EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 2889 - September 11, 2012     2 of 4

Artfire Offers New Shopping Features with More Social Sharing

By Julia Wilkinson

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Artfire is offering a spate of new features, including a new "Patron" shopper account; a comment and share for a discount program to encourage social sharing; a new "faceted search" tool that integrates browse and search; optimized pages for mobile phones; and more.

Artfire Executive Vice President and COO Tony Ford said the site has added tens of thousands of Patrons to the program, explaining, "Patrons are shoppers with accounts. Because we have guest checkout, many shoppers are guests and not Patrons. The Patron account is free, and will be customizable in the future." He added that Patrons have access to special discounts from many sellers.

Ford explained the "faceted browse/search product" was an integration of their former category browse and search shopping methods: "As you search, the categories re-order by the most best matches and give you a count of how many matches are in the category. This allows for faster navigation around the site and allows shoppers to better narrow their search returns to find exactly what they want," he said.

Ford said the site has maintained its growth in average sales per seller, although overall "we've seen organic search traffic slow as Google organic search continues to change." He said a lot of the improvement in Artfire's sales conversion rate stems from its promotional efforts on social media sites with better-converting traffic and "from testing a series of improvements to checkout and shopping using internal split-testing tools."

Preparing for Google Shopping's transition to a pay-only model, Artfire has been adapting new organic search and image search optimization. "We've nearly tripled our search traffic from image searches, and recovered search traffic that we saw decrease with the (Google) Panda and Penguin organic algorithm changes," said Ford.

In addition, the site is focusing on diversifying traffic sources away from Google organic search to social media sites, other search engines and shopping engines. "We've found that Google makes changes frequently that can negatively impact small ecommerce sellers as the algorithm changes continue to push traffic to large brand names and away from indie business owners," explained Ford, adding, "We don't see that trend changing in the future, and are working to generate shopper traffic from sources that are more friendly to artisans."

Ford said that sites like Pinterest, Wanelo, and other curated-content sites send visitors who are much more likely to buy from their sellers. And traffic from Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites have also shown an increase in sales conversion rates for Artfire sellers over the past year.

Also important to keeping and attracting new shoppers is the mobile optimization: "We're finding that more and more shoppers are shopping on phones and tablets," said Ford. "Our mobile traffic has risen from 10% of visitors a year ago to over 20% now and we expect it to surpass 25% during the holiday shopping season." He said mobile shopping page depth and time on site have both improved in just the few days since they launched the optimized pages.

Other changes the site has made include:

  • A new "favorites" program that allows shoppers to have private and public wishlists, add favorites to those lists and create new lists on-the-fly while shopping all from a hover/right click function on items.

  • Rebuilding its CSV importer to work with all CSV files, allow bulk listing and added bulk editing tools; and a "draft" mode to the item-listing process for imports.

  • Rebuilding their shop merchandizer tool with a new interface that allows larger sellers to organize shop layouts, section layouts and the look of their products with drag and drop functionality.

  • A new login system that allows for login with username, email or Facebook account.

  • Re-working their "similar items" suggestion engine to reduce the item page-load time by nearly half a second.

The company also has formed several new partnerships with major craft suppliers and "one new partnership with an emerging German curated-content social media site," said Ford, adding that he would have more details on those when they launch.

Ford said that although the company is through the initial design for their assurance program and a digital download product for tutorials, they've decided to delay those projects due to "changes in search traffic, shopping engines, new social media channels and feedback from our sellers regarding what tools are most important to them."

About the Author
Julia Wilkinson is the author of "The eBay Price Guide" (No Starch Press, 2006) and "eBay Top 100 Simplified Tips & Tricks" (Wiley, 2004-6). Her free "Yard Salers" newsletter is at available at where you will also find her latest ebook, Flip It Again.

About the author:

Julia Wilkinson is the author of "The eBay Price Guide" (No Starch Press, 2006) and "eBay Top 100 Simplified Tips & Tricks" (Wiley, 2004-6). Her free "Yard Salers" newsletter is at available at where you will also find her latest ebook, Flip It Again.

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