Handmade.com Pledges Authenticity and Visibility for Artisan Sellers

Handmade.com Pledges Authenticity and Visibility for Artisan Sellers

There’s a new online marketplace for artisans in town: Handmade.com. Although the site just launched this year, Handmade.com’s founders are industry veterans. They’re the same people who brought us the social-impact marketplace NOVICA. If you’re not familiar with the company, NOVICA helps artisans in remote areas around the world sell their work online through its “Artisan Empowerment Hubs.”

NOVICA has entered the “self-service” artisan seller space with Handmade.com, competing with Etsy, Amazon Handmade, Michael’s MakerPlace, and other online marketplaces. As its name implies, Handmade.com will not allow mass-produced goods and describes itself as a “curated marketplace of outstanding artisans.” Additionally, a juried panel vets all Handmade.com’s artisan sellers.

Discover more about the platform in our interview with Handmade.com’s co-founder and CEO, Roberto Milk.

Credit: NOVICA.

Why should an artisan consider selling on Handmade.com?

Handmade.com is more curated in that there are not going to be any mass-produced items or drop shippers. It’s a place where buyers can find authentically handmade items. And sellers can be in a community of like-minded sellers. From the very beginning, we’re having sellers play an active role.

Everyone who’s on the Handmade.com marketplace will need to have taken the ethically made pledge. That’s something that we’re carrying in from NOVICA. So it’s essentially everyone takes that pledge and holds themselves and the community to higher standards.

And we want the [artisan seller] community to be involved. We have something called the village council, which is going to be an elected body by the sellers. And the village council’s going to be the decision-making on board in terms of what makes it to the site in terms of policies for categories, in terms of what’s handmade and what’s not.

Product visibility can be an issue for online sellers—they can’t get their products seen. Is Handmade.com working on a solution?

Because of our previous work with NOVICA, we’ve become experts at search engine optimization. The same types of advice for names, tags and descriptions that apply to other sites apply to handmade.com as well. But, Handmade.com also has an SEO approach, which is going to bring visibility to artists from general web searchers, not just from searchers on the Handmade.com platform. Handmade.com is going to rank high, just like NOVICA ranks high on those searches.

But we want artisans to focus more on making great products. The other thing that we’re doing is offering a free marketing boost. That part hasn’t rolled out yet, but we really believe that even if someone doesn’t want to do any advertising, they should be able to choose one of their items to get kind of like a mega boost to get lots of visibility, and it’ll bring eyeballs to their other products too.

How are you planning on handling customer service for artisan sellers on Handmade.com if they have an issue?

We’ve really perfected customer service over the years with NOVICA, and we feel like we want to give Handmade.com seller services the same level of attention. Anyone that’s ever had a problem on either Etsy or Amazon as a seller—they know how impersonal, and, I don’t know how to put it nicely, how you just feel so disenfranchised. It’s like you don’t feel like you have a voice on those big platforms. And the customer service—it’s usually you’re doing a form, and you’re getting a chat response, and you can’t even talk to someone. So we want to take that up a notch in terms of seller services and provide really good seller support. And at the same time, we want to provide excellent customer service because buyers are everything.

You can only have a thriving marketplace if you’ve got buyers who are really happy with the experience. And that’s what goes wrong sometimes with some of the other marketplaces is that the buyers have a bad experience and then they’ll tell their friends, or they don’t buy again. So, we want to be sure that we support the buyer in their experience as well, where we support, for example, customer returns and things like that but it doesn’t always come out of the artisan’s pocket. Those are the things that I think are really important investments. We invest in the customer’s happiness, and we support the buyer at the same time. And there are ways to do that where people are sharing the costs on the returns and things like that.

Let’s switch gears here and get your advice. How can artisans be successful on Handmade.com?

My advice to artisans would be to be creative, try out different things, and see what works. The beauty of selling on a marketplace is that you can try things, and you don’t have to make a whole lot of them. It’s constantly a testing process to find out what works best for that particular customer.

Really focus on your story and what makes you as a maker and your products unique because the story really matters to customers. Our customers love handmade with a story. The reason they buy handmade is because they want something original. The best thing is if your story’s easy for people to remember and understand, then they can tell their friends about you.

We encourage artisans to handwrite notes with the shipments, and that makes such a difference. Those personal connections are so important. These customers understand the value of handmade.

Thanks, Roberto. You can learn more about becoming a seller on Handmade.com at https://handmade.com/become-a-seller.

Editor’s Note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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