Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Etsy Alternative #9 - Silkfair

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 –Silkfair.

We had been asked several times to include a review of this site, but we were hesitant because it is more of an eBay alternative as they allow all items, and the front page of the site looks like a yard sale. But it is a free alternative to setting up your own shop, so we’ve spent time with the site to provide you an analysis.

Tagline: Makes buying & selling fun and easy

Company information: It's an LLC.

At Silkfair we aim to be the premier e-commerce site for users to buy and sell their goods online. We are always looking to innovate and provide more great features and tools to our users.

Storefront: Choose what order listings occur in (most recent, oldest), viewers can choose gallery or list, choose whether you want featured items or not. Your own banner and avatar. There is quite a bit of external Silkfair graphics, but you start to tune it out.

Cost: 3% final value fee, no cost to list but you choose how long the listing will be up (120 days default)

Features: Silkfair considers itself to still be in beta and are taking suggestions for category expansions. There is a shop window like widget to show off your shop on your blog or website, a single page listing process, up to 4 photos and/or 2 videos per listing (currently free), no listing or setup cost, set your currency in each listing, shipping and pricing profiles, tax profiles in each listing, many options to choose from to categorize an item and have it found, one page dropdown custom shop category sorting for all items, bulk editing and presets for all listings – it takes a little time to learn what everything is and then it’s simple to just use the options you need on the listing page (depending on what you sell). Upload your items to Google Base via a link on the account page.


Payment: Fully integrated with Paypal and Google Checkout, has a check box for RME and other cash options so your buyers can use whatever you feel comfortable with.

Community: Feedback and favorite system; forums; member blogs

Customer service: A number of email addresses for different queries, twitter and facebook contact, mailing address all available from their contact page. Does anyone have any experience with Silkfair CS that they can share?

Items that can be sold: Anything except those that are illegally prohibited, including copyrighted items as your own. Mature items are allowed, though there’s a checkbox when listing to allow buyers to sort them out if they wish.


General impressions: There’s a learning curve for listing and setting up shop, but it’s a nice alternative to moving back to eBay. It’s not a handmade environment, though those listings are favored on the front page sidebar. If you only want to pay when you’ve sold something, then Silkfair is an option. You’ll have your own address (username.silkfair.com) to promote, but buyers may easily escape to other parts of the site, though not as easily as they would on Etsy.

Find out more in the FAQs

31 Comments:

Julie said...

I had my first sale on silkfair, and was a bit confused. I had to go in and 'capture' the payment, and wasn't sure how to close it in the invoices. I contacted silkfair on twitter with my questions and they responded in email right away.
I think it could turn out to be a good place.

The Funny One said...

Silkfair also has a widget to transfer your Etsy listings into your Silkfair store, which is easy to do once you understand the formatting that must be done (pricing, sizing and shipping have to be standardized for the products you load). Each listing must be checked and edited after loading, but because your photos go with this widget, it ends up saving lots of time.

I've tried them twice, once a year ago and once over this last xmas season. They just don't get any traffic, none, nothing, zip.

And, their current list of stores are a real hodgepodge and look it, from the front page right on throughout the site.

The biggest issues with Silkfair applies to all the other-than-Etsy sites. It depends what you sell. If the site has enough positives, try it out. Especially since so many of them are still offering free listings.

And don't get hung up on the "Etsy has the highest traffic" dictum. If you ARE NO LONGER SELLING anything on Etsy because you are not a favorite store that gets promoted constantly-------then what the hell does it matter?

For many stores on Etsy, even the "high traffic" no longer gets to your store because you are one of 3.5 million items, and if you aren't on the front page selling Etsy Trends, then you get lost fast.

The new sites need time and sellers, but they do have one big plus right now. They are small compared to Etsy. Buyers CAN FIND you a lot easier than on Etsy. Most of them have great customer service that treat their sellers with respect. And some sites are still small enough that you will be seen on the front page every time you list a new item.

Try it, it may work for you. Etsy is not the answer if you not selling what Etsy promotes.

And let's face it, rules are not rules on Etsy, no one knows what's going on half the time, and their customer service sucks.

the jewelry :ninja! said...

Silkfair CS that they can share?

they're customer service is wonderful! you can ask in the forums, and they tend to answer within a couple hours! i asked something of them on twitter the other day, and as soon as they got back online (they were taking a break) they sent me to the right place, complete with links and a forum post about it.

also, they're working on getting custom shop html up and working. it's in beta right now (like the rest of the site), but if you post in the forum thread saying you want to try it out, they give you a passcode so you can access that part of the shop management tools. the html is super simple, and the CSS is centralized on one of the pages. you can add widgets, other html, whatever in there, and as far as i've noticed, unless you coded it wrong, it'll work fine.

i made mine match my blog, and once they get the html out of beta, i'm not planning on directing people to etsy any longer. the only way you know it's a silkfair shop when you look at the page is this: in the footer, there's tiny little text that says "powered by silkfair" for similar. it's super small and unobtrusive, and you can do like blogger does, and have a website name of your own.

i love silkfair so far, and i only wish that they got more traffic.

Florence Wang said...

This is so incredibly helpful. It seems there are more and more store sites opening up and it's hard to distinguish which ones are best to use. Seeing everyone's feedback in the comments also provides some valuable insight.

adam selene said...

Thanks for this review, I had never heard of Silkfair before. What I immediately liked about it was (and I hate this phrase but it fits) - it is what it is. Right up front you see that they sell Antiques and Vintage and Collectibles, as well as Handmade.

Etsy's main fault when someone new visits the site is that they don't understand that Etsy is not all handmade. On the front page, the categories for the commercial items that are allowed are hidden in amongst the handmade categories and it is not immediately apparent.

Silkfair, at least, makes it quite clear.

One thing I don't like about it is the orange and blue fonts being identical to Etsy. That kinda bugs me.

all done...bye bye said...

Thank you for the work you do on this series.

I am taking 90% of my items out of my Etsy shop today, then letting the rest expire. Your site reviews have been very useful.

I just can't stand it anymore. The current forum thread about "what can my 10 yr old brother make for our shop?" is the last straw.

I can't have my art business associated with a kid's crafty site managed by taller kids. This was the 1st major issue I had with Etsy when I joined, and it's also going to be the last.

Thank you, Bitches, for making my stay more enlightened & productive.

I'll take Dawanda said...

"...a kid's crafty site managed by taller kids."

LMAO!

From Anda in the forum today:

"anda says:
Hi everyone. I tweet for Etsy unless otherwise announced...

Although I pretty much spend all day with one eye on Tweetdeck, it's impossible to catch everything. I run searches, use Google alerts and read, read, read tweets. Of course most of what we post are Etsy links, but I also like to find blogs with tutorials, rad Etsy finds or otherwise interesting content that I think our followers might enjoy. And the occasional goofy pet video or weird search term, of course. :D"


SO - it's confirmed. The kids are just fooling around all day, tweeting and surfing and calling it work. Could there be an easier job on the planet?

Not on this planet, but I guess on Planet Etsy maybe Rokali's found a higher paying fool-around job.

So sad to see Etsy squander its opportunity so badly.

RRobin said...

All Done, I'm with you.

More and more on Etsy, I am seeing "please visit my kid's shop" and "oh, isn't he/she talented, my little darling" messages from the mommy brigades.

Frankly, if you can't tell the difference between a Picasso and a crooked face drawn by a kindergartner, you make me shudder and I do not want your business.

silkfair said...

Hi, I'm Al and I'm one of the founders of Silkfair. Thank you EB for accepting my team's request, and your candid assessments.

Julie - seller capture payment is a protection mechanism for buyers, so that funds don't just deposit into inactive/unresponsive sellers' accounts. If seller don't act on the order, the payment transaction expires and buyer avoids the problem of trying to recover funds.

Additionally, since we fully integrate in PayPal and GoogleCheckout (and it's not just a simple redirection), you can issue partial credits, refunds, void payment transaction all from within the sales order. There is also a function that handles price adjustments with electronic buyer's approval (for increases).

Funny One - each shop and listing can be individually customized with your own meta tags for SEO. Being found much depends on the contents. Also, our site also handles seller's custom domain ( i.e. http://www.my_own_domain.com instead of http://xxxx.silkfair.com for shop), so, many traffic stats are skewed, as they don't indicate the traffic for the custom domains.

Jewelry Ninja - I think you got everything right. Why would you promote your etsy shop or whatever other marketplace shop when it is never going to be yours? Many are exhausted physically, mentally and financially, promoting a business that's not your own. We realized that problem, and the custom shop is the solution. Our objective as you have seen is to provide anyone who wants to do their own branded and customized online business the ability to get set up just as easily as setting up a blog on blogger.com as you pointed out. You own name, your own designs, we supply a dozen or so templates to start, and we welcome other 3rd party developers to supply templates and services. For those that are not html savvy, you can customize just by clicking with your mouse. The beta was just over, and we're prepping this function to be released next week. Once you have a Silkfair shop set up, it takes no more than a couple of mouse clicks to activate. We're going to offer some early-bird specials, and it's a fraction of any other current solutions out there. (It's going to be a lot less than what you pay listing at etsy too!).

Each shop does comes bundled with a forum and blog, and the shop is the main focus, rather than the shop blog. We take care of the search engine submissions and googlebase as well.

Adam - Our various departments like Antique, Vintage, Collectibles,
Handmade, Eco-friendly goods are actually individual sites. So, for example, the handmade department is actually http://handmade.silkfair.com, and all searches and displays when in that site is just focused on items that's been marked as handmade. We also make distinctions between mass produced items vs one-of-a-kind vs limited-edition goods. So, when you are in Handmade, you are in a Handmade only site, where the system filtered out items marked as mass-produced. Where you'll find a major difference with Silkfair is in the search interface. All text search results can be further refined/filtered if the result set comes back too large.

I recently was invited for a chatroom session for a group of sellers. The session transcripts has been edited by the moderator, and contains much info that can be helpful to all who's interested, as the moderator zero'd in on most pertinent questions that sellers has. I hope this is helpful for all :

Presentation: http://shihtzupunk.wordpress.com/2009/03/25/presentation-from-silkfair-at-delphiforums/

Q & A session: http://shihtzupunk.wordpress.com/2009/03/25/134/

Thank you EB once again. We hope that for those of you who is fed up promoting others and had either put off making your own shop will stop by and take advantage of the early-bird special that we'll offer for our new custom shop feature that's available next week.

So, hang out in Etsy forums, but promote your own branded shop powered by Silkfair!

Linda said...

But if I leave Etsy, where will I sell all my copyright infringing items? At Etsy, they even PROMOTE them in the Dorque:

http://www.etsy.com/storque/etc/enterprising-star-trek-fans-3927/

The Righteous One said...

Al, thanks for stopping by to answer some of the questions.

I wrote up this synopsis because Etsy sellers had asked about the site, not because of Silkfair's request several months ago.

Funny One, thanks for pointing out about the Etsy items import, I forgot to mention that. There's also an Ebay items import option - and I think that, traffic aside, it's more comparative to that type of commerce environment (eBay opposed to Etsy).

RRobin said...

Al of Silkfair, I appreciated your taking the time to introduce yourself.

Here's a bug for you check out.

I was reading your FAQ's using a Safari browser, and every time I would click on a question, it would flash on the answer but then immediately pop me back to the list of questions at the top. It happened repeatedly and was quite tiresome. I think you need to refine your Safari interface.

I was ultimately able to read the answers by scrolling down the old-fashioned way, but if you are going to offer the "highlight, click and go to" feature, it should work in more than, say, Firefox.

Also, It seems that you are trying to limit the number of shops on Silkfair to one per person. Is this so?

Thank you again for your time.

The Funny One said...

Thank you for your input Al at Silkfair. I will try out Silkfair again, but agree with observations made by RRobin - the seller interface is still clunky and awkward and takes a lot of time and effort to learn and navigate.

But, Silkfair's efforts to go in a different direction by offering MORE to sellers is a step in the right direction.

New sites will win over new sellers if they provide the basics of e-commerce store support, provide marketing and advertising, and excellent customer service ---- in other words, all the services that Etsy does NOT provide for its sellers.

Hypnotransformations said...

Great information. Thanks for sharing. I've never even heard of Silkfair until now. Glad to hear everyone's feedback about this venue.

www.hypnotransformations.blogspot.comm

silkfair said...

RRobin - thanks for pointing out the Safari issues. We also have announced ealier regarding that. We launched with full compatibility with Firefox, IE, Safari and Opera, but have reduced to Firefox and IE for now, but will circle back to address Safari and here is the reason :

Our stats showed that Firefox usage at an overwhelming 65+ percent followed by IE around 30+ percent, with Safari starting to grow, at around 3+ percent with Chrome less than 1 percent. Opera almost disappeared from our stats. W had to weigh what we have to focus on due to the amount of enhancements we faced plus the timing of a myriad of new browser versions.

The timeline of the releases of IE 7.x and 8 along with Firefox 3 and Chrome put a damper in our browser QA. Flash 10 upgrade also created major issues. For IE compatibility, unfortunately, development actually had to put in non-standard programming to resolve IE problems, which created problems for other types of browsers.

And then Chrome launched, that initial release was also a major problem. But Chrome revisions has resolved many issues and recently more stable. Firefox 3.0 first release was a major problem too, and became more stabilized by the time we reached 3.0.3, Our biggest headaches have been with sub-releases of IE 7 and 8.

The system behind the scene is very complicated, although it may not be very apparent.

For example, many things are greatly simplified for sellers, such as the function for editing listings for sellers where editings are done right on the listing itself without pages and pages of cumbersome forms to submit.

For buyers, the ease and convenience of a single page shopping cart checkout that handles multiple vendors and items all at that 1 step / 1 page. All these appear simple for a user, but they are complex for development.

Since launch, we already released over 3000 sets of code revisions, ranging from bug fixes to enhancements. Revisions are done frequently, sometimes as often as several times a day. You can monitor our changes via the release number at the bottom of our site.

As for your other concern, there are no limits on the number of stores or listings per user. You are welcome to set up stores with different themes or different purposes.

************

The Funny One - The seller interface - you must be talking about the Store Profile page, which is loaded with options that we added on rapidly, and can be easily confused as requirements.

The only required fields are actually minimal, but because they are not placed on top and identified, it makes it feel more complex than what it really is. We will restructure the current main store setup process and section, so that options are not confused as requirements.

Currently, there are also tooltips in the store setup section, so that info don't need to be hunted down. Tooltips are little information icon where you can click on to display info about that section or field.

If there are areas that needs clarifications, please let us know. In general, we’ve found that the ones that are curious and likes to explore have a great time and are thrilled with the amount of options.

"offering MORE to sellers" - it's very simple. Sellers are Silkfair's customers. Buyers/Shoppers are Sellers' customers. We take care of Sellers first, and Sellers will then be able to take care of buyers and shoppers by offering better information, better services and better inputs to Silkfair to help Buyers with the Sellers.

Since launch, it's been our focus to listen and understand and change and build. We're at a point where the key ecommerce requirements are met, except integrated shipping calculators to UPS, USPS, FedEx, shipping discounts, coupons and currency conversion, which are in process of being worked on right now.

We even had integrated credit card processing, but we temporarily disabled that function for a reduced level of PCI compliance until we have enough sellers that seeks it for us to re-activate.

In the interface, you'll see a function where you can have your own security key that locks up your financial data. The financial data are heavily encrypted in many layers and stored in a proprietary process which is just not normally found.

We proactively have ethical hacking done on our system daily to look for vulnerabilities, as we take security very seriously, as any ecommerce system should, but not often happen. These are all a small sample of things we provide focusing on ecommerce.

A while ago, an industry analyst mentioned to me that some sites are so wrapped up in being a social network or publishing or media, that they don't even know their core mission.

I can tell you, our focus is on e-commerce, and building up the platform for someone with little resources to be able to start and be able to play like the bigger guys. Our values are based on the hope that everyone gets an opportunity in their own business very much like everyone can have a website thru a blog. And that platform has to be able to grow with that seller's business and hopefully not get outgrown by the seller.

As for marketing and advertising, that all boils down into generating awareness, gain support and deliver what's been promised, or else it’s all empty promises that leads to disappointments.

With customer support, which is really Seller Support, my aim is for close to 0 incidences, and that's really the best support that anyone can give. That's achievable only if we can listen, monitor, and either pro-actively put in preventive measures, or put in responsive measures that closes the problem for good to minimize the impacts.

****************

Righteous One - We're a bit of an oxymoron being a hybrid of both niche and generalist. Also, with the release of customizable stores where sellers can completely own the identity and branding – that greatly differs us from either an Ebay or Etsy.

You can't shake off the Ebay or Etsy identity when you operate there. So, you have no choice but to promote them rather than your own business. The problem many faced with ebay was the lack of recognition of certain groups and needs, but I hope that Silkfair eventually prove differently.

Our aim is to provide everyone the ability to have independent businesses no more difficult than setting up a blog.

It's really something for everyone, and to help make everyone independent. You all have the capability to set up shop at etsy and set up blog at blogger.com, so you will now have the capability to have your own independent store that concurrently operates in a marketplace with no additional efforts.

To extend Jewelry Ninja’s Blogger comparison for Silkfair’s custom shop : I would say that Facebook of Ecommerce for crafts (etsy), and the MySpace of Ecommerce (ebay), are trailed by many other wannabes.

But we’re offering something that’s comparable to a Blogger of Ecommerce. It’s not an alternative nor a wannabe. It’s an additional tool that gives you totally different benefits. (Thanks to Jewelry Ninja for starting the Blogger analogy).

So instead of being the New Coke like all the other alternatives, which just isn’t Coke, we’re creating a new drink so to speak.


So, I hope soon your article http://etsybitch.blogspot.com/2009/05/hey-etsy-heres-my-bill-for-april.html , can become

1. Paying for ads to drive buyers to my own store = $100

2. Blogging and twittering to get SOMEONE TO LOOK AT MY STUFF at my own store (@$25 per hour) = $350. All labor is billed at $25 per hour below:

3. No more Relisting, relisting, relisting, just to get on the front page for 3 seconds = $210.20 savings which can be put into more ads to drive more buyers into my own store

4. My own shop being published in GoogleBase = $xxx

6. Savings in spending hours looking to see if, by some chance, I may have a product in 750 Etsy-picked promotions for their favorite items all over the site = $100

7. No more Fretting over why I used to get lots of sales on Etsy but can’t even get people to look at my stuff because my products aren’t "Etsy-Approved" and under $15, because now I can sell anything legal and below $15.

8. Making an actual sale on my own shop AND getting paid = BLISS.

So, that $860.20 bill to Etsy for marketing Etsy can become $860.20 savings applied to marketing your own shop that has your personality, creativity and identity.

Cheers!

Al

The Funny One said...

To Al at Silkfair: Your comments and details are welcome and interesting, but I do still think the seller interface is too busy and complicated and does take extra time for sellers to adjust and learn -- much of it is non-intuitive. Goes the same for buyers. Buyers have to spend some extra time figuring out how the stores are separated by product type. Again, it's not intuitive.

One outstanding question is, why haven't more sellers who are eager to leave Etsy heard about Silkfair? Because, if new sites think that social networking for 4 years is going to get them name recognition, then sellers are going to face all the same issues they do on Etsy. A site that relies on sellers to do all the site's marketing and advertising for free with nothing in return. (On top of the complete lack of customer service and promotional support.)

I do suggest that sites that address the customer support issues that Etsy is never going to provide is a key component for success. And one quick way to the right solutions is to invite a GROUP OF SELLERS to participate on an advisory panel to work on these issues.

There's plenty of expertise out there and many of the Etsy-mistakes can be avoided if sellers are brought into the process early on.

life-during-wartime said...

I've been looking at Silkfair over the past few days. The Vintage section is already a tragedy in one act, with (maybe?) handmade wholesale items listed that have no connection with anything vintage. So at this point in time, Silkfair is sending data to the SEs from their sellers that is misleading, at best. At worst, the resellers have already arrived...and they are always looking for virgin territory.

There are plenty of sites which offer tools for setting up your own online store, but don't have a grouped shopping venue. I think that's a better situation for building a solid reputation for your business, rather than associating yourself with a group of sellers who are free to choose to (mis)represent their items in whatever way they think will get them the most traffic, regardless of what they are actually selling.

silkfair said...

Funny One - you probably missed it, but I mentioned before that we do plan to restructure.

Regarding your question about etsy sellers hearing about Silkfair and the problem with site/seller ad/marketing - here are my thoughts, and this is probably nor going to sit well with some :

1) - I think many are looking for handmade-only sites and might not be open to other forms of products. That might be due to seller familiarity with the subject, seller entrenchment in etsy and/or belief that the targeted consumers are at where the interests are at. Also, etsy is a closed system, and the business practices for many have been set.

Here is the important part : I mentioned in parts of my last posted replies, I think the social aspect of Etsy is great. It is what it is, with all its goodness and flaws.

If I am a handmade seller, I would extract the pluses from Etsy (the social aspect of the community), and complement it with the pluses of others (you need stronger and stable commerce platform, run it somewhere else).

You are promoting already, and I believe you should be promoting yourself, rave about a service if you feel like it, but what is happening is you are promoting the site rather than yourself.

Whatever alternatives you find whether for handmade-onlyor not, even if you move in mass, you'll find the same problem as what you see today, even if the site heavily advertises for itself or co-op. There are limited real-estate / spots, and this category requires strong efforts for product differentiation, it's as simple as that.

2) - we pulled back on marketing, as we saw all the requirements that came in, from both small sellers and larger sellers, and we needed time to build up the core properly, or else we would be expanding majority of the energy putting out larger volumes of problems.

You saw some comments on support and responses. Problems come in, we deal with them, and don't go crazy making blind promises. We service who we have, and make sure that everyone that's a member are treated well and with respect. If we can do something, we'll tell you, if we can't, we'll tell you we can't. We just build up slowly in volume, but the functions gets built up more firm and rapidly, and you don't much see concerns about us heading the wrong path. Some people have patience, some people don't, but none of that steers us off of our intended course.

Also, we had to release the site as you see it, as that was the foundation for us to build up the custom store, especially the ability to integrate them. And these 2 parts, are only parts of an overall plan, with the next phase anticipated to begin launch sometime next year. It is something that's again, very different, and addresses the major concern that every seller has, and it's a completely different business model for us.

Now picture this : there are always a steady stream of established or new sellers looking to set up their independent shop in all different areas. Silkfair is an option as a business solution, now that we'll be offering the custom shops, and some may find it to be quicker and easier to get set up compared to alternate tools or methods, or find it more flexible and feature-rich.

Once the shop is set up, the seller is going to promote his own shop. It's his own, so, he would work his business. While more and more independent shops are set up, the marketplace grows, since the same inventory in those shops on the web are listings in the marketplace. We know there is a strong correlation between quantity of products that are in high demand by general consumers and organic search traffic.

So, your choice - a lot of traffic of trading amongst sellers, or traffic that's sourced from product demand. I know what I want. And I think you would agree.

You are absolutely right about this :
"And don't get hung up on the "Etsy has the highest traffic" dictum. If you ARE NO LONGER SELLING anything on Etsy because you are not a favorite store that gets promoted constantly-------then what the hell does it matter?"

Favored today, and maybe not by tomorrow. You would place your destiny in someone else's discretion?

That's another reason why you should promote yourself, and cultivate your own customer base, and I don't mean promote your etsy shop or whatever site's shop. You are competing for that discretionary dollar against so many products on the market, and you best go for building up a base of repeating customers rather than random walk-bys. Whatever trick you find in promoting your shop in a marketplace, that trick is only going to last long enough till another person finds out. You have to drive your business. Many have been steered left and right with etsy already, and it's probably tough to shift out of that mode..

Once a group of sellers discovers and hooks up that possibility and realize the path, then I think the handmade community will find itself closer to nirvana (that's of course if the seller is very realistic about business - the products, pricing, plan and execution). The trick now for etsy sellers is to see what's possible and what's available, but unfortunately, up to this point, all that's been seen is one form of a replica or another. I mentioned it already as an example, Etsy is like Facebook (figuratively), and you wouldn't scrap Facebook when you need something that's just not Facebook. I think Etsy is fantastic with what it is, and I don't think any new Coke would ever be the same as the Classic Coke.

So, what am I saying? I'm saying - don't leave etsy, and don't spread yourself thin by being on so many alternatives. When we release the custom shop this week, you can import your inventory and promote your own shop, and don't get so wrapped up with what's happening in the marketplace, as the marketplace will just act as an added benefit.

There is an online session with sellers that was planned for this Thursday at 7:30pm Eastern. You are welcome to join that if interested. Please send an email to support@silkfair.com, and details can be sent to you. Much of your questions and concerns can be better discussed and answered there.

********

Life-during-wartime -
I like your assessments, and many points are very correct.

You are right about the abuse. But abuses don't necessarily mean resellers. Why are resellers bad? Commerce is commerce, people are people. They are 2 separate things.

And it's not just being virgin territory, the abusers will never stop, and that's a fact that we must face. The question is then how do we handle them? We have our share of interests from scammers as well, and have recently built up additional functions that blocks out certain countries and ISPs as one methods. They are clever, and some are quite resourceful, where they would spend the money to build up infrastructure to try to fool the system. Some are also bold, bold enough to contact my staff directly when our system shuts them off. We're learning every time a new attempt is made, and some we could counter with automated mechanism, some requires human policing.

The Vintage, Handmade, etc - Those sections are new, and we do see the problems as well. They are up, and the intent is for people to see the potentials. and we've been exploring methods to stop the abuse.

One method is to enforce the vintage/antique time period (1880's, Edwardian, etc...) when someone selects Vintage or Antique (those are options right now, rather than requirements). Another method is to have these sections open to approved sellers only. We welcome suggestions and ideas. It's a situation, but not yet a disaster since the volume is low. This is an explorartory period, to invent and build. Nothing is final.

As for sites to build online store, you are correct in identifying the aspect that there are plenty of tools, but don't have a grouped shopping venue, and we hope the e-commerce industry to take notice of that, Furthermore, what's available today are either resource intensive in time/money, or incomplete. Additionally, this is only a part of our overall strategic goals, and the next portion takes us in a completely different structure that deals with seller/buyer placement. As I have mentioned, we're looking to invent a new method online, to ease and facilitate e-commerce for the SMBs. And we fully realize that at this early stage, what is visible is not for the casual sellers.

where'd they go? said...

'sup bitches??

RRobin said...

I just tried to browse the vintage category and Silkfair. The Funny One is right. It is not intuitive. I couldn't seem to get beyond the opening page without choosing a category, and the headings left me baffled. I clicked on "clothing and shoes" from what I assume was the first "vintage" page, the one with "featured vintage" items, and it brought up 16 items. Then I went into "View All categories" from the left side menu, clicked on "vintage" under "clothing and shoes," and that brought up just 6 items. That's not right.

As for "by color" -- I think it's a waste. I don't believe anyone buys items that way, by color independent of category. It is only useful for assembling "treasuries," and I think that's an Etsy thing better buried unlamented with Etsy.

Sunny said...

I've never heard of Silkfair, but after the latest spammy blunder on Etsy, I am ready to jump ship and will be checking all the alternatives out.

silkfair said...

Great feedbacks on the vintage site. The vintage is actually not a category, but it is it's own sub-site. Maybe we should alter the header colors so that it's more apparent that it's a different dedicated site? Your feedbacks are much appreciated and very helpful.

Also, any thoughts about having vintage sellers approved rather than being open access like currently? Would you as a vintage seller ok with going thru such process?

Yes, searching by color and tags have not been very good. As I mentioned before, we found out that most used are text searches, and we re-worked our search interface several times based on that. The color and other graphical means have not been focused on at all since launch.

We had an incidence with a spammer yesterday as well, in which within a few minutes, a spammer set up, and used an automated bot and sent out several hundred test messages. Several members caught them very quickly, and we cleaned out all the messages and removed the spammer account. As a preventive method, we immediately implemented CAPTCHA to email form so that bots can't be used.

These spammers and scam artists are very creative, and we're just constantly learning and adapting. Incidents can always happen, the important thing is to figure out solutions to prevent further occurrences with each creative method these guys use.

RRobin said...

Al of Silkfair, I do not necessarily think the social aspects of Etsy are the best thing about it, or even one of the best things.

I could not care less about the social aspect of Etsy. I want a professional, economical, hassle free place to sell my art. I socialize elsewhere.

The "best thing" about Etsy is what it claims to be and is not: to whit, a professional, economical, hassle free place to sell one's art.

Indeed, it is the social aspects that lead to the cliques and favoritism that constitute the WORST thing about Etsy, making it an unprofessional, time- and money-wasting, frustrating place to sell one's art or anything else.

life-during-wartime said...

Thanks to Al of Silkfair for all the detailed comments!

I think you may be on the right track with the concept of downplaying the title 'vintage' to keep sellers of old stuff distinct from merchants with contemporary inventory that imitates older styles. This might work, I dunno.

As a vintage seller, I wouldn't mind having someone take a look at my store/shop before letting it go 'live' to verify that my inventory was appropriate.

I've never had an Etsy shop. Thought about it, but observed that male shop owners whose inventory I liked (handmade mostly, but also vintage) were jumping ship as the unoffical Etsy look and the social aspects of the site got girlier and sillier. The Etsy forums are fun to read if you don't sell there. Like endless threads about having a cool avatar being a great promotion tool?!? I mean, if people are searching for items on an SE, or even searching or browsing Etsy, the avatar, banner and number of freakin' hearts is not what makes a potential customer click on one of your products.

One of the biggest problems with the Etsy site is the female to male ratio in the community. No site which is that girly has any interest for me as a seller...and I am female, BTW. Any new site that looks like it will have a similar overwhelming female presence is 'thanks, but no' for me as well.

RRobin said...

Life-During-Wartime, you've got me wanting to cue up Dar Williams singing "When I Was A Boy." I agree with 99% of what you said. But it isn't always simply a matter of gender mix, because if all the females on Etsy were like you or like me, it wouldn't be as --"girly," "catty," whatever -- as it is now. The problem with Etsy isn't that it is mostly female, but that the majority of females on it are of the same insipid type.

JustDucky said...

7. Fretting over why I used to get lots of sales on Etsy but can’t even get people to look at my stuff because my products aren’t "Etsy-Approved" and under $15.


I can really relate to this. What does etsy do that suddenly ends your sales? And when you do its from a nonpayer? I was selling and then wham! No sales. When I would list something it woudnt show in the rss FP feed like it used to. When I went in the forum on etsy and agreed with some others that listings werent showing anymore...0 views etc. and that relisting was really dumb ...why would you relist when you already arent getting views the first time around. I tested and suddenly my listings appeared in FP rss feed. Etsy does of course have control of that little bit of exposure and if they dont like you I bet your items dont show.
How about the etsy person who is always raising hell on the forum and twitter. She suddenly appeared in the main pics on FP. She got a little quieter.
Etsy plays too many games.

silkfair said...

RRobin, JustDucky,

I think I might understand what you mean. When I mentioned the social part is good, I meant the volume of eyes dealing with a common interest in one spot. Of course, the atmosphere is a different issue. But the potentials for a crafts material supplier is large.

This reminds me of the old gold rush example : the railroad and the people selling the shovels and supporting services makes out well, while the majority ... well, I think you can piece the rest together.

I think your needs are very fair and makes a lot of sense : Business is business. And seems that your trust in the system is broken (I'm refering to your statement and example that there are favoritism).

Favoritism, can come in many ways, some are fair, some are not. For example, when a business provides discounts for volume purchase, that's favoritism, but it's acceptable because it's known, and it's accepted that volume discounts are possible because there can be a direct relationship between raw material or other variable costs and volume.

But, when practiced in a hidden way, especially when it's to appease someone to cool down complaints, it can potentially shift an organization to spend it's energy in efforts that can just spiral downard.

Nobody likes favoritism except the beneficiary. It's a futile effort, because it can just create more and more dissatisfaction. Plus, people talk, and it's only a matter of time it becomes apparent, and either some people emulate or becomes dissatisfied which left un-remedied, leads to apathy. For someone to benefit in a bias manner, someone else potentially has to lose out unfairly, and it's not possible to give favoritism to everyone, unless everyone is treated equally to begin with.

So, it's best to deal with the complaints head-on, which might be tough, but it's better than having an uncontrollable practice develop. In another words, don't even start the practice of biased and hidden favoritism.

But if you look at what any site really is - it's programs, which are empty shells, with contents, which are provided by you. You need firm and fair policies that are implemented, and then trust will develop. But it's all up to the organization, and I think the only choice for the content providers is the level of participation.


life-during-wartime,

the avatar as a promo tool sounds 'interesting', maybe someone figured out a way that works. But for someone to publicize a method that works, if it works, then it won't work for too long. Direct traffic being driven from search tends to be text-based, and visual elements are like icing on a cake. The ratio you mentioned might be due to a combination of this category and the sellers interaction in the forums?

And, thank you too and everyone allowing me to voice out and speaking on behalf of Silkfair and share insights on our views and core values. This opportunity has given me many things to think about and I feel very fortunate in being able to benefit from this exchange of thoughts.


Al

silkfair said...

FYI on vintage from 3rd party :
http://www.theluxuryspot.com/2009/05/14/vintage-accessories-at-silkfaircom/

silkfair said...

Hi everyone,

We just released our Silkfair custom shop feature. Here is a shop that's customized and powered by Silkfair :

http://www.bjohnsonjewelry.com/

and the same shop with same inventory in Silkfair marketplace :

http://bjohnsonjewelry.silkfair.com/


Another Silkfair shop that the seller customized to integrate into her existing blog :

http://books.notuboc.com/

and same shop in Silkfair Marketplace :

http://notuboc.silkfair.com/

The Whispering Forest said...

I joined Silkfair as Etsy picks and chooses who gets promoted. It's seems cliches to me. There CUSTOMER SERVICE sucks! You can't get answers from anyone if you have a problem.

When I sell online I do expect to get answers when I need them. Etsy should have live chat anytime you need them and they don't.

Right now on Etsy store's are experiencing low sales, sellers are complaining. Personally they have gotten too large too fast and they weren't prepared.

Too bad they're eyes were bigger than there internet ideas.

silkfair said...

Thanks to Whispering Forest for joining Silkfair.

We don't play favoritism, and you can always feel free to drop a note to our support if you have any questions. We'll do our best to provide you answers.