March 23, 2011, 11:07 AM

For CafePress.com, 2011 is all about mobile, social and international

The customized merchandise e-retailer plans to further expand in Europe this year.

Lead Photo

A screenshot of a Cafe Press product page

CafePress.com this year plans to focus on building sales through social media, international marketing and mobile commerce, company executives say.

Much of the retailer’s social media strategy revolves around placing advertisements for Café Press products on relevant blog pages or group and event sites on Facebook. “If you have 300 million products, the merchandising becomes the most important and most difficult,” says Marc Cowlin, the web merchant’s director of brand marketing.

CafePress, No. 120 in Internet Retailer’s Top 500 Guide, began as a web-only retailer of customized T-shirts and drinkware, but has since branched out so that shoppers can add their own art or select from tens of millions of designs to personalize anything from yoga mats to bags to yard signs. “We are trying to grow beyond T-shirts and coffee mugs,” says CafePress president Bob Marino

Earlier this month, the retailer introduced a feature that lets shoppers’ comments on CafePress.com product pages  also appear on the shoppers’ Facebook pages.  Consequently, the shoppers’ friends get a glimpse into who is buying what, and the reasons for the purchases.

Marino and Cowlin say it’s too early to know whether this Facebook strategy will have a major impact on sales, but they are optimistic.  “People are really, really excited to comment and share,” Cowlin says. “We were wondering if we’d get five comments a day on this, but within the first few days, we were getting literally hundreds of comments.”

Though CafePress executives will not reveal much about their mobile plans, they say mobile traffic to the company’s web site has grown sharply this year and they are working on enhancing their m-commerce capabilities.  Marino say that company founder Maheesh Jain’s sole task in 2011 is perfecting the retailer’s mobile strategy and that shoppers can expect new mobile options by the end of the year. “Rest assured, the things we are about to bring to mobile e-commerce are not in existence yet,” he says

International expansion is also in the works.  CafePress.com rolled out in Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia over the last year and a half, and international sales now represent 17% of all revenue.  Additional sites are planned for non-English-speaking countries in 2011, starting with such major European markets as Germany and France.

Additionally, 30% of the retailer’s revenue comes from the web sites of manufacturing partners who offer CafePress’s personalized printing on their products.  For instance, shoppers buying a Flip video camera from Cisco’s online shop will find a page entitled “What will your Flip say about you?”  An elaborate personalization platform follows that enables customers to choose colors, themes and shapes that CafePress can print on the outside of the camera.  Shoppers can also upload an image of their own to have printed.

Bob Marino will speak at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition 2011 in a session entitled “The anatomy of an acquisition.”

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