Etsy or Zibbet?

28 11 2013

Etsy is a long-established marketplace for hand-crafted goods, supplies, and vintage items. Zibbet is a relative new-comer to the marketplace field.

I have been selling items on Etsy for nearly 2 years, but recently, I opened a Zibbet shop, too. Although they both offer artisans like myself the opportunity to sell online to a global audience, they have several fundamental differences, described below.

Overall analysis: I prefer Zibbet…by a hair

I haven’t yet sold anything on Zibbet, so I will skip discussing the processes for buying goods and collecting money. I am also not going to discuss all the differences, just the major ones that affect buyers. In this analysis, I will examine (1) Shop appearance, (2) Shopping for handmade items, (3) numbers of buyers and sellers, and (4) Item listing pages. The bottom of this post has a summary of my impressions and the reason for my preference in marketplaces.

First, shop appearance

If you click the images below, you will go to the shop (external link)

My Etsy shop
My Etsy Shop-Chainofbeauty

My Etsy Shop-Chainofbeauty

Clean layout with easy to find shop navigation links, such as shop sections.

All the useful information is well-organized down the left size, leaving all the shop items in the main table on the right.

Etsy allows sellers to feature specific items, which are displayed at the top of the shop listings. This is quite nice for sellers.

I like this layout slightly better than the Zibbet layout.

My Zibbet shop
My Zibbet shop-BeautifulChains

My Zibbet shop-BeautifulChains

Pretty much the reverse of the Etsy shop, with all the useful links on the right side.

The shop sections list is a bit harder to find on Zibbet because it’s lower on the page. (It doesn’t show up on this image because it is lower than the shop navigation section.)

Zibbet doesn’t have a featured item section to highlight certain items.

Perhaps not as nice as the Etsy layout, though very close, all the important stuff is easy to find.

Bottom line: Both are fine, and any differences are not significant.

Second, handmade items

This is the most significant difference between the two marketplaces and is the main reason why I prefer Zibbet.

Two words: Resellers, Manufacturers

Both sites feature 3 main categories of goods: handmade items, supplies, vintage items. However, and this is an important however, the Etsy definition of “handmade” is not what you would expect.

When I think of the word “handmade,” I imaging a person making something from scratch or raw supplies and then selling it. When I take wire, make rings, weave them into jewelry, and sell the jewelry, that’s handmade.

Handmade on Etsy

Resellers: Etsy is plagued with people who buy items (whether from the people who make them, other Etsy sellers, or wholesale or retail suppliers) and then sell them as if they had made them. This practice is against Etsy terms of service, but it happens anyway. In fact, some of the images for items are straight off retailers’ websites! Maybe someone made the item by hand originally, but the seller sure didn’t.

Manufacturers: Recently, Etsy changed its policies regarding manufacturers. The new policies allow, even encourage, people to design something and then have a manufacturing company mass produce it. Let’s say I draw a neat design for a new bracelet. I could send the design to some sweat shop, have them figure out how to make it, and then pay them to make 500 bracelets. That’s not what I mean when I say something is “hand made,” and it is no different than buying jewelry at WalMart. To me, this is simply a retailer / wholesaler business model.

On the other hand, the changed policies make sense in a very, very limited way. This works for people who do art and photographic prints. A person who takes great photographs or paints a picture can send the images to a printer and have the printer print it. I’m guessing that most photographers and artists don’t have the ability to create large-sized or canvas-backed images, so this works for them. The difference, though, is that the photographer / artist actually creates original the art work.

The result is that the Etsy marketplace is quickly becoming flooded with cheap mass-produced junk. Those of us who make our jewelry are getting buried, and the buyers who think they are getting handmade items might be mistaken.

Handmade on Zibbet

“Handmade” means “handmade.” If you don’t make it yourself, you can’t sell it as handmade on Zibbet. I like that…a lot.

Many Etsy sellers are migrating to Zibbet for exactly this reason.

Bottom line: Go Zibbet! Zibbet is far superior in this regard.

Third, the numbers

Etsy, by far, has more sellers and more buyers. Buyers will have more options. Sellers will have more potential buyers.

Will this change? Probably. When Etsy started, it, too, had few sellers and buyers. Zibbet is still fairly “young,” and I expect it will grow.

Bottom line: Etsy is better (for now).

Fourth, item listings and details

Etsy is easily the better designed site, particularly on the item listing pages.
If you click the images below, you will go to the shop (external link)

Sample Etsy listing

The well-designed Etsy listing page

The Etsy listing page has big pictures that you can scroll through, item details on the left, and seller information below. Item description has a wide column, so the text is easy to read.

Etsy doesn’t allow active non-Etsy links in the descriptions, so I can’t easily send people to a video or other item information. Also, Etsy doesn’t allow any text formatting, which is a nuisance, not even bold.

Etsy does allow item options and prices for specific options, which is great. For example, a 7-inch bracelet can cost less than a 9-inch bracelet. This gives the buyer more control over price and details, and this lets the seller price items according to the actual labor and material costs.

Etsy allows sellers to sell digital items through their system. People can buy my PDF tutorials, and Etsy delivers them by email.

My Zibbet shop
The 3-column Zibbet listing page

The 3-column Zibbet listing page

Zibbet listing pages are somewhat ugly. By using a 3-column layout, the item description is sqeezed into a long column, which is harder to read and harder to write.

The design also leaves a big blank space under the images if the description is more than 20 or so lines. Unfortunately, the description will likely be longer than 20 lines because the column is narrow.

Zibbet does allow active non-Zibbet links, so I can refer shoppers to a video of the item. That’s nice. But it, too, doesn’t allow text formatting.

Unfortunately, Zibbet does not provide item options. If I want to provide different options at different prices, I need to make different listings, which gets confusing for the shoppers.

Zibbet doesn’t allow sellers to sell digital items through their system. People can buy PDF tutorials, but I have to send them myself.

Bottom line: Etsy is superior.

Overall Analysis

1. Zibbet and Etsy are about the same on shop page design. I give these even marks.

2. Etsy has more sellers and buyers, but I think that will change with time. For this reason, I give Etsy slightly better marks for now.

3. Zibbet handmade items are handmade. Zibbet gets high marks; Etsy fails.

4. Etsy item listing design, options, and features are far superior to Zibbet.

So, with the first two areas, they are about the same. However, Etsy’s strength in listing pages doesn’t overcome its failures in handmade. For Zibbet, listings are weak, but if you are shopping for handmade, you will get handmade.

The final result: Zibbet, by a hair.




2 responses

2 02 2014

Just a note on the featured items in Zibbet shops- that is something which is available in premium shops. There are a few other options for premium shops like changing shop color which allows for greater ability to customize your shop. I don’t think these things necessarily change the overall equivalence of the shop looks at the two sites, I just thought it was worth a mention for people who are reading this and may find these to be important features. ~Kakers

15 03 2014

Why not Artfire? They are a very classy organization and dedicated to the artisan community. I’ve with them for years, have a much better support system than Zibbet or Etsy and best of all, they include their artisans’ work in daily emails. They also submit all of your listings to google to increase hits.
I could list all their attributes but I don’t want to bore you.
Their shop creation tools are DA BOMB though…..
I can’t say enough good about Artfire….

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