In this article, we cover the strengths and weaknesses of two great print on demand suppliers, Cafe Press and Zazzle.
Since the supplier is such an essential aspect of your store, here’s a summary of the difference between the two!
The main difference between Cafe Press and Zazzle is how seriously you want your store to be successful. For those who want a casual experience, like a side hobby that can help pay the bills, Cafe Press would be the best. Meanwhile, Zazzle is best for those who wish to operate a business full-time, as they offer high-quality products and quick delivery.
Overview: Cafe Press vs. Zazzle
When comparing Cafe Press and Zazzle, we’ll be comparing them in these areas:
- The pricing plans
- The profit margins of products
- The print quality
- The branding services
- The order fulfillment experience
- The shipping times
- The integrations to your store
- The customer support quality
Here’s a rundown of the pros and cons of Cafe Press and Zazzle:
|Super fast setup||Spotty print quality||Great shipping speeds||Some products can be pricey|
|Acceptable product pricing||Customer service does not offer live chat||Reliable printing quality||Only API integration is available|
|No branding options||It can take time to learn how to set it up and get sales|
To sum up, let me give you a few examples of which supplier to choose:
Cafe Press is an excellent choice if:
- You want a casual experience on the side.
- You don’t want to micromanage your business.
- You don’t care about expanding your store in any way.
Zazzle is an excellent choice if:
- You want a profitable store that can support you full-time.
- You want a wide range of product choices.
- You want the best for your customer’s experience.
If you want to save it for later – check out our infographic below:
What is Cafe Press?
Cafe Press isn’t like a traditional POD supplier. They also host your ecommerce store, similar to Etsy — and cover your printing and shipping!
Once you create your designs and place them on your Cafe Press site, you now only have to market them, and Cafe Press will do the rest.
Cafe Press’s pros
- Easy website management. Cafe Press makes building your website simple, so you can focus on marketing it.
- Cafe Press has a royalty-paid structure. Instead of a monthly cost, you can set Cafe Press to take 10% off your monthly earnings (up to $10 maximum), so if you don’t make a sale, you’re using the platform for free!
- A simple and fast setup. You can have a website on the platform with products ready to sell in minutes.
Cafe Press’s cons
- Cafe Press offers little ecommerce integrations. They are an ecommerce platform, so you have to work with their limited selection of integration widgets.
- Spotty print quality. According to reviews from current and past users, the quality of the products is inconsistent. (Source)
- Longer lead times than average. The average production time is longer than the average POD supplier (4-7 days).
What is Zazzle?
Like Cafe Press, Zazzle is an Etsy-like website for people to host their designs and sell products with them.
The platform was founded in 2005 and is one of the more established POD platforms. It works similarly to Cafe Press in being an ecommerce website provider.
- Special shipping program. The Zazzle Black tier offers excellent pricing and shipping times that can go as low as 2-3 days. You can find more information about this further down in the pricing section.
- Wide variety of products. With over 1,000 products, Zazzle hosts one of the largest POD catalogs.
- Complex structure. Zazzle’s menu system has many more cumbersome products than competitors’ sites. Getting used to it will take some time.
- Long payout time. It takes 30 days for you to receive your sales profit. (Source)
Which one has a better pricing plan?
Let’s start by comparing Cafe Press and Zazzle’s available pricing plans.
Pricing of Cafe Press
Cafe Press offers two pricing structures:
- Option A has no upfront charges. With this choice, you’ll get a royalty on anything you sell. Cafe Press will deduct 10%, up to $10 max monthly.
- Option B is a 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. In return for these payments, you don’t pay the 10% fee, which is more cost-efficient for high-volume stores.
Which plan is right for me if I decide to use Cafe Press?
If you’re starting as a beginner, we recommend choosing Option A.
It will be less expensive for your first few months, and once you gain sales, you can switch to Option B to minimize costs.
However, you can choose Option B if you’re confident you will be making sales from the start.
Pricing of Zazzle
Using Zazzle is free, so you don’t have to pay any weekly, monthly, or yearly fees. It will help if you raise the base prices whenever a customer buys one of your products. You keep the remainder of the profit after Zazzle deducts the base price.
You can see individual pricing for each product you create on the Zazzle website in the ‘Create a product’ section.
The alternative is the Zazzle black tier. It costs $9.95/month for Standard or $39.95/year for Premium.
Here’s a bit more information to help you make a choice:
- Zazzle Black Standard uses limitless standard shipping for qualifying products.
- Zazzle Black Premium adds unlimited 2-3 days shipping for qualifying products.
People with many sales will profit from Zazzle’s black-tier free shipping offers.
Which plan is right for me if I decide to use Zazzle?
For most people, the standard Zazzle tier will be the best.
If you’re getting a lot of sales and would like to save money with faster shipping, it’s worth trying out the Zazzle Black Standard tier.
Pricing plans final verdict: It’s a very close call, but the winner is Cafe Press by a slight edge. Their options for an A or B tier give you the flexibility to be profitable no matter your business’s level.
Which one has better profit margins?
Next, we’ll look at which allows the most profit per product sold!
Cafe Press’s products
Cafe Press charges $24.99 (not including shipping) for a men’s tee with a Snoopy design.
Cafe Press offers better prices if you buy in bulk. To get the discounted price of $11.50 per shirt, you only need to buy six t-shirts. Six or more 2XL t-shirts cost $14.50. Shipping costs $6.25 with Cafe Press.
You can customize t-shirts on both websites, which is a nice feature.
You can get a men’s tee with a Sesame Street Cookie Monster image from Zazzle for $16.96.
Sizes 2XL and up are $3 cheaper on Cafe Press than on Zazzle.
Please remember that Zazzle charges $5 more for t-shirts bigger than an XL. If you purchase 11 items or more on Zazzle, you receive a 10% discount.
Profit margins final verdict: This is another close call. The pricing is very similar, but Cafe Press’s is a tad inexpensive compared to Zazzle’s catalog. So, Cafe Press wins on this criterion.
Which has better print quality?
Print quality is one of people’s biggest desires with a POD supplier because if the quality is terrible, you won’t get repeat customers and will receive more refund requests.
Print quality can make or break a supplier’s success.
Cafe Press’s print quality
Cafe Press’s printing has been spotty, according to customer feedback (source). To keep shipping speeds fast, they use a network of global manufacturers.
Their strategy is to ensure you have various products at a reasonable price, but it looks like that can sometimes compromise quality.
Zazzle’s print quality
With Zazzle, you receive print quality warnings if the design isn’t sized correctly or has a low resolution on a product. As a result, fewer printing errors will occur on every order.
Zazzle outsources the printing work, so quality can differ based on which company they use for the order.
Print quality final verdict: According to Cafe Press reviews, Zazzle appears to be a more reliable supplier.
Which one offers a better branding service?
Branding is the supplier’s service for your products to give a customized personal feel.
The most common example is a packaging slip that includes your logo and a personal message with every order. Sometimes these branding services can be an additional cost as well.
Cafe Press’s Branding
Cafe Press does not offer any custom branding of any kind. Bummer!
Zazzle only has the product slip that allows you to feature your logo, customizable message, website address, and support contact information.
Branding final verdict: Zazzle wins this one by default for having a customizable product, while Cafe Press doesn’t offer anything.
Who has faster order fulfillment?
Order fulfillment is the time between the supplier receiving your order from your store to printing and shipping the product to the customer.
The order fulfillment time of Cafe Press
Cafe Press does not say what their fulfillment time is.
It seems they calculate it into the shipping timer of the product. According to the Cafe Press section reviews, Zazzle is a more reliable supplier.
The order fulfillment time of Zazzle
Like Cafe Press, Zazzle’s fulfillment times aren’t clear from their website.
They state on their support page that manufacturing and shipping times are combined. So it’s challenging to know what exactly is the fulfillment time.
Order fulfillment verdict: Judging this was tricky because neither supplier disclosed their fulfillment and shipping times. So we’ll consider this a tie and recommend looking at the fast shipping section for a decision.
Who has the fastest shipping?
Shipping times are crucial to being successful. Amazon has set the standard for when customers want their purchases as fast as possible, so any advantage you can have over the average store will be noticeable.
Do both Cafe Press and Zazzle ship internationally?
Cafe Press and Zazzle both ship internationally!
Here’s the information on all things you need to know about Cafe Press’s intentional shipping.
Zazzle also has a page about intentional shipping information. It’s important to note they do not offer order tracking for their standard shipping but will for their expedited shipping.
What is the estimated delivery time of Cafe Press and Zazzle?
Let’s check out the difference in shipping speeds:
Cafe Press’s shipping speeds
For Cafe Press, it may take up to 14 business days for US deliveries and up to 28 business days for international deliveries.
However, Premium deliveries take only two to four business days, and Express takes just one day.
Zazzle’s shipping speeds
Zazzle’s shipping is about 4-7 business days, and expedited shipping is around 2-3 business days.
Through their Zazzle Black tier, you can also have free shipping from a wide range of products.
Zazzle also has a shipping time page to let you know exactly when your product will arrive based on your product type.
Shipping time verdict: Zazzle’s shipping times average about 2-3 days faster than Cafe Press, so they win this one!
Who has more diverse integrations?
Integrations are necessary because not every supplier works with every ecommerce platform.
Cafe Press’s integrations
The Cafe Press website does not integrate with any ecommerce platforms because it’s a standalone marketplace website.
You’ll need to find another POD supplier if you want it to integrate with your ecommerce store.
Their widgets, however, allow you to pull products from Cafe Press and create a similar storefront experience.
Like Cafe Press, ecommerce integrations are not available on Zazzle.
Zazzle does offer API programming to integrate with a website. However, it requires technical knowledge.
The integrations verdict: Another challenging judgment! While Cafe Press has more to work with, it’s not the ideal kind of integration most are looking for. It is still better than Zazzle’s only integration of API, though, so Cafe Press wins this.
Which one has the better customer support?
When things go wrong, your supplier’s customer support can help you out. Not all are equal; some can go the extra mile for you.
The customer support of Cafe Press
Cafe Press provides customer support to its sellers. Additionally, sellers can get support over the phone in addition to accessing the Help Center.
There is no live chat or 24/7 support available. Buyers and sellers have separate FAQ sections that go into great detail.
The customer support of Zazzle
Customers can reach Zazzle customer support in three different ways. Help is available via phone, email, and chat on the website.
For other questions, the website has an extensive FAQ section.
The customer support verdict: Both suppliers have good customer support, but Zazzle offers live chat, one of the most favorite communication methods. So Zazzle wins this category.
So, Cafe Press or Zazzle? (Which one fits you)
Honestly, it’s tough to choose between Cafe Press and Zazzle because they’re even in many areas.
However, there are differences in the shipping and product quality, which are substantial deciding factors.
Since they’re both website providers, they struggle with the branding and customizability of the website but make up for the easy usability of knowing it’ll work without any technical knowledge.
The suppliers’ strengths depend on how serious you want your business to be.
If you want a side-hobby POD store experience, then Cafe Press is for you!
However, if you want a more full-time experience to maximize profits, then Zazzle will be the better choice.
Compare other print on demand companies
Not sure if Cafe Press or Zazzle is the right fit for your business? Check out our other comparison articles below:
And for more comparisons, visit the comparison hub!
Based on the above criteria information, determining which of these suppliers is the best depends on what you value more.
Due to the direct impact of fulfillment times on shipping times and the importance of product quality in POD success, Zazzle is the better supplier.
While Cafe Press has an easier time setting up and running a POD store, Zazzle covers more of what customers want from you.
Thank you for reading, and have a great day!
Want to learn more about print on demand?
Ready to move your print on demand store to the next level? Check out the articles below:
- 15 Best Print on Demand Companies and Suppliers in 2023
- 14 Best US Print on Demand Suppliers in 2023 (Fast Shipping)
- Can You Combine Dropshipping and Print on Demand in 2023?
Plus, don’t forget to check out our in-depth how to start a print on demand business guide here!