Andrew Witkin is founder and president of StickerYou.
What is StickerYou and can you give me a history of the company?
Witkin: StickerYou is an online platform for ordering custom die-cut products – notably stickers, labels, decals, temporary tattoos, etc. We launched in 2010 in Toronto with the first e-commerce technology that empowered people with an online Sticker Maker to make and order custom die-cut stickers.
Prior to launching, the problem people faced when ordering custom stickers or labels had always been that they had to order minimum quantities beyond their needs or not be able to order die-cut affordably. We built proprietary technology that, over the years, has evolved to allow business and consumers to order in any size, shape or quantity they desire. Our software and automation enables the prices to be one of the most, if not the most, affordable in North America for short-run production.
We offer a variety of adhesive materials for different applications, and different formats such as singles, pages or rolls.
What are your plans for the company and its growth?
Witkin: We have grown nicely over the past eight years, such that we sell online to over 350,000 customers and 85 per cent of our sales are outside of Canada – mainly to the U.S.
We plan to grow via continued product innovation that aligns with our technology so we can offer new die-cut products that offer more value than what most of the market can provide. For example, we recently were the first company in North America to launch a custom die-cut name badge with magnetic backing so that a business (or consumer) can order a badge starting at $10.
We also will grow via our site technology and global expansion. For example, in 2019 we will have a multilingual website so that users in non-English-speaking countries have a better experience using our e-commerce site.
We’re also looking into local continental production as we have in Toronto for North America. Thus, for Europe we’re looking at a European city for our production so we can ship to customers faster.
The third pillar of our growth will be retail.
Why is it important for you to set up a brick-and-mortar presence?
Witkin: We look at retail as a unique extension of our brand marketing, as well as offering a unique retail experience unlike anything else.
We’ll open the first dedicated sticker store in North America and the biggest sticker store in the world with 500 to 1,000 unique stickers from different artists and themes. It will also inspire people with the ways they can customize their own stickers with StickerYou. It will also offer some engagement features unique to stickers that are fun and very Instagram-friendly. We believe the unique merchandise will make the store profitable.
We also see a marketing benefit in the tangible experience the store will offer, of having people touch and feel the quality of stickers and custom products for themselves.
Why has it become a good time to open up a brick-and-mortar location?
Witkin: I believe it’s a good time to open a brick-and-mortar space if your business model supports it. If your brand has qualities to it that can be brought out via a physical store, it might be a good idea to consider.
That, coupled with the closings of numerous stores losing out to e-commerce business has created a dip in retail space rental prices and/or a reduction in the length of lease terms in some areas, which can be an advantage.
As an e-commerce retailer, we see the benefits of having a physical location in which we can create a unique experience for customers. We believe just seeing a variety of stickers all in one location makes the search experience more fun – kind of like how a record store enabled people to browse through albums. It offers people unique impulse sticker merchandise that’s updated weekly, and that we can more affordably bring to market, all in one physical location. The store also allows people to touch and feel the quality of stickers they can order as custom stickers.
A store provides authenticity towards what your brand means and what it can provide people with. We’re using the store as a place to inspire people towards the vast range of ways they can use StickerYou to customize products that are important to them personally, such as hobbies or for business.
What are your company’s plans for the Canadian market?
Witkin: We’re going to launch our first store in downtown Toronto and learn from that experience before we consider other city markets. However, we do plan on expanding beyond Toronto to having a store in major urban city markets in the U.S. and Canada.
– Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi is a veteran Calgary-based journalist who worked for 35 years for the Calgary Herald, including 12 years as a senior business writer.