Clothing supplier Clothes2order has invested £250,000 in a venture which enables clubs, online communities, charities, trade associations and designers to sell their own branded merchandise via the Trafford Park firm’s website.
The initiative has got off to a flying start with more than 1,500 online merchandise stores created so far, selling t-shirts, hoodies, caps, bags, vests and sweatshirts.
They include soul/funk group Shalamar, bloggers, sports teams and Facebook communities of witches and gaming ‘clans’. Orders have come from across the globe.
Michael Conway, managing director of Clothes2order, said: “The stores are proving very popular, as organisations with limited funds and little storage space no longer have to estimate demand and lay out large sums on stock.
“All items are produced on demand, and it’s a way for groups and individuals to monetise their brands as they can set their own prices.
“For example, if a sports team gets to a cup final and wants to sell t-shirts, all they have to do is set up a store and share the link with their supporters.
“Similarly, the same is true for organisers of pop festivals and campaigns.”
One of the most successful merchandise stores to date was for the second annual National Women in Engineering Day in June.
The event was established in 2014 by the Women’s Engineering Society to encourage more females to consider the profession as a career.
Supporters bought nearly 200 t-shirts through Clothes2order to promote the campaign, including companies and organisations such as the Science, Engineering, Manufacturing and Technologies Alliance and the Royal Academy of Engineering.
Mr Conway added: “We are delighted with the response so far to our initiative, which helps us to improve our service to a growing customer base.
“We have done it to solve the problems of someone in a group or organisation having to gather sizes and payments from individuals, wait for there to be sufficient demand, and then place a bulk order.
“The merchandise stores are free to set up and easy to use. They are mobile and tablet-friendly, and orders can be placed at any time and for just a single item if people wish.
“The stores can offer designs on up to 400 different items of clothing. It’s quick and easy and provides a 24-hour service.”