Print-On-Demand Stores Review: Zazzle

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Zazzle is a type of online store known as a print-on-demand store.  What this means is that artists and photographers can upload their images to Zazzle, and sell products with their designs.  Print-on-demand stores typically sell prints, home decor products, and other gifts.  These stores allow designers to sell products with their images without having to worry about maintaining inventory, handling orders, and shipping, while still being able to make money off of their designs.

This article will discuss Zazzle and give information about the store for sellers (as opposed to customers).  The topics covered are products offered, uploading interface, the dashboard, royalty rates, membership fees, promotional tools and more.

About Zazzle

Zazzle was founded in 2005 by Robert Beaver and his two sons Jeff and Bobby Beaver. They are based in California, USA. It is the only POD store that offers 100% fully customizable products to the customer.  This means the customer can add text and images to an existing product, or create their own unique customized product.

 

Products

As of the time of writing, Zazzle offers 1309 total products. Their categories include the following:

  • Clothing (256 options, including t-shirts, sweatshirts, hoodies, polo shirts, tank tops, long sleeve shirts, baby clothes, underwear, shoes, leggings, tie-dyed shirts, and children’s clothing, some of which is available in all-over print form)
  • Home (holiday decor, pillows, LED candles, gift boxes, coolers, magnets, clocks,   pillowcases, lamps, signs, bath mats, duvet covers, shower curtains, fleece blankets, ceramic tiles, throw blankets, rugs, floor mats, auto decor and other home decor)
  • Accessories (A diverse category which includes: tote bags, backpacks, watches, jewelry, keychains, hats, wallets, buttons, sunglasses, zippo lighters, compact mirrors, scarves, bandanas, belt buckles, luggage tags, and many more)
  • Office and Stationery (rubber stamps, business cards, dry erase boards, postage stamps, envelopes, greeting cards, postcards, invitations, stationery, binders, notebooks, sticky notes, calendars, mousepads, clipboards, address labels and much more)
  • Electronics and Cases (cell phone cases, ipad and ipod cases, macbook cases and sleeves, laptop sleeves, laptop skins, speakers, USB flash drives, power banks, wireless mouse, headphones, and more)
  • Wall art (posters, metal prints, wood prints, acrylic prints, panel prints, canvas prints, wall decals, option for framing)
  • Pets (Bowls, clothing, beds, collars, leashes, tags)
  • Kitchen and Dining (drinkware, coasters, serving trays, candy containers, napkins, lunch boxes, cutting boards, plates, bowls, mugs, placemats, aprons, can coolers, teapots, tablecloths, kitchen towels, and others)
  • Toys and games (poker chips, ping pong balls and paddles, basketballs, footballs, puzzles, dart boards, soccer balls, softballs,  skateboards, guitar picks, and more)
  • Craft supplies (wrapping paper, gift bags and boxes, ribbons, stickers, fabric, gift tags, tissue paper, etc)

They have by far the most products of any POD. They add new products almost every week, so the number will keep growing. The downside is that they will frequently have products go out of stock, and even some products will disappear altogether.  Since they use a lot of external print services and product suppliers, sometimes a product becomes unavailable because the original manufacturer has discontinued it.  This is an ongoing issue with Zazzle and something to be aware of.  The majority of their “popular” products, like shirts, posters and keychains rarely have this issue.

Picking the products to put your images on can be challenging, especially since there are so many products.  What I would recommend is pick your products based on your design.  If you do fine art (paintings, drawings with backgrounds, etc), then picking products that suits its shape is recommended.  Since most paintings tend to be rectangular, then picking products that are rectangle shaped makes sense, such as art prints, postcards, greeting cards, blankets, rugs, towels, puzzles and things like that.  Abstract designs look good on anything, and can be repeated to cover the area to suit.  They look best on home furnishings such as blankets, pillows, shower curtains, and other such things.  Cartoon style designs or logos look best on clothing and bags.  Of course these are recommendations and it is up to you in the end.

Seller Interface

The user interface is very intuitive and easy to use. You select which product Celtic Horse T-Shirtyou want, upload the image, and use the online software to fit the image to the product. You can resize and rotate the image, add text, select background color, even have more than one image on a single product. The display on the screen showing your product boundaries is very large and clearly marked in bold black and red lines. You can select an option to allow your customer to customize your product, which is recommended.

Because of Zazzle’s huge product offering, you must put your image on each product separately. The good thing is that with many products, t-shirts for example, you only need to select one shirt to put your design on, and the buyer will select the color, style and size later from the hundreds of options.

One big down side is that once you upload a product, you cannot change the image, only the title, description and keywords. This is unique among POD’s that I have used, and can made using Zazzle a bit of a burden, especially if you have a lot of products.  So if you get a better image source or made a mistake, you have to delete the product and start all over again.

Since the images are not automatically grouped together according to design, it is recommended to make categories for each one of your designs separately.  Categories is Zazzle’s folder-style organization of products on your page.  For example, if you have five drawings, each drawing would get its own category and all products for that particular drawing.  I would not recommend making categories for products, as the customers can already sort and search for particular products through the search function.

Seller Dashboard

The seller dashboard is great, and very easy to use with lots of links and tools.  You can see your royalties at a glance, download your sales report, see how many times a particular product has sold or been viewed, customize your store and more.  You do have to keep an eye on your sales, as any item that is not selling well will get hidden by Zazzle if it is not had any views within 13 months.  Sometimes all it takes is reviewing your title and tags and updating these to get more views.

Collections: In addition to categorizing your products by design, there are Collections, which allow you to further categorize your products into groups.  These are used for a wide variety of things, and are sharable.  I will use my store for an example, although everyone does it differently.  I use my Categories (the main sections within my store) for each individual design, and then I use Collections for groups of products, Art Prints, for example.  These Collections are highlighted on your product’s page if that product is in a collection, which can help your customer find more products like it.

zRank: There is a relatively new ranking system called zRank.  Its usefulness is not fully understood, and the administrators are vague about it.  The basis of the zRank is that your store will be ranked on a scale from 0-10.  Stores must have a rank of at least 4 to be allowed in the marketplace.  In order to get this basic rank it is very simple. You must complete their basic requirements, such as having a complete profile,having at least 10 Collections, etc.  You can keep your rank high by regularly reviewing your products and hiding or removing designs that do not sell.  Social media sharing also helps your zRank.

ProDesigner Program: Zazzle also implemented what they call their ProDesigner program, which gives incentives to people who sell a lot of products.  There are different levels, depending on your lifetime earnings.  The higher levels get cool perks like free business cards, product samples, exclusive forums, merchandising priority, special discounts and priority support.

Product Statistics

You can see how many times a product has been viewed and sold through the seller dashboard in the Products section.  It lists up to 11 statistics for each product: orders (last 7 days), quantity sold, views, date created, likes, orders (all time), orders (last 30 days), last viewed date, last sold date, last modified date, and royalty percentage.  It also will show you which of your products are public, which are hidden, and which are direct-only.

Royalty

You can select your own royalty percentage. However, if it is over 14.9%, there is a fee. Even though you can technically set the royalty as high as you want, you need to remain competitive with the other sellers, so most set their rate to 10-14%

Affiliate/Referral Program

Yes, there is an affiliate program which can net you an additional 15% of each sale.  The nice thing is it is Zazzle’s own in-house referral system, using a referral-id attached to the URL.   You must use your referral id when sharing your products, and you get the 15% as long as the person who clicks on your link stays on Zazzle and buys something, even if it is not your product.  There are volume bonuses which are calculated each month as well, which can account for additional income.

Membership Fees

Free.

Promotional Tools

There are widgets for your site or blog, you can import Zazzle into and sell from your own website, Google Analytics, referral networks, and a Create-Your-Own-Product API, where you can have your visitors design something (like a license plate design) on your website and send that design to Zazzle for the customer to purchase. They also offer lots of tutorials and guides.  They do have a Zazzle Store API that you can add to your website, but it is a bit cumbersome and has not been updated in a very long time.  I would recommend instead just linking to your Zazzle site.

Each product as well as each collection has the ability to share it in multiple formats.  You can share via social media, via email, and even get a link with your referral id embedded inside to share anywhere you want.

Storefront Layout

Your shop is customizable with a banner and you can choose what you want in your layout. There are also categories, subcategories and collections to organize your products. You have an About Me page. You can also open multiple stores under a single account, that are linked through your Profile page.

Community

You have the ability to “Like” and add to favorites only other seller’s products. As of now, there is no way to “Watch” a seller.  There used to be a way to watch a seller and add them to your watch list, called  a “Fan Club” but for whatever reason that has been discontinued.  I can only hope they bring back that feature in the future. You can leave comments on other products, and receive feedback from buyers.

They also have an active message board where they post news and answer questions in the community, and a blog where they regularly highlight a featured designer or seller.

In addition to the regular designers who sell their products, there are special designers that offer unique products, such as wooden cut outs in the shape of states that you can print some text on, or custom leather bound journals.  These designers do not have products that can be customized and sold through the regular marketplace, like t-shirts and such, but they do bring some uniqueness to the community and to Zazzle as a whole.  Zazzle also has officially licensed designs from popular TV shows and movies.

File Size Limits and Types

Zazzle accepts the following image types: JPG, PNG, PDF, AI, TIFF, and GIF.  There does not seem to be an upper limit on the file size.

Conclusion

Overall, Zazzle is a great POD with a lot of great products, a spectacular user interface and great selling tools.  It is free, which is great, and makes trying it all the easier.  They have been around a long time and are well known. The quality of their products are very good.  All you need is the time to upload your images and add them onto the products.   Graphic design and abstract patterns are very popular here.  Since Zazzle has customizable products, many people specialize in designing specific products, such as wedding invitations.

My personal experience with them has been good.  They have an active community and keep updating the site as well as adding products and features.  I opened my shop in 2008, and have been fairly active regularly.  With Zazzle, as with any POD, adding new designs and products on a regular basis is best.


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