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Online Stationery Business: Market Overview & Analysis


There is something special about stationery ― beyond the utility. Yes, for children, it can be a medium of expression, a colorful possession of value, or simply something that their peers own. But even for some adults it is the allure of possibilities, a window to their creativity, or maybe a throwback to their childhood ― just type in #stationeryaddict on a social platform like Instagram, and you’ll be bombarded with over 3 million posts of confessions and proud auditions for their love. Wait, there are even quotes on the topic! 

“There was something very comfortable in having plenty of stationery.”– Charles Dickens.

For something so desirable for a significant number of people, eCommerce offers a convenient shopping opportunity. So let’s focus on the business side of the argument. In this blog let’s read how to start online stationery business, and give all such users (and a lot more) ― a platform to buy stationery online.


What is the future of the Online Stationery Industry? 

According to Mordor Intelligence, the global stationery and supplies demand in the global stationery market is evaluated at USD 145.21 billion in 2024. It is projected to grow by a CAGR of 4.2%, to an estimated figure of USD 178.63 billion by 2029. These are positive growth numbers. 

The Demand 

Region-wise, traditionally well-performing markets for this industry like The US, Japan, and UK are the biggest markets in their respective regions ― and they continue to do well. Asia Pacific as a whole is the best performing owing to increasing emphasis on education, and favourable economic growth in many countries for these regions. For instance, China and India. Also a notable mention for the Middle East and Africa region, which have been growing in recent years.  

Sub-Niches in the Industry 

Since specialized stores attract a specific audience, positioning the brand of online business is easier. For instance, popular online stationery players worldwide have captured a share of the market with their business, by adopting this strategy

Some popular sub niches in this industry are art supplies, B2B Stationery, Paper Supplies, Office Stationery, packaging material, computer stationery, paper jewelry, luxury (designer, collectible, branded, and more) stationery, print-on-demand, and more. 

Upcoming Sub-Niche for Markets in The West

In Western markets like the US, Australia, UK, and others, the consumption of utility stationery items is more in B2B spaces like office supplies. But due to the increased use of digital media, (online only) B2C stationery businesses can be more creative. Since in this domain, stationery finds more traction with hobbyists and artists alike. 

Here, online stationery businesses that cater to the needs of this target audience have more chances of getting success fast. Some sub niches are Art collectible, print-on-demand, and luxury stationery. One of the better examples of an online business based on such a theme is Redbubble. Let’s analyze this business 

Online Stationery Business Case Study: Redbubble (Australia)

What is Redbubble?

Redbubble is an online stationery marketplace founded by Martin Hosking, Peter Styles, and Paul Vanzella in the year 2006. It is one of the biggest online eCommerce marketplaces in Australia. 

Best understood, Redbubble is an Etsy for stationery products and more. It connects artists and other users to sell their creative ideas to the audience of the platform. The business uses a variety of home and office stationery products, clothing, accessories, and more to print their creatives and ship them to the buyers.

How Do Online Stationery Businesses like Rebubble Work?

The curious case of the Redbubble business model 

Fundamentally, an online stationery marketplace brings together sellers and buyers looking for books, reading materials, and stationery goods on a common platform. The primary goal of such online businesses is to connect enthusiasts with the products they seek, facilitate transactions, and provide a convenient and smooth shopping experience.

Specifically, Redbubble works on a C2C business model. A C2C or consumer-to-consumer business model is when the sellers and buyers are similar individuals. In other words, the sellers are not retail businesses. On Redbubble, the sellers are typically solopreneurs or artists. So it’s easy for individuals to simply sell their ideas on the platform.

Here’s how online stationery businesses like Redbubble works:

  • The marketplace platform has been set up by the business owners. They also set up the infrastructure to support the operations of a multivendor platform. This includes third-party printing services and a set of plain products. 
  • Individuals or businesses interested in selling their designs, register on the marketplace as sellers. They upload their designs on the dedicated virtual storefront on the platform. 
  • Buyers visit the marketplace to explore a wide range of designs on offer. They can use search filters, tags, categories, and keywords to find specific items or discover new designs of interest.
  • Once buyers choose the respective design and the product they want to print it on, they can proceed with the checkout process. After they fill in the necessary details, the transaction gets initiated on the platform. 
  • Once the transaction is complete, Redbubble prints the chosen design on the product of choice, and ships them to the buyer.

Start an Online Stationery Business like Redbubble

Revenue Streams for Redbubble

Let’s first examine the revenue streams of the multivendor business.  On a fundamental level, all multivendor businesses have these three (primarily) approaches to revenue generation:

Subscription: The business charges sellers a periodic fee in exchange of advantages like premium services, lower shipping rates, or extensive support.

Sales Commission: The sellers are charged a percentage or fixed amount of each successful purchase made through the eCommerce platform.

Ad Revenue: The business can monetize its website assets i.e. It generates income by displaying seller advertisements on its website or mobile apps. 

While these are the primary options available to all businesses, Redbubble does things differently. Since sellers on the platform are selling intangible products, so this gives the business the flexibility to tailor revenue structure considering multiple business objectives. 

So this is how Redbubble earns: Since the inventory is managed by the business itself, the transaction amount transferred by the buyer includes profit on the sale of inventory. Redbubble is already earning revenue from the sale of its inventory. From this amount, it then releases payment for the sellers. In a way, it works as a reverse commission. (Business → Sellers) 

Furthermore,  Redbubble has a three-tiered pricing plan for its sellers. 

1. Redbubble Standard 

2. Redbubble Premium 

3. Redbubble Pro

By default, the sellers are categorized into Redbubble standard. For these account holders, there is a flat account fee charged on the payment released by Redbubble. However, this is exempted for the premium and pro plan holders. These are again kind of subscription plans but work in a reverse manner. The sellers are automatically upgraded to premium and then further to pro, based on their performance. 

Some of the trends shaping the industry are as follows. These can be guidelines for how to start online stationery business. So upcoming online stationery businesses can consider as follows: 

  • Personalization: Consumers are increasingly drawn towards personalized stationery. This is in turn done using engravings, prints, and other methods. These serve personal use and gifting purpose as well. 
  • Sustainability: The visible changes in global weather patterns and the awareness being created by media have led consumers to prefer sustainable products. For instance, Sproutworld sells pencils that can grow into a tree when planted. 
  • Innovation: Evolving manufacturing practices and design ingenuity have continued to introduce innovation in the stationery industry. This has helped this industry to produce more capable products. 
  • Reintroduction of obsolete products: As discussed earlier, stationery products find traction with an audience seeking to reconnect with their childhood. As a result, stationery from earlier generations is being reintroduced for the masses. For example, fountain pens and typewriters
  • Increased interest in art supplies: There is increased interest in art not just as a hobby but also for its therapeutic benefits. Hence the market continues to gain with continued product launches in the domain and sustained demand. 

Wrapping Up

Online channels have enhanced the appeal of a legacy business i.e. stationery products. While the utilitarian aspect has decreased due to reliance on digital products, an increasing population coupled with an increased focus on education in some parts of the world has meant that the industry continues to post healthy growth numbers in most world regions. 

Moreover, factors such as increasing predilection for art, personalized stationery, and others have accelerated the growth. Additionally, for sellers, both offline and online, this still is a business with a relatively low barrier to entry. With both a healthy demand and supply in place, starting online stationery business is a lucrative business opportunity. 

However, an entrepreneur considering to start online stationery business will need to carefully analyze the changing market dynamics, and plan accordingly. Redbubble is an inspiring example of ingenuity, where by adding the print-on-demand context to regular stationery items, they have taken the business to great heights. 

For your business venture, YoKart can be your ideal choice to get started with. It is a leading turnkey eCommerce marketplace software designed to help SMBs to large enterprises build, launch, and succeed in the online stationery market hassle-free.

Unlock Your Business Revenue Potential With YoKart


Q. What are the key trends shaping the stationery industry?

Ans: The key trends shaping the industry are: 

– Personalization of stationery items.  

– Sustainability as a priority.

– Innovation in products due to modern manufacturing and design ingenuity. 

– Reintroduction of vintage products.

– Increased interest in art supplies.

Q. How to start an online stationery business?

Ans: You can start an online stationery business by using a turnkey eCommerce solution. YoKart is a leading readymade solution with plug-and-play functionality that allows you to get started quickly and cost efficiently.

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