term business.
5.How did CafePress determine the commission rate of 10%?
This decision was a combination of what was realistically affordable, what we thought felt was right, and what industry experts recognize as a fair design licensing fee.A 10% commission is lower than the average seller margin in the Marketplace, but fair – relative to current retail design licensing models.Most importantly, it affords us the ability to take a more proactive role in managing a good retail experience, driving customer acquisition (search engine marketing, advertising and other marketing initiatives) and continuing to grow our Marketplace over time.
6.Is the commission for Marketplace 10% of the retail price?
Yes.Commission for Marketplace sales will be 10% of the retail price.
7.Will surcharges, such as second side printing and larger sizes, be included in the commission?
Yes, we will determine commission based on the total retail price, including surcharges for second side printing and larger sizes.
8.Does the new commission structure apply to all products?
No, there are a few exceptions:
- Books will maintain the mark-up commissions as assigned by the Shopkeeper
- CDs will maintain the mark-up commissions as assigned by the Shopkeeper
- Flip Mino and Flip Mino HD still earn a flat $10 commission for Marketplace sales.
9.Why are Books and CDs exempt?
Books and CDs are exempt from these changes because sellers of Books and CDs are largely responsible for driving their own traffic and sales of their proprietary content.
10.What are the planned retail prices for Marketplace products?
Over the course of the next few months we’ll be testing prices to determine the optimal price points for our customers and conversion. Retail prices in the Marketplace prices will not remain static, and will change from time to time as we test. Our tests will fall within a “Low to High” range for each product.
A few examples:
Sample Price Range
Men’s Light T-Shirt
$20.00 – $25.00
Women’s Zip Hoodie
$35.00 – $40.00
$22.00 – $28.00
$12.00 – $18.00
$18.00 – $25.00
11.How does the new 10% commission work with coupons?
As it is today, coupons will not impact the retail price or shopkeeper commission.
12.Will retail pricing in the Marketplace always remain the same?
No, retail prices will fluctuate depending on seasons, special events, or special promotions. In fact, shortly after June 1, we will be doing a round of price testing to determine optimal Marketplace retail price points. This means that retail prices of the same product may vary from one day to the next.
13.If the retail price of a product varies, does that mean my commission will also vary for the same product?
Yes, your commission can vary for the same product. It will depend on the final price at customer checkout. For example, a White T-Shirt sold in the Marketplace for $22.99 will receive a commission of $2.29.The same White T-Shirt sold during a promotion for $19.99 would result in a commission of $1.99.
14.If I don’t markup my products, will I still make a commission when my design sells in the Marketplace?
Yes, all products in the Marketplace will have the same prices, including those that are not marked in shops. All Marketplace sales will result in a 10% commission of the retail price.However, if you don’t markup your products, you will not earn commission for sales through your shop.
15.Will this in any way affect the pricing in my shop?
No. This change will only affect Marketplace retail prices and commissions.
16.Is the economy a factor in these changes?
No. Creating a quality experience and growing the business are things that should be done in any economy. This is a change to improve the long-term vibrancy of the CafePress business.
Increased Shop Branding
What enhancements are being made to further promote my shop brand?
- We’re moving CafePress branding from the top of your shop, to the bottom of your shop.
- Customer’s purchase receipt emails will highlight shop names, indicating where those purchases were made.
- Customer’s receipt will show the name of the shop where purchases were made, at the top of the receipt.