Looking back, and forward.

Unless you spent 2022 hiding under a rock (we wouldn’t blame you), you might have heard we started offering premium phone cases. The cases are tough (confirmed through more than a few drops in our personal testing), the printing is sharp, and the price is right. It’s our first new on demand product after apparel, but it won’t be our last. 😉

In user account land, we also consolidated payments, added a balance view, plus whole new sections dedicated to managing discounts and notifications. Speaking of discounts, we restored the friends and family discount and started handing out free shirt and phone case codes like candy (candy that you earn by selling, uh, lots of other candy). We revamped our discount engine as well to share the load and offer more of everyone’s favorite promotion, free shipping.

The public site received some love as well with searching, filtering, and sorting for stores and featured products for premium stores. The home page got a slight tweak to increase emphasis on our favorite products. (New stuff is great! But we have 10 years of amazing designs that deserve to be seen.)

In one of our favorite developments, we kicked off this very email which enjoyed a strong six month run last year and is now entering a second healthy season of sharing updates with all of you lovely people.

What’s new in 2023? 🥳

The Beta List

When we rolled out phone cases last year, we issued a call for some courageous early adopters to help us test things before they were ready for prime time. That worked so well, we want to expand and improve that program. If you are interested in being the first to know about (and trial) new products, reply to this email. Before we make something available to everyone, we want your feedback on the product quality, the website interface, etc. As a bit of a preview, we are planning one major new product category this year plus 2–3 smaller product introductions from our existing partners. Space is limited, we are not going to be able to accommodate everyone.

Stock Products for All

If you’ve ever seen a sticker on Cotton Bureau, or an enamel pin, or a poster, a mug, or fancy socks, you might have wondered how you could get in on that. Until now, we haven’t been ready to open up stock products to everyone. That changes this year. If you are interested in selling something that isn’t available through our on demand program, email us. We’ll walk you through everything, it’s super simple.

There are some costs with stock products, so let’s get that out of the way.

  • Product setup (including assistance with procurement) is $49 and includes one free product photo.
  • You gotta actually buy all that product. Prices vary, of course.
  • Accounts with at least one stock product are just $5 / month, deducted automatically from your existing sales.
  • All stock product accounts include $5 of free product storage per month which is enough to cover hundreds of enamel pins, thousands of stickers, or an entire department of designers with notebooks, pens, and prints.

The Inevitable Price Changes

Effective immediately, on demand apparel prices have been bumped up a few bucks. You don’t need to do anything. Retail prices on the site have been updated by the same amount, so your margin hasn’t changed. If for some reason you prefer to reduce your cut, feel free to reach out to us. You can do that directly in your account, or we can handle it for you. At this point it is our hope (and expectation) that inflation has eased enough that when we sit own to review the global economy in January 2024 no further changes will be necessary.

No increase has been made to phone case prices as that product was introduced late enough in the world-wide inflation cycle that our costs were fully known.

For those of you with stock products, a slight adjustment to our fulfillment fees is coming there as well (effective February 1). We’ll be emailing you all separately about those changes.

Finally, after 6+ years of free storage for stock products, our warehouse costs have increased to the point that we are no longer able to avoid charging for inventory management. Again, for anyone with stock products, those prices and more information will be communicated directly. Our intention is only to cover our costs on those items, so prices should be minimal.

What Else?

It’s not our habit to pre-announce features as the exact timing can be difficult to nail down and the scope can shift significantly during development. However, there’s something to be said for a little look ahead every so often.

Philosophically, we divide our time roughly equally between maintenance, quality of life / site features, and new product development (e.g. phone cases). We’ve already mentioned the plan to onboard one major new partner this year with an entirely new product category. While we don’t want to get into too much detail, it’s going to be a pave-the-cowpath sort of product. We’ve offered items like this as stock products before. Now we’re taking the next step to make it available on demand.

On the maintenance side, there are a number of behind-the-scenes tasks that aren’t of interest to anyone except perhaps other developers. We’ve got servers and libraries to upgrade plus a few crusty bits of code to whip into shape. Boring stuff like how product images are generated and stored over time becomes a drag on more exciting things we would like to do.

Other than that, some much requested smaller features are on the docket (ahem, multiple print locations) along with a few fun customer-focused ideas, and, if the stars align, maybe one idea that has been on the to do list for 10 years will finally happen.