In the last few years, and following a high-profile IPO in April, Etsy has entered the popular imagination as the quainter alternative to Amazon. Instead of books, music, and peanut butter, Etsy features sellers of handmade jewelery, paper goods, and clothing. However, its boost in popularity — even before the IPO — has caused many small-scale and new artisans to complain that the site is oversaturated with sellers.
Fortunately, Etsy isn’t the only online retail space online where buyers can get hand-knit socks or bespoke greeting cards. Several alternatives offer unique benefits for artists and craftspeople who want to sell their creations.
Founded in 2008, ArtFire is one of the most popular Etsy alternatives because it offers easy-to-understand pricing and an active user community. ArtFire also places a strong emphasis on categorizing sellers by type and size. ArtFire’s profile increased after Etsy announced it would allow mass-produced goods, an action that scared some low-volume sellers.
ArtFire is split into different categories (Handmade or Design, for example), many of which are defined by the size of the merchant. Larger stores are found in the Supply” or Commercial categories and kept out of the handicraft-specific sections. The site is known for its stellar customer service and assisting sellers with marketing strategies, such as search engine optimization (SEO). ArtFire even has a toll-free number sellers can call and talk to a human representative.
ArtFire customers don’t have to set up an account to buy items, meaning they only need to input credit card and shipping information. Sellers can chose from commission-only accounts, which allow for 24 active product listings at one time and costs 9 percent per sale (including shipping and processing fees). For a $10 monthly fee, sellers pay a lower commission rate (6 percent) for 500 listings; the $20 monthly plan offers a 3 percent commission rate and 1,000 listings.
Supermarket is a curated e-commerce site that promotes designers, so it focuses on unique high-quality products created by individuals or small firms. Unlike open marketplaces like Etsy and ArtFire, Supermarket’s team actually vets every seller, so sellers have to apply to sell on the site and, of course, must be able to produce great products.
Supermarket has no membership or listing fees, but charges a commission on every sale. This rate is negotiated between the seller and Supermarket, but is usually around 10 percent. Instead of automatically charging sellers after every sale like many other marketplaces, Supermarket bills monthly for the commission made off all sales in a 30-day period. This system, therefore, requires sellers to budget their revenue to pay commissions once a month.
The concept behind MadeitMyself.com is pretty evident from its name — the marketplace focuses on low-volume handicraft sellers. While the site is not as nice-looking as Etsy or Supermarket, its billing system makes it one of the most affordable. Membership is free, sellers pay no listing fees, and there are no limits to the number of listings a seller can have active at once. The site’s only fee is a flat 3 percent commission on every sale. Etsy, by comparison, charges 20 cents to list an item for up to four months and a 3.5 percent commission on each sale.
MadeitMyself.com has other features that it make it unique for sellers. Many merchants like the site because it makes it easy to embed your online store into other websites (like your blog) and it allows sellers to create customizable coupons to promote products. Another favorite feature is a simple negotiation option. If you opt to turn this on, buyers can haggle over the price of items as they would at real-life flea market. And for 49 cents per product listing, the site will promote items, splashing them at the very top of its website and listing them in its Featured Items section.
ICraft is different from many other marketplaces because the site doesn’t charge commission fees. Sellers do have to follow a strict set of rules, however. The site’s focus is on fine art and crafts, so it doesn’t allow for the sale of art supplies, mass-produced items, or vintage products the way Etsy does. Restrictions dictate that each item must be handmade, it cannot be a food or beverage, the seller has to be its creator, and the product must be brand new. Sellers need to upload high-quality photographs of every item and iCraft continually reviews the online stores of its members for quality.
The site’s customer base is in the market for specific crafts, like handmade birthday cards or finger puppets, that might be hard to find elsewhere. The site charges a one-time registration fee of $25 and a monthly subscription fee based on a seller’s number of products: $5 per month for up to 50 items, $10 for up to 100 items, and $15 for unlimited items. Beyond the subscription fees, iCraft doesn’t charge any listing fees or commissions on sales.