Monday, November 3, 2008
Site Review : iCraft.ca
iCraft.ca is the latest international player in the online handmade market. Based in Toronto, it has quite a few features that larger sites still lack.
The front page greets you with a stunning photograph of a bejewelled babe and a blurb about the site - attractive and eye-catching enough, but requiring you to scroll down to see all the goods. The constantly changing array of items on the front page is slick and smooth (for an example of how not to rotate items attractively, see handmadefusion.com.) These front page items are drawn from new listings, and as of this writing are not changing very frequently (making this a pretty good value for front page exposure, at least until the number of sellers increases.)
Moving new items across the front page is a fine idea, but it has one drawback compared to the more controlled method where front page items are "juried." Owing to some sellers' inexcusable inattention to basic photography techniques (let's start with "focus"), a few klinkers scroll past every few seconds. There is a nice hover feature, which expands the front page item and links to the item page.
A basic fee is charged to become a "creator" at iCraft.ca - currently $25 CAD. This entitles a seller to list up to five items at once for no additional fees. There is no commission on sales. If you want to sell more than 5 items at once, a sliding subscription rate applies, beginning at $5 CAD monthly up to $35 CAD for up to 100 items. The subscribed accounts also have advertising removed from their listing pages. One nice touch - a listing can have a quantity of more than one but only counts as one listing toward your subscription. Also, listings created as part of your subscription do not expire.
Listing and editing functions are straightforward and simple to use, and there is an option to preview your listing before it goes live. Item photos are large, and you can load up to six of them - they are not thumbnailed on the listing page, however. A shopper must follow a link to see them, and they are then all loaded and at full size. Sellers will do well to take this into consideration when choosing image size before uploading. Other sites process photos while they upload to create thumbnails and resize them to a standard size for display. A "Clone this product" function allows you to sell similar items without starting the listing process from scratch. Sellers can attach private notes to products for their own reference, as well.
iCraft.ca has some nice features that sellers will not find elsewhere, like the ability to quickly change the status of individual items between being active and inactive (if you are taking an item to a show, for instance, you can put it "on hold"). Items can also be "reserved" for a buyer. The major currencies are supported (CAD, USD, AUD, GBP, and EUR). Products are submitted to google base on behalf of the seller.
iCraft.ca is perhaps the best of the newer sites attempting to challenge Etsy's dominance. It has some of the basic seller tools that Etsy still does not have. The appearance of the site is professional and largely free of gimmicks. Recommended.