I have a lot to say on this topic, but very little time this week. I'll save the recommendations part for next week.
- You are in control of the site design, web functions, branding, messaging etc.
- Setting up your own shop allows for flexibility. (Do you plan to expand your offerings? Want to highlight a sale? Arrange items next too each other that coordinate?)
- If you are selling full time, your merchant fees may be less than selling on a venue.
- You can sell more than one thing at a time without having to go back and forth with your customer multiple times.
- Your customer has the ability to shop how they are used to shopping online. For example, you will have an integrated checkout system.
- All advertising dollars direct customers to your shop, not a place where they can find the same item in someone else's shop.
- You can offer gift cards/ gift certificates that integrate with your shopping cart.
- You can create a community aspect to your shop.
- You can include newsletter sign ups directly on your site.
- Your average transaction price will be higher.
- You need to market yourself and drive traffic to your shop.
- There is no built in customer base.
- You will need some capital up front to get your shop up and running.
- You may need to hire a developer to make changes to your shop.
- There is no community aspect, unless you create one yourself.
If selling fabric is your full time job, I personally think the pros outweigh the cons. When I left Etsy I felt freer. I no longer spent my days trying to drum up business in my Etsy shop, stalking the shop hoping for one more view to be posted, and chatting in the forums. I spent my time developing my brand, nurturing my customer base, and more importantly, filling bigger orders.
I guess the question you need to ask yourself is this - If you are selling on a 'venue' site, are you happy there? Is is working for you? If not, it's time to start looking for other solutions.
Next up: Recommendations and options for starting your own online shop.
For all of you who have asked recently, the reason I closed my fabric shop is not because I wasn't doing well - I was doing just fine. I was going to expand to make the business even more viable. But instead of doing that, I decided to liquidate my inventory to help purchase a new home. I plan to go back to working as a web consultant to help pay the bills on the new loft. I am not sad about this decision - I was for a while - but now I am looking forward to fixing up and moving into our new place.
If you'd like a new wonderful online fabric shop to buy fabric with, please visit my sponsors. :)