Jason Del Rey

Recent Posts by Jason Del Rey

New Seller Demand Crashes Handmade Marketplace Zibbet After Etsy’s Big Changes

Etsy knew the changes it announced yesterday would anger some of its merchants who didn’t agree with the marketplace’s new, more relaxed definition of what constitutes “handmade.”

That dissatisfaction may be on display right now in the form of a Web outage on its competitor’s marketplace Zibbet.com.

Zibbet’s site has been down off and on over the last few hours as it deals with an influx of Web traffic and new sellers attempting to sign up for the platform and import their images from their Etsy storefronts, according to CEO Jonathan Peacock. He said more than 1,000 new sellers signed up for Zibbet yesterday — a huge number considering there are only about 5,500 sellers total on Zibbet. There are also currently 35,000 images waiting to be imported from Etsy to Zibbet, Peacock said.

“After their announcement, we just got hit with a lot of traffic,” Peacock said in an interview with AllThingsD. “And then I wrote an email this morning with our official thoughts and that’s been spread around like wildfire.”

In the email, Peacock promises the Zibbet community that the company will never go down the path Etsy just did.

“I want to go on record as stating that Zibbet will never allow any seller to ‘work with outside manufacturers to help produce your designs,'” he wrote. “It goes completely against our vision for the marketplace. Zibbet is now one of the only pure and true marketplaces in the world for handmade. We are not perfect and you will see the occasional reseller sneak in, however when reported, they are dealt with swiftly.”

Etsy spokeswoman Sara Cohen acknowledged in an email to AllThingsD that Etsy did see a jump in sellers importing information from Etsy to Zibbet, but “[f]rom yesterday to today we’ve only seen a few hundred more downloads than Monday (pre-announce), and sellers use this option for inventory management and other purposes, too.”

“We know from surveys we’ve conducted over the years that many Etsy sellers also sell in other venues — from craft fairs to personal websites to, of course, other online marketplaces,” she continued. “With our policy changes our aim is to give sellers more choice and more options for how they run their business. That said, we don’t want to lose a single Etsy seller. This announcement is about strengthening the Etsy community by making the rules fair and clear.”

Zibbet’s five-person staff is based in Sydney, Australia, but Peacock said that about 80 percent of buyers and sellers are from the U.S. The marketplace charges sellers only a flat monthly or annual fee; Etsy, on the other hand, makes money by taking a cut of transactions and charging fees to list products for sale.

Peacock won’t talk about Zibbet’s sales numbers because he admits they are a small fraction of Etsy’s. But he believes that the Etsy changes provide a big opportunity for the marketplace to carve out space as a clear No. 2 alternative. Now Peacock, who said the company is halfway through rebuilding the back end of its marketplace, just has to get the site up and running smoothly again.

“We’re doing our best to get back up to speed,” he said. “Really good communication about the issue, though, can make people even more pleased.”

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