Cafepress advertises as a company that works with designers to bring the world millions of designs on hundreds of different products. This gives Cafepress two categories of users – persons wanting to make money from their designs (that is, Sellers), and persons wanting exotic products customized with top designs (that is, Buyers).
The big question is whether as a Seller, you can really use Cafepress to make money from your designs. What does it cost to use? Also, how about the user experience; does it offer hassle-free setup, listing, and more?
Continue reading this Cafepress review!
Also, as a buyer, does Cafepress really offer custom products by offering a range of designs that can be put on a range of products? Does it offer personalization; allowing you to customize items with your own designs? What about quality; does Cafepress do high-quality print jobs, and are the products printed on also of high quality? What about the user experience; does Cafepress offer top services that we’ll expect of the ideal online store (such as stress-free ordering, fast delivery, easy return, effective customer support service, etc)? In the first place, is Cafepress legit, or is it just another scam platform?
This Cafepress review will examine Cafepress in order to provide the information that will help you answer these questions and more.
Cafepress review at a glance
- Website: cafepress.com
- Founded in 1999 and headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky
- A based Print on the Demand service provider that lets you earn from your designs
- Offers buyers customized products by allowing them put unique designs on a range of products
- Supported products include clothing, footwear (flip flops), bags, stationery, home and lifestyle products, etc
- It’s risk-free as there are no out-of-pocket costs
- Offers a generous 30 days money back guarantee
- Customer support is available via telephone and email
What is Cafepress? – About
It was in 1999 that Cafepress started. It was founded in San Mateo (California) by Fred Durham and Mahesh Jain. By 2001, its stock has risen so much that it was already winning an award – the People’s Voice Webby Award. As the years rolled by, Cafepress acquired some printing Companies (including Imagekind and Canvas on Demand); these corporate moves further bolstered its position as a robust Print on Demand Company.
Cafepress will later move its headquarter to Louisville (Kentucky) where it still is, and go public; and in 2018, it was acquired by Snapfish.
That’s Cafepress, the company. Now to what the company does; it has dropped already that it I a Print-On-Demand fulfillment provider. In Cafepress’ word, the company “strives to inspire people to express themselves with the best assortment of engaging merchandise”. Thus, it operates a marketplace that holds an ever-growing selection of designs to put on hundreds of products.
In ordinary speak, on the Cafepress website, you’ll find eye-catching designs that are used to customize a range of products. You can also pick a design of choice from their vast selection, and put it on a supported product of choice for your own custom-made item. More so, many products support personalization, where you upload your very own design in creating your custom-made item.
Thus, Cafepress caters to persons who own designs and will want to profit from these, and persons who want to buy fancy custom-made products. However, you’ll need to be 13 year and older to use the Cafepress website.
Is Cafepress legit?
The “legit question” is something that many persons will ask before using any online platform. With cyber fraudsters using different fronts to rip people off, you never can be too careful. Thus, the big question is whether Cafepress is legit.
The short answer to that is yes. The longer answer is that Cafepress is 100% legal, has industry-wide recognition, and has a long operating record of fulfilling orders.
Our first check of a legit online platform is legality, and this is because stores that are 100% legal are less likely to be scams. Thankfully, Cafepress ticks this box. The website is operated by Cafepress Inc, which is a 100% legal company registered in the US. Cafepress Inc even traded in the Nasdaq Stock Exchange. Suffice it to say that cam stores cannot have this profile – making it to the floor of a stock exchange.
Another check of a legit online platform is visibility and industry-wide recognition, and this is because the scam stores largely operate in the shadows. Thankfully, Cafepress also ticks this box. First, there is no visibility than being a public company.
Also, Cafepress has signed many strategic partnerships with big businesses to provide licensed contents on its websites. Then, there have been awards along the way, including a People’s Voice Webby Award in 2001. Suffice it to say that scam stores do not enter strategic partnerships, and definitely cannot earn the recognition of industry watchers and followers.
However, the ultimate check of a legit online platform is the fulfillment of an order; and this is because the scam stores only disappear with payment and do not fulfil orders. Thankfully, Cafepress ticks this box. Starting operation in 1999, Cafepress now have about 2 decades of operation in its belt. Suffice it to say that a store that does not fulfil orders just cannot stay that long.
Even without the test of time, the independent customers’ review platforms abound with real customers who placed orders and got delivery of real products that they were satisfied with. That said; there is no doubt that Cafepress is a legit online store for getting the on-demand fancy product.
Is Cafepress safe?
Cafepress is safe. The “safe question” is also very important when contemplating using an online platform. You’ll be sharing sensitive information with the platform (such as your contact detail and credit card information), and you’ll want a platform that will adequately protect this, preventing the date from leaking into the hands of third parties (think: cyber fraudsters and identity thieves).
In this regards, Cafepress says it values user’s privacy, as such the website incorporates physical, technical, and administrative safeguards, to protect users’ data including the use of encryption, firewalls, limited access and controls where appropriate.
However, it should be said that in the early parts of this year (February 2019), Cafepress suffered a data breach. Thus, to the “safe question”, while Cafepress does take reasonable measures to ensure the safety of users’ data, 100% safety in the web is something that is had until it is not.
Whether using Cafepress as a Seller or a buyer, you’ll want a platform that supports a range of products. As a Seller, it means more sales potential; and as a buyer, it gives the convenience of being able to get your related products in one place.
Thankfully, Cafepress ticks this box. The product categories you’ll find in Cafepress, and the specific items you’ll find in each category are as follows:
- Men – T-Shirts, Hoodies & Sweatshirts, Pajamas, Underwear, Joggers
- Women – T-shirts, Maternity Tees, Plus Size Tees, Hoodies & Sweatshirts, Pajamas, Underwear, Leggings, Joggers
- Accessories – Bags, Hats, Car Accessories, Cases & Covers, Neck Ties, Patches, Flip Flops, Jewelry, Buttons
- Kid & Baby – Bodysuits, T-Shirts , Pajamas, Gowns, Blankets, Bibs, Hats, Burps Cloths
- Home & Décor – Blankets, Canvas Prints, Bed & Bath, Aprons, Pillows, Rugs, Clocks, Magnets, Ornaments, Wall Art, Wall Tapestries
- Drinkware – Mugs, Insulated Drinkware, Drinking Glasses, Water Bottles, Shot Glasses, Coasters, Flasks
- Stationery – Greeting Cards, Invitations/ announcements, Postcards, Calendars, Notebooks, Personalized Stationery, Thank You Notes, Anniversary Cards, Religious Cards, Graduation Cards, Get Well Cards
- Stickers & Signs – Banners, Bumper Stickers, Oval Stickers, Rectangle Stickers, Square Stickers, Yard Stickers
- Occasion – Back to School Gifts, Halloween Gifts, Anniversary Gift, Birthday Gifts, Graduation gifts, New Baby Gifts, Retirement Gifts, Teacher Appreciation, Thank You Gifts, Wedding Gifts
Since Cafepress is a POD (Print on Demand) online shop, being able to shop by specific designs may even be more important than shopping by-products. Thankfully, Cafepress also allow this. These include:
- Holiday inspired products – Christmas, Halloween, etc
- Comics inspired product – Marvel avengers, Captain America, Marvel Spiderman, Iron Man, etc
- Movies and TV shows Inspired products – the Big Bang Theory, Family Guy, Sex and the City
- Politics Inspired products
- Breast Cancer Awareness Inspired products
- Friendship Inspired products
- Pet and Pet Lovers Inspired products
As a buyer, another important consideration is the quality of products. With print-on-demand product, the consideration is the quality of the print, and the quality of the product printed on. Cafepress ticks the box in this regards.
We checked the customers’ review platforms to see what Cafepress’ customers generally have to say about its quality. 100% quality thumbs-up is not possible and that is the case with Cafepress, as there are a few “poor quality”. However, these are drowned by a sea of positive reviews of quality – both the quality of print and of the base product. Thus, Cafepress comes out as offering good quality products.
Cafepress – for Sellers
Listing items for sale
What it takes to be a Seller in Cafepress is to have designs that you’ll want to monetize. You can either create the designs yourself or have someone do them for you. Cafepress operates by providing you a bunch of items that you can customize with your designs and be made available for sale.
One of the best things about Cafepress is that there are a couple of ways to sell. The first is Design and List. This only requires that you upload your design. Cafepress will do the rest. They’ll select products that your design looks great on, and create a collection which will be marketed in the marketplace. If any product with your design sells, you’ll earn a royalty.
The second way of selling is by creating a Shop. With a shop, you control every aspect of selling your design. You’ll get your own branded shop powered by Cafepress. From the products that Cafepress supports, you’ll select which you want to put your designs on. You also set the price of your customized products. Then you’ll have to market your store. When the product sells, Cafepress collects its base price, and pays you the rest.
It should be said that Cafepress will only send royalty to the following countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Monaco, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Republic of Ireland, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The Netherlands, and United Kingdom, and United States of America. Since being in these countries is required to receive payment, it simply means that you have to be in these countries to be able to use Cafepress as a Seller.
Pricing and Earning Potential
It’s important to know what it will cost to use Cafepress. Cafepress comes out strong because there are no out of pocket costs. You’ll not be paying anything upfront, so if things do not go as planned you can simply leave without losing anything (monetarily). This risk-free nature applies whether you are selling via “design and list” or shop.
When you use the simple selling method (design and list); there are no costs whatsoever. You’ll simply earn 5% – 10% of the sale price. This relatively low earning is the price for the simplicity that the “design and list option” affords.
However, for products sold directly through your shop, you’ll earn whatever markup you set on the base price of products. When adding products to your store, you’ll see the base price of each selected product. The base price includes all fees associated with selling. This means that if your items do not sell, there’s no paying anything to Cafepress.
When your items sell, Cafepress takes only the base price, and whatever markup was on the base price is your profit. Thus when selling through shops, you have control of your profits. For example, if for an 11oz Ceramic Mug whose base price was $10.99 (at the time of writing) you set a selling price of $20; you’ll keep all $9.01 of your profits.
However, Cafepress wants to make something off you when you make significantly large profits. Thus, they charge an additional 5% transaction fee for every markup over $15. That is, for the mug above, if your selling price is $50, and you manage to sell it, you won’t keep the full markup of $39.01. Cafepress will charge an additional fee of $1.2005 (which is 5% of the $24.01 above the $15 markup). Thus, your earnings will be $37.8095 ($15 + 95% of $24.01).
When selling via shop you’ll want to know whether the base price of Cafepress is competitive, because with a high base price you won’t have enough up-room to set your selling price so as to still make a significant profit.
In our opinion, though Cafepress is not the best priced in the market, it still comes out relatively fine in this regards. For example, Hoodies were priced $34.99 (kid’s hoodies were priced at $20.99). Also, the Tees went for $16.99 – $14.95, and the sweatshirts went for $29.95 – $29.99. You can easily put a markup of about $10 on these products
Since buyers are paying Cafepress directly, you’ll want to know how and when you’ll be paid after your product sells. Cafepress pays in two ways – PayPal or check. To be paid via check, you’ll need a minimum payment amount of $100; while with only $25, you can receive PayPal payment. This is low enough, so there’ll be no problem of struggling to reach a high threshold before you can be paid.
However, payments are made within 60 days of the month they were accrued. 60 days? That’s a long time for a Seller to wait to receive his/ her payment. However, Cafepress explains that there is a lag time of 45 days to take care of its 30-day money back guarantee.
- Offers two way to monetize designs, including an overly simplified “design and list” option
- There are no out-of-pocket costs for using Cafepress
- When selling via shops, can set your selling price and keep your markups
- Base prices of products are competitive to allow up room for setting a selling price for significant profits
- Receiving payment is easy as checks and PayPal payments are supported
- The minimum payment amount is relatively low ($25 via PayPal)
- Earnings with “Design and list” is relatively low (only 5 – 10% of sales price)
- An additional 5% transaction fee is charged for markups over $15
- A long waiting time to receive payment
Cafepress – for Buyers
If you’ve used any online shopping platform, you’ll find Cafepress straightforward to use. Buying entails simply going to the website and finding an item by browsing through the product listings (using the product categories or design sections).
Alternatively, you can find products using the search button. Simply type in a product keyword and it will bring out items related to your search enquiry.
Clicking on a product will take you to its description page, where you’ll find details of the product. Where a product is customizable, it is in the description page that you’ll have to add the customizable effect (image or text). You’ll find many products allowing customizing. Thus, you can have personalized items. In the description page, you can also view other product photos.
If you like what you see you can then choose to select a different colour, choose a size (for sized products), add more quantities, etc; then you can and add the item to cart. At any time, you can proceed to your cart; where you’ll enter your shipping address, and view order summary detailing total cost (item price and shipping costs).
If it is satisfactory, you can proceed to enter payment information to complete order. You can make payment for your Cafepress order using credit cards, PayPal, Cafepress gift cards, and Cafecash (Cafepress earnings as a Seller)
Cafepress also gives the convenience of ordering by phone. But you’ll have to go to the site, find the product, and get the product number (under the product name in the product detail page). There are two phone numbers provided for ordering by phone (1-877-809-1659 and 1-919-323-4480), with the first being a toll-free line. The service is open Monday through Saturday, between 9:00 am to 6:00 pm (EST).
Sometimes, Buyers have a change of heart and will want to cancel or modify an order. While you cannot directly cancel an order, if you can reach out to Customer Support Department on time, a cancellation can be affected. Order modifications are not allowed; you’ll have to cancel the first order and place a fresh order.
In any online purchase, shipping is an important consideration. You’ll want to know: whether the retailer can ship to your location, how long it’ll take for your order to arrive, and how much it will cost.
In terms of shipping destinations, Cafepress ships to locations within the US, and 25 other countries. These include Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Monaco, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Republic of Ireland, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The Netherlands, and United Kingdom. That said; while it’s good that international shipping is done, it is not the worldwide coverage that we’ll want.
Delivery times are made up of order processing/ production time and shipment time. Cafepress advertises that most orders take 2 – 3 business days to be produced and dispatched for shipping. After that, how long it takes to get to you will depend on your shipping address (and the shipping option selected).
When shipping to the US, Cafepress supports four shipping options – Economy shipping (which takes 7 – 9 business days), Standard Shipping (which takes 5 – 6 business days), Premium Shipping (which takes 2 – 4 business days), and Express shipping (which takes 1 business day). When shipping to other supported locations, only Standard shipping and Express shipping is available.
To Canada, Standard Shipping takes 7 – 9 business days, while Express Shipping takes 5 – 7 business days. To the UK, standard shipping takes 5 – 6 business days, while Express Shipping takes 4 – 5 business days. To Australia, Standard Shipping cost 9 – 11 business days, while Express Shipping cost 5 – 7 business days.
Shipping costs are dependent on: the type of items ordered, the quantity ordered, the country it is shipping to, and the shipping option selected. Thus, you’ll find that the shipping cost varies. You’ll find the applicable shipping costs during the checkout. However, the customers’ reviews in many independent review platforms suggest that shipping costs are relatively on the high side.
Return and Exchanges
Because online shopping is characterized by blind purchase (where the item had not been physically inspected before-hand), an important consideration is “returns” – whether the retailer will let you return an item that you are not totally satisfied with and get a replacement or a refund.
In this regards, Cafepress’ promise is “you’ll be completely satisfied, or we’ll make it right, guaranteed” Cafepress makes it right by accepting returns for any item that you are not pleased with for any reason. Cafepress gives a 30 days return window.
The process is also relatively easy. Simply contact Cafepress using the online form, and select “Exchange/ Refund” as the reason for contact. Cafepress will review your submission and send an RMA (Return Merchandise Authorization) and return instructions.
For a business that produces items on demand, this is a very generous return policy. Usually such businesses do not accept returns (understandably so) except there is a production error. But as Cafepress advertises, “if you’re not pleased with your product for any reason, you can return or exchange it free within 30 days – even if it’s personalized”.
- Supports a range of products
- Relatively easy to find products and to place an order
- Personalization is allowed for certain items
- Ordering by telephone is supported
- Quality of products is largely great
- Ships to the US and 25 other countries
- Relatively short 2 – 3 days production time
- Offers a generous money back guarantee
- Shipping costs are relatively high
People will have questions that a retailer must answer to earn their commitment, while other customers will have issues that the retailer must resolve to earn their loyalty. Thus, the ideal online store should have an effective customer support service for handling the questions and issues that customers will have.
Cafepress does relatively well in this regards. In supports the regular self-help and contact-help channels. For self-help, it provides an FAQ page which answers many of the questions that people will have. The page is arranged into two sections for the two categories of Cafepress’ users; the first is “Buying” section, and the second is the “Creating and Selling” Section.
The Buying section holds articles arranged under the topics: order tracking, ordering, changing an order, returns and exchange, my account, and product information; while the Creating and Selling section holds articles arranged under the topics: designing, content, promoting products, selling, earning money, affiliate program, getting paid, and troubleshooting. Thus, you’ll find that this resource will be very helpful.
However, if you still need to contact Cafepress, it supports email service and telephone service. The email service is actually an online contact form, and the form can be accessed from the “Contact Us” page of the website. Cafepress promises that every submission will receive a response within 24 hours.
For the telephone service, US and Canada customer can use the number +1-877-809-1659, while international customers can use the number +1-919-323-4480. The US line is toll-free, so you won’t have to worry about charges when getting help.
You can gauge the strength of a platform by the volume and frequency of complaints. Granted, no platform will operate such that there’ll be no complaints, but the ideal platforms should not be overrun by complaints; rather positive reviews will drown any negative review.
For this section, we checked the independent customers’ review platforms to know what real customers of Cafepress have to say about the company. Cafepress comes out relatively well. For example, in Trustpilot it has an average rating of 4.2/ 5 (by 182,389 reviewers); and in Sitejabber, it has an average rating of 2.8/ 5 (by 560 reviewers).
Interestingly, we could not find complaints from Sellers. Some of the buyer complaints that are significant enough to be mentioned are late delivery, poor sizing, and difficulty with returns.
Before continuing, it must be said that many customers expressed satisfaction with their delivery times. However, there are others (and significant others owing to the number) who reported that their orders came significantly late. For example:
- Deborah M in Sitejabber says “Can’t get my order”. The review continued “I ordered a shirt September 18 and was told I would receive it September 30. As of October 7, I still don’t have it. I’ve called 3 times and been told it’s ‘in production’ but they would ‘expedite’ the order…”
- Scooby D in sitejabber says “Over three weeks for delivery and still not arrived! Customer care zero – will not respond to e-mails and I’m out of pocket £52. Gifts ordered for 18th birthday present – what a disappointment…”
- Christi Long in Trustpilot says “the shirt has still not arrived, though it is a week past the date it was supposed to be delivered”
Another matter that was seen here and there is that sometimes items are delivered and do not fit well. For example:
- Kerry K in Sitejabber says “Purchased a shirt for daughter’s birthday…it came and didn’t fit well, the material also very thick and uncomfortable…”
- Jen in Trustpilot says “Best customer service that I have ever received. I returned a couple of shirt because of the size and they refunded me and told me to keep the shirts and donate them or give them to someone…”
Issues with returns
First, Cafepress return policy is laudable for a print-on-demand Company. Secondly, there are many customers who reported processing returns and getting refunded without any hassles. However, some reported meeting brick walls when they attempted making returns.
- Remember Kerry K in Sitejabber, the review continued “Sent message regarding return instructions… they replied they would get back to me in 24-48 hours, and that was almost 2 weeks ago!! Sent a second message as well… still no word from them!! Ridiculous”
- Dena G in Sitejabber says “Great unless you need a return”. The review continued “I bought a shirt for my husband… Made 3 attempts to get help starting a return and no response at all. I do not recommend unless you like being stuck with stuff you don’t want or cannot use…”
Sites Similar to Cafepress:
Cafepress is a legitimate platform that works with designers to bring you millions of design that you can put on a range of products to get that special fancy product. You also get to use your own design for a truly personal customizing. The company says it wants to inspire people to express themselves, and it really lives up to this.
As a buyer, given Cafepress’ collection of designs, you’re sure to find one with which to express yourself. More so, you can personalize products with your designs. The company supports a range of products that include clothing, fashion accessories, office supplies, home and lifestyle items, and more. While the prices of products in Cafepress do not come out as low; the all-round quality is relatively good. That is, you’ll have quality prints on quality base-products for quality custom-made products. For an on-demand company,
Cafepress also has a very generous return policy, which gives you 30 days to return any item that you are not satisfied with and gets a full refund. The small bumps on the road include; Cafepress being available to only 25 countries, and shipping costs being relatively on the high side.
Bottom line for Buyers: we seriously don’t think you’ll be saving much, but you’re sure to get quality products (bar the occasional sizing issue). Delivery is generally fast, but there may be the occasional lateness. And with its money-back guarantee, you won’t get more legit print-on-demand provider.
As a Seller, you’ll find that Cafepress is relatively easy to use. With the “design and list” option, you only have to upload your designs, and you can watch your earnings come in. To maximize earnings, you can open a shop, where you’ll have full control of the selling process, including the products to customize and pricing. Get Cafepress’ base prices, add a markup when setting your selling price; when the product sells, Cafepress takes its base price and give you the markup 100%.
However, there are also small bumps on the road. Your earning is relatively small when using the “design and list” option (only 5% – 10% of the selling price of the product). When selling via a shop, Cafepress’ base prices are not the best in the market. Also, when you make a significantly large profit from a sale, you’ll find that Cafepress is not content with its regular charge.
It will then charge an additional 5% transaction fee for every markup over $15. Then, there’s the waiting for your payment – because of the 30-days return window, you won’t get paid for any sale earlier than 45 days after the sale.
The bottom line for Sellers: You sure can earn from your designs, but you’ll need patience after your item sells. How much you’ll earn is another thing. If you simply upload your designs, earnings are minimal; and if your operate a store, the relatively high base price does not give room for much earning, and even if you manage to score something big, Cafepress still wants in on it.