Saturday, February 28, 2009

Etsy Alternative #8 - WiNKELF

In this continuing series, we bring you a review of alternative selling venues, website hosting services, shopping carts, and basically anything else that you can use to sell your lovely handcrafted goods. Next up – WiNKELF.

Tagline: Handmade by Thems-Elves.

Company information: Created by a former Ebay “boutique designer.”


“WinkElf is a community of boutique buyers and sellers with a love for all things handmade. Public forums and private groups are available for members to meet, greet and play”

Cost: 2.5% sales commission, not other fees for Basic Shops. Upgrade to front page exposure for “less than a quarter.” All-inclusive featured boutiques are $5 a month.

Features: The shop and go widget: fully functional shopping cart and listing showcase that can be placed on any website you have access to. Search includes by seller or item number options. Integrated social bookmarks, get your own email address, add your own SEO meta-tags if you like, digital listing downloads, and RSVP system for custom requests. For a longer and more detailed list, you can visit their Squidoo lens or FAQ. The forums mention Google Analytics, but there’s no mention of it via the site information or tutorials.

Payment: Integrated with Paypal, but allows sellers to accept different payment types through “direct payment” option. No information on how the bill to the site is paid by sellers.

Community: They’re on twitter. They also have forums, chat, groups, teams (some based on Javascript, which may limit some users). The forums are set up like Etsy’s, only messier.

Customer service: Mailing address, phone, and email contact form all available at one page.

Items that can be sold: They focus on handmade, but also allow supplies and some exceptions to the rule, which have to be listed in a custom store category and not in a site-wide category. No mature items are allowed.

“Everyone is welcome, there are no waiting lists or membership committees to apply to. Registration is free and does not require a credit card. To ensure the safety of our neighborhoods, every member is periodically email and/or telephone verified at no cost to our members.”

General impressions: The sidebars and main page are a little overwhelming. Being used to Etsy may make it easier, but new buyers in general may have sensory overload and not know where to go. The situation with buyers wandering off from the shop when they enter through the shop URL is present with this site as well, in store navigation is not clear.
The listings look like Ebay listings, which may be disconcerting for artists. The idea of the shops being “boutiques” is a bit of a stretch. It is a cheap alternative to ebay stores though with less organization.

Overall, it’s not the easiest site to navigate nor is it the most efficient site design aesthetically. It also, according to Alexa page rankings, has very little traffic (not even in the top 100,000 sites), which hasn’t changed over the course of the past several months to year. It also has only a 1/10 Google ranking. Compare that to Etsy: Alexa 708 and rising, Google 7/10; Artfire: Alexa 36,991 and rising, Google 4/10; Ebay: Alexa 20 and decreasing, Google 8/10.

However, if you have your own domain, their shop and go widget may be the solution to installing a shopping cart and trying to setup listings on your own!

Can anyone share experiences as buyers and/or sellers?


Anonymous said...

The seller customer service is stellar- Samantha has been very efficient in helping me out with issues I had emailed out to here.
My views over at WinkElf have been stronger as my listings age.

Anonymous said...

I would not have thought it was possible to have messier forums than Etsy. They have by far the messiest and most primitive forum system of all the forums I regularly visit.

Brass Monkey Designs said...

Handmade venues are the new black!!! LOL

no thanks said...

As a shopper, I just can't take a site seriously with that name. As a seller, I can't imagine having a shop at a site with that name.

Anonymous said...

I opened my supply shop, AreaCraftyOne on Feb 21 of this year and snagged my first sale today from a customer who didnt hold an account there- she shopped as a guest. How she found me is unknown, but as far as I know, there isnt much traffic being generated by Thems-elves. I have an add up on my blog and I keep listing, and listing away. The sale process itself isnt difficult at all. I just signed in, checked the address to my Paypal invoice, verified the correct payment was sent and took care of my postage as usual. Not too bad, IMHO.

NoWayJose said...


So, who wants to be the first suckerfool to hand over their PayPal info to Etsy Billing?!?!

Hahahaha hahaha hahaaaa omg. I just peed my pants.

They still have their OWN billing system fucked up. EVERY MONTH in the "Bugs" section we see: "WHY DID ETSY CHARGE MY CARD TWICE?!?!" Which is then immediately locked or deleted.

Ya, sure, I'll give you my Paypal info. When hell freezes over.

trusk4u said...

I have a shop at Winkelf and I love it! My views are strong there, almost as good as my Etsy shop and they blew Artfire out of the water. Whenever I've had an issue, they have always been very fast in responding. They offer many features that Etsy does not.The forums may be a mess according to some, but I like the fact that there is not all the bickering and idiotic banter like the etsy forums! And there is not all the commercial crap bleeding in either. I've had several sales so far, so I'm happy.

Anonymous said...

I clikec through this link but this alternative is now shut down:

trusk4u said...

Yes, they have closed. The server was shut down without warning and they have been unable to retreive any data. It's sad because it was a really nice site with tons of potential.