February 3, 2010, 12:00 AM

At CaféPress, demand for personalized products lifted holiday sales 15%

The e-marketplace of more than 6 million sellers of customized merchandise racked up 15% year-over-year growth in sales in the 2009 holiday shopping season, as order volume peaked at about 35,000 shipments per day, CaféPress says.

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CaféPress.com, an e-marketplace of more than 6 million sellers of customized merchandise, racked up 15% year-over-year growth in sales in the 2009 holiday shopping season, as order volume peaked at about 35,000 shipments per day, chief operating officer Bob Marino says.

“We’re finding in a tough economy that many consumers apparently wanted to give more expensive gifts for the holidays but couldn’t afford to, so they turned to companies like us for personalized products,” Marino says. He adds that CaféPress.com, No. 117 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide (a PDF version of the company’s financial and operating profile can be ordered by clicking on its name), has not resorted often to price cuts.

CaféPress offers 300 million products from about 6.5 million sellers, and it introduces about 2,000 new sellers and 50,000 additional products daily, Marino says. Its sellers present their own designs and illustrations online that CaféPress applies to T-shirts, coffee mugs and assorted other items at its own on-demand digital print facilities in Louisville, KY, Portland, OR, and Prague in the Czech Republic.

During peak shopping days in December, the site processed about 35,000 shipments per day, up from its daily average of about 6,000.

To handle that volume and limit the number of order-status calls from customers, CaféPress works with several shipping applications from UPS. Using the carrier company’s Quantum View Manage application, for example, CaféPress is able to send automated shipment status alerts and updates to both the sellers and buyers conducting business on its site, Marino says.

“Without Quantum View, we would have an overwhelming number of calls to our customer service center from our online shopkeepers and from their customers,” Marino says.

Jordan Colletta, vice president of e-commerce marketing at UPS, says Quantum View Manage also provides customer service agents with real-time access to delivery status of customer orders.

UPS also provides Trade Direct, which CaféPress uses to manage international shipments, as a value-added service at no charge to its shipping clients, Colletta says.

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