Print on demand fabric company, Spoonflower, has set up shops on three online marketplaces as a way to expand its reach to new audiences. Spoonflower fabrics are now available on Etsy, Amazon, and eBay. CEO of Spoonflower, Gart Davis, explains the motivation behind having a presence on these platforms this way:

“We observed a few of our designers re-selling on other marketplaces, and when we asked about it, it was clear that this was something that designers really wanted, but was also a major burden for them to manage.” Now, Spoonflower is able to manage it for them.

Designers opt in to having their work included in the marketplaces. “It’s a good idea not to put all your design eggs in one basket,” the opt-in page on the Spoonflower site advises. For designers who choose to have their work listed on the various marketplaces Spoonflower takes care of listing the designs and prints and fulfills each order while paying out the same commission as offered on Spoonflower’s own marketplace: 10% of each sale. Those who opt-in will also have their work available on Spoonflower’s sister sites: Roostery (made to order home goods) and Sprout Patterns (cut-and-sew fabrics).

“Spoonflower has always attracted designers that are entrepreneurial,” says Davis, “and we try hard to watch what people are doing so we can figure out ways to make our service more sympathetic to the ways people are actually using it. We see this expansion as a way to make our service more functional and accessible for our designers and our customers who buy their designs.” The program launched in June to a small number of designers and is now available to everyone.


Many designers are excited about the prospect of having their work listed on so many popular marketplaces with no extra effort. “Joining the Distribution program is a no brainer. It offers no risk to me as a designer, requires no extra effort and results in noticeably increased sales,” says Esther Fallon who sells her designs under the name Nouveau Bohemian on Spoonflower. “It gets my designs seen more frequently, by more eyes, in more places. Quite frankly I love it.” Jessica Prout of Littlearrowdesign on Spoonflower concurs. “Joining the distribution program has increased my sales and brought additional exposure to my designs. I think it is great that Spoonflower offers this program and would recommend it to all fellow designers.”

Not every Spoonflower designer is ready to jump in, though. “I personally never will be [interested], as long as I can’t remove Amazon as an option,” says Welsh Stump. “Too many other people have had their designs immediately stolen by cheap Asian manufacturers and reprinted on pre-sewn items that are now being plastered all over Amazon.” Designer Ariane Urwick wishes Spoonflower would put a watermark over the images in the same way a site like Zazzle does as a way to prevent copying.

Still, Davis says overall feedback has been positive. Over 2,000 designers opted in to distribution to date.

Opening shops on various marketplaces requires learning new rules and regulations and creating images and copy that meet those requirements. Spoonflower has hundreds of thousands of unique listings so the process is rather labor intensive. “There are a lot of rules about being a merchant, and about the way we can list a designer’s work,” Davis says. “We are doing our best to get these right, and that means that we’ve had to ask folks to be a bit patient with us. Our Etsy channel is the oldest and is getting the most traction, but it’s also the most arduous to bring new listings into. It’s easier to list on Amazon, but our presence there is not as mature, so it’s not been as productive. Ebay is a brand new marketplace for us, and it is really still in testing. And we’re testing other options as well; the work here will never really be done.”

Adding new marketplaces as part of a three pronged initiative Spoonflower undertook in 2016 to upgrade services for the design-led small businesses it serves. The first was Spoonflower PRO, a service for small business owners and frequent orderers that boasts free standard shipping worldwide, guaranteed 1-week turnaround time, half price expedited shipping, a dedicated help team, unlimited half-price swatches and swatch samplers all year, exclusive PRO member community forums, and early access to insider news.

The second was an upgrade to the design commissions which included eliminating the waiting period, reducing the payout threshold, moving payouts to every 14 days, and adding a tiered bonus enabling designers to earn up to 15% of retail price.

And the third was the new distribution program to Etsy, Amazon, and eBay with the goal of creating a single point of publishing that can be leveraged across all of the places that people look for fabric on the web.

“The designers that are the most successful are the folks that put effort into good design and understanding what the market is looking for, and then follow through with carefully chosen names and tags. We leverage those efforts as we list designs on external marketplaces,” Davis explains.

“Color and design are wonderfully global; while surface design has many regional dialects, it is a rich pastiche that is appreciated across geographies and cultures. We’ve found that custom fabric customers shop in lots of different ways and frequencies. Some people love the Etsy mobile app and browse there all the time. Others spend all their shopping time on Amazon or Ebay. And then the marketplaces themselves have very different strategies for managing the browsing experience and how things show up in search. Our goal is to make our designers’ work discoverable through a wide variety of shopping pathways.”

Check out the Spoonflower shops on these marketplaces:

Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/shop/Spoonflower
Ebay: http://stores.ebay.com/spoonflower/
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/shops/A2TUDBC6JREHGY

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