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By Guido Laures CTO, Spreadshirt February 19, 2015,
The chief technology officer at a web-only retailer discusses his
company’s approach to gaining a bigger payoff from mobile commerce.
Spreadshirt decided to jump into mobile commerce through a
responsive web design site. Responsive design uses one set of code and
web content and displays content to fit the width of the screen on the
device requesting a page. This is in contrast to building separate sites
for tablets and smartphones. Spreadshirt staff had to rework the custom
design tool for tablets because the tool was originally written in
Flash, a web language that Apple Inc. mobile devices do not support. Now
the design tool works on iPads, the dominant tablet computer.
In January 2015, smartphones and tablets generated 53% of a total
157 million online visits to 50 retail sites that to m-commerce
technology provider Branding Brand tracks, an 18% increase from January
2014, when smartphones and tablets generated 45% of a total 155 million
online visits. Smartphones accounted for 41% of all traffic. Comparing
January 2014 ($355 million total revenue) to January 2015 ($364 million
total revenue), the share of revenue on smartphones soared from 8% to
12%, the Branding Brand index says. Overall, mobile commerce revenue
(smartphones and tablets) jumped from 19% to 24% of total web sales at
those 50 sites.
Guido Laures is chief technology officer at
Spreadshirt, an e-retailer of print-on-demand apparel and accessories.
Henderson T-shirt plant formally opens
By Tim O'Reiley LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL
Several of the work
tables on Spreadshirt's production floor, with their sky blue metal legs
and light gray tops, would not draw a second glance from most people.
But as the company formally opened its $1 million T-shirt plant in
Henderson on Tuesday, CEO Phil Rooke pointed to them as one factor that
helped swing losses to profits in 2010. T-shirts do not stick to the
laminate surface when they are ironed, saving workers a few seconds
compared with conventional table tops.
"If you take a little bit
of time on 2.9 million items a year, that adds up to considerable
savings," Rooke said.
With revenues continuing to grow rapidly
and cash flow now positive, the privately held Spreadshirt, based in
Leipzig, Germany, decided it needed a new plant. Spreadshirt liked the
location because it shaved shipping time and cost to California, which
accounts for 20 percent of U.S. sales. The Southern Nevada site also
raised its hopes of building a steady work force.
The only other
U.S. production plant is in Greensburg, Pa., near Pittsburgh.
Spreadshirt now has 22 people at the Las Vegas site. The company expects
to add 60 more by year's end, though some of them will be seasonal
because of the upward spike in orders before Christmas.
Spreadshirt will hire another 100 people next year. Several companies
have arrived in town trumpeting big numbers only to have them later
evaporate, but Rooke said his projections are based on contracts already
This year's revenues, he said, are on track to rise 81
percent to 67 million euros ($87.1 million at current exchange rates)
from 37 million euros ($48.1 million) last year. Nevertheless, he said,
the company's name recognition, particularly among individual as opposed
to corporate customers, is still spotty.
"A lot of people don't
know you can get something like this," Rooke said.
Spreadshirt.com, the company's store, carries 600,000 T-shirt designs
listed by several thousand individual promoters. The website lets people
pick what they want, or upload their own ideas and have them applied to
a chosen size and color of material. The prices are generally on the
premium end - for example, $23.90, including shipping, for a standard
T-shirt with the emblem of the Minnesota State Golden Eagles - for the
custom process and what Spreadshirt promotes as superior quality.
As a result, the average order includes 1.7 items because
Spreadshirt shuns mass production.
"To be honest, if you want an
I (heart) Las Vegas T-shirt, you are probably are better off at a two
for $7 rack on the Strip," he said. "But if you want I (heart)
Henderson, we are the only one who would have it."
lists several other items in its catalog but only hoodies sell in
significant numbers and in much lower quantities than T-shirts.
The production area of the 37,000-square-foot building in Henderson is
divided between what the company calls text, where decals are placed on
the shirts and ironed on by hand, and flex, where computer-controlled
machines spray on the designs. Because of the American taste for
intricate patterns, about half of the shirts are flex-made compared with
30 percent in Europe.
As another cost-saving measure, the two
flex machines now in operation were purchased used and refurbished at a
cost of $40,000 each. A couple of new ones, which will arrive shortly,
cost $250,000 each, Rooke said.
While taking part in the
ceremonial ribbon cutting, Henderson Mayor Andy Hafen admitted to being
"a bit humbled."
"A few years ago, this would have been just a
blip on the radar," he said. "Now it's a new day with the recent
downfall of the economy."
August 1, 2014, 4:48 PM
Contact reporter Tim O'Reiley at
firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-5290.
Global e-commerce: Big opportunities in most, if not quite all, markets
Philip Rooke By Philip Rooke CEO, Spreadshirt Inc.
The CEO of an
online retailer that’s actively marketing in 17 countries, with more to
come, explains the key elements of his strategy. That includes knowing
when to hit the “pause” button on markets that are too daunting.
Great marketing, inspiring customer experiences and rocking sales growth
is only half the story in a global scale-up strategy allowing an
e-commerce enterprise to thrive when the world of retail, technology,
and rapid delivery for global consumers moves at a rapid clip.
am the first to say “95% of success is showing up.” But the advent of
better e-commerce platforms, cheap translation services and global
provisions means that pretty much anyone can “show up.” All the
successes generated by launching new countries and new markets from
cross-border commerce can be rapidly jeopardized with poor delivery and
supply chain instability. Without rock-solid delivery and supply
services, you might as well BBQ the spent marketing and development
money and watch it go up in smoke.
How does an e-commerce
enterprise in rapid international scale-up mode embrace these business
realities? As an international e-commerce platform for creating, selling
and buying ideas on things that consumers love to share, use, and carry,
I am tasked with scaling up our enterprise internationally. We already
market in 17 countries and deliver to 200, but this year we are in the
full rollout phase of our marketing, sales and operations outside of the
European Union and U.S.
My approach in 2014 is an agile strategy
in gaining international access and continual investment in our platform
technology to engage and retain customers and partners. My top three
areas of focus to become a significant global player:
simple: Our platform needs to be simple to use. Spreadshirt, quite
frankly, exists to enable the most efficient publishing of ideas on
merchandise for purchase everywhere by leveraging our print-on-demand
expertise. Our goal is to allow sellers the ability to publish ideas for
sale in every country within seconds and eventually switch off the
non-working countries later. It is imperative for anyone selling
products across countries to keep it simple for teams to sell everywhere
rather than simply restricting access based on assumptions that may not
Get everywhere fast: Shipping is a vital component in the
supply chain and it must be fast, reliable and priced right. This year
we added delivery to over 150 new countries. Within weeks, we had to
delist 10 countries due to fraud and delivery problems. There were some
nice surprises within the mix. Some countries with small populations are
doing very well. Other countries like Russia had good sales, but we have
put this on pause until we sort out delivery issues. Currently all of
our merchandisers can easily and rapidly reach their customers and fans
almost everywhere due to our explosive international shipping growth.
Grow the global footprint: Many of our key sellers build a fan base on
global platforms like YouTube and Facebook—making demand truly global.
Notable huge audiences come from countries like India and Brazil where
we see huge traffic. Eventually shipping will not be enough to satisfy
consumer expectations; we will have to have a true footprint in those
countries. Already 20,000 orders a year come from Australia, so we will
be launching an Australian site and marketing this year. A demand-driven
approach from traffic or shipped orders always governs our next steps.
Spreadshirt is among the few truly global enterprises in
apparel and accessories; we are currently active in 17 markets, nine
languages, and customers can pay in seven currencies. We receive orders
from as far afield as Afghanistan and Singapore.
whether the customer is from one of our key countries or one of those
“shipped to” countries, we have to manage their delivery expectations
and value. We intentionally locate facilities near our customers to keep
them satisfied and meet their expectations and demands. For example, our
Las Vegas facility reduces a day in delivery time to California compared
with shipping from the Pittsburgh site. It is also ideally located for
rapid and cost-effective distribution to Asia and Australia. Orders get
to customers in Australia only two days after California for only $1 or
Traditionally companies are wary of rapid international
expansion due to the fear of potential of fraud or lost orders. Many
countries are treated as guilty until proven innocent and are blocked
from platforms. However, the world is a great place and I can share that
we gained more valuable orders than we lost due to problems. Glitches
can be easily sorted out by switching off certain payment types,
changing a shipping provider or turning off a whole country.
approach is working: In just a few months of 2014, after adding 150
ship-to countries and allowing access to over 200 countries for our
direct customers and our 70,000-plus sellers, the trends are very
positive and the outlook for the rest of the year is extremely
optimistic. Each week, several hundred orders from the new countries are
coming in. This reach puts Spreadshirt on par with retailers like H&M
and Zara, and far ahead of most other custom apparel and accessory
In addition to increasing marketing activities in our
core markets, new European regions, and new domains such as Canada and
Australia, we are well poised to enter a couple of new and promising
countries. The short list of countries with good web infrastructure and
a growing e-commerce market include Brazil and India. Having spent time
in both these countries this year, I can say there is a booming Internet
audience waiting for quality services with local fulfillment.
goal and plan at Spreadshirt is to continue our global expansion via
acquisition, access, and strong global partnerships with an eye towards
local production hubs. I envision a happy future when everyone in the
world can design or order merchandising, in the language and currency of
their choice, and have it delivered within the week (North Korea and few
other war zones excluded).
Spreadshirt, an online retailer of
customized T-shirts, hoodies and other apparel, is part of sprd.net AG
of Germany. It is ranked No. 379 among North American online retailers
in the 2014 Top 500 and No. 218 in the Europe 500.
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