Zibbet is an online marketplace where I've chosen to set up shop to be a part of what I hope will be their eventual success. They are a small but growing venue and everyone has to start somewhere - myself included! I've decided I'd rather keep my handmade magnets listed separate from my jewelry and in order to do that I set up shop at http://zibbet.com/ellesbeads. These are the top 5 reasons I chose to experiment with selling on Zibbet:
1. Cost: Overhead costs are important to consider when setting up a business. If you're not making anything, you probably don't have a lot to shell out upfront. Zibbet offers a basic membership for free that includes 25 listings and absolutely no seller's fees after an item is sold. There is also an option for a pro membership with additional features that's only $7/month for those who sign on during its beta/infancy stage. We all know I'm all about the inexpensive and free tools and this seems to fit the bill! (See the underlining in the image below for some of my favorite tools and check out http://www.zibbet.com/sell for more detailed information.)
2. Newness: There are pros and cons to this point so weigh them for yourself and see what you think. Sites like Etsy are so difficult for new sellers to get noticed unless you're selling a product that virtually no one else is selling. For someone like me whose primary products are jewelry and accessories, it's extremely competitive. Since Zibbet is a newer site, it's easier for your items to be found among the listed products - it's like buyers are searching for your products in a lake instead of an ocean, if that makes any sense. The downside? There are more people who know about Etsy than who know about Zibbet so the traffic to Etsy's site in general is higher. I think this can be overcome though by putting forth the effort to promote. Etsy's features like forums and teams are also already established. (I do want to note though that they are ahead of ArtFire right now with respect to the shop rearranging feature.) I'm staying connected with Zibbet staff via annoucements, emails back and forth (some personal, some not), and conversations on Twitter and I will be evaluating the features they roll out in 2010. If you're not ready to sign up with them and watch the unrolling of new features for yourself, stay tuned and I'll let you know what I think of them! (As you know, I'm never shy of an opinion!)
3. Ease: It's very easy to set up shop. It's not quite as concise as ArtFire's one page listing system but it's certainly a faster process than listing on Etsy. It's nice to be able to upload all of your pictures at once and to preview what your listing's thumbnail will be before you go live with it. I hear that there is an import feature in the works as well. Zibbet makes it pretty easy to see your listings, stats, and sales all in one place. It seems to be seller-friendly in that respect.
4. Community: So far, Zibbeters have been communicating off-site via a Zibbet Ning community. The community seems to be generally pleasant, supportive of each other, and interested in networking.
5. Staff: Yesterday there was a bug in the system that incorrectly informed a whole lot of us that our accounts were past-due and that we needed to pay up to unfreeze our accounts. While this upset me at the time, the staff reacted quickly and had apologized to me via "form" email, Twitter, and a personal email within a few hours. I appreciated this kind of personal service and it made me more comfortable about dealing with them in the future. Any new site is going to have glitches (well, established ones will too) - it's not if, but when. It's how they deal with those bugs that determines whether or not they're going to be easy to work with when something goes awry. The staff is also very open to suggestions and constructive criticism and is willing to promote individual sellers and products when given the opportunity. For example, when I've tweeted about my magnets, they've RTed (retweeted) my messages to their followers. There is an opportunity for sellers to get featured on the site, which will likely increase in visibility now that they're unrolling a weekly email feature. The staff truly seem like a great bunch of folks who genuinely care about the success of the community and I really hope their venue takes off if for no other reason.
Now I have heard that there are problems with the Zibbet check-out process that they are working through as you're reading this. So far I haven't purchased anything from there, but I will let you know what I find out in terms of that process. In the meantime, check out the site, visit my shop, and let me know what you think in the comments. I'd especially love to hear about your experiences if you are/were a seller or shopper there.
I've just found out while writing this entry that they're offering a free 30 day Premium trial so if you're interested in Zibbet, set up an account and upgrade using the coupon code 30FORFREE. Be sure to tell them Elle sent you! (No I'm not asking you to email them and tell them I referred you, though that would be kind of cool. What I really mean is, if you sign up for Premium membership via my referral link it helps give me credit towards eventually one day having a free account - so help a sister out and if you sign up for one, please do it via http://www.zibbet.com/ellesbeads/sell. Then contact me to let me know so I can feature your new premium Zibbet shop on my blog and let my tweeps know you're open for business!)
*I also want to note here for artisans that it's VERY important not to put all of your eggs in one basket - or to be more clear and less cliche, it's always better to have at least two venues you use for selling your wares. This can be your own website complete with a shopping cart and items listings plus an online marketplace or it can be two marketplaces (or more). This is important because you can never anticipate what's going to happen with a particular venue and you don't want your business to tank because you temporarily lost all of your selling ability. For example, quite a few people lost their eBay power seller accounts at the end of 2009 because of flagged listings on Half.com (a sister site). At least one or two people reported losing thousands of listings. You want to make sure that you have products on different sites in case for some reason, legitimate or not, your account is suspended, the website crashes, the site owners run out of capital and have to shut down, etc. It's better to be safe and diversify than lose your customer base because they can't get to your products! Setting up shop in a site like Zibbet that offers a basic account with no fees can be a way to do this without any additional cost to you. Keep this in mind when shopping around for the best venues to meet your needs!*
Until next time,