Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Is CafePress pulling a fast one?

CafePress has always been very restrictive in terms of what it allows/disallows on its message boards, so it's not surprising that they're quashing discussions on certain topics. One of those topics is the case of the mysterious disappearing shop sales.

If you're not a CafePress shopkeeper you probably have no idea what I'm talking about. Briefly, CafePress has two distinct parts, its marketplace and each individual shop. The individual shops are where the products in the marketplace come from. Before June 2009, regardless of whether a product was purchased in a shop or in the marketplace, the price was the same--it was set by the shopkeeper who created it. Then CafePress instituted their devastating "10% commission" policy in which products sold via the marketplace would have prices set by CafePress, and the creator of the design would only receive 10% of the selling price. Products sold via shops would sell at the creator's price and they would receive their full commission.

Okay, so here's the deal: Since June 2009, MANY of us have experienced an inexplicable, nearly complete halt of shop sales. This applies to shopkeepers who are still in the marketplace and those of us who pulled out. Suddenly, after years [for some of us] of making regular sales straight from our shops, they're now virtually nonexistent.

Shopkeepers who are still in the marketplace may note greatly increased sales--all of which are via the marketplace--although their profit is a fraction of what it should be, while simultaneously seeing no shop sales whatsoever. Shopkeepers who pulled out of the marketplace may see no shop sales at all, or perhaps an occasional one or two. This is in stark contrast to how it used to be--back before the 10% commission change.

So what happened? Why is it that even though we're getting hits to our shops, even though our stats show people landing at our web sites searching for merchandise we have and then proceeding to said merchandise in our CafePress shops, we're not getting (m)any sales? Keep in mind that prior to the commission change in June many of us had a fair amount of shop vs marketplace sales, and now there are virtually none. Or so it seems...

Writing this on the CafePress forums would result in a swift editing or deleting job from the mods, although a few people have tried. Basically, here's what I--and many others--think: The shop sales ARE still happening. We're just not being told about them. Or credited for them.

Think about it. For years and years we all had lots of shop sales. Last June CP changes its commission policy in the marketplace and suddenly, inexplicably, shop sales go down the toilet--in spite of the fact that our stats confirm that people are arriving at our shops. Weird, huh?

There's more, too. Many of us have noticed "abandoned shopping carts," i.e., we can see movement through our shops via our site logs culminating with a purchase, but then the purchase never materializes. Over the years we've gotten used to seeing the occasional "abandoned shopping cart," which we've chalked up to someone changing their mind or whatever before completing the sale. But, overwhelmingly, when we'd see a line like this in our logs:


a "You made a sale at CafePress.com!" e-mail was sure to follow in short order. Now? Not so much. So what happened?

If you're a CafePress shopkeeper and you're experiencing the same dramatic, inexplicable disappearance of shop sales since the 10% commission change went into effect, feel free to post a comment. You KNOW you can't speak freely about this at CafePress!



Anonymous said...

Cafepress optimized their marketplace in a way that makes the shops of little importance to google for organic results. Having your own shop is only good if you can bring in your own traffic and that won't be from doing SEO because Google sets a higher priority on the Marketplace results. Cafepress' selfish acts with the commission change was a joke and crushed the dreams of many entreprenuers. In my mind they got what they wanted for designs and now just get to enjoy all the profits and have forgotten about the designers and entreprenuers who made it all possible.

SmartAssProducts said...

My biggest concern, though, is seeing visitors to my shop--even to the point of reaching the shopping cart for the item they searched Google/Yahoo/whatever for--but then never see a corresponding sale. I have a hard time believing that, SUDDENLY, post-June 1, 2009, after MANY years of following visitors' trends to my shop, NOW almost all shop visits end in no sale. Just doesn't make sense.

The double whammy of CafePress changing its commission/marketplace structure, along with Google no longer allowing individual shopkeepers to upload their own product feeds, has been disastrous. At least if Google realized how and why they're hurting us, and reinstated individual feeds, we'd have a fighting chance against the greed CafePress has shown us.

Alessandro Machi said...

I remember you from Hillary Clinton dot net.

Did you ever make it over to DailyPUMA

Nice to see you kicking butt here, it sounds like Cafe Press is pulling a fast one.

The logical solution is to increase the commission from a meager 10%.

SmartAssProducts said...

Alessandro! What a nice blast from the [recent] past! You wouldn't believe what I've been up to this past year. It started with a brain tumor...and went downhill from there. A very, VERY difficult recovery from brain surgery in April (craniotomy, the whole works), has included facial paralysis, vision and hearing problems, balance issues, exhaustion, and more. So the bullshit CafePress pulled, which happened to coincide with my post-op recuperation, was REALLY hard to swallow.

And now it truly looks like they're pulling a fast one, as I described. Day after day I see the 'abandoned shopping cart' syndrome in my logs, and it just doesn't make sense. People search for something very specific, like "Linux by choice merchandise" and end up on this page. They browse through, looking at a bumper sticker, a shirt, whatever. They add a couple of items to their shopping cart. After that I can't track them--only CafePress can. And guess what? The sale NEVER materializes--that *I* know of. This is happening OVER and OVER again. I've been at this for years and have never seen anything like it, other than the occasional abandoned cart I mentioned originally. But nearly 100%? Crazy.

Meanwhile, our Zazzle shop has taken off very quickly. Sales are brisk and I'm very pleased. As I've said a good number of times in this blog: FUCK YOU, CafePress! :)

Cindy said...

My Cafepress sales stop on the 19th. July no sales after the 19th, sales started again on the 1st of August and now has stopped cold on the 19th again. NO sales for August or July after the 19th.

This is not normal for my sales at all. I ALWAYS get sales every day, or every 2 days, lots of times 2 or 3 or 4 or more a day. So needless to say, my sales have dropped 50% for July and August, 2010.

I checked for June and I have tons of sales after the 19th.

I KNOW I am selling items, there is no way this is a real sales report. It's not possible. And like you said, 99% of the sales I did get are MP now. Almost all my shop sales have stopped.

And I am PAYING for a premium store. I am so discouraged over this whole mess. I will never get my missing $$. I have had premium shops at CP for 5 years. Only one now, but still.

Anonymous said...

Is this still going on?

A friend of mine did a purchase recently (I got the order confirmation from her), but I didn't receive any commissions for that order :-S

blog owner said...

Cindy, I hear you. There is absolutely NO DOUBT in my mind that CafePress has "fixed" things, one way or another.

blog owner said...

Anonymous, yep, I'm not at all surprised. Did you contact CP and ask what's up? If you do, and if you get any kind of logical response, I'd love to see it posted here.

As I've said, my stats show visit after visit from customers looking for a particular design, they go to that item in my shop, browse around, whatever, and then I lose them because they're where only CP can see them--but I have abandoned shopping cart after abandoned shopping cart. I've had my main CP shop since July 2001, and until last year I had *NEVER* seen this phenomenon, but now it's an everyday occurrence. Coincidence that it started AFTER their terrible commission change? I don't think so.

Dreamcatcher said...

5-11-14 LotacatsFunPix

This has just started with me. I've been with Cafepress for years and out of the clear blue sales did a very fast dwindle and then full stop. I'm heart broke. I'm on disability and my sales have kept me away from food stamps plus allowed me some Amazon time and paying for my own medications. This is a powerful hurt to me. I have just written to them. I KNOW this is not some little dip in sales...something bad happened....and it can't be legal if someone is diverting sales and covering. Is our government running the stores now? It would fit.. I dunno...I'm sick over this. Plenty of people visit...I'm so familiar with how my shop goes.

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