At the end of June, the arts and crafts retail chain A.C. Moore announced that it’s launching an online marketplace for artists and makers. The company had made a significant investment in Etsy rival, Zibbet, back in November 2017, and is now working together with Zibbet on this new platform which will be exclusively for handmade goods.
With all of the recent changes at Etsy many sellers are looking for alternatives to the dominant player, and yet others remain skeptical, including some who previously had shops on Zibbets marketplace, a platform which failed to ever generate substantial traffic.
To find out more we sat down with Zibbet founder and CEO, Jonathan Peacock, and asked him to explain why he partnered with A.C. Moore and what the plans are for this new marketplace. Here’s what he had to say:
Craft Industry Alliance: Etsy just announced that they will be primarily showing shops that offer free US shipping on orders of $35 or more in search. How will the search algorithm on the AC Moore Marketplace work? I know that search is complex, but really crucial for the user experience.
Jonathan: Search is complex, as you say. At its core the goal is to return the most relevant results to the shopper. For the A.C. Moore Marketplace, relevancy is primarily keyword driven and based on a number of factors. Shoppers can then filter the results by price range, shop location, where it ships to, and if the item is “on sale” or not.
Craft Industry Alliance: The Zibbet Marketplace has been around for a long while now and some sellers have had mixed experiences selling on it. When sellers sign up for the AC Moore Marketplace, they’ll have to create a Zibbet account, but will they also have to sell on the Zibbet Marketplace? Can you explain?
Jonathan: We built Zibbet because we want to help creative entrepreneurs be successful at selling their products. The mural on our office wall reads, “We help creative entrepreneurs sell more”. We’ve been around for over 10 years now, launching the first Zibbet Marketplace in 2009, and we’ve witnessed some big changes happening in creative commerce, and commerce in general. The biggest change is that there are now so many different places that you can sell on. For example, you can sell your products on Etsy, Amazon Handmade, have a website on Shopify, sell on your Facebook and/or Instagram profiles, plus so many more channels.
Jonathan Peacock, Founder and CEO of Zibbet
You should, in fact, be selling on as many of these channels as possible, because this increases your reach, exposure and hopefully… sales!
The reason most sellers don’t sell on all of these sales channels is because it’s time consuming and complex to do so.
We’ve known for a while now that it was time for Zibbet to make a change based on our learnings over the years. If we were to achieve our mission of really helping creative entrepreneurs sell more, we needed a big shift in our value proposition.
I’m so proud of what the Zibbet team has built. Zibbet is the first platform, built specifically for the creative entrepreneur, that enables you to sell across multiple sales channels, while managing your products and orders all from the one place.
You can list a product once, and it is automatically published everywhere. When you make a sale, your inventory numbers are automatically updated on all of your other sales channels, and the order is pulled into Zibbet for you to manage and fulfill.
We are constantly adding more sales channels to the platform, and launching exclusive sales channels like the A.C. Moore Marketplace.
The Zibbet Marketplace, where Zibbet first started, is now one of our optional sales channels. You do not need to turn on the Zibbet Marketplace sales channel just because you’re using Zibbet to manage and sell your products. For example, you could sign up to Zibbet and just sell on Etsy and the A.C. Moore Marketplace. As mentioned, many more sales channels are in the works, so Zibbet’s value will grow as we continue to increase our number of sales channels.
Mural in the Zibbet offices.
Craft Industry Alliance: Why did AC Moore decide to create its own handmade marketplace? It’s unusual because none of the other arts and crafts retail chains have made this step. They are all increasing their ecommerce footprint, but a marketplace is a whole different thing. What’s the motivation here? Are there plans to offer sellers a discount on arts and craft supplies, or run ads for AC Moore products on the listing pages?
Jonathan: A.C. Moore is always thinking about how they can create more value for their customers. Pepe and Anthony Piperno (owners of A.C. Moore) have a huge heart for the creative community. It’s infectious. From a survey, they found that over 30% of their customers are already selling the things they make online. Launching a handmade marketplace is an innovative way to support and champion their customers.
Our goal is to help the creative entrepreneur to sell more, and when they sell more, we also want them to think of A.C. Moore’s unbeatable range and price, when replenishing their supplies!
There are no current plans to run ads on the listing pages. As for extra discounts, stay tuned!
Craft Industry Alliance: I know the AC Moore Marketplace is going to be for handmade goods only. How is this going to be regulated? Will there be a way for users to flag goods that aren’t handmade? Can you explain where the line will be drawn? Is a Hanes t-shirt that has been embellished with rhinestones bought at AC Moore handmade?
Jonathan: Items must be handmade, hand-altered, or hand assembled by the maker/s running their A.C. Moore Marketplace shop. The community can report items or shops easily via the marketplace if they spot infringing items. This will then notify a support team, which will investigate each case. Mass-produced items or the re-selling of items that may be handmade, but they didn’t design or make themselves, are not allowed. Your example of a Hanes t-shirt that has been embellished with rhinestones would depend on if it is deemed “hand-altered” enough. This is of course subjective, but it’s generally a case of “you’ll know it when you see it”.
Craft Industry Alliance: Can you tell us a little about your background. I know you’re based in Sydney. Are you a maker? How did you get interested in creating Zibbet. How has Zibbet pivoted over time and then why did you partner up with AC Moore? What synergy did you see there?
Jonathan: You know when you watch a talent show, like The Voice, and the artist is standing there on the stage, a little nervous… then as soon as the first note plays they almost become a different person as they belt out some amazing vocal gymnastics. It’s amazing to watch a talented person in perfect harmony (excuse the pun), with their artistry. But, that’s not my favorite part of the performance. My favorite part is when those chairs turn and the music stops, and you see the singer’s face light up. The validation they’ve just received and felt as an artist is truly a special thing to watch.
Now, I can’t sing to save myself, and when it comes to making, I am completely useless. But, I do have a deep appreciation of all art forms, but more importantly…
I want to see talent meet success. This is what gets me out of bed in the morning. The pursuit of helping talented creative entrepreneurs feel the validation of someone buying something they made with their bare hands.
As for A.C. Moore, it is the perfect win-win partnership. A Zibbet seller starts their journey by buying some arts and craft supplies and makes something incredible with it. They then sell this product, and at some point in time, they’ll want to buy more supplies to make their next incredible creation. The more they sell, the more supplies they’ll need to buy. We want them to think of A.C. Moore’s unbeatable range and price when they’re replenishing their supplies. With A.C. Moore’s huge reach into the arts and crafts community, the A.C. Moore Marketplace has the potential to quickly become one of the most popular destinations to buy and sell handmade.
Zibbet and A.C. Moore have a common goal, and we’re constantly asking ourselves… How can we help creative entrepreneurs sell more?
The A.C. Moore Marketplace is ready to accept sellers. During this pre-launch period, you can customize your shopfront and create your product listings to get ready for buyers to gain access to the site within the next few weeks. During the pre-launch period, the actual marketplace will not be live, so you will not be able to preview your shop until we launch for buying and selling in late July. Then you’ll get a 14-day free trial period which will begin when the A.C. Moore Marketplace is fully launched.