A new print-on-demand merchandise platform has swung into production at a Greater Manchester facility after securing £350,000 in an oversubscribed pre-seed fundraising round.
The latest investment in Merchr, which exceeded its initial target of raising £250,000, has enabled its founders to further develop the company’s technology, invest in equipment and recruit more staff to bring its offering to market.
Merchr has been set up by an experienced team backed by Martin Varley, a well-known senior executive in the personalised products industry.
Co-founders Nora Yassin, head of partnerships, and Jack Fox, head of operations, have recruited a 12-strong team of front-end developers, production, marketing and administrative staff for the launch, with plans to grow the workforce in line with the expansion of the business.
Merchr’s senior development team includes Seth Regan as head of technology and development, Sharon Watson as head of production and Sarah O’Donovan as brand and marketing co-ordinator.
The company has offices and a production facility in Middleton, Greater Manchester, and a sales office in Elstree, just north of London.
Merchr helps individuals and groups build their brand and reach new audiences by creating their own merchandise collection to sell to fans, friends and followers in an eco-friendly, risk-free way without the need to hold stock or worry about the logistics of production, printing and shipping.
The platform is aimed at organisations and individuals such as charities, schools, universities and colleges, sportspeople, clubs and societies, visitor attractions, influencers, podcasters, YouTubers, gamers, bands and other artistic performers, as well as online retailers and entrepreneurs seeking additional routes to market.
Merchr’s range of merchandise initially includes hoodies, t-shirts, polo shirts, jackets and hats, tote bags, make-up bags, back packs and messenger bags, power banks and earphones, desk and office items such as notebooks, pens, pencils, pouches and highlighters, water bottles, tumblers and souvenirs.
The platform enables users to create and launch a free online store through the Merchr Hub, where they can design and upload their customised product collections with artwork, a logo, slogan or an image.
Alternatively, they can connect an existing website via Merchr’s integrations with e-commerce platforms such as Shopify and WooCommerce.
Merchandise store owners choose their own prices to cover the cost of each product, printing and drop-shipping by Merchr, plus their own profit.
Once an order is placed, Merchr’s software delivers print-ready artwork directly to the Middleton facility which is equipped with the latest digital printing, direct-to- garment, direct-to-film and laser engraving machinery. Products are dispatched within 24 hours.
Nora said: “Merchr was created on the belief that everyone, no matter what level of entrepreneurial spirit they possess, has the power to design, publish and profit.
“Setting up a merchandise store is free and extremely easy – it can be achieved in less than eight minutes.
“Our team combines decades of experience with integrated technology to provide store owners with products and collections suitable for everyone across all industries. These can be customised, personalised and uploaded on to a new or existing store very quickly.
“We are bridging the gap to make it simple for individuals, groups and organisations to sell their merchandise on a retail basis without the need to hold stock. Many of them cannot afford to buy products in bulk, but Merchr makes selling merchandise accessible for everyone on a print-on-demand basis.
“As we also fulfil the orders by handling all of the packing and shipping, it’s a risk-free solution which is designed for store owners to rapidly scale.”
She added: “Traditional purchasing and retail buying models require large minimum order quantities, and the process of creating, printing and shipping products can take weeks or even months. We’re changing that model.
“Merchr marks a shift from the current wasteful retail structure and minimises the environmental impact. The future of retail is in personalisation and constant innovation. Consumers want products that are tailored to their individual needs and preferences.
“Over the last few years, selling online has become more straightforward and reachable for most store owners. However, very few people have the resources to also be a graphic designer, product creator, merchandiser and technology developer, and that is where our platform and creativity leans in.
“Since completing our initial fundraising, we have invested in developing the platform and technology as well as bringing in the latest equipment and building a dynamic and capable team. We have hit the ground running and look forward to the future with confidence as more and more merchandise stores are opened on the platform.”