April 28, 2014, 12:29 PM

A niche e-retailer creates a mobile app for a niche within a niche

Threadless.com has unveiled Type Tees, an iPhone app that opens a new line of business for the custom products e-retailer. Type Tees allows a consumer to quickly and easily order T-shirts that sport text saying whatever the consumer likes. The e-retailer's mobile traffic is split 80% web and 20% apps.

Lead Photo

The e-retailer's Type Tees iPhone app enables consumers to print whatever they like on a T-shirt.

It's easy to find a T-shirt with famous witticisms. But say you're out with friends and spout something so pithy it would make Oscar Wilde applaud, and as a result you think it should be immortalized on a T-shirt. Well, iPhone owners now can make it happen by pulling out their devices and using Threadless.com's new Type Tees iPhone app.

Inspiration for the app came from customers of Threadless, a global design community where users submit designs, the community of registered Threadless users votes on designs, and winning designs are turned into products. Products range from T- shirts to coffee mugs to wall art, with winning designers getting a cut of the profits.

“The concept for the Type Tees app was inspired by the sheer volume of slogans submitted to Threadless,” says Jake Nickell, Threadless.com CEO and founder. “We were receiving more slogans than we could feasibly print, and this app is a fun and engaging solution that allows anyone to bring their words to life on a tee. Whether you come up with a ridiculous slogan that must be commemorated, or want to represent your baseball team with the perfect hilarious mantra, Type Tees lets you speak your mind through an original tee fit for any situation.”

Threadless is running a limited time promotion granting a $5 credit to consumers who download the new Type Tees app.

Threadless recently debuted an iPhone app for its overall business. In its second week, the app was selected by Apple Inc. as a Best New App, which gives prominent placement to the app in the App Store. That placement has resulted in an "impressive" jump in downloads, says Nickell, who declines to reveal exact numbers. The core Threadless.com app remains in the Best New App slot, which is shared by various apps.

Both the core app and the tees niche app were developed by Prolific Interactive, which builds mobile-optimized sites, responsive design sites, and mobile apps for iOS and Android. Recent retailer clients include Threadless.com, ModCloth, Lululemon and Rent the Runway.

Mobile traffic accounts for 32% of total traffic at Threadless.com—26% from smartphones and 6% from tablets, the company reports. 80% of mobile traffic comes through the Threadless mobile web site, while 20% comes from its apps. 18% of total web sales stem from mobile devices.

Follow Bill Siwicki, managing editor, mobile commerce, at Internet Retailer, at @IRmcommerce.

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