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So you want to sell your craft items, art or fashion? There's a big, wide world market out there that you're itching to sell your wares to. But how do you do it?
Progressing on from my last post, I thought I'd share some info I've dug up for those of you in the same position. This advice is based on my own experience and research and will be especially helpful for those small scale sellers... This post will focus on selecting the right online interface, but I'll also take you through all the other aspects involved. Keep in mind that I'm still learning too and I am by no means an expert - but I do spend a ridiculous amount of time on the net researching - which I know many people don't have the chance to do. So here are the pro's and con's of Ebay, Bigcartel, Etsy and Google Checkout:
The internet veteran is still a popular site for many people to sell their wares. No longer just restricted to auction bidding, sellers can create an online storefront and set "Buy It Now" prices to bypass the auction process.
Popularity: Leader Set Up Cost/Fees: Ebay sellers subscribe monthly as well as pay various fees - check out the full details here or here (US). Benefits: Because Ebay is so well known, your store stands a better chance of getting noticed. Lots of options are available to customise your store and the way you sell. Fallbacks: Ebay is open to selling anything, so it's huge. Good tagging, keywords and descriptors will help people find your products, but you have a lot of competition. Plus the costs involved can be a bit tricky. www.ebay.com
Best known as the simple shopping cart for indie stores (music, artists, bands etc). The site is geared towards small time artists with a focus on ease of use and friendly help. Bigcartel allows you to add a storefront to your website rather than redirecting you to a community site.
Popularity: Well Established Dark Horse Set Up Cost: Free to set up (basic 5 product store), pricing plans starting from $9.95 a month. Fees: No listing fee or sale commission. Benefits: Having a store front on your own website allows you to have complete control over what you sell. Priced plans give you more control, stats and up 100 products to sell. It's month-by-month so no contracts to lock you in - upgrade or downgrade to suit your needs. If you sell a lot, the monthly fee can be very cost effective as opposed to listing fees & sales commissions. Fallbacks: You'll have to spend a lot of time/effort generating traffic to your website since you aren't part of a wider community site. Listing fees/Sales commissions work out cheaper if you're not selling much. www.bigcartel.com
Etsy has grown exponentially lately and is a force to be reckoned with. The site is dedicated to handmade items (and genuine vintage pieces). Thanks to a resurgence in custom, handmade goods there are many success stories here. Great community feel and the passion is evident.
Popularity: The popular new kid. Set Up Cost: Free to set up. Fees: 20c listing fee and 3.5% sale commission. More info here. Benefits: Etsy has a beautifully designed interface that many people are familiar with. The site also allows you to customise the banner, icon etc to help build your brand. There is a strong community on here and loads of advice, articles, interviews. Fallbacks: You won't be able to list anything that isn't handmade or genuinely vintage.
Google Checkout is another shopping cart, but doesn't provide an interface you place on your website. There are many providers utilizing Google Checkout to make it easy to use (i.e. FatFreeCart), but if you know a bit of HTML/PHP Google provides resources for you to integrate the checkout into your website.
Popularity: Building momentum. Set Up Cost: Free to set up. Fees: 30c per transaction plus 1.9-2.9% sale commission (tiered structure). Benefits: You can be safe and secure knowing your shopping cart is backed by Google. Plenty of tips, tricks and resources to help you along. Fallbacks: Unless you know how to build your own pages to integrate Google Checkout this option can be difficult. Like BigCartel you'll also need to drive a lot of traffic to your site on your own. If you have time and patience, Google offers links to 3rd party developers, software and other management systems.
Weighing up all my options I'm looking to start a basic BigCartel store as my primary store on my website. I also want to join with Etsy to create a secondary store. Because I have next to no start-up capital, opening stores here (under the free set up option) is cost effective until business picks up.
I'd like to list postcards and designer prints on both sites, and then be able to take pre-orders for fine art/giclee prints and limited edition t-shirts on the main storefront. At the moment that seems like the best direction to go in - let's hope it works and I can start to make a living!
Do you use any of these sites (or something I didn't find)? Tell me what you like/dislike. Need more advice or info? Check out Design*Sponge's Small Biz series