Abby Glassenberg is a designer, author, blogger at WhileSheNaps.com, and co-founder of the Craft Industry Alliance. She discusses diversification and expansion beyond marketplaces in Part 1 of EcommerceBytes Online Selling Trends 2019.
Heading into 2019 creative small businesses should be looking to diversify how they’re selling online. Marketplaces can no longer be front and center. The craft community has experienced enough tumult imposed by marketplace companies over the last few years to know that their priorities are often more aligned with investors than with makers.
Until last month Craftsy (now Bluprint) hosted a vast marketplace for sewing, quilting, knitting, and crochet patterns. Just before Christmas and with one week’s warning, they drastically trimmed the library, shutting down thousands of shops and causing many designers to scramble for an ecommerce alternative. The new scaled down pattern shop made sense for parent company NBCUniversal’s ecommerce strategy; not so much for the designers left in the dust.
Of course, Etsy is still an easy option, but the listing fee increase last year from 3.5% to 5%, plus the additional fees on shipping charges, mean it’s not quite as affordable as it once was. Plus the pressure to offer free shipping and participate in seasonal marketplace-wide sales favors products that can be produced quickly and cheaply, which doesn’t quite groove with the handmade ethos.
Fortunately, there are other strong ecommerce options available. Shopify is definitely the top platform for makers really looking to go pro. Mobile responsive themes, abandoned cart recovery, a multitude of payment gateways including Apple Pay, a treasure trove of apps for additional functionality, and SEO tools make Shopify the top ecommerce choice for 2019, and likely beyond. Yes, there’s a monthly fee, but you’re getting a lot of value, too.
Making a standalone ecommerce shop succeed requires hustle. You can’t rely on the good name, SEO optimization, and marketing push of a massive company to bring customers to your front door. That’s work you’ll have to do yourself, each and every day, slowly over time. But when those customers come, they’re truly yours, and that means everything.
Introduction to Online Selling Trends 2019: Back to Basics
1) Diversification and Expansion Beyond Marketplaces
2) New Sales Tax Obligations
3) An Increase in Returns Combined with High Demand for Used Goods
4) Major Changes in USPS Rate Structure, Adoption of Voice Technology
5) Retail Convergence Accompanied by Tax Complexities
6) Increasing Cost and Complexity of Parcel Shipping
7) “Glass Box” in Artificial Intelligence, In-Store Personalization
8) Continued Dominance of Ecommerce by Amazon