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EcommerceBytes-Update, Number 279 - January 23, 2011 - ISSN 1528-6703     4 of 18

Sellers Choice Marketplace Ratings: Artfire

By Ina & David Steiner

January 23, 2011

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In January 2011, AuctionBytes surveyed almost 2,800 online sellers and asked them to rate the marketplaces on which they had experience selling. An introduction to the Sellers Choice survey along with a summary of the overall ratings can be found here, along with links to results for each of the 16 online marketplaces included in the survey.


Customer Service:


Ease of Use:

Would you recommend:

Year Established: 2008
Description: Handmade and vintage goods, fine art, digital arts and craft supplies
More Info

ArtFire came in first place with an overall rating of 8.2 on a scale of 1 to 10. Its highest marks were for Communication (8.63). While its is lowest marks were for Profitability (6.64), that was second highest score among all the marketplaces.

The items on ArtFire are similar to those found on Etsy, but selling on ArtFire is quite different. Many respondents commented that they liked ArtFire's fee structure (sellers pay no fees and can opt for a Pro account for which they pay a monthly subscription fee). However, some respondents said sellers without a Pro account do not fare well on the site.

Because of its fee structure, ArtFire has no fee avoidance issues, so it encourages sellers to cross-link to blogs, social media sites. "I feel it has a lot of potential, especially with its connection to social networks," wrote one respondent. Another said, "They allow me to promote all of my other venues: my website, my other shops, my Google blog and I can blog right on their site too."

ArtFire also got high marks for Customer Service and Ease of Use, which carried over in the comments with sellers relaying positive experiences with customer service and communication. Respondents also commented about the tools available to sellers, including SEO tools, an "easy-to-use coupon feature," and Google analytics. "I am very pleased with my experience at Artfire, admin is astonishingly responsive, and fees are minimal." Several respondents noted that their shops were picked up by Google almost immediately after setting them up.

ArtFire integrates with several online payment services. One respondent said they liked that Artfire allows buyers to purchase items without registering for an account. However, another seller wrote, "All the sales I've made on Artfire have been non-payers. Artfire really needs to implement the instant payment required thing like Etsy did."

A number of respondents said ArtFire management worked to make its sellers successful. Giving sellers the tools they need to run their businesses independently while offering marketing support and customer service seems to be its key to winning the top spot in this year's AuctionBytes Sellers Choice Awards.

Reader Comments - The Good, The Bad, The Ugly:
ArtFire was obviously started with the intention of helping all sellers make a living and be successful. It's not a cash machine, but a real tool that actually works.
Great site to sell and buy on. Management really cares about helping the sellers being successful.
The information provided to make sellers successful is just amazing.
Artfire works hard to provide their Pro sellers with tools to help them be successful overall not just on Artfire. Their communication is great.
I've only been there a few months but it is very easy to list, you have the ability to customize your studio, create blogs, connect to Face Book. and more. It is probably the most forward looking of the sites I sell on or have sold on.
I totally love everything about ArtFire and think it is on it's way to being the top selling site for handmade and art. My own handmade shop hasn't taken off yet, but I prefer being there, and hope it will outdo my sales at other venues real soon. The owner and staff are so great there! They treat the sellers like fellow humans, and are available to us for any questions or problems. The tools they give the shops are wonderful and they don't have personal "brand" like Etsy or eBay, the shops are all about "us" the sellers. The search works! Could probably think of a dozen other good points, but going to finish the survey instead.
Artfire staff are in constant contact with sellers. They send out weekly emails with updates, they post on their forums with site updates and warn us of downtime. They reply to our questions usually within hours on the forums. Selling is easy on Artfire. The staff have provided guides to help us get started, and with a single page listing process it takes very little time to get my products online. And one last thing, ArtFire helps sellers succeed no matter where they want to sell. The guides and help they offer don't only apply to the ArtFire site itself, but any other venue a person wants to sell from. I can't recommend ArtFire enough.
Been selling Pro since October and have had to contact them personally about a question via phone - administration handled it immediately and very professionally. Was pleasant surprise to have a human answer the phone! Administration is constantly adding new "toys" for Pro use and they are in the forums regularly to answer questions and concerns. Flat monthly rate to sell is wonderful... no surprises.
AF has been so unlike any other experience I've had selling online. It's fabulous. More payment options to offer customers, quick response to bugs, great customer service and guides to help you be success. Just a really great experience well worth the monthly flat rate fee.
I am still pinching myself about all the tools that ArtFire has and the help and interaction from ArtFire Staff. You just can't get help like that even in brick and mortar stores anymore.
Artfire.com allows buyers to purchase items without registering for an account. This is a much better option than sites such as Etsy.com, who do not allow this option. Many of my buyers did not register an account before they made their purchases. Artfire.com does not charge relisting fees, but instead has a monthly fee for the Pro membership. This keeps the seller from having to relist items over and over again when they expire. On other sites such as Etsy.com, the seller feels they need to relist their items often so they do not get buried beneath thousands of other similar items. Artfire.com does a good job communicating with the sellers. They often participation in forums keeping members informed, answering questions and letting sellers know about their future plans.
The shops are attractive, reasonably customizable, and easy to use. The staff is friendly, helpful and knowledgeable. The tools for sellers are amazing and easy to use. The forums are very helpful and fun.
Art Fire staff members are totally available to help sellers with any problems or questions & get back in a timely manner when questions arise. Communication through the forums and with individuals is frequent and timely. The site is easy to use and understand; many written guides are available to help sellers get started. I can't say enough good things about my online marketing experience with Art Fire.
I Think Artfire will become the Premiere site to sell on in the coming year, In 2010 they added so many great seller tools, BEST for communication & ease of Use, plus great SEO help !!!!!!! No final seller fee, low monthly rate. And it is starting to really grow, GREAT 5 Star++
I'm new to selling on-line and after querying many different sites before making my decision which venue to try, the staff at ArtFire were the only ones to respond to my many questions, they provided me with an array of helpful links, solutions and answers. The Artfire staff along with the other sellers there have never failed to patiently and quickly jump to help each other, it's like joining a caring family, they go above and beyond any expectations I had from comparing other venues, I do recommend Artfire especially to people that are weary and new to selling on-line! I have gained not only professional advise and knowledge but a wonderful support system and great friends at Artfire!
LOVE it here! Any issues administration resolves them as fast as possible, administration is involved in the forums with everyone, listings are done with ease here, I enjoy seeing my google analtytics, I like seeing where my incoming urls are from....so much good to say about this place!:)
This site was properly set up before it was ever offered to sellers and the staff are innovative, they want their sellers to succeed and customer service is always available, either online or by telephone. The site is very easy to use and products come up in Google search within hours. The attitude on the site is very positive and friendly in general and the fees are very reasonable. Down time on the site is rare and addressed quickly. The site is colorful and has a welcoming feel. I recommend Artfire to all of my selling friends.
I'm a charter member on ArtFire and my business has grown as the site has grown. Communication with the staff is excellent, the forums are a wealth of useful information and interaction, ArtFire offers countless tools to aid in SEO and increase sales, the Pro studios are completely customizable, the staff keeps the sellers up to date on everything going on with the site and all changes that are made, and they actually listen to suggestions from their sellers. I fell in love with this site from day one and have never regretted my decision to make it my selling venue. They are constantly improving the site, at no extra cost to their sellers.
I don't hear a lot from ArtFire. They let me run my business the way I want. In recent weeks, they have started to communicate more often. They did SOMETHING in November that caused my sales to spike!!! I still don't know what it was but I am HAPPY!!!! ArtFire has a super easy-to-use coupon feature, and I directed all my year-end email campaigns to my shop there. None of the surge in business I got there came from my activities, but rather their own efforts. I LOVE LOVE LOVE ArtFire!
Site graphics are the big downside of Artfire, but the administration actively seeks input from sellers like no site I've ever known. Morale there is high.
While I haven't sold much there, I feel very at home. Tony and the staff are always available to answer questions and concerns, to make new features available, and they allow me to promote all of my other venues: my website, my other shops, my Google blog and I can blog right on their site too. Up and coming site, so I'm here for the long haul.
Artfire falls down in a couple areas. One is the extraordinary monthly fee for pro sellers - it is way too high. Another is the "tagging" items as inappropriate. The current system allows your items to be tagged and flagged without any review by artfire. It's a "guilty until proven innocent" system. I had one tagged once by someone who didn't speak english and thought they were putting it in their favorites. I then had to jump through hoops to get the flag removed.
The Artfire staff are very helpful to sellers and they provide excellent tools to set up our shops and great tutorials and advice to get the most out of Artfire. In addition they consistently hold conversations with sellers about ideas for improvement to the site and ask for feedback on how to deal with issues. I'm very pleased with my experience at Artfire.
I haven't made a single sale yet still. They are quite communicative though and I think it is an up and coming site. Their "fees" (basic none, pro low monthly- extra features and no fees either for sales)
They need to improve listing features (eg, copying a prior listing), and the shipping and handling section definitely needs work. More traffic to the site would be good, too. I haven't really had to deal with their CS (yet), so don't know to much about it.
There is an elite group that essentially has control of the forums. Unpopular sellers WILL get their rep bar voted down, which in turn silences said seller. This is a function for staff. I left the site because of this.
Email and ratings are messed up and very confusing. Seems they are in business to just promote and collect Pro Account Fees. Was NOT impressed with my experience and found it even MORE impersonal than Etsy. I DON'T recommend this site for Selling OR Buying.
Customer service (Tony) is condescending and never gives inquiring sellers a straight answer. Just a lot of his "legalese" and beating around the bushes. Site is poorly designed and not user-friendly for buyers or sellers. A simpler and cleaner interface is much needed to attract buyers. Many of the pro only features are useless (like searching pro items only) or to the sites own disadvantage. The pro package is way too expensive for what you get... Unless you're a reseller or supplier and list hundreds of items. But most crafters and artists list unique handmade items. They do not cater to the handmade market and most of my friends have downgraded to the basic package. The only item that has sold was listed for over a year ago, had barely 100 hits, and should have expired 9 months before it was bought. How can an expired item be active and available for sale? Can't say I'm impressed.
You can only sell on this site if you upgrade. The trust level is minimal for unupgraded accounts. I have tried to shut down my account by sending an email to the staff but alas it is still there.

Sellers Choice
We thank all readers who took the time to rate the marketplaces. If you have comments about the survey results or the survey itself, please feel free to post them in the AuctionBytes Blog. ____________

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About the author:

Ina and David Steiner are publishers of EcommerceBytes.com and have been writing about ecommerce since 1999.

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