Saturday, December 13, 2008

Another look at iCraft.ca

Last month I reviewed iCraft.ca, a Canada-based handmade commerce site with a clean, professional look. Since then, iCraft.ca has started offering a 25% subscription rate discount if you sign up before the end of the year, making it a pretty good value, as well.

iCraft has a sliding subscription rate based on how many listings you have (and multiples of a single item in the same listing count as one listing) You can list up to five items for free, 5-15 for $5.00 CAD/month, 5-45 for $15.00 CAD/month and up to 100 items for $35.00 CAD/month at the regular rates. With the discount applied and allowing for the exchange rate, the middle "Professional" subscription comes to about $9.00 US/month for up to 45 items. The "Starter" subscription for up to 15 items at once works out to just $2.60 US/month.

Considering that most Etsy sellers have fewer than ten items listed, iCraft might be an attractive alternative for many. iCraft takes no commission on sales, and items are "interchangeable" - meaning that you can take one item down and replace it with no re-listing fee or penalty. One huge benefit that Etsy does not offer is the automatic submission of seller items to Google Base, greatly extending the reach of an iCraft listing without the extra work needed to re-format all your items.

iCraft has been around for a while now, and the site is stable. A dedicated topic in the community forum keeps users up to date on site issues and fixes (usually - a recent server reboot came as a surprise.) Staff are active and responsive in the forums. Most pages have an easy-to-find tech-support link near the top.

Where iCraft compares even more favorably with other similar sites is in the overall appearance of the site. Although it is somewhat spread out in places (the product browsing page is one notable example), the look is consistent, appealing and simple. One thing that iCraft does that others do not is charge a one-time sign-up fee of $25 CAD (about $20 US at the current exchange) which serves to raise the bar of entry and assure that sellers are serious about their business. As a result, the quality of photography and items is generally higher than at sites such as Artfire, which allows sellers to sign up with no fee or credit card information and list items for free.

One area of iCraft that might feel different for users of other sites is the search function. While iCraft does allow for searching by keywords, the system is heavily reliant on a multi-field browsing system. While this does limit flexibility, this is offset by the benefits such a system provides. Not relying on fuzzy tag words means that items are more specifically defined - paintings are not muddled with prints of paintings, for example. A price range filter is built in, and can be set by currency.

iCraft has some features missing from the other contenders for your handmade listings, and is possibly the best value right now unless you need the room to list more than 50 items at a time.

3 comments:

Corinne Sullivan said...

I tried icraft.ca earlier this year, put a lot of effort into my shop, and had only one sale (of which I sent there, not due to their marketing or web presence), hardly any views, and a dismal outlook of the prospects of this site. It may have improved since then, and may be worth revisiting now, but my luck on etsy has been more worthwhile to be sure. The good thing I can say about this site though, in contrast to etsy, is listing items was an easier, faster process, and allowed for more options.

Corinne, http://daydreamartstudios.etsy.com

Bookman said...

Interesting, Corinne. Of course it's all about sales, and none of the challengers to Etsy even come close to their traffic.

L4pYXQJ4k5kITw79fwAVbICsjA90rneSzIA- said...

I had 2 sales on iCraft and 5 requests for custom orders. Here is my store http://www.icraft.ca/craft_boutique
I think if you update your store regularly and stay active in forums, you get more traffic and more sales. Just opening a store doesn't guarantee sales. I quite like iCraft and hope it will take off.