What does the Zazzle Volume Bonus change really mean?

*** note: this post is a bit of an info-rant *** will send out September checks and PayPal deposits in two weeks for July sales.

This will be the first month with zero – or almost zero – Volume Bonus in the payments of many Zazzle storekeepers (SK). For me, it will be the first time since February 2009 that I won’t get any Volume Bonus.

It’s going to hurt. Some of us will be hurt more than others, but anyone who had halfway decent sales is kissing significant money good-bye.

That’s how it works when you’re not in charge, isn’t it? We don’t negotiate these deals, we just pray not to be dropped too hard.

Are you at the mercy of those bigger than you?

Are you at the mercy of those bigger than you?

 What Zazzle was up to this summer

If you have been on Zazzle for awhile and paying attention, you know about the constant changes. That is simply how internet-based companies operate. Plus, they make changes in the summer in order to be prepared for the holiday season. Starting late last fall, there was a tremendous surge of downward pricing pressure put on storekeepers with implied promises that everyone would “make it up in volume,” and threats that no affiliates would refer your products if you didn’t lower your royalties below 25%. Then 15%. Then 13.3%. Now 10% with 5% on the horizon.

In June, Zazzle SKs and affiliates got official notification of this summer’s changes. Mega-changes and definitely not to the benefit of storekeepers. At least, not that we can see.

The entire Zazzle architecture was re-done with limited apparent input from UX experts. The storefronts changed – SK customization was wiped out overnight and stores became pasty pale shadows of their former selves. (Thankfully, SK protests were heeded and the colors revised!) The Zazzle look itself got stunningly attractive. (They have got some great product photographers and product displays being shown.)

Across-the-board 5% price increases went into effect. Base royalty prices dropped from 10% to 5%. The 5% high-royalty penalty kicks in at 15% instead of 20.1%. The design tools changed. The font tool, especially, went to hell. That was all fun.


Re-cap of what happened to the Zazzle Volume Bonus

The biggest impact for many SKs, however, is the change to the Volume Bonus. To give you an idea, many SKs have compared it to “what CafePress did to us” several years ago. [In 2009 CafePress changed their royalty policy and put a lot of people out of business and shocked and angered many more. A lot of those designers fled to Zazzle as a safe haven. I was one of those already on Zazzle who bailed out of CP.]

The generous Volume Bonus (VB) that we all loved has, essentially, been done away with. We Zazzle storekeepers and affiliates used to get VB for sales we referred as well as for our own sales that had not been referred. It could add up to a nice bit of change if you were a solid seller. That is hundreds or thousands of dollars each month could have been earned solely from VB. The more you sold, the higher the percentage of VB as well. It was really nice at the holidays.

Well, that’s gone. Some people are going to sink.

Is your vessel in danger of capsizing?

Is your vessel in danger of capsizing?

What’s left is a new and eviscerated version of VB. Here’s how it is more politically described on the Zazzle blog:

Volume Bonus Becomes Associate Volume Bonus (from the Zazzle blog)

We’re committed to providing strong incentives to all Zazzle community members to encourage each person to put in the extra effort in generating more awareness for products on Zazzle. With that in mind, starting July 1st, the current volume bonus structure will be transitioned to a Zazzle Associate Bonus Program. You can make money by referring customers to Zazzle. We believe that this new program will align the Zazzle community around generating the most revenue from referred traffic [emphasis added]. As a Zazzle Seller you are already enrolled in this new program!

In a nutshell, Zazzle doesn’t need more artists. Creators are a dime a dozen and expendable. What it needs are marketers who promote products.

Here are the details laid out in the new Volume Bonus Program Terms published by Zazzle,

The Bonus will be calculated as a percentage of Base Sales on a domain-by-domain and currency-by-currency basis as follows:

1% of Base Sales for Base Sales in the applicable month from $100 to $999.99; plus
5% of Base Sales for Base Sales in the applicable month from $1,000 to $4,999.99; plus
12% of Base Sales for Base Sales in the applicable month from $5,000 to $99,999.99; plus
17% of Base Sales for Base Sales in the applicable month $100,000 and above.

Base Sales means the purchase price received from the customer less the Markup Amount; amounts charged for shipping, handling, packaging, insurance, and sales or similar taxes; refunds, credits, and reversals; and the face value of the postage (if the revenue is for Zazzle Custom Stamps). The Markup Amount means the purchase price multiplied by either the Royalty Rate applicable to the product sale or the Standard Royalty Rate in the case of the sale of a private product.

So, if I’m figuring this right, the Volume Bonus has been negatively impacted by three factors:

  1. It only applies to sales for which you get credit for the referral instead of everything that wasn’t referred.
  2. The percentages dropped. A lot.
  3. The percentages are applied on a lower base price now (5% instead of 10%)

If  you want to torture yourself without banging your head on your desk, read the Previous Volume Bonus Program Terms here:

Volume Bonus Program prior to July 1st

To recognize Sellers and Associates who make Zazzle successful, we offer the following volume bonus program.The following terms of this agreement (“Agreement”) apply if you create public products, design(s) or art for sale on the websites owned or operated by or for Zazzle Inc. (“Zazzle”) and/or participate in the Zazzle Associates Program.Every month, Zazzle will pay you a bonus amount (“Bonus”) based upon the following sales:

  1. A sale of a product for which you earned a Royalty, which was not subject to a Referral Carve out (as defined in the Non-exclusive License Agreement); OR
  2. A sale of a product for which you earned a referral fee.

The Bonus will be calculated as percentage of Base Sales on a domain-by-domain and currency-by-currency basis as follows:

  1. 7% of Base Sales for Base Sales in the applicable month from $100 to $999.99; plus
  2. 12% of Base Sales for Base Sales in the applicable month from $1000 to $4999.99; plus
  3. 17% of Base Sales for Base Sales in the applicable month $5,000 and over.

Base Sales means the purchase price received from the customer less the Markup Amount; amounts charged for shipping, handling, packaging, insurance, and sales or similar taxes; refunds, credits, and reversals; and the face value of the postage (if the revenue is for Zazzle Custom Stamps). The Markup Amount means the purchase price multiplied by either the Royalty Rate applicable to the product sale or the Standard Royalty Rate in the case of the sale of a private product.

You want it spelled out in dollars and cents?

OK, here’s a couple of examples of what the change in Zazzle Volume Bonus means for a moderate and a very good seller. Assume all sales were U.S.A. based and evenly split among self-referred, 3rd party referred and not referred. These are all rough samples and do not take all the nuances into account. That said, they are, to the best of my knowledge, what we called “directionally correct” where I used to work.

Example 1. A moderate seller who is covering maybe the car payment and groceries and a few extras with their Zazzle income. She has sold $3000 in BASE sales of Zazzle merchandise.

Under the old plan, she would get a volume bonus based on 2/3 of that $3000.

  • 7% VB on $900 = $63.
  • 12% VB on $1000 = $120
  • Total VB = $183

Under the new plan, she would get a VB based on only 1/3 of that $3000, or $1000 is VB eligible. Actually, with the increased prices and the decreased base price, the math gets way crazy.

  • 1% on $900 = $9
  • Total VB ≤ $9

Her royalty check could vary widely with those sales, based on how she has prices set, but let’s say it was $600. The $183 in VB was a nice add and buys groceries. That’s a 20+% drop in income.

Example 2. A good seller who makes a living from Zazzle. She has sold $30,000 in in BASE sales. That’s maybe $6000 in commission.

Under the old plan, she would get a volume bonus based on 2/3 of that $30,000. That’s $20,000.

  • 7% VB on $900 = $63.
  • 12% VB on $4000 = $480
  • 17% VB on $15,000 = $2550.
  • Total VB = $3093

Under the new plan, she would get a VB based on only 1/3 or $10,000.

  • 1% on $900 = $9
  • 5% on $4000 = $200
  • 12% on $10,000 = $120
  • Total VB ≤ $329 (again, not taking the price changes into account)

Well, to put it bluntly – that sucks.

How are you handling the change in Zazzle Volume Bonus terms?

Based on way-too-extensive forum readings, Zazzle storekeepers are suffering the stages of grief: Denial. Anger. Bargaining. Depression. Acceptance. Some of them are making others of us crazy (crazier).

So, you suffer. And then you do something. Right now, IMO, SKs fall into these categories of cliche:

  1. Ignorance is bliss. “Hey, did I miss something? I haven’t been reading my emails or checking out the forums.”
  2. The good soldier. “Zazzle’s been good to me so far. I will trust they are doing what is best. I will carry on my mission to bring cartoon donkey designs to the masses. PBJ sandwiches are good enough.”
  3. The grass is still greener.  “Yeah, it sucks that Zazzle has arbitrarily cut my income by 10% or 30%, but it still seems the best POD out there. I’m glad we have another income.”
  4. Eggs in one basket. “Where can I find other baskets like this one used to be where I can put my precious designs? I didn’t know they could step on the basket and crush it!”
  5. Exit, stage left? “It’s been nice to work from home and take of my kids, my mom, my garden, but it’s not going to work anymore. I’m outta here.”
  6. Panickers. “OMG! I am disabled and/or unemployable. What will I do with a big cut to my Zazzle income?”
  7. Stock-takers. “OK, this is bad, but Zazzle is still be one of my income and artistic-expression options. Now, what can I do to make it less-bad?”
  8. Shruggers. “I wasn’t making any money with Zazzle anyway, so I’m only losing a dollar or two each month.”
  9. Pollyanna. “I’ll just work harder and make it up on volume. I think I can! I think I can!” (OK, that became the Little Engine that Could but you’d have to know that it was possible before you tell that story, right?)
  10. Newbies.  “I won’t miss what I didn’t have.”

I had a category for Idiots and Whiners, but that was non-productive. There’s no cure for stupid, anyway.

Still in the game?

OK, you’ve taken a deep breath. You’ve decided you’re still in this game. Whether you are a Stock-taker, Pollyanna or Panicker, you want to learn to play better, even if you play less and turn your focus elsewhere. What can you do? On Zazzle, specifically, that is.

First, consider what variables do we, as storekeepers, control?

We control the designs we create or license, the way we apply them to products, when we add new products, how many products we generate, how we title, describe, categorize and tag them, how we promote them and how we price them. With those factors, making more money (or getting back to where we were) means that we have four levers to pull:

  1. Sell more
  2. Refer more
  3. Pricing optimization
  4. Timing

So, with referrals becoming more important to earning an income online with the POD business, we have to make sure we get the ones we work for. The next post has some info you may not have realized about getting the referrals you work for.


Can you change tactics and set sail again?



25 Responses to What does the Zazzle Volume Bonus change really mean?

  1. Paula September 1, 2013 at 11:06 pm #

    Great article! I will be looking forward to your next post! I think I am a stock-taker! Trying to figure out how to make up the lost VB.

    • Right Brain September 2, 2013 at 1:14 am #

      Thank you, Paula. I think when the dust finishes settling, many people will find themselves stock-takers!

  2. Tink September 2, 2013 at 1:12 am #

    Interesting analysis well written. Heard when you don’t know what to do , do nothing. I guess that is where I am at. And by do nothing that is what I am doing nothing. No more making products, no more promoting, no more wishful thinking, no more trying to figure out what is designed not to figure out.

    Some of us saw the writing on the wall as early as May of 2012 maybe not as brutal as it was implemented but none the less clearly legible with the demeanor changes of moderators, affiliates pushing their big dollars in our faces bullying us into minding. Then there were all the bugs, the new go nowhere products and posts on how well they were selling. Funny no reviews or anyone I know of selling but they were flying out the door.

    The new groupings that were going to show those tag spammers a thing or two, and shopkeepers how to organize their stores for more sales, did I say I could not keep up with the emails of congrats you made a sale?

    Have not been to a live auction but sure felt like I had in another life or something.. 25, 15,19, 10, 5, no 15 your in your out sold!! I swear I did not know if it was Frank or Earnest posting from day to day.!!

    Not sure I fall into any of the common or understandable categories probably one of those, you are sick of hearing from , yeah I will take that one. Respectfully I earned it.

    Am I happy I told you so back then and when I was fed to the wolves at every turn of course not in fact I am very sad for those that are disabled and were confident on the love and hugs given all those years and big pay checks saying more is on the way as you made it all happen for us. For those who were not stupid not even ignorant but just nice people who believed they could have a better life maybe for the first time in their lives. Yes I am very sad for these people even those who stuck a fork in to see if I was done for not being the good Zazzler and believing everything told while even while it was being done right in front of me.

    Fear is a emotion that can divide even the nicest people against one another.

    I will probably close shop pretty sure that will happen no sense adding more stress or hopes here anyway. Everyone feels and acts differently so no matter where you land in the analysis its okay you will go on. It was fun while it lasted.

    • Right Brain September 2, 2013 at 9:38 pm #

      Hey Tink! Thank you – glad you like the article. Yep, there were some signals for people watching for them. Do nothing is a definite way to give yourself a break and let the dust settle.

      Hang in there. I know you are already diversified, so that puts you leagues ahead of many others.

  3. Debra September 2, 2013 at 9:17 am #

    Interesting article and well written. I think I’m a stock taker; still kind of going in circles about it all. Luckily, the summer has been so busy with my “real” life that I haven’t had much time to stress about all this. Looking forward to the next post, because, even though I follow all the advice in the forums about getting referral tracking right…..I still never get referrals even though I often customize products based upon specific customer requests & provide them the direct link with my referral #. It’s doubly frustrating to me now that the meager VB now allowed is tied to something that I can’t get to work for me.

    • Right Brain September 2, 2013 at 9:40 pm #

      Thanks, Debra. I wonder if it’s even worth caring about the VB anymore. It just seems like crumbs. But maybe that opens up other opportunities.

  4. Bradley W. Schenck September 2, 2013 at 12:05 pm #

    From where I sit the biggest problems are the reduced percentages and tiers for the volume bonus, coupled with the across-the-board base price hikes. Those two changes combine to make it pretty much impossible for a designer to make any kind of reasonable margin on Zazzle products.

    I’ve got no objection to making VB only on sales I refer. Why would Z pay me extra for sales that were generated through their own marketing? But since the percentages and tiers have now effectively removed the VB it hardly matters what I think about that.

    Zazzle’s base prices were already so high that it was difficult to get a decent margin on their products. The new, higher base prices make that far more difficult. And why?

    Zazzle’s constant, aggressive sales of up to 60% on products mean that their base prices must be so high that they’re still making money at 60% off. They must set the base prices that high, or the sale discounts will make them unprofitable. This means that the everyday base prices we mark up are inflated (to an astonishing degree) and the only reason for that inflation is that Zazzle wants to offer these huge discounts during promotions. And think about their own profit margin when products are not on sale: they’ve set their own piece of the pie much larger than it needs to be.

    As a result we have to drop our markups to try to bring the everyday product prices down to a sane level – a level where at least some customers will be willing to spend. Under the old VB system that wouldn’t have been so bad – even if the VB were restricted to self-referred sales – because we could expect to make an additional average of 10% or more on the VB, plus a 15% referral. Under the new system we’re forced to lower our margins on products whose retail prices are still unreasonably high and we can’t expect any relief through the VB.

    So in the end Zazzle is subsidizing their gigantic sale discounts by transferring profits from the designers to itself. And on sales that don’t take advantage of a sale, well, their own markup is now through the roof; and don’t forget that they’re padding it again by effectively removing the VB.

    These changes ensure that Zazzle can be profitable even when they slash prices by big percentages. There’s still enough profit for Zazzle: just not for anyone else. If they didn’t feel that they had to offer these huge sales then it would be a completely different story.

    I don’t see how it makes any sense to do any new business with the company. I’m not removing all of my products, but I now direct customers to just a fraction of the Zazzle products I used to, replacing most of the Zazzle products on my web sites with products from other vendors whose terms are much more favorable to me.

    • Right Brain September 3, 2013 at 12:00 am #

      Hi Bradley, changing the volume bonus to a referral bonus was bad. Unlike you, I am unhappy about that part, but understand that Zazzle realized that other PODs pay out less. The combination of all the changes looks pretty toxic for SKs, especially when you fold in the sales policies. Can we make it up on volume? on smarter strategies? Probably not. No one can even figure out which sales really apply to which products which just makes it worse.

      I doubt everyone has done the math on what a 5 or 10% royalty turns into with a referred product on a 50% off sale. I think you’re smart to consider sending customers elsewhere.

  5. Terry Kepner September 2, 2013 at 1:07 pm #

    Anyone interested in trying to get together a KickStarter campaign to start a competitor to Zazzle and CafePress? One that is run like a Credit Union instead of a Bank? (i.e., one were the SKs form a board and “share the profits” instead of a Corp. where only the CEO gets rich?)

    • Auntie Shoe September 2, 2013 at 7:45 pm #

      Terry, it would take MILLIONS and MILLIONS of $$$$ to get something like that started. And no SK has it, not even as a group.

      • Right Brain September 3, 2013 at 12:04 am #

        Auntie Shoe, true, but SKs wouldn’t be the funders, provided there was a good enough idea to be financed. A copycat of an existing POD wouldn’t interest too many people, I’d guess, but there must be new twists that haven’t been explored yet!

    • Right Brain September 3, 2013 at 12:02 am #

      Terry, I think that’s a very interesting idea. I think Kickstarter works better for non-manufacturing ideas, but that would be one way to fund a new operation!

  6. Auntie Shoe September 2, 2013 at 7:44 pm #

    I think I am both a stock-taker AND a panicker. The two go hand in hand. Being disabled, you just try to figure out how to muddle through.

    • Right Brain September 3, 2013 at 12:05 am #

      Auntie Shoe – first panic, then take stock! Hopefully! Wishing you good fortune.

  7. Lee September 3, 2013 at 10:54 am #

    Great article, but the numbers come out even worse for the big sellers. Volume bonus now is more like less than $100 for some of us. And yes… this hurts us for sure. For me personally, I had made ~$90,000 in volume bonus in 3 years. That is all gone now. Not to mention that sales volumes otherwise are also down for me since Zazzle remodelled the site. The last two months I’ve seen a 50% reduction in income.

    I know I can’t possibly make up the lost volume bonus income. It’s just not the way Zazzle works. After my 3 years of trying to be an affiliate and constantly adding new products, it’s quite apparent it just is not going to happen. The reason is competition… it gets harder and harder to make good income on Zazzle the longer you are on the site because there are more and more competing products. In fact, not just competing products, but copies of your designs and design ideas too. Also, referring sales to Zazzle is extremely difficult. There is a less than 1% conversion rate. I don’t have enough time and energy to try and make that system work for me. We compete with Zazzle’s own affiliate marketing efforts and they are too big a fish for me to compete with.

    So, I’m looking for other baskets as one option. Also, you didn’t mention one category – those that are branching out and doing their own businesses. There are sellers that have gone over to Etsy and other platforms and are doing their own printing right now. With Zazzle’s high base prices, it’s hard to think that you can make a profit doing that, but you can. Look around and you’ll see there are companies that offer blanks that are quite inexpensive. Anyway, I’m certainly not waiting around for Zazzle to mandate 5% royalties anyway. When your income is cut that much, you shouldn’t assume that the company who did it has your best interests at heart.

    I’m grateful to Zazzle for all they have done for me for sure. But there is a limit on my gratitude. They really should also be grateful to us shopkeepers too. It’s not as though they don’t benefit from us. Personally, I’ve generated them over $2.5million in sales in three years. So, it’s not like I’m just a drain on them and it’s charity from them like some seem to assume. My design makes an otherwise blank product sellable. Plus, I add all their SEO keywords and descriptions. Not to mention that I use my creativity to open up other product markets for them. There always have been hidden shop fees at Zazzle too. Just you didn’t see them. So, it’s not a free ride either and it’s now quite a bit more expensive. That transaction fee for one is a shop fee. The base price also includes a shop fee and they just raised them again.

    Note: they raised base prices on all products by 5%, not lowered them. They just lowered the default royalty from 10% to 5%. But the underlying base price was actually raised… so Zazzle customers are now paying more unless all shopkeepers lower their royalties.

    • Right Brain September 9, 2013 at 9:39 pm #

      Hi Lee,
      Thanks for sharing your viewpoint and insights. A lot of people have been hit two parts of the triple whammy as you mention – lower overall sales coinciding with the new site launch, lowered royalties from price strategy changes per Zazzle and affiliate “suggestions” and slashed volume bonus.

      I do wonder how many people continue to make a good income on Zazzle now? I said in other forums more than a year ago that Zazzle was pulling in name brands at the expense of individual artists and also aiming more at the do-it-yourself market.

      No, you certainly have been a drain! Millions of dollars of sales to your credit is noteworthy. And I totally agree with you about shop costs. Free stores are like free shipping, aren’t they?

      I added a clarification based on your last statement – my original writing didn’t make it clear what went up and what went down!

      Best of luck with striking out on your own. 🙂

    • Martin October 1, 2013 at 5:40 am #

      Thanks for this sound contribution. I always suspected things along similar considerations but never had full evidence of the mechanics working on Zazzle as my “sample” of sales volume is very small.

      My production capacity is way too small to compete I understand now very clearly. So yes I have to confirm the genereal trend the longer and harder I try the less I sell. The referral program has been a 99.5% waste of time for me.

      I have stopped creating labor intense own designs/art on Zazzle. I buy or use free designs and try to create as many products with minimum effort since end of last year. Til now that test has not paid.

      So things are moving cleary to an exit scenario which means I will stop creating and will just collect the remaining peanuts as they come in.

  8. Jason September 9, 2013 at 12:07 pm #

    Thank you for this article it is very informative and well written, I hope more people will chime in here and that there are more articles to follow, as this needs to get out to the public as well as other shop owners at Zazzle.

    Zazzle’s total disregard for the artists who have made the owners in the Billions of dollars needs the same publicity as any company that has outsourced their workers and destroyed dreams and in cases loss income needed to supplement those on disability and some who had actually retired to exclusively work for Zazzle. These are the people Zazzle went after to make a better life and hung that proverbial carrot in front of their faces.

    There are artists who have lost $9,000 and upward a month due to changes made recently. These changes in the works while Zazzle continued to claim they would increase sales for their artists.

    The Volume bonus just prior these changes was actually used by Zazzle to insure that what was lost with lowering the artist’s royalty would be made up with the Volume Bonus. When the truth was and is. they knew they were taking it away from sellers, making it a affiliate VB with higher earning requirements all along. This is just one example of false promises and deception used as a smoke screen to fan the flames of the artists while they prepared to destroy what little the artists had left in means of saving their stores. Which BTW also were taken over by Zazzle under the guise of more sales. This take over took any possible way for the shop keeper to promote via links other products blogs, websites, any outside link to assist in marketing their art leaving broken links , money lost for these sites and just a huge mess.

    Zazzle also has changed their referral system although they love to pass the buck on the artist not having knowledge of affiliating, the cookies being the problem, even Google making it harder to get a referral although, many artists are seeing more and more third party sales (strangely) on products they have promoted go to someone somewhere, even if they sent the customer the direct referral link and instructions on how to buy it so the could be get the referral bonus. Again sometimes after numerous tries Zazzle still claims its not their fault or doing?

    Some of us were actually pirated from Cafepress in 1999 when they did a similar change, by Zazzle via emails to come over to the other side, They were hungry then, now that has become gluttony at its finest.

    Don’t let this go untold. Your story just may help another person not put their eggs in one basket no matter how much a company says they will never do what Cafepress did as we now see they just don’t care. This is about all we can do at this time, and I know they hope it will go away don’t let it.

    Thank you for the forum to discuss this and pass it on. Jason

    • Right Brain September 9, 2013 at 9:44 pm #

      You’re welcome, Jason. I’m glad to share thoughtful comments here with other Zazzlers.

      The sense of betrayal is a raw wound that will not be soon forgotten. Those of us on CP several years ago swore that we’d never let it happen again. Well, guess what? It did.

      I think all of us nowadays are aware that we can’t put all our eggs in one basket or count on ANY company to continue doing what they said they were going to do. We all lived in a haze of security for several decades and now we’re back to a harsher reality.

      What recourse does a person – whether employee, independent contractor or other – have when the rules get changed by the other party, whether through outside circumstances, greed or just plain business practices?

  9. Cedric October 4, 2013 at 3:12 pm #

    I’ve been reflecting on what I’ve red here for the past few days. A very inspiring article and string of comments indeed. There is a lot to be said, a lot to be expressed; so much so, I would gladly make the trip to a convention that would bring us all together in the same forum of exchange and to a shareholder prospectus offering for a European Market and Asian Market based POD venture.

    What I retain from reading your article is this evocative simple common sense concept which basically calls for focusing on what you have and who you are and keep on acting and being just that: true to yourself. So to keep preparing for the Holiday Season Shopping Frenzy sounds like a good plan to me right now, anyway hey?

    You read it on blogs, on Zazzle Forum, and your are experiencing it yourself; business on Zazzle is not as usual. Many are suffering in many ways. It’s just like as if a natural disaster occured in late June of 2013; casualties are immense.

    And what about Zazzle? Yes let’s have a look at what’s happening to Zazzle right now. The metrix speak for themselves: Zazzle is not doing business as usual. Zazzle needs to do something soon about this or else Zazzle is going to collapse in it’s own legendary mind. The business slow down is surely not compensated with the volume bonuses revenues they are now pocketing. The new marketplace platform investments are going to have to be accounted for loss and they still are going to have to hire extra labor force to meet the Holidays production demand cycle and this; with a clear view to a declining sales performance chart right in front of their face.

    Have a look at this and see for yourself. At one point Zazzle was second to Etsy and almost twice as large in values as CP. Now Zazzle is head to head with CP… just before the Holidays. There are wonderful paid tools out there to work with raw data for evaluations and forecasting algorithms, I am just giving you this front end one just as a timid portrait of the situation.

    Mobile marketing 101 reports for 2013 show that 80% of online shoppers are using traditional computers and laptops, 10% are using tablets, and 10% are using smartphones. Zazzle sure hit it right by investing on their mobile platform catering to 20% of the market slice. “Atta Go Zazzle!” When you would extrapolate figures as a junior marketer could, it wouldn’t take too long before you could conclude that this was a really b-a-d idea at this time.

    Remember the infamous Coca Cola “New Taste” campaign back in the day? It made the all time spoof marketing history; the “New Taste Syndrome”, a catastrophic marketing strategy developed by desperately innovative consultants that obviously did not see the big picture they were dealing with in delivering such a disastrous package to Coke Corp. Well I think Zazzle has gotten a nice big fat ball of the “New Taste Syndrome” this time around.

    Zazzle’s original mission statement was as good as it gets. Not only offering production on demand, customized products, and a personalized shopping experience, but also; allowing artists, designers, and shop keepers to enhance Zazzle’s mission with their own outlooks. This resulted in the creation of a very dynamic and complex shopping network made of countless personalized Zazzle stores, websites, blogs, and promotional avenues. Countless link-overs and schemes fueling the Zazzle marketplace and maintaining strings of online shoppers looking to come back to that shop keeper or that artist.

    Well in late June of 2013, Zazzle marketing “dream team” decided otherwise with scrapping all artist/designers, shop keepers, and affiliates incentives in one server sweep. Millions of hours of work and dollars of artists, shop keepers, affiliates investments gone. The results? Well it’s like Zazzle the mighty spider had a web, and what a web that was! Now Zazzle the spider is clinging on a single string, and a slippery one at that. “Atta Go Zazzle!” And we are surely not talking of growing pains here.

    I mean, even the word “shop” : as in, “the action of shopping” has disappeared on the new Zazzle landing page. It has become quite the tedious experience to find anything you want as a shopper in this new “mobile” visual amazing slider, tiles, and menu maze. Buying something quick on the new Zazzle is something of the gamers’ realm. It’s cute and I am sure it is the pride of Zazzle marketing “Dream Team”, but hey! Beyond the “Fun” shopping experience, there is the actual closing of sales Zazzle should be concerned with.

    Now that the big picture has hit Zazzle and that the “New Taste Syndrome” is sitting at their board of directors table, we are sure to see Zazzle reacting positively and hopefully before the Holidays cycle to the benefit of all, Zazzle, Zazzlers, Affiliates, and Shoppers.

    Zazzle is undeniably the most robust POD out there ever. Zazzle the most exciting online venture of this decade, a new world wide standard setting for online shopping that is going to grow into what we are going to come to expect as consumers and that will represent a “must to have” venue for the creative communities world wide.

    So, I’ll just keep on developing my end of things for now and I be will there, first in row to benefit from Zazzle’s capacity to do things right. Business 101 will tell you that in order to have and stay in business; you need a good idea, and you need to want to make money 😉

    Have a smooth and prosperous 2013 Holiday Season All….including Zazzle!

    • Right Brain October 7, 2013 at 3:15 pm #

      Thanks, Cedric, for your thoughtful comments on the Zazzle Volume Bonus changes and more. I agree, it feels very much like a natural disaster – the slight warning of an oncoming hurricane and then the massive destruction of years of work.

      Well, it wasn’t destroyed for us, but a huge chunk of the money-earning power was certainly blown away. Along with a trust factor that we had felt with Zazzle.

      If you look at the charts for Zazzle, you will see a very different picture for 2013 than for 2012. Who knows what is really going on over there in the Zazzle offices? They are definitely rushing to bring more and more new products to the market! How this will turn out combined with all the other changes, we can only wait and see.

      I appreciate your positive outlook for the holiday season and wish you a very prosperous one!

  10. shelly October 14, 2013 at 3:18 pm #

    With both the VB taking a tank and sales going from many a day to a few every couple days… my income from zazzle has dropped by about 50%. I have 10 stores & just try to keep adding & promoting. The other PODs just don’t have the traffic that I am used to at zazzle.

    • Right Brain October 15, 2013 at 5:26 pm #

      There have been a lot of changes this past year – not only in Zazzle and its products and prices and earnings opportunities, but also in what the affiliates are doing and what the competition is doing. I don’t have an answer for making up the loss in income, that’s for sure!

  11. Michelle October 15, 2013 at 4:34 pm #

    When the changes to the VB and site went into affect, I politely shared my shock and sadness in the forum. I wasn’t rude. I just declared my dislike. I’ve since been banned from the forums. I’ve been a Zazzle designer since 2003. No warning, nothing. Just BANNED from communicating with my fellow Zazzlers…apparently this is permanent. THIS is the kind of company Zazzle has become.

    • Right Brain October 15, 2013 at 5:28 pm #

      Yes, it’s rather surprising (to my view) that the mods are invisible and lethal. Sometimes, they may just have blocked your ISP, but othertimes someone apparently gets p.o.’d if you’re not in alignment with their views and they ban you. Also, if other SK complain about you, that spells trouble. There’s no transparency to methodology!