1000 Markets takes on Etsy

For those still curious after Making it on 1000 Markets, here’s my interview with 1000 Markets spokesperson Alyson Stone about the newest marketplace for handmade goods.

1000 Markets kind of snuck up on us. When did you officially launch?

We never had an official launch. The CEO [Matthew Trifiro] felt with such an ongoing process and because the site was changing so quickly, we’d create confusion by doing that, so we changed the message without any fanfare. He had been in business since September 2008.

Has the site changed since then?

Radically. Our mission changed in that first year from just allowing merchants to sell products on 1000 Markets to enabling merchants to connect with their customers, giving them the tools they need to run their business and sell their products online.

How is that different from what Etsy does?

Unlike Etsy, we’re not so much about social forums, not so chatty and community-based. We’re more about helping small businesses. Another thing that sets us apart is that we are curated, in the sense that you have to understand the basics of shop management and the importance of good photography. You have to write good descriptions and understanding basic tenets like search engine optimization before you can open a shop. You have to demonstrate more than what I call the church-basement-sale mentality. You have to be a serious shop owner, not just a dilettante. Well, you can do that and get in, but we think our method of approving shops ensures that you understand you’re not just renting the barn and putting on a show.

I’ve heard 1000 Markets is juried. Is that true?

We’re not juried in the sense of we like your product or we don’t. You can make something kitschy. It’s not about subjective taste. You’re prevented from getting in if you don’t have a proper shop.

What is required to get a shop approved on 1000 Markets?

You have to have six products photographed and described, your policies in place, an avatar and banner of a certain size. Product descriptions can’t contain references to other selling venues. If you’re denied, it might be because you have references to [Etsy] “convos” or your photos may be blurry and not appealing.

Tell me more about the tools you mentioned. Why are they important?

Putting up a successful shop is about running a small business. When I started at Etsy, it was the only thing I’d heard of. I just made some pin cushions and dove in. I figured I’ve done my job, where are the sales? That was a really naive approach. We constantly reinforce education. We have a merchant library, market forums. Sellers are constantly given guidance about what’s required. As they’ve evolved, we’ve given more information about Twitter, how to use it for business, what is marketing and promotion, how do you do it, what about advertising. We provide RSS feeds and good analytics. So they’re not at a disadvantage.

I’ve heard good things about all that from your sellers, but Etsy posts a lot of helpful information now too. I’m still trying to get a handle on what sets 1000 Markets apart.

When you look at the statistics, people spend more time on our site per visit than Etsy. But we don’t have the sales Etsy has – or anywhere near.

That would be hard. Etsy grossed almost $200 million in sales last year with about 200,000 sellers. How many sellers are on 1000 Markets at this point?

We have over 17,000 sellers and 2,000 shops. But the statistics show that the kind of person who shops at 1000 Markets spends more time than the person who shops at Etsy. We think this is because they’re being presented with a group of more qualified sellers and they like the look of the site. It’s not cluttered, it’s not overrun by supplies. They tend to see it as a more upscale site, more attractive to a more upscale buyer, but on a much smaller level.

But Etsy has also just announced a major upheaval of how they’re going to do business. I have a feeling that’s going to shove more people our way. Huge changes are going on there. The original CEO [Rob Kalin] returned last month and announced that they’re going to a more social model rather than less social. A social model is expensive for the company. They’re pushing the forums back to the teams but it’s still a huge support function. I can’t see any of the changes benefiting the buyer.

When you go to Etsy now, the only curation you have as the buyer is what the editors pick [to highlight on] the front page gallery and they’re getting rid of the gift guides so it’s just going to be more chaotic. Rob Kalin really believes the social model is the way to go but that is not a profitable route.

As an Etsy merchant, I wrote to their support staff five or six times and never got a response. I hear that over and over from our merchants. We have a different goal. Our goal is to put ourselves out to businesses. It’s not just about 1000 Markets but about spreading the word about small businesses and how they can succeed. We don’t have the same goals. From the beginning, Matt [Trifiro] has said we are not in competition with Etsy.

But sellers must see it that way, that they’re choosing between sites.

We’re constantly telling people not to do that. Artfire is also huge. But you’re paying a lot of money on Etsy and Artfire. [Similar to Artfire], you get a free shop here and we take a higher percentage of sales. But on Artfire, you pay a $15 fee every month to get the full Monty and Etsy is a nightmare of listing and relisting fees. I’ve heard from so many vendors that if you want to be seen on Etsy, it’s not enough to list your product, you have relist constantly. So they make a killing on the fact that they’re huge. People that need to get seen have to pay.

Also, Artfire and Etsy are all about [selling] everything. We’re not. We’re all about segmented things. We don’t take supplies. We don’t take pornographic stuff. It’s more discerning in that sense. Nothing wrong with supplies, of course, I’m sure we’ll get into that eventually.

It sounds like 1000 Markets is still figuring out its niche.

You have to think of 1000 Markets as taking the first step in the game we’re playing in. Small-production, single-proprietor and family-run businesses are booming. It’s not really mom-and-pop any more. We haven’t got a term for this yet: micro- or mini-preneur? That is exploding and expected to grow by 2020 into 32 million merchants. It’s one of the fastest growing segments of ecommerce.

We don’t want to become the eBay of this. We’re not trying to be Etsy Gone Wild. We want to be the help-your-small-business model. These aggregating sites like Etsy and Artfire, for now they’re the way things are done but that’s not to say that will always be the way. Eventually you’ll be able to have individual product pages, real-time marketing, landing pages where you can go on Twitter and announce a deal for the next 20 minutes on your glass coasters – who knows? The potential for innovative, agile promotion and marketing is so exciting. Nobody knows where it’s going.

For more about Etsy: Making it on Etsy.

13 comments for “1000 Markets takes on Etsy

  1. January 15, 2010 at 6:43 pm

    Just for the record, it only costs $12 a month for a Pro Artfire shop, not $50 a month. Didn’t know if that was a typo, but it is incorrect information.

    Thank you,

  2. January 16, 2010 at 9:11 am

    I enjoyed my conversation with Cathleen, and we agree that the world of aggregate selling sites is exciting and evolving at a very rapid pace. 1000 Markets hopes to continue to provide very small businesses with knowledge and tools to help them compete in this new ecommerce landscape.

    [I must correct a couple of things–1000 Markets has over 17,000 users, and over 2000 sellers. Artfire fees are around $15 a month, not $50, and the old saying “rent the barn and put on a show” is what I was referring to to imply optimism and enthusiasm–not a drinks bar.]

  3. Cathleen McCarthy
    January 16, 2010 at 3:17 pm

    Corrections made! Thanks for weighing in.


  4. January 16, 2010 at 7:24 pm

    This might be of interest. It certainly reaffirms our feeling that it is best to keep forum drama away from buyers’ eyes. http://diyfashion.about.com/b/

  5. February 27, 2010 at 8:13 pm

    Thanks for this! My 1000 Markets store was just approved this morning, and I am very excited about it. I sold next to nothing on Etsy. I just felt like my shop was getting lost in the enormity of Etsy, and I hated having to keep running back to the computer every couple of hours to “renew” an item (not to mention the fees!), just to be seen at all.

    A smaller, more select group feels right to me, and I want to learn all I can about it.

  6. April 7, 2010 at 1:06 pm

    I have my work on several sites: my own (www.jewelryarte.com), Etsy, ArtFire and 1000Markets. So far I am doing best on 1000Markets. I like the upscale look of the site and customers seem to appreciate the higher quality merchandise they find there.

  7. May 2, 2010 at 3:46 am

    I sell on several sites and I’ve found the most current and helpful information comes from the sellers in the Etsy forums.

  8. Heed my advice!
    May 3, 2010 at 6:45 pm

    I recently closed up shop on 1000 Markets. What this story doesn’t even come close to covering is that, while 1000 Markets loves to say etsy is a nightmare to be seen on, so is 1000 Markets. While they have close to 1000 sellers, you wouldn’t know that from any front page promotion, or any holiday promotion of any kind. The same 30-50 faces in promotion after promotion after promotion. In a front page promotion with 12-16 photos, you will see THREE products from the same vendor at one time. How does that make it easy for everyone to be seen? It doesn’t. They make claims about giving people the tools to run their own businesses. Well, those tools work no matter what site you are on. I could use those same tools to point to my etsy site, correct? If the owners of 1000 Markets are going to leave all the promotions to the sellers, and do none of their own, then what benefit *is* 1000 Markets after all? As a seller, as long as someone buys from me, no matter if it is an Artfire shop, a Dawanda shop, an Etsy shop, or a 1000 Markets shop, why should I care, as long as I am making sales? The question 1000 Markets needs to be asked is what are the *management team* doing to bring the buyers to their site?

    These days, zero.

    They are all too busy working on Bixbe.biz, 1000 Markets new brainchild.

    You see, the owners at 1000 Markets decided the market thing wasn’t working out after all, so, in order to not be saddled with a name that makes no sense anymore, they need to change. So, here comes Bixbe!

    Of course, that doesn’t stop new vendors from arriving on the 1000 Markets doorstep wondering how they get into markets, not realizing that the market thing is dead. See, management isn’t really making that clear right now.

    So, be warned folks. Unless you can burrow your way into the short short list of “favored children”, 1000 Markets wont be for you.

    Oh, and one last thing, for a site that likes to say it doesn’t want to be etsy, and wants to keep to quality, handmade goods, why do they have someone selling hypnosis cd’s on their site? Just exactly how does that fit into the 1000 Markets handmade philosophy again?

    Yeah, don’t bother folks. Find another selling site. 1000 Markets might be free, but boy do you get what you pay for!

  9. May 4, 2010 at 2:07 pm

    I sell via my own website as well as through 1000 Markets and various boutiques & stores. I have tried a few other sites, the usual suspects, and found 1000 markets to be the best fit by far for my work. I have always enjoyed working with the 1000 Markets team because they seem to actually care about their merchants and want to help them succeed.

    To address the comment above mine, I’m not sure why you think they aren’t promoting but I continually see 1000 Market’s name while on twitter, design blogs, facebook, etc…and as much of that promotion is coming from the site itself as from specific merchants. 1000 Markets is a newer site, but the customers they have attracted thus far seem to be after higher-end work (the hypnosis cds I do agree seem out of place, but then again just because they are available on the site doesn’t mean they are selling well or at all). A customer looking for higher-end, fine craft style work might be a great fit for many merchants, but not all. Etsy’s “everything under the sun” style is a better fit for many, which is why they have such a wide variety of customers. However, no matter which site you prefer, there are always dozens of merchants complaining that they aren’t selling enough, or at all. With the current economy all of the blame for that can’t fall with the merchant, but often quite a bit of it does.

    The biggest mistake I see again and again is artisans/designers/merchants marketing to the wrong market. I’ll use myself as an example. I could cart all of my jewelry to a small community craft fair, and I would be lucky to spend my day doing anything other than politely explaining my work is 18k & gemstone when they say “Oh, look at all this crystal jewelry!”…while another handmade jewelry designer with pieces mostly under $100 could be set up right next to me and spend the day selling constantly. However if that same designer were to set up next to me at a high-end fine craft show they might be lucky to sell just one or two pieces while I move half my inventory. Obviously this is because we each have a different type of customer we need to be marketing to…and the same thing goes with selling online, through stores, etc. You can try and sell all you want on the wrong site, but it is just not going to work. BEFORE putting so much work into setting up & running a shop and promoting it, merchants really need to do their homework and find out what is selling well and who is buying. Contact other sellers with work similar to yours in style and/or price, find out how they are doing on the site and if the answer is “not so well” find out what other sites they are selling well on.

    Before condemning an entire site and the team behind it, perhaps you should really think about why you weren’t successful on 1000 Markets beyond the lack of promotion. The answer might just be that 1000 Markets simply wasn’t the right fit for your work.

  10. starry
    May 5, 2010 at 1:59 pm

    All I can say is that my 1000markets shop’s views are going up while my etsy shop’s are plummeting. “nuff said.

  11. September 21, 2010 at 5:18 pm

    Well now that 1000Markets has been bought by Bonanza (nee Bonanzle), this article is a moot point.

    I wish everyone affected by this merger the best of luck!

  12. Cathleen McCarthy
    September 22, 2010 at 10:15 pm

    Emily, I just interviewed one of the Bonanza co-founders and wrote about it here: http://bit.ly/bP4YYL. I wish everyone the best as well, whatever they decide.

  13. October 21, 2010 at 4:53 am

    I absolutely loved reading your post! I enjoy everything handmade, but particularly handmade jewelry. Keep up the astonishing work!

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