Finding the ways to fill the time
Almost an entire calendar month has passed since I opened a shop on Zibbet.True to its word, Zibbet offers a completely free selling experience, and a reasonable amount of features with it. More than that, the site is trying hard to create a supportive and sympathetic community, readily welcoming refugees from sites with a higher degree of cliqueishness and alienation.
Initially, I found Zibbet’s format hard to warm to. I felt it was calculatedly designed to emulate Etsy, the ultimate competitor in online handmade sales, with a white background and squared thumbnails of recently listed items.
Can you note the similarities?
On registering things looked more positive. New members are confronted with the standard tick/cross list of features for the two different accounts, but Zibbet includes some shiny ones for free such as:
Reserved for Premium Sellers is rotation on the home page, more sharing options like a Facebook App and inclusion in “Gift Guides”, as well as sale enhancers like Gift Certificates and Coupons.
Premium Zibbet store owner, Sunfire, enjoys the greater degree of customisation, saying, ” I also love that we can change the color scheme to match our business branding. ”
The paid option is popular. 4 to 1 in my questionnaire respondents group happily pay the yearly rate of $79, while SweetSouthernVintage, the lone free user is waiting on the inclusion of ‘guest checkouts’ before committing.
My main focus is free Etsy alternatives so I checked the box and signed in.
Be warned, setting up a Zibbet account properly will not take 5 minutes.
There is a bit a brain exercise involved in considering how to word your shop Policies and deciding exactly how much you will charge in shipping, or whether you want to offer refunds for damaged in transport goods.
Luckily, some hardworking Zibbet blogger has written up How Tos with handy advice and tips on wording (copy/paste).
But still, between looking up whether Japan Post’s Registered Mail offered tracking or not, fighting unsuccessfully with the banner uploader (though everyone else has nice ones ><) and adding tax to my items, I felt a little overwhelmed, bored and with only enough effort to post up two items with their single included photographs.
And then ignore my store for a week.
Hmm, maybe time to get some feedback from the community. I emailed off short questionnaires to sellers, and over the course of the month received five replies. Click the banner and take a closer look at their shops, because, in taking the time to help flesh out this post, they are obviously lovely and helpful people.
Though I sent off about 20 emails to a variety of sellers of Handmade, Vintage, Supplies etc, both Premium and Free, sales and no sales, members from 2009 onwards, three of the five who replied were sellers as new to Zibbet as I, opening their shops in April 2012.
All respondents were happy with the value and support provided, frequently mentioning the ease of use of the site and the warmth of the community.
” It is a lot cheaper than Etsy or Artfire. You just pay a set amount and you can list as much as you can. With other sites you pay per listing. ” said Madelynn.
Sunfire concurred, “ I was on Etsy for 3 years, had 100 sales, but had to leave because the fees were costing too much, especially since you were encouraged to relist regularly, which was another $0.20 every time. When you are selling things for $5, it doesn’t take long to stop making a profit. ”
Zoe, “I’m not working for Zibbet” :P, gave an enthusiastic endorsement, “Their support staff is the best I’ve encountered on the web- friendly, extremely helpful & very quick to respond to questions or problems. I never feel like I’m bothering them, unlike on some other sites. I like the site navigation, too. It’s very user-friendly… In interacting with everyone, you really get the sense of the attitude that everyone wants you to succeed. ”
Concerns lay with low sales and traffic. A valid concern as, according to Alexa a statistics summary website, Zibbet has a global ranking of 74, 598 compared to Etsy’s 157, and in the US it’s 20,367 to 54 respectively.
Premium seller Fadoodles said, ” I have yet to sell anything but … have had over 100 views so far. ” While Free account user, SweetSouthernVintage, said she’d had, “Very few views. ”
Even veteran Zoe admitted, ” I have not been as successful as I’d like. However, that’s really my own fault. I have not put as much energy into getting my product listed. ” She continued, “I know several people who are very successful with Zibbet, and have discussed their methods. (SEO, promoting on Twitter & Facebook, etc) ”
However all sites and all stores have to start somewhere.
Overall, despite my early reservations about Zibbet, the strongly positive responses I received during the questionnaire encouraged me to reassess. It has impressed me with a dynamic vibe, a sense of continual growth and adaptation for the better of both buyers and sellers, generated by hands on, responsive moderators .
Once I did venture into the community forums I found the community as warmly encompassing as promised, welcoming to new users, geting to know each other better through the in-browser chat applet and hosting groups like the WTFS (working together for sales).
A site design overhaul reputedly in the works might see the rough corners further smoothed off, and greater functionality and features to lure shoppers and boost up the statistics.
For me, while some increased involvement with my store may be in order, I am happy with the free version for now, maybe following the example of Sunfire who prudently waited to invest after sales success:
” I started out with a free account in January 2011. By July, I had made enough money in sales to cover a year of Premium, so I took the opportunity. My second shop, however, has always been basic If that shop has consistent sales and makes enough money, I will probably upgrade it as well.”
Coming soonish, currently being road-tested and members interrogated, is Yokaboo.