So I went in search of other options...Another website similar to Etsy? My own website? Posting photos on Facebook and offering it up there? I've discovered some interesting things in my search.
The one I'm going to talk about today is called Soldsie. I first heard about Soldsie about 3 or 4 weeks ago and was immediately intrigued. So intrigued I did my first Soldsie shopping event a few days later.
But let me back up. What is Soldsie? They call it "comment selling." I call it brilliant. Broken into the most simple terms, you create an event...including starting and ending times of the event, and list the items you want to sell from your dashboard. You advertise your event on your Facebook page and ask your followers to register in advance.
Soldsie automatically posts your listed items at one minute intervals at the time your event starts. Here's a sample of what it looks like on my Facebook page:
If somebody wants to buy it, they simply type the word "sold" in the comments. Then they check out by clicking on the "Soldsie" tab at the top of the page:
Because I have not been on the buying end, I believe Soldsie will remind buyers to pay if they do not go to the Soldsie tab...but I don't know for sure. All the people who bought at my event paid immediately.
I have only had time to run one shopping event so far. So my experience is limited. However, my initial impression is very favorable.
-No fees for the first $700 in sales! After that, it's fees are 3% of your sales.
-Easy to set up
-Even though it's mostly self-explanatory, there are several video tutorials and other forms of instruction
-They want you to be successful, so they give tips on how to make your Facebook page get more "likes" and how to advertise your sale so that people will be ready to shop
-You write up the listings in advance. Soldsie posts it at the right time so you don't have to be at your computer.
-The listing section is simple to use.
-It's easy for shoppers to use...whether on the computer or a mobile device. No clicking over to another website, no hoops to jump through. Just type the word "sold" and then pay.
-Soldsie automatically handles invoicing and making sure you get paid.
-When you ask a question, it is answered very quickly.
-You can offer coupon codes
-Only one item per invoice. This means if your customer buys more than one item, they will need to check out more than once.
-Updated: I received an email from Julie at Soldsie after she read my review. She had this to say about the payment process: "because we never know when a customer is done shopping, we do send out an email for each Sold comment, however when they click on the link any of the emails (or on the link or tab) to get to their invoice - everything they've commented on will be listed there and you can checkout for everything all at once."
-My biggest issue was shipping charges. When selling beads, people may want to buy more than one bead. I don't necessarily want to charge them full shipping fees for each bead they buy. There is no way to automatically set it up to reduce shipping if they buy more than one item. After the fact, I figured out ways around this
1) create a coupon that the customer can use on subsequent orders
2) Use the Add-Ons section of each listing to give the buyer multiple options for shipping i.e. domestic 1st class, priority, international, insurance, etc.
3) Include the cost of shipping in the product and offer free shipping instead.
-If you are selling something that has an inventory of more than 1 and your customer wants to buy more than one, it will charge shipping for each and every item in the listing. I found that out the hard way when it tried to charge a customer $21 in shipping for 7 spacer beads.
-Because Facebook is so fast paced, shopping events lose effectiveness after a few hours.
-Soldsie recommends about 10 items in one shopping event. So if you prefer to do large updates, that may not work well for you. I don't know. I tried 21 items. I sold 4.
-Customers were confused by the link to register to shop. I received several messages that they tried to pre-register, but it didn't work. However, I would get an email that they did indeed pre-register.
A Few Helpful Hints:
Because I decided to sign up for Soldsie on a Tuesday and have the sale two days later, I did some quick heavy advertising. First I offered a bribe of a free bead. All they had to do was share this photo on Facebook and/or Instagram.
Then a few times a day I would post a teaser photo of one of the beads that would be offered during the sale with short concise instructions on how to pre-register for the party.
I sent a newsletter to my list.
If I really worked Twitter with any kind of regularity (translation: more than once a year), I would have posted it there too.
Blogging would be good, but I never got to that.
Do not bother with the free trial to Shipping Station. It was complex and confusing and I never could get it to work for me. Plus it costs like $30/month once the free trial is over. Paypal shipping is far easier and doesn't have the extra fees.