November 05, 2013

Where to sell online?

I get asked that question a lot.  I currently have 5 online shops, though I tried some more platforms. Let me guide yout through the plus and minus points of each site. It will reflect my won personal experiences with though sites and might not be representative, so be warned!

I guess it is still the leader in the handmade field though it is losing ground to its competitors quite fast after another batch of policiy changes.
Technically it is still a handmade site, though they did remove the "handmade" part from their logo long ago.

* It is really easy to list, the listing form is simple and the photo uploader works great. You can actually work on your description while the photos are loading.
The uploaded photos look really good (well depending on what you started with , that is ;) ).
* It is pretty easy to manage your shop, your items are easily found, the layout is clear. It'd be nice to be able to search through your ended or unlisted items, but that is not the most vital part of a shop.
*It is now a multi language and currency platform. Though I found sticking to English and us$ works best. I also list in French as it is my mother tongue and doesn't take much effort but I think I only ever got 4 or 5 sales from the French version of my shop. I suppose I could also list in German and Dutch,   but I am not sure it is worth the effort at the moment, given the amount of work involved.
* It is still the place where you'll get the most views even though it takes work (aka listing or relisting very regularly).
* Super easy to copy an existing listing, the photos also get uploaded. Easy to edit too.
* The search engine is efficient.
* Many forms of payments available, Paypal, Direct Checkout, Voucher. Even direct bank payment if you set your shop in Euro.
* The Street Team system is nice. Teams are group of sellers with similar interest/location. I made some good friends there.

* It has become a really unfriendly place. There is no mean of direct communication with the administrators any longer, you only get standard emails from them.
* You have to compete with LOTS of resellers, and I mean lots..sometimes while browsing I really wonder if I got side-tracked to Alibaba. The new policies allowing manufactured items sure won't help.
* The admins have pretty much the right of life or death on your shop. They don't like you, poof, you're gone. That happened to friends, to team members... And you'll get no explanations.
So don't make Etsy your main shop and make sure you get a backup of all your listings and photos.
* It costs 20 cents per listing for 4 months. Doesn't seem much but it can quickly add up if you list a lot.
* Page layout is cluttered with all sorts of useless things, font choice is not ideal (being unreadable with some browers/Windows version).

It is good to have a shop there for visibility but don't make it your main one.

Dawanda is the most direct Etsy competitor. It is based in Europe (Germany). It is on the whole a lot friendlier than Etsy.It is currently my main shop.

* If you are not based in Germany, listing is free (yay).
* It is really easy to manage your shop. You can search active, ended or unlisted items.
* Resellers are a bit less of an issue than on Etsy (though there are still some)
* It is multi language and multi currency. I list in French, German and English there and only use Euro.
* You get personal answers to your inquiries.

* The listing process is loooong. It consists in 3 different pages. First one with title and product description, second one (completely useless one) list your items in categories according to style and material. Most of my stuff doesn't fit in there. Third page is the photo uploader. It works poorly though you can now uplaod all your photos at once. The process is long, you cannot do anything else while waiting and the photos won't load in any specific order which means you'll have to re-order them and thus wait again. Add to that you also have to choose 2 colors most representative of your items, and wait again while page reloads. Long and laborious.
* It is getting better but unless you can list in both French and German, your views will stay really low. Let's face it 99% of my buyers there are either French or German so far. All my items are listed in English too though as I chose the English platform when I signed up for Dawanda. I never tried the zillion other languages, so I have no idea whether those works.
* Their copyright rules are not very clear. OK, I know it is not OK to use copyrighted items but I'd like to know where to stand. Why are my obscure animé characters removed when blatant copyrighted infringement t-shirts are OK and even promoted on the site?
* Doesn't accept direct checkout payment yet.
* Search tool for individual shops doesn't work.

A good site whose main focus is still handmade (with hiccups, granted).

A French platform. Small and friendly. It works fairly well for me.

* Super easy and fast layout to list your items. Everything is on one page like Etsy but works even faster.
* Listing is free.
* Small business, so it is still human sized.
* As the site is not cluttered, you get views with minimal work
* Really handmade, resellers are quickly kicked out.
* Paypal, bank payment, direct checkout.

* In French only. They have a sister site in Italian but it is not yet possible to list in both languages from the same place.
* It is not very easy to search your ended or unlisted items. A minor problem as their listing page is so easy to use, I just make a new listing.
* They change the shop admin layout a bit too often for me and any change you make to your shop (like changing a banner) takes hours to show.
* A bit paranoid about resellers, they still doubt my items are handmade but they haven't closed my shop yet. I REALLY was not happy when I got their mail on the subject. I still didn't comply to their request. I hope they don't close my shop.

A really good site if you speak French.

Storenvy is a free platform where you can sell anything as long as it is legal. Not specifically for handmade items.

* It is free. No listing fee, no fee on sold items. Free. You can buy upgrades but unless you sell a lot, they won't be necessary.
* Nice adminsitration pannel, fairly easy listing manager.
* Lots of views with no promo.

* Paypal only
* Only so-so listing process. Easy but a bit annoying to have to save at every single step. Photos also load at random but it is really quick to re-order them in the desired spots.
* Not possible to remove items from your store in batch. You have to edit every single lsiting one at a time.
* Lots of views but not many sales. It might be because I am based in Europe and Storenvy is really US centered.

Maybe not ideal for handmade items, but free and easy to use and with a growing community.

Probably the friendliest selling venue of them all but also the most amateurish. I opened a (free) shop there long ago but never did  much with it. Views were really poor and I never had a sale. When Etsy made its infamous policy changes a couple months back, I decided to try again, with the paying version this time.

* Friendly. You ask for help, you get help.
* $9.95 per month for unlimited number of items. Free if you choose the basic formula which allows you 50 items.
* You can easily transfer all your Etsy listings there.

* The listing process is just as laborious as on Dawanda. It is obvious you don't pay per listing when you are faced with that antique listing form. It is spread over 2 pages, one for description, one for uploading photos. The description page is OK, not fabulous, but OK (still very annoyed by the 4 stage category thingy, that you have to go through even when copying a listing). The main problem is the photo uploader. Yes, you can put up to 8 photos with a paying account... but you have to upload them one at a time O.o and it's not really quick either. If you are using Internet Explorer it is even longer, as you have to choose the photo you want to upload, then click again to confirm.
* The photos. Zibbet, the land of blur. Unless your photos are the exact size recommended by the site (800X600 px, all of mine are bigger, as most other site won't even let you upload anything smaller than 1000px wide photos) they will appear blurry on the site. So, no your shop doesn't look too good.
* Search tool inside shop doesn't work.
* Poor views. Even with promo views are incredibly low.

So far, into my second month with a paying account, no sale and about 400 views. So unless some Christmas miracle happens, I'll cancel that account soon. Listing takes too long for zero result.

I also tried Artfire but, though views were OK, I only ever had one sale there. A bit like Storenvy I think it is mainly marketing to the US public. And it still looks a bit "cheap" to me despite the changes it went through in the last year.
I had a Big Cartel shop too at one point. But that really didn't fit my need. A bit expensive for a limited number of items, very poor views. Not sure who it is targeting, but it sure wasn't my type of items.
And finally I had a brief stint on Feemain, it really appealed to me as it was a one dedicated person business. But it was too "buddy-buddy", like I had to wait 6 weeks ( yes, 6 weeks) for a payment because they would not cancel my sale because the buyer was a friend of the site owner. I guess that says it all.

EDIT: Not sure why people commenting assume I didn't do any promo for my Zibbet shop when I actually wrote I did...and I did more promo than for any of my other shops in the last month. Still only get about 10 views per day and zero sale.


Annuk said...

Great post, Nathalie!!! No such thing as the "perfect" platform, I guess... I have become really annoyed with Etsy's policies and the site being far from the handmade site I had decided to join almost 4 years ago, and thinking about moving at least part of my items to another, friendlier venue. As you say, having Etsy as your main (or only shop) is not a good choice anymore.

Stephanie Kilgast said...


I have a total of 4 running shops right now. Etsy, Dawanda, AlittleMarket and my own shop on my website.

Reading this I might put a bit more effort in ALM.

I never sold a thing on Artfire haha, so that went down too.
I'm sort of trying to revive Etsy by being more active there and it seems to work. At least there is a relation between new listings and relistings and sales.

Dawanda has been weirdly slow these days, not sure why.

It's sometimes a bit annoying though to be obligated to have so many online shops to make a living out of it. (yes I needed to say that :))


Nathalie said...

I am far from making a living out of this , even with 5 shops LOL

Kakers said...

I don't have any problem with Zibbet's listing process. I suppose the picture listing process could be more streamlined, but I am fine with it especially with all the glaring positives about the site (admin who are genuinely interested in sellers success and listen to what the sellers ask for.) I also don't find my pictures to come out fuzzy at all.

Nathalie said...

Yes, as I said, if your pictures are the Zibbet (tiny)recommanded size, they look fine...mine are all bigger, and thus are blurry in all the thumbnails. I really don't have the time to resize all my photos only for one site that gets me so few views to start with.

LindaSue Stage said...

I love my Zibbet shop. My photos come out looking great. As far as views, I have great views but my items are more ethnic oriented (Native American),so sales are kind of biased. But at least it is still a handmade site and is true to its sellers. No back alley antics. I don't see anyone having major issues but we all WORK it. We don't rely on Zibbet to do the work for us. And there is going to be renovations coming after the new year ....

Unexpected Treasure said...

I have a shop on Zibbet, Artfire and Etsy. Zibbet is by far the friendliest place to sell. The community there is very helpful. And you'll get direct answers to questions, not automated email responses. Probably the best thing about Zibbet is that CEO's Jonathan and Andrew pop into the forums all the time to post and respond! You'll NEVER get that at Etsy.

On the Zibbet downside, the built in traffic isn't there yet but it wasn't there when Etsy first started, either. Be patient. We're on the ground floor of something really exciting. As for the laborious listing process the blogger mentioned, I don't find that to be the case. There's an easy "copy" feature which saves a lot of time!

My Artfire shop just began picking up this year. I don't really spend much time promoting it though. The best thing about AF is that I got in on the $5.95 per month deal for life. I would never close up shop there or I lose that rate. Selling just one item per month covers that fee so I'm staying put there and will put more effort into promoting that shop this year.

The second best thing about selling on Artfire is that buyers don't have to establish an account to purchase there. I love that feature!

As for Etsy, well, what can I say. I started there in Jan. 2010 and did very well. The bulk of my sales were on Etsy. Notice I said "were." That is no longer the case and I'm focusing more on Zibbet and Artfire.

Barbra said...

Sorry to hear you had no luck with Zibbet. I have been there from the start and love it. NO site will bring you sales if you don't promote it and it sounds like you haven't. A rebuild is coming and Zibbet is the place to be.

Nathalie said...

Not sure why people commenting assume I didn't do any promo for my Zibbet shop when I actually wrote I did...and I did.More promo than for any of my other shops in the last month. Still only get about 10 views per day and zero sale.

Barbra said...

Uh, no you didn't say you all!

Knits Knits said...

Sorry you haven't been able to sell on Zibbet, I've been on there for a month and within 5 days I had my first sale. In addition, I've now have a total of 5 sales. What have you done as far as marketing? As for listing, I don't have issues with it and I'm now officially only on Zibbet since I closed my shop on the first one you mentioned which I find them to be a joke. Can't give a company funds who basically mistreats their customers; the shopkeepers.

Knits Knits said...

Correction, I now have a total of 4 sales. Typo on the number. :)

Knits Knits said...

I just want to add that you didn't say you were promoting your Zibbet shop so it's not an assumption, it was based on what you wrote. You have to truly market your shop and Zibbet is the best place to learn how to truly market yourself. Etsy hands you customers on a platter because the customers are on their website but to truly not make you dependent on someone else's venue, you should learn how to truly market yourself to generate your own traffic.

Kakers said...

I don't see any recommended picture sizes on Zibbet. I see a maximum size for the file, and I see it says that the pictures will be shown as a maximum of a certain size. What that says to me is to upload a picture as high quality and large as I want up to 3MB and it will be resized to fit the layout of the page.
As far as why people are assuming you aren't promoting your Zibbet shop, well, personally I found this post from Twitter. On twitter you complain about having to list on Zibbet, you post links only to your items on Etsy, and your website URL in your profile provides only links to your storenvy. I coulnd't even FIND your zibbet shop via your twitter, without first coming to your blog and searching for the link. So no, I do not believe you promote your Zibbet shop much at all. Perhaps you promote elsewhere, but I don't think you can say you have promoted it more if you haven't promoted it at all in at least one place where you promote.

Unexpected Treasure said...

I pinned this item on my Purple Zibbet Board.

I also tweeted a link to your Zibbet shop. Hopefully, you'll get more views that lead to sales. Have a great day!

LindaSue Stage said...

I also tweeted one of your items. You actually have some very cute things at nice prices. But before you can complain that something isn't working, please remember that Zibbet is a commUNITY and many of us work together. Every Thursday I have a Share the LOVE post where everyone can share their FB pages and/or their Zibbet shops. Please feel free to check it out sometime at You are more than welcome to add your ZIBBET shop there, too.