Thursday, July 23, 2009

Etsy Alternative #11 - Zibbet

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 - Zibbet.

Tagline: Live Handmade

Company information: Two guys from Australia, beta site launched February 2009 – Zibbet Pty Ltd.

Storefront: Store URL is zibbet.com/username. Customization includes banner, avatar, shop announcement, and favorite items. Looks similar to Etsy. Product picture is the focal point of the listings. They have the same linking policy as Etsy in regards to linking to your other shops elsewhere.

Cost: No listing fee, 7.5% commission on sales price (not including shipping). Or join referral program to pay 5% commission. Billed monthly, listings expire after 90 days. Edit 7/27/09 new policies at Zibbet - Free shops, max 15 items, no listing or sale fee. Premium shops $7 a month, unlimited listings, no listing or sale fee, new and extra perks. Read more at their blog.

Features: Item and shop view stats; list unlimited items in your shop; showroom (their version of the front page Showcase, on-site advertising); wish lists and favorites; shop by search, categories, username, or location. The search works within categories and can break down by cost or color. Flagging system. Promote the site or your shop with premade banners.

More information in their FAQ

Payment: Paypal for under US$5000, Zibbet acts as a third-party mediary via direct bank transfer for larger payments to protect the buyer. Prices are clearly in USD.

Community: Feedback system, their blog, internal messaging system.

Customer service: Onsite help ticket, social messaging systems like Twitter

Items that can be sold: Handmade, Fine art, Vintage, and Craft supplies. Read here for more information on their categories

General impressions: The layout and design is simple, but listings are somewhat busy with the upper right sidebar. The green color is also not beneficial for some shops and the Zibbet ‘brand’ is evident within the shops and listings, the seller’s info is pushed down the page.

Shop’s policy link in the listings is nice, but the lack of in-shop categories and search is evident when attempting to shop, as well as the lack of search when browsing other parts of the site, you have to click ‘buy’ then ‘search’ every time

The site is in beta, but free unless something sells, so there’s nothing but time to lose if trying it out.

Overall, it feels like they are attempting to recreate Etsy without the social aspect, and they admit the concept was developed in 2007 (Etsy has been around since 2005).

30 Comments:

geelizzie said...

I've tried zibbet twice now with no luck on selling anything. They attempted to have the site be more for fine art at first, but then expanded their categories to include all crafts. It is easy to use and no listing fees (for now, anyway) but the front page leaves a lot to be desired as far as looks go. It's worth giving it a try, though.

The Funny One said...

Zibbet may be simple in design and execution, but there is a lot of good things to be said about simplicity these days, as a seller and buyer. It's not Etsy at all (thank goodness). The seller item loading template is the BEST of all the new sites; 2 pages.

I also want to make the argument for the LESS categories the better. Right now, the new sites are overburdened by either trying not to be Etsy or by being so inclusive, they're completely un-navigable.

The sites are asking their shoppers to do so much work, who has the time or energy to figure out what the hell is actually for sale on the site? Read a blog for 10 days, click on 100 sections until the cows come home---------when can they actually SHOP?

As a longtime online seller, I have to applaud Zibbet for their seller incentive program. It's the ONLY SITE THAT OFFERS THIS, and it gives sellers an incentive to set up, an incentive to sell, and a great incentive to BRING YOUR CUSTOMERS to a better and simpler shopping experience. Many of my customers who have let me know they won't shop on Etsy anymore (they say it's full of junk) have jumped to Zibbet because the purchase process is simple and quick.

Zibbet Customer Service is excellent - they always respond on the same day, and (while the site is still small) you get a PERSONAL response. They remember you.

If I had a dream for handmade, it would be - let's go back to the basics and shine the light on the handmade product AND the artisan who made it. Stop the trendy titles, the weird and cryptic categories, and jamming up a front page with enough junk to send any shopper to the loony bin.

How about paying attention to the shoppers and those who love handmade, and are longtime fans of handmade? Make it easy for them to shop, purchase, and come back.

Make it easy for them to find what they're looking for.

What's so great about jamming social components into an ecommerce site anyway? Do you want your visitors to chitchat or do you want them to go shopping?

Any site that doesn't have seller forums is a wonderful and delightful relief! No blog? Even better!

The Righteous One said...

For clarity: I meant the last statement about no social as an observation. If you stripped Etsy of the forums, chat, etc, and gave it a green color scheme - you'd basically have Zibbet.

Good, bad, or otherwise, that was my general impression.

life-during-wartime said...

The Funny One -- When the question was asked in the comments to (I think) the previous blog post: how do sellers work together to make it better for selling handmade online, I wanted to say 'find or build a site with no forums'. I started a couple of times to post it, but thought it sounded too mean-spirited, even for me.

Personally, I think having a huge active forum is a disincentive for the people who run a site to give customer service. Partly because they come to believe that other sellers are doing the job for them for free, and because it's so easy to get subgroups of sellers bickering with each other in the forums over nitpicky nonsense while the admins kick back and take an 8 hour lunch. The admins become like the Gods watching the Trojan War in the Illiad.

I like simplicity, too, and as a seller or a shopper I don't need a ton of categories. But right now on Zibbet, the categories are moving into the meaningless zone, with handmade stuff in vintage (that isn't made of recycled materials or even vintage style) and lots of hats, purses and jewelry listed as clothing. Give the cybershopper a break, sellers. Even WAL-MART supposedly has started to put goods in the aisles that match the signs hanging above -- to do otherwise, as many of their managers used to do where I live, was hurting sales. Especially if you sell handmade, be proud of your craft or art, and own what you make!

The Funny One said...

The reality today is that online sales ain't what they used to be. They may come back, or never come back. Selling handmade online, however, IS here to stay.

Like I said before, sellers who experiment with the new sites, including Zibbet, may find a site that's better suited to their product and intended audience than Etsy is, especially if you are a seller that used to do well on Etsy and don't get a peep today. (That covers a lot of sellers.)

My personal opinion is that the social part of Etsy has gotten a lot more attention, labor, and employee hours than the nuts and bolts of ecommerce. Pushing the social over the efficiency of the site has created a set of problems that may never have cropped up -------if Etsy had not decided that the social(blogging, managing by muting, etc) was and is more important than putting an end to resellers and stopping non-paying buyers.

And, the new sites that HAVE social components including seller forums seem to be having the same issues Etsy does ---- a lot of egos and personalities that overshadow the ecommerce function.

You can spend all day fighting with your sellers, or you can provide a safe, secure, and great ecommerce platform to sell handmade.

geelizzie said...

thefunnyone says:
Like I said before, sellers who experiment with the new sites, including Zibbet, may find a site that's better suited to their product and intended audience than Etsy is, especially if you are a seller that used to do well on Etsy and don't get a peep today. (That covers a lot of sellers.)

I'm one of those sellers who used to do pretty well on etsy (over 3000 sales in 3 years) and now I'm lucky to sell one item a week. I have always tried out other sites but was doing so well on etsy that I didn't *need* to worry about if I got sales on the other sites or not. Now, if I want to stay in business I need to find a site that isn't as crowded so that buyers can find me.
I don't know if I've mentioned this site to you or not, but I've been on trendyindie for a little while and am hoping that site will take off within the next 6 months or so. I got in at the 6.49 a month fee, it's now 9.99 which still isn't bad. It's like artfire, where the monthly fee is all you pay for unlimited listings. They have some nice features, like a listing template that is great, a checkout that doesn't remove the item from your shop until its paid for, and a nice looking front page.
I do agree with you about the lack of forums on a site being a good thing, as long as admin keeps sellers informed of anything they need to know, and answers questions in a timely manner. Which zibbet does do, I've had them respond quickly to ?'s I had.

RRobin said...

I agree with The Funny One and Life During Wartime.

Shoppers should not have to read a tutorial in order to buy something. A vending site should be immediately comprehensible, the way Amazon is.

Maybe it says something about our culture as a nation of recreational shoppers, but the integration of social interaction with commerce has gone too far, especially on Etsy. If I am looking to socialize online, I'll go to MySpace or FaceBook or, better yet, a close-knit listserve or yahoo group, or even e-mail a small circle of friends.

Etsy does indeed waste most of its administrative energy on the fora and blogs. I never read the Storque blog and have learned to steer clear of the fora. Announcements of policy changes etc. should be e-mailed directly to sellers; nobody should be required to read the blogs or fora to obtain essential information.

eBay, for all its limitations-- and this is not to deny that they are legion -- has no "tags" and a limited title size. Although its category system leaves a lot to be desired, it is still much easier for buyers on eBay to hone in on what they want than it is on Etsy or the other handmade sites.

wth said...

The Funny One said
My personal opinion is that the social part of Etsy has gotten a lot more attention, labor, and employee hours than the nuts and bolts of ecommerce. Pushing the social over the efficiency of the site has created a set of problems that may never have cropped up -------if Etsy had not decided that the social(blogging, managing by muting, etc) was and is more important than putting an end to resellers and stopping non-paying buyers.
********
I've been saying this exact thing for years now.

WTF is a blog doing on a site like Etsy? WTF is Etsy- a place to shop or a social experiment?

foxaz said...

I think Etsy is, and always has been, a social experiment.I have no doubt that Rob will write his book, (or have it ghostwritten) and that a thesis or three will follow the behaviors of "Etsians."

It's a cult, it's a love-fest, it's food for the hungry, & drink for those that thirst. It tries to be everything or everyone. It's like that Hulu commercial. It turns your brain to mush.

I like the look of Zibbet. Their sales percentage is a bit high, and there doesn't seem to be many sales yet, but overall, it's very nice looking.

violetsnewvintage said...

First of all, thank you for this series! I am using it as a reference all the time and referring others to it as well. My first impression with Zibbet was great...there was at on the front page! I also agree with the funny one about going back to basics and eliminating the social components. Etsy is like a Cyber Circus! I never play around with these distractions but I know others do and it distracts from the buying and selling. If I want to play on line I put in an Adventure Game and help Sherlock Holmes catch his Nemesis. I don't go to Etsy or other places to run through a colorful forest of distractions before I actually find what I am looking for...wonderful handmade items created by people who think outside the box. PS did I say I love you EB?

Loving Friend said...

I think you should change this post, Zibbet has updated their policies and now they have created 2 different types of account:

Basic: completely free, 15 items listed (maximum).

Premium: $7 monthly, no limit on the number of listings and some other "advantages"


I have to admit, I´m a bit pissed off with this change, because I have the impression that now they are following AF steps, by offering almost nothing and charge for it.

The idea of "you only pay when you sell" sounded really attractive, they had a reason to fight for their customers.
Now, with a monthly fee, they have no incentive to attract buyers (same as AF, but that´s another story).

geelizzie said...

Here's an update on zibbet, just got an email from them this morning that they are in the process of changing how the fees work, doing an artfire-like thing where it's 7.00 a month for unlimited listings with no sales fee, and a free account to list up to 15 items. They also have new features along with the paid account that sound pretty nice. To read more, go to zibbet's blog and see the article about it.
They still need more traffic to the site, but this is good news for anyone interested in zibbet.

RRobin said...

To me, being an artist means working in my studio. That's what I like, and that's what I do best.

If I enjoyed or were good at marketing, promotion, blogging, etc., I'd have sought a career in marketing, sales, public relations or fundraising.

I don't blog about what I do, I'm too busy actually doing it.

Or to paraphrase an old saw:

"Those who can, do. Those who can't, blog."

I don't mind paying a fee to a site if they do the promotion. That's where the money should go, not to pay babysitters to police fora and other unnecessary social elements of the sites.

Etsy admin should me the ones getting Etsy's name out and attracting buyers to the site. Not Etsy sellers.

What I like about eBay and Amazon is that they do their own marketing, and do it well. eBay never expected its sellers to take on that role, and look how big it is. Sure, eBay mistreats its sellers in other ways, but that's another story for another time and place.

Bringing traffic to Etsy or ArtFire or Zibbet or Silkfair etc. etc. etc. is not my job. I don't have my own site because I don't want to work at promotion. I figure it's like the gallery owner's cut.

I will happily pay a percentage of sales to an agent / gallery owner / website to free me up to do my work while they do theirs.

In Etsy's case, however, it isn't working, and the more other sites adopt the Etsy model, the more additional places it isn't working.

BrandingConsultant said...

life-during-wartime said...

Personally, I think having a huge active forum is a disincentive for the people who run a site to give customer service. Partly because they come to believe that other sellers are doing the job for them for free...
--------------------------------
This has been my issue with Etsy for quite some time, and one that I have been very vocal about in the forums and with emails (that have actually gone UNANSWERED) to Etsy Admins.

It is actually pure genius. Set up forums in which your sellers will assist one another, sellers will assist your buyers, and you do not need to have a live chat, 800 customer number, etc. In fact, more and more companies are moving in this direction. They do not have to hire large customer service staffs, and they don't get slapped around for using call centers in other countries and outsourcing that labor. Less labor, more profits (and more time for admints to discover the next wacky trend now that moustaches must be a bit played out!).

In fact, some Etsyans fall all over themselves to answer a variety of questions that are completely ridiculous, one recent thread was "I sold something, now what do I do?". I nearly threw my computer out of the window. WTF is someone doing setting up a shop and not knowing how to actually complete an order? And when a handful of us basically challenged that, another onslought of cupcakers rushed to say that we were mean-spirited, I even got a convo asking if I were jealous as I had not had a sale in about a week or so. Yeah. Real jealous that someone is so very clueless.

And, the buyers that come to the forums to ask how to buy things, how to complete orders, how to set up PayPal accounts. Honestly, they have to be the most patient brave souls shopping on the internet. If I cannot simply click BUY NOW and BUT IT NOW, I find it somewhere else. But those poor buyers who cannot log onto a life chat or call someone for help...how awful! Amazing that Etsy survives with such lousy customer service...

And, it all gets so self-serving. One buyer had a question about shipping fees, and a rush of sellers came to the aid of the buyer to let them know that they would offer them free shipping! Not the question, but great way to plug your shop! Spam much, anyone?

Etsy is brilliant, Etsyans police the forums, police the resellers, answer questions for buyers, answer questions for sellers...and guess what? We get to PAY for that honor. Paycheck? I don't need no stickin paycheck!

I offer up that all Etsyans with a brain STOP answering all of those questions for a week or two. Boycott the questions for a month. See what happens to sales then. See how the site is overrun with resellers. I would hate to alienate good buyers, but hey...they can go to Zibbet instead!

RRobin said...

I just read how the CEO of eBay is the 5th highest paid retail CEO in America, with $13.2 million a year. That's higher than the new CEO of Walmart ($12.2 mil) or Coach ($9.65 mil), among others on the Top Ten list.

I was relieved to see that nobody from Etsy was on the list.

eBay built its brand the old fashioned way -- its admins do real work. Everybody has heard of eBay, it advertises everywhere, and items for sale on eBay come up on every Google search.

But eBay doesn't dictate a particular "look" to the merchandise for sale on its site, or try to force sellers to market eBay-branded merchandise, or expect sellers to do any work beyond merely listing their own items for sale.

YET EVERYBODY HAS HEARD OF EBAY AND IT MAKES ENOUGH PROFIT TO PAY ITS CEO $13.2 MIL.

It's relatively easy for buyers to find what they want, too, relative to Etsy at least.

To be sure, some of those dollars came from me, and eBay truly leaves a great deal to be desired, but for my money, it's a percentage better spent than any 20c I've ever given to Etsy.

The new sites for handmade might do better to imitate the eBay model than the Etsy one. It needs major changes, definitely, but it is at least a better starting place.

Rtisan said...

Permanent mute was a great opportunity for me to get my ass in gear living my life and creating my art in lieu of dealing with the endless repetitive stooopidity in the forums.
The less I know, the better I feel about myself and the more normal my blood pressure is.
I agree with Robin: I am not In Sales. I hate dealing with The Public. I don't have the time and energy to waste on all that shit because Life Gets Shorter Every Day.
What works for me: follow my passion and everything else falls into place eventually. Even if it can only be one hour a day, it has to be every day and a priority.
Trying to get noticed for anything else but what I am best at is a gigantic waste of time and energy that I cannot afford.
Thanks for reminding me, Robin.

Jonathan Peacock - Zibbet.com said...

Hi Everyone,

Jonathan Peacock here, CEO of Zibbet.com. Thanks EB for taking the time to write about us.

We're extremely excited about our new direction. To save repeating it all here, you can read about it on our blog: http://bit.ly/EpfiE

We want everyone to know that we are painfully aware of the need to bring buyers to the site. It has always been our number one goal and it always will be.

Zibbet is still very new...we're just getting started! I'm looking forward to the bright future that's in store for us.

I'll be checking back here over the next few days, so if you have any questions feel free to ask!

Jonathan Peacock - Zibbet.com said...

Hi EB,

Just dropping by quickly to let you all know that we've increased the Free 'Basic' shop item limit, and you can now have up to 25 active items in your shop at a time, as opposed to 15. Sellers thought that having only 15 items in their shop was limiting, so we listened and delivered.

We've also put together a list of FAQ's relating to the upcoming changes. If you're interested, you can read about it here: http://bit.ly/CF7sv

Have a great day! :)

The Funny One said...

Yes, Zibbet is going to a monthly fee model:
http://www.zibbet.com/blog/2009.07.30/faqs-related-to-upcoming-changes

With free accounts with up to 25 items, so it's 2-tiered like ArtFire.

I don't know what the best financial model is for a handmade store hosting site. It would help if the new sites knew more about what's important to sellers on Etsy who are no longer selling on Etsy because they don't fit the Etsy Brand. Or those sellers that don't make products that get promoted 24/7 for free on the front page and the dozens of Etsy-controlled promotions. Or those sellers who keep emailing support@ for help and never get an answer. Or sellers who have to spend hours every week cancelling sales that aren't sales from the growing crop of NPB's while Etsy ignores 90% of sellers urgent forum requests and bug reports.

It's a shame that there aren't real alternatives for Etsy sellers who no longer sell on Etsy. Etsy is waving bye bye good-riddance, but where do we go?

Brass Monkey Designs said...

I must confess to feeling a bit burned and jaded about online handmade venues in general. They're so over-saturated and only a few seem to have a tight focus or truly streamlined management.

Many venues now have that air of desperation about them and people are selling their products for cheaper and cheaper, just to get a sale, until nobody wants to pay a decent price for anyone's time, talent, skill, and materials, because they have "seen it sold cheaper" elsewhere. They wrongly think that if seller-A sold it that cheap, then all the other artisans should do so too or they're ripping people off.

Also, everyone seems to fancy him/herself an artist now and Joe Buyer is bombarded and overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of what is available. I'm totally comfortable and familiar with what's available on the internet and even I get overwhelmed. Can you imagine what it's like for the average potential buyer?

I'll keep my shops open online, but my sales, in person, have overwhelmingly outsold anything I've listed at Etsy or Artfire. I am wondering if the handmade craze has crested (online anyway) and we can expect some sellers to drop away from the pack as it becomes harder and harder to be seen online?

Just musing. It's been a while since I checked in here and as usual, there are some very thought provoking posts. Hope you all are having a great summer. :o)

beckandcallgirl said...

Zibbet doesn't offer enough to justify charging $7/mo for their service.

The site has potential, but I believe this is going to push away many possible users.

sickofvenue said...

beckandcallgirl said...
Zibbet doesn't offer enough to justify charging $7/mo for their service.

The site has potential, but I believe this is going to push away many possible users.
********************

Exactly. I'm already paying Etsy listing and FVFees, Paypal fees, Artfire $7 month, website hosting fees, shopping cart for website at $40 per month, Propay account fees, etc.etc.

Where am I selling? 95% Etsy, 4% Artfire and 1% my own website.

I'll sign up for free until you sell places, although most of them are just reseller havens, but I can't afford any more "handmade" selling venues.

Why can't there be a juried site where you have to prove your stuff is handmade to get in, where there is tons of traffic through the website advertising, where there is X number of sellers per catagory allowed to keep buyers from being overwhelmed...

All Wired Up TOO said...

there IS a juried site .. no sales adn nobody knows about it! http://www.gozabo.com

I agree BMO .. there is so much undercutting of prices an deveryone thinks their creations are artisan....I also sell way more in person or in boutiques than online!

Watching said...

Wired, what do you mean by "no sales"-- like, nobody knows about it because nobody is buying?
I checked it out and submitted, thanks for the URL!

mizdarlin said...

mizdarlin
I joined fairly recently-althouigh no sales yet, I really like their instant shop stats, no insane running after google this and that, and they just upgraded to 25 free items-hate their shipping thingie-doesn't account for any differences in shipping cost.
Also can't download a banner-every time I try it comes up as "too small"
But they are in beta, answer every comment and e-mail and I feel they are really legitimately considering suggestions to improve the site. I'll stick around and see where it leads.

rrobin said...

I've been clamoring for a juried site since, like, forever...

So I just checked out gozabo.com, and my initial impression is that it is not very buyer-friendly.

The front page seems to be all about signing up new sellers.

All sellers and no buyers is not a good thing.

I had to scroll down to find the merchandize categories. They should be at the top.

I Don'tGetIt said...

I really think there's something to be said for having a shitload of traffic, and a site, although massive, that is easy to navigate and SEARCH. These handmade sites are quaint, and I am pulling for them (the more the merrier, as far as I'm concerned), but I know too many people who sell REALLY well on ebay, and I'm talking truly handmade. *Real artisan* stuff. And they sell very well, NOT cheap, by any means.

I refuse to be a part of a site that requires me to promote my ass off and has me explain how to use it- as someone mentioned earlier, that time is better spent creating.

All Wired Up TOO said...

what I meant by no sales I have been listing there but have no sales..I don't think anyone knows about the site..can't find my listings on google either!
sorry for all the typos..sheesh!

Jonathan Peacock - Zibbet.com said...

Hi Everyone!

We've just released a Sneak Peek Video of all our Upcoming Changes and thought I'd share it with you all... - http://www.zibbet.com/blog/2009.08.17/sneek-peek-at-upcoming-changes

Enjoy! :)

A Beaded Affair said...

Hi,
Signed up with Zibbet about a month ago, willing to pay 7.5% if need be for a sale and had my first sale yesterday. In the mean time they went to 25 listings for free and now I need not pay anything for that sale. Sweet! This site is like so many others with one noticeable difference. I emailed a question in the morning yesterday and had a very satisfactory answer back from Jonathan himself in the afternoon. What a pleasant surprise. I think I'll add some more product and see where this goes. I sell mostly supplies, certainly easier sell than crafts but I'm willing to give it a chance.
Lois
http://www.zibbet.com/abeadedaffair