Ten years ago independent artists would have never thought their flea market goods would have a global outreach, but now ecommerce sites like eBAY and Etsy propel products sold from alleyway markets into the homes of people around the world. Last year the number of sellers on Etsy reached 1.5 million and generated revenues of more than US$132 million.
While Etsy has set the bar for independent artists in terms of online reach, other players like Amazon Handmade, Handkrafted, Artfire and eCrater are bringing all kinds of competition to the ecommerce space. To rival this competition is Sydney startup Zibbet, which not only helps generate a personalised online website for artists, but also syncs together inventories across various sales channels.
While sellers have the option of selling directly on the Zibbet platform, soon they will also be able to sync up their inventories across various sales platforms like Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram. Currently the startup allows artists to link up their accounts with Facebook to increase their traction and customer acquisition.
Due to the overload of vintage and hand crafted goods online, sellers need that extra push to get their products into the eyes of their market. Zibbet looks to help artists and crafters sell more products, no matter where their customers are. Users can list their products on the Zibbet marketplace and also switch on the sales channels they want to sell from.
Founder of Zibbet Jonathan Peacock said the Zibbet marketplace exists to help send sellers more traffic and sales.
“It helps the creatives sell more product wherever their customers may be. So if their customers are on Pinterest then we want to aid them to sell on Pinterest, but we also want to make it easier for them to sell on all other platforms as well,” he said.
Products are pushed out to the sales channels users want to sell through and once a sale is made, that product is automatically removed from both the Zibbet site and the alternative sales site. This allows sellers to identify what products are selling and across which sites. Instead of an artist having to manually track and take down a sold item, Zibbet does it automatically for them.
Peacock said he is also working on creating an app for buyers to sell and manage their inventories remotely and at all times of the day. The app is currently in the works and should be available in the next six months, with the startup having lots of models to work from: apps like Carousell have made it easy for sellers to take quick pictures of their products and upload it onto the app within seconds for sale.
Peacock said that over the next 12 months Zibbet will also be working on streamlining existing websites of their sellers. For example if a Zibbet seller has created their own website through WordPress or Squarespace, Zibbet will provide them with a unique code that will add every listed product through existing sites available on the Zibbet platform.
Unlike other ecommerce platforms that rely on a pay per lead or commission-based model, Zibbet works off a monthly subscription, with a starting price of $5 to a premium of $20.
Zibbet first launched as a fine arts marketplace back in 2009 with a commission-only structure, however Peacock quickly discovered that this model made it difficult to bring on buyers and sellers to the site.
Being a bootstrapped business, Peacock found that the easiest way for Zibbet to bring in revenue early was to shift into an SaaS platform with four main categories only. These categories include fine art, vintage, handmade, and craft supplies.
Without funding Zibbet has hit $20,000 in month on month revenue, with sellers from 133 different countries and 60,000 registered buyers.
Currently Peacock is in talks with an international handcrafted marketplace as part of its expansion plans, looking to form strategic partnerships with large players to tap into even larger ecommerce marketplaces and provide its customers with extended sales channels.
With the majority of its market in the US, Zibbet has a large task on its hands to cut through the noise. In recent years ecommerce platforms like Alibaba have generated enormous revenues from global markets, though there have been some setbacks too. Etsy last year completed the worst IPO of 2015, with stock prices falling 50 percent from where they stood at the end of its first day of trading. According to company filings the proportion of sales from international markets has since remained stagnant, which brings up the question of whether online handmade sellers reached their peak performance?
Zibbet not only has to compete with the shrinking giant Etsy, but also other handmade marketplaces, vintage fashion sellers and website builders like Squarespace and Shopify. The forming of strategic partnerships is key for Zibbet to stay relevant and will help the Sydney startup to leverage off existing customer bases and online marketplaces that have already generated a significant amount of revenue.
Image: Jonathan Peacock. Source: Supplied.