By Mario Toneguzzi
A new trend is emerging in ecommerce in Canada - small to medium-sized online stores are following major ecommerce retailers and moving into brick and mortar spaces.
An example of this is StickerYou, a global e-commerce leader in die-cut sticky products, including stickers, labels, iron-ons and temporary tattoos.
The company will be among the first in the highly-competitive, largely ecommerce-based industry to move into a physical store.
“About eight or nine years ago, we saw that ecommerce was really the future and that you could sell anywhere around the world, you could create the technology. People could order and it would get shipped directly to them,” said Andrew Witkin, the company’s founder and CEO. “We still think that’s incredibly powerful but one thing looking at the future we sort of look at retail differently than maybe it’s kind of been interpreted in the past.
“We actually believe as a company that more like traditional retail we can actually launch a retail store that is different than any other retail store in the world. We would basically be the first dedicated sticker store in the world for purely stickers. Think of about a thousand different stickers in the store. High quality stickers. The kind you might see on people’s laptops or cars or water bottles. They’re all from different artists and different types of themes . . . Given different people’s lifestyles, there will definitely be one if not many different types of stickers that they would find appealing. There’s enough breadth there that it would be quite the experience they would not be able to find anywhere.”
Witkin said StickerYou is currently in final negotiations for a lease to open a store before the end of the year in Toronto.
“Our plan is definitely to do more than one store but that to start from one store, learn from the user experience at that store, how people interact with it, what people want and need, the kind of space we need in the location,” he said. “We’ll look at the first six months as being that evolutionary almost like a test phase and based on what we learn we would then either evolve it to a larger store or a different format and/or also start to expand to other cities.
“We might want to do one or two stores in the city but we don’t look at this as being 10 or 20 stores in a city. It’s a destination to go to in a city and we think with learning from the first store we’ll be able to do that in multiple cities.”
The company’s ecommerce website was launched in 2010. The company is based in Liberty Village in Toronto.
“We built a proprietary ecommerce platform for die-cut products. They include things like die-cut stickers, die-cut labels, decals, separate tattoos, badges, patches. Not that we did all those in 2010. We started with stickers but the technology that we built allowed people to go onto our website, design a sticker, or upload a logo and get a die-cut sticker of it and we can produce that probably more affordably, if you’re ordering let’s say short run, than anyone in North America because we’ve automated a lot of the production process for making that product,” said Witkin.
The company is a vertical one both producing the product and retailing it at the same time which allows StickerYou to produce it and price it affordably. Unlike some retailers who have a supply chain that stretches out overseas, StickerYou can update and refresh its merchandise based on what’s selling and what’s trending in the market. And it can do that weekly.
“That’s one more reason people might find it experientially a lot more fun to come because you’re always going to see stuff that’s new. The other dimension to the store is we also want to inspire you on the kinds of things you can do with cuts and products via StickerYou,” said Witkin.
“So we’ll not only give you an ability to test out the product and see the quality of the materials we use and how they can be applied to wood or cement or plastic or glass to know they’re a good quality but we also show you different types of things that people can make for their business, for their organization, for their lifestyle. And I think once people see the power of what they can do on a customized basis it inspires them to make things that are very important to their life and order those. But they just kind of need to get a stimulation to it.”
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary has 37 years of experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, city and breaking news, and business. For 12 years as a business writer, his main beats were commercial and residential real estate, retail, small business and general economic news. He nows works on his own as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training. Email: email@example.com