Friday, September 4, 2009

Changes to the Marketplace

Well, CafePress made changes to it's terms of service again, and I'm looking at these with mixed feelings:

In order to keep designs fresh and of high quality as we launch new products, styles, and printing technologies, solely for designs that you are selling through the CafePress Marketplace: (i) CafePress may automatically add your designs to additional products in the CafePress Marketplace; and (ii) in order to improve the printing quality, CafePress may automatically modify your designs (e.g., cleaning up JPG artifacting, adjusting colors for different printers and products, and adjusting design placement on products).

So, what this means is that, while products sold in my shops will remain the same, since I sell through the CafePress marketplace as well, my designs might be added to products I never intended them for.

It's the "automatically" part that concerns me the most. Sure, sometimes it would be nice to have my design "automatically" available for sale on new products. But there are some designs that are just not meant for some products--I mean, what sense does a toddler t-shirt with "sleep deprived parent" on it make? And while I really don't care if CafePress wants to clutter their marketplace with those types of non-sequiturs, I do care if one of my design is added to a product that changes it's meaning in a way that I don't approve of. For instance, I wouldn't mind if my "Body by Baby" design was added to a thong (That's actually kinda fun, and I've nothing against thongs, really--I just haven't added them because I don't think they fit the type of image I'm aiming for.). But, a "Body by Baby" shirt on a child kinda starts to get creepy. And that's nothing compared to the racier designs put out by other artists. What might be sexy on an adult could reek of pedophilia when put on a child, and artists should have the discretion on whether to place their designs that way.

Anyways, right now I'm leaving things as is. If they do this intelligently (only adding designs to very similar products that are already listed) it might not be bad. If they do it wrong, I may have to pull at least some of my products from the marketplace. Not that this is entirely a bad thing. Right now with the way the marketplace pricing works most products cost more while earning me less when someone buys them directly from my shop. THAT alone is another reason this is a somewhat scummy move on the part of CafePress. In response to the recent change in the commission structure of the CafePress marketplace (artists used to set the mark-up themselves, but marketplace prices are now set by CafePress and artists get a flat 10%) many artists have pulled most or all of their products. Others have left only products where the commission or price was similar to what it was before the changes (so they wouldn't be competing with their own shops for sales, and earning less)--which might be one reason why they're doing this.

But, most of my sales come from the marketplace, not my own shops...and I really hoped to continue relying on marketplace sales so that I could spend less time on promotion (which I'm not that good at) and more time on designs and things like playing with my kid...and, yes, even cleaning house (another thing I'm not that good at...but it has to be done).

Anyways, if you want to read more about this topic there's a very good article over at Irregular Times.

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