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CafePress Goofs With Squidoo Module Interface

Our writer Jim has done an excellent job documenting how CafePress has deprived its shopkeepers of income by incorrectly calling listing shopkeepers’ own sales as coming from the CafePress marketplace directory. CafePress shopkeepers make significantly less money when their items sell through the marketplace.

As a result of these kinds of problems, many CafePress shopkeepers have pulled out of participation in the marketplace directory. Theoretically, that shouldn’t harm shopkeepers’ own efforts to sell their items without the marketplace’s outrageous markups. Of course, we’ve learned over the last few weeks that that the way that CafePress operates in theory does not match the way that CafePress operates in reality.

This brings me to Squidoo. Squidoo has been a good tool for CafePress shopkeepers, giving free space in which to develop issue-focused pages that can include quick-to-create modules for selling related CafePress items. Sometime in the last couple weeks, this system has broken down.

cafepress squidoo brokenThe image you see here is from a Squidoo page I set up recently to provide an easy way to follow news on the effort to legalize marriage equality in New York state. It’s the CafePress module in that page, which had bumper stickers, buttons and a tshirt for people who wanted gear to express support for the effort. As you can see, it’s blank.

Why is it blank? I had 5 items there before, and I certainly didn’t take them out. There are a couple of possibilities I can think of.

First, since I set up the module, Squidoo has altered its own model a little bit, offering different themes of appearance, and taking away a tool that encouraged Squidoo members to link to other Squidoo pages. It’s possible that this shift has caused some kind of programming glitch that empties out CafePress modules.

Second, since I set up the module, we at Irregular Times have removed our CafePress shops from the marketplace program. It’s possible that this shift has caused problems with CafePress modules at Squidoo. If this is the case, it suggests that CafePress was counting sales made as a result of shopkeers going through the trouble to market their own products, not as shopkeepers’ own sales, but as sales made through the marketplace. That would contradict what CafePress has told its shopkeepers, that marketplace sales were due to the hard work of people CafePress, and not shopkeepers’ efforts.

Whichever is the case, the timing couldn’t be worse for CafePress, which already is dealing with a large number of angry shopkeepers. There are a lot of Squidoo pages that had been directing traffic to CafePress, but aren’t any more. It’s likely that many CafePress shopkeepers who had maintained CafePress modules at Squidoo pages are feeling too disenchanted with CafePress to repair these modules, and may work with plain text modules linking to alternative print on demand companies, such as Skreened, instead.

7 comments to CafePress Goofs With Squidoo Module Interface

  • Jim

    I’m not a big squidoo user, but I just tested the CafePress module by adding one on a lens and then trying to add items. If I try to add items from our non-marketplace shops like Irregular Goods or Time for Peace, the results come back like yours. If I try to add items from any other shop I can find that has opted out of the Marketplace (really just a fancy name for its own search engine), I get the same. Only if I try to add items from a shop that is still part of the Marketplace do full results come back.

    This is a point of discrimination that is really shooting CafePress in the foot, as you surf around the internet and find Squidoo lenses that are supposed to be linking to CafePress items for sale but only do so spottily, showcasing gaps where shops have opted out of the Marketplace. Here’s an example:

    It looks really patchy and odd, meaning CafePress will get fewer completed sales. Also patchy and odd is the way CafePress hasn’t managed to communicate the implications of withdrawal from its Marketplace for third-party software integration. It seems like a haphazard approach to public relations, to say the least.

  • Sales through Squidoo are affiliate sales, I think. They’d have to be, I suppose, for Squidoo to offer those modules. It sucks, but I guess it’s consistent with this:

    Affiliate Eligibility Opt-out – I do not wish for this shop, its designs or products to appear in the Marketplace or be eligible for Affiliate-driven sales.

    By the way, that didn’t occur to me when I first read your post–I was all ready to be outraged. But then I read something in a CP forum about affiliate links not working properly, and another person pointed out the language of the opt-out clause.

  • Linda

    Why lump the two together? Why?

  • Sorry to hear you’re having problems with the Cafepress module. I sent a note to our programmers, just in case there’s something we can fix or get together with Cafepress on.

    Thanks for using Squidoo!

    ~Kimberly
    Community & Charity Organizer
    Squidoo.com

  • You’re welcome, Jim. Thank you for documenting the shop sales thing. I don’t know if there’s anything that can be done, but it’s still good to keep track of these things. We haven’t had a single shop sale all month.

    My husband (who spends way more time in those forums than I do, says there’s supposed to be some way to affiliate without the marketplace, but I don’t know what that is.

  • thanks for suggestion of module squidoo

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