Makers want an easy to navigate online shop for their customers that showcases their art in the best possible way as well as a backend that is easy to add their inventory to, track orders & requests from, and ship out completed sales. They also need to keep their costs down as we looked at in the last blog post (Cost of Being a Maker) because they have a high overhead to start with.
Having a technical background and knowing my way around the Internet & social media has given me an advantage in the online marketplace. Etsy was not a good fit for my shop as it doesn’t offer flexible features, it’s clunky, & the rates are high.
I built my own online shop at my own domain (Nerd Girl Yarns) early on but retained a small Etsy shop for odd lots & handspun. There is still something to be said about a social marketplace & I didn’t want to lose the extra exposure that having one gives me.
At Maker Faire KC I had the chance to meet Riane Menardi from Goodsmiths. We spent time talking about the needs and wants of makers in an online marketplace as well as what we expect to get for our costs. It was a very positive conversation and I have a lot of hope riding on Goodsmiths.
Goodsmiths is a startup from Iowa that is building an online marketplace for makers. Still in Beta, they are working through bugs, adding features, and listening to feedback. They are still a very young company and are growing literally on a minute by minute basis. They are very enthusiastic about what they are doing and you can’t help but get swept up in the excitement.
I set up an account with them the other day and ran into a page display problem. I sent them an email with details on my monitor/resolution/OS/browsers and had a reply within minutes. Already the customer service is superior. They fixed the bug in no time flat and I went about creating my profile and setting up a new shop.
Setting up the shop was very easy as was adding an item. Some of my favorite features they currently offer:
- Dwolla, a payment processor as an alternative to Paypal in addition to the ability to offer Paypal.
- Built in hooks for G+, Twitter, Pintrest, and Facebook
- Group Offer – a sale maker for items/multi items that require a set number of people to buy in. It’s pretty cutting edge for maker markets – read more about it here.
- No listing fees and low transaction fees. They don’t make money until you do so they really want to help their sellers succeed.
- Import CSV capabilities to transfer your existing inventory from Etsy
- The interface is slick! Clean and modern, it’s the easiest to navigate backend I have used in an online marketplace yet.
What they are working on that I hope to see soon:
- Coupon/discount codes
- Ability to include international shipping rates
- More room for detailed shop policies & return policies
- Additional category hierarchy for more specific browsing and listings: for example, I can list my handspun as yarn but it can only be listed as either Supplies: Yarn (mostly commercial yarns listed there), Knitting: Supplies or Crochet: Supplies. Since my yarn is handmade I would like to have it out of the general supplies so it isn’t so mushed into commercial items however, I don’t like being limited to only knitting or crochet.
My dream feature list for an online marketplace would also include (and I would be more than willing to pay fees for):
- Ability to easily include links to seller blogs, mailing lists, and communities like Ravelry in the shop information sidebar.
- USPS on demand shipping rates through the USPS API instead of or in addition to hand coded shipping rates on each item.
- Searches initiated while viewing a shop would list search results from that shop above additional results from the rest of the marketplace to keep shoppers in the original shop as long as possible.
- Ability to have a drop down to include variations/options for products rather than separate listings for say the same shirt in blue, pink and red.
- The ability to theme my shop – even just tiny customizations so as to not lose the community feel the marketplace has.
They seem to have a good balance of a social marketplace but not so over the top that it immediately takes sales away from individual shops.
My Etsy shop is maintained as an independent label for my handspun, odd lots, and test bases. Rather than renew my expired listings with Etsy (Etsy charges you a fee to list each item and all quantities so they have a set expiration date) I am moving them over to my new Goodsmiths shop and updating my links to bring customers over.
I will keep you posted on my experience but honestly, I have already started referring crafters to them. Compare rates for similar products here with their handmade fees calculator.