Spoonflower weaves its niche in print-on-demand wallcoverings.
When it comes to digitally printed wallpaper, Spoonflower has it covered.
Since last fall, the Durham, North Carolina, company has been pursuing opportunities in the highly specialized market for custom-printed wallpaper. Building on its notable success with digitally printed fabric over the last five years, Spoonflower is looking to adapt that same business model to wallpaper – offering consumers and professionals worldwide the option of choosing from thousands of designs, or uploading their own for custom printing.
“From the very beginning, there have always been people asking if we could print wallpaper, too,” says Stephen Fraser, Spoonflower’s co-founder and co-owner. Since Spoonflower added that capability with relocation to its new headquarters last fall, Fraser estimates that wallpaper now represents 10 percent of the company’s ever-increasing sales.
“It could become as big as the fabric-printing market,” he speculates.
Building a community
In the highly specialized market for digitally printed fabric, Spoonflower’s strategy has been to empower its customers with an outlet and solution for their creativity. Design professionals use Spoonflower for fulfillment services and to market their work, while consumers have the option of choosing from an eclectic catalog containing thousands of their designs, or submitting their own graphics for printing on wallpaper.
Providing the print work, however, is only part of the Spoonflower strategy. It also has tapped into enthusiasm for its services to build an international online community, where designers and consumers can interact, vote on favorite designs, and demonstrate how they’ve used the print services for all types of projects.
The company reaches enthusiasts and potential customers for its services wherever it can find them: with social-media accounts on Facebook, Flickr, and Twitter; on its hosted blog (blog.spoonflower.com) and community forum; and with a series of how-to videos on its YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/user/spoonflowerfabric).
Wallpaper and wall decals are just the latest additions to the service mix, which also includes printed fabric for every conceivable application and even one-of-a-kind gift wrap.
“We’ve got a database of millions of designs, and more than 10,000 visitors to our site every day,” says Fraser. “Whether it’s wallcoverings or printing on fabric, from the designer’s standpoint, it’s all surface design.”
Rooted in POD
Spoonflower’s approach is rooted in print-on-demand (POD) services. Fraser and co-founder Gart Davis were members of the original team that launched and nurtured the early growth of POD innovator Lulu.com.