There seem to be new PODs opening up almost as often as T-Shirt Competition sites these days (slight exaggeration). I think breaking into the POD market will be much tougher though as the service expected from a POD is huge. Zazzle and Cafepress which seem to dominate the market already provide so many features and functions but keep adding more and more at a seemingly accelerated rate.
A few days ago I received an email from a friend of Ninja Zoo saying that it is a better alternative to Zazzle for UK sellers because according to my previous article “uk sellers are still being paid in US Dollars and items are delivered from the US”. (I think Zazzle will pay the UK sellers in Sterling though the items will still be shipped from the US.) So, I thought I better check it out. To be honest I had already come across it and bookmarked it for future mention but this email made be get my skates on.
Ninja Zoo is a pretty small site but it is in beta so I won’t hold that against it. They seem to have only 9 styles of t-shirts with from 2 to 8 colors each. Mostly on the lower end of that range. All except one of the items available to sell in your store are Hanes products. I was going to do a similar test to the one I did with Yerzies but there are so few options with Ninja Zoo that I decided to upload one of my images that I designed to sell on Zazzle. The first thing and perhaps the only thing that really impressed me about Ninja Zoo is the print area. It is huge compared to what Cafepress, Zazzle and probably nearly every other POD has to offer.
The designer itself gives you the option to add text, your own images and, for a fee, images that other users have decided to share. I think the fee will be added to the commission when you put your t-shirt on sale effectively making your t-shirt more expensive, but hey, it’s not your art. The add text function is pretty lame with only 9 fonts to choose from.
I think the fact that you can add other people’s images to products and sell them in your own store adds a new dimension that can’t be seen in other PODs. I think it is risky though as you don’t know if those people really own the rights to those designs and you might unknowingly land yourself in trouble. (I saw people have shared images of Audrey Hepburn and Snoopy.) Also, imagine you build your store around other people’s images and they decide to unshare them (I assume this can be done). I also notice that they recommend charging between 10p and 25p when you share your images because if you charge more other people might not use them but I say if you are only getting 10p or 25p when someone uses your image it is not worth it. I would charge the same commission for the shared design as you would charge for the design on a t-shirt in your store. It is to me the same thing in both cases. You are selling someone the right to print your image on a t-shirt and sell/purchase it.
We would suggest you set your charge between 10p and 25p – if you set your charge too high do not expect anybody to use it!
They have it set up so you can create a store (a type of widget) that you can use to promote your t-shirts on MySpace, Facebook or on your own website. When you click an item on the widget it will take you to the product on the Ninja Zoo website. You can test it below with my Vintage Tokyo design.
Ninja Zoo is a very cute and well finished website but I don’t think it is well designed. They are selling t-shirts but on the front page they are only promoting one artist. It is easy enough to find the marketplace but when you get there it seems so empty that you are not sure you have found it. I guess they are leaving it up to the shopkeepers to promote their own t-shirts and attract their own customers which I don’t think is a great strategy. Ninja Zoo should promote their users work and then create incentives (like Zazzle recently did with the introduction of the Zazzle Incentive Program) for their users to do promotion.
The widget is OK but I don’t think it replaces the need for a store. Savvy shopkeepers do all they can to keep the customers in their own stores by tying to entice them to look at various t-shirts and designs. With this widget you are taken directly to the Ninja Zoo website after clicking. You have a designers area but as I created only four items with one design I don’t really know how it will work for shopkeepers with hundreds or more designs. To conclude, I don’t think this is really an attractive POD compared to the big dogs but there is potential. I recommend that they invest more time in CEO and make their site more intuitive, make it so the visitors can’t help but find the products. That will increase the chance of a sale and if you provide a source of sales shopkeepers will come knocking at your door. I know ninjas move unseen and unheard but they probably don’t sell too many t-shirts.