As one of the oldest and most popular print-on-demand services, CafePress makes it easy to create and sell your own custom products. Founded in 1999, we could easily consider CafePress the pioneer of the POD industry. It’s a great way to create unique birthday and Christmas gifts, too.
In this CafePress review, we’ll look at the products, pricing, features, and more. The CafePress marketplace is a good place for beginners to start, before investing in a separate ecommerce store.
What is CafePress?
CafePress differs from other POD platforms in that you start by creating your own shop. CafePress hosts your store for you, so you don’t have to worry about using another ecommerce platform.
Once you create your store, it’s as easy as uploading your own designs and choosing the products you want to put them on. Once you list them in your store, all you have to do is start marketing them.
CafePress offers many different products, including:
- T-shirts, sweatshirts, hoodies, pajamas, leggings, underwear
- Mugs, water bottles, shot glasses, coasters, flasks, steins
- Stickers, including bumper stickers and buttons
- Greeting cards, stationery, notebooks, invitations, calendars
- Flip-flops, hats, ornaments, magnets
- iPhone cases, laptop cases, tablet covers, mouse pads
- Blankets, pillows, aprons
- Puzzles, teddy bears, key chains, and more
- Canvas wall art
CafePress uses multiple printing technologies. As a retailer, you do not choose the printing technology for the product. CafePress will choose the best one for the chosen product.
This printing method digitally prints an image onto a piece of clothing. It sprays the ink directly into the fabric. The image appears when the ink has dried into it. The clothing withstands frequent washing. Graphics don’t crack or fade like screen printing.
With sublimation, the design is printed on special paper. Heat transfers the image from the paper to the final product. You can use sublimation on clothing and other products like mugs and other drinkware.
Digital printing creates an image pixel by pixel. It is most commonly used with paper products like stationery, posters, banners, and greeting cards.
Embroidery uses thread to add designs to t-shirts, hats, and other apparel. To use with Cafe Press, your files must be digitized a certain way specifically for the embroidery machines. CafePress will take care of that for you.
CafePress does not provide engraving services. If you plan on selling products that require engraving, you’ll need to consider using Printful or Printify.
CafePress offers two pricing structures. Option A has no upfront fees. With this method, you’ll earn royalties on anything you sell. CafePress will deduct 10%, up to $10 maximum from those royalties.
Option B is the option to pre-pay and save. You can pay $6.95 for one month, $18.45 for three months, $34.95 for six months, or $59.95 for a year (bringing the total cost to $5/month). In exchange for these payments, you do not pay the 10%. This is the better option for stores with high volumes.
When it comes to the products’ base price, you’ll pay anywhere from $15 to $60 for apparel products. Non-apparel products range from $5 to $70. You’ll only pay for what your customers buy. You set the profit margin on all your products, and keep the profit.
There are no minimum requirements. Once you hit certain sales thresholds, CafePress includes bonuses. Your bonus increases based on your monthly sales volume.
CafePress offers a mockup generator so you can see what your products will look like. The design tool is fairly simple to use. If you already have images, you can upload those for your designs.
Unlike some of the competition, CafePress does not offer design services, warehousing, or personalization options.
If you’re not a graphic designer, you can still create your own product line. Hire a professional on a platform like Fiverr or Upwork, then apply the designs to the product of your choice.
CafePress has a marketplace where you can search through all the products in every store. if you want to buy a unique gift, you can buy any product from any store the platform hosts. TeePublic has a similar approach.
Like TeePublic and Zazzle, CafePress does not have any ecommerce integrations. It’s meant to function as a standalone storefront. If you want to open a POD dropshipping business that you can use with something like Shopify or WooCommerce, you’ll need to find an alternative.
Ecommerce Platform Integrations
CafePress does not integrate with any online marketplaces. If you want to sell your products on sites like Etsy, eBay, and Amazon, you’ll need to choose another platform.
CafePress offers customer support to its sellers. In addition to the Help Center where sellers can find answers, phone support is also available. There is no live chat or 24/7 support. The Help Center includes a section for customers who are buying products and a section for those who are creating and selling.
Don’t think CafePress is the right approach for your business? Look at these alternative options.
Printful is the best POD service on the market today. Not only do you get access to various apparel and accessories, but you’ll also be able to use branding and design services, store setup services, and warehousing.
If you’re a growing business that needs to have a bit of inventory on hand for faster order fulfillment, then Printify is a one-stop solution. Printful also gives you the option to include add-ons in your packaging – like thank you cards and promo codes – unlike other services.
Printify is one of Printful’s direct competitors. Though it doesn’t offer design services or warehousing like Printful, it’s a great alternative. Because item prices are lower, you’ll have a higher profit margin overall.
Zazzle is a direct CafePress competitor. You create your own store that’s hosted on Zazzle. You can’t integrate with ecommerce marketplaces or ecommerce platforms. There’s a marketplace where you can search for products that others have created, too.
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