But there’s a new startup in NYC catering to more discerning independent retailers. With Tictail, vendors can create unique online stores that don’t look like they’re part of a larger network. It’s kind of like Tumblr for online retail — you create an account, choose from a variety of templates to customize your page, and upload items one by one.
Tictail got its start in May 2011 in Stockholm, Sweden, and recently set up another office in New York City, CEO and cofounder Carl Waldekranz told Betabeat in a phone interview. They now have more than 40,000 active storefronts across 110 countries. Fifteen percent of their merchants are American.
So far, they’ve mostly focused on the merchants, but are now striving to make the Tictail experience better for consumers by working on a mobile app.
“The brands we’re targeting are microbusinesses,” he said, “companies that are smaller than 10 employees. A lot of these stores are first-time online sellers. What this means is that each product is not available anywhere else online.”
What really differentiates Tictail from bigger retail networks is their brand-first approach, Mr. Waldekranz said. “eBay and Etsy are a marketplace. They’re just pure marketplaces. Marketplaces are good to drive traffic, but they will take your product and put it next to your biggest competitor. They’re solely based around search and category. We realized as a small brand, one of the most important values you have is your brand.”
The Swedish retailer Cheap Monday, whose goods are now sold at Urban Outfitters, was one of Tictail’s first clients.
“With them, it was pretty clear — we want to combine marketing and ecommerce, and we want to combine customer relations and build brand loyalty,” he said.
Lufthansa Airlines also used Tictail for a popup store — and the startup hadn’t even reached out to them to tell them about their services.
“I just saw [that Lufthansa was using Tictail] in my Twitter feed,” Mr. Waldekranz said.
The startup has two main revenue streams: paid add-ons for merchants’ stores, and transaction costs for the purchases they drive.
Tictail’s new New York office is located on Broadway in NoHo. The group is also celebrating a Series A funding round, having raised $8 million, led by Thrive Capital. Thrive also led their first round of fundraising on Kickstarter, he said.
“I really feel at home already,” Mr. Waldekranz said of the move to NYC. “You meet such brilliant talent, it’s crazy.”