In a previous post, I provided a list of venues for artists, artisans and artisan crafters. This week I’m profiling some of those sites on my blog.
I asked Samantha from WinkElf to tell us a bit more about her venue.
What is the site name?
“Handmade by Thems-Elves”
It’s a combination of winkel which is dutch for shop and elf… a magical little helper.
That’s us!Where can artisan sellers find you?
Our main entry is http://www.winkelf.com
There are also several SEO domain names which all lead to WinkElf… buy-handmade.com, shop-handmade.com (we came first), sell-handmade.com, handmade-shops.com, handmade-stores.com, handmade-things.com, handmadestores.com and many more.
Other networks and stomping grounds…
Blog – http://www.winkelf.com/blog
Twitter – http://www.twitter.com/winkelf
IndiePublic – http://www.indiepublic.com/profile/winkelf
PlumDrop – http://www.plumdrop.com/members/winkelf
TwitterMoms – http://www.twittermoms.com/profile/winkelf
Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#/pages/WiNKELFcom/18858833814
Tell us a little about your site’s history. What are its origins?
WinkElf is handmade… by me.
It all began back in 2005 when, like many other artisans and sellers, I grew tired and wary of wasting my time on eBay with their charging rules and ever increasing fees. At that time, there were really no other alternatives and development began.
WinkElf was created and developed by someone just like you… artisan, mother, seller and buyer. I am also a web designer and developer. These multiple hats give me first hand understanding of the tools needed by sellers and buyers. And how to provide them at the lowest cost.
While still in development, Etsy was launched by two giants in the crafting market – craftster.org and getcrafty.com. But development continued having found that Etsy had lots of flash but really lacked in some of the vital tools sellers (and buyers) needed. These same issues continue even today. In the summer of 2006, what is now WinkElf was originally launched as Boutique Village.
There are no boards, committees or sponsors to answer to or make decisions for us. There are no developers or programmers to wait on when something goes wrong. It’s just us elves… winkelves.
WinkElf in not about big business, the focus is the individual arts and crafts seller… our craftisans.
Ironically, the acronym for WinkElf is WE.
Tell us about the site’s staff.
It’s just me, myself and I.
A handmade venture of my very own.
What is your plan for the site? What are your goals?
Aaah… some things you just need to keep to yourself.
Trade secrets and all. ;o)
But you can be sure that WinkElf will always continue to offer free stores and listings for online craftisans… it’s not a gimmick just to lure you in. And the continued developement of the tools and services needed to do business online effectively and efficiently.
Starving artists no more.
Who is your target seller audience?
Our target sellers are self-representing artisans, work at home moms and crafters of handmade goodies from around the world… a melting pot of variety in culture and talent.
We do allow sellers to list other items in their store only… not site wide. By separating the site into two distinct sections – handmade and not handmade – we can allow our sellers to sell other stuff in their stores without losing the handmade focus and flavor of the site. Afterall, what’s the point of an online store if you can’t use it or it’s restrictive. Craft suppliers and vintage are most welcome.
Of course, we certainly don’t want to become a free flea market for every reseller of unrelated products. A system that requires sellers to be approved before they can start selling is already in place if needed.
Who is your target buyer audience? How will you drive buyers to your venue?
Our target buyer is anyone with an appreciation for quality and craftsmanship… a love for treasures that are made by a person and not by a machine. Remember that joy of making gifts for friends and family as children? Receiving something that is made by hand is special, it has a meaning and a story behind it.
Finding buyers who love handmade is multi-faceted and involves several different strategies that all work together. From optimizing the site to take best advantage of search engines, marketing to relevant directories and social networks, online ad programs on search engines, related websites and crafty blogs that attract like audiences… and my favorite word of mouth.
Just tell ten friends… unlike other methods, it can be viral.
WinkElf is not just a listing venue, but a mini-website solution for craftisans who don’t have the time, money or expertise to build and manage a full website. Here they can easily start up their own store at virtually no cost. By aggregating artisans into a community, we all benefit from the exposure and traffic that each seller brings with them.
Together we can accomplish more than we can as individuals.
Is this an international, domestic US, Far East or European focused site?
No matter where you may focus your site, fact is that all websites are international… and so is WinkElf.
Prices will always be in US dollars for the sake of simplicity as exchange rates vary daily, but we’ll be adding an online currency converter to both the selling form and listings shortly to accomodate international buyers and sellers.
We’ve also linked up with Google Translate to provide multi-language translations of all pages.
What differentiates this venue from other online selling venues?Why should artisan sellers consider utilizing this site as a resource instead of other, older sites or their own sites?
Gosh… there’s so much!
First and foremost, there’s no commitment other than your time… and positive energy. ;o) There are no selling limits and no fees to list on WinkElf so you have nothing to lose.
We were also the first to offer a flat fee all-inclusive package… It’s only $5.00 per month which amounts to less than 17¢ per day to list as many items as you want… and have them (and your store banner) rotated on the main page and throughout the site.
Our prices are not just promotional or limited time offers.
Guest Shopping Cart…
We offer a guest shopping cart so that no account is needed to make purchases. We don’t want buyers to turn away from a purchase because they have to sign up with another site. A guest shopping cart is available for 7 days so that the buyer can take their time, make multiple purchases and communicate with the seller.
Two Buy Out Methods…
In addition to the traditional fixed price Buy It Now purchase method, sellers can choose to allow buyers to Make an Offer on an item… or Wink Me.
Sometimes buyers just want to know that they got a deal and a few pennies can be the difference between making a sale or not… Sometimes a seller can be unsure of their price structure… especially for those higher ticket items. Make an Offer allows the buyer and seller to negotiate a price that both are happy to accept.
Once the offer is submitted, the seller can choose to either accept or deny the offer, just as the buyer can revoke the offer. Only once an active offer is accepted is the item added to the buyers cart and no longer available.
A third option has just been released… Trade It.
Views & Sorting…
Buyers can browse and sort our categories and search results in Gallery View or the traditional listing view where they can sort listings by price (lowest or highest), by listing date (new or ending soon) and by title.
And a list of related stores is found in the sidebar.Store Directory…
Finding a specific store on WinkElf is easy. Buyers can Shop by Store from any page using a drop down menu that lists those stores with items for sale. And our store directory showcases all stores alphabetically with search available by seller name (partial) and product keywords.
Branded and Unbranded Storefronts…
In addition to having your own personlaized url to directs shoppers to your WinkElf storefront, sellers can also send their shoppers and marketing effort to their own unbranded storefront.
Each store has it’s own independant search engine so that buyers can shop and search your store without being led away to the stores and listings of your competition.
Listing, Relisting & Scheduling…
Spend more time creating and less time listing with features like sell similar, one click relisting, auto-relisting and scheduled listings.
HTML Listings & Store Pages…
When selling online, it’s important to convey your product through design and pictures. At WinkElf, sellers can express their individuality and creativity in their listings, extra store pages and profiles using a built in html editor. Add backgrounds, pictures… add a touch of your own style.
Go ahead… Express yourself!
Personalize the shopping experience by adding a video to listings. Let shoppers meet you, watch you at work or promote a new product or special event.
In just one step, sellers can add an independent stat counter to all their store pages and begin tracking their visits. Why an independant stats instead of built in stats? It’s easy enough for any site to skew stats in their favor. Using an independent stat counter means you know you are getting accurate and unbiased stats. And you can choose the service you want so that you get the information you need.
Sell Handmade and More…
While the focus of WinkElf is on handmade arts and crafts, sellers can also list non-handmade items in their store only… not site wide. Sometimes as sellers, we have other stuff we’d like to sell in our stores. But these items are only showcased in the individual store so that buyers have to be looking for these non-handmade items to find them.
Referral Bonus Program…
When a member refers a new member (sellers and buyers) they are rewarded with selling credit. And the new member receives selling credit too should they wish to try our services themselves. With our super low fees, those referral credits can keep you in the green for quite some time.
Editable Shopping Carts / Coupon Discounts…
Sellers can revise and edit a buyers invoice at any time prior to payment making it easy to combine shipping charges, make last minute changes and redeem special offers and discounts.
Multiple Payment Gateways…
Sellers can accept immediate online payment for their goods via any of our built in gateways including PayPal, Google Checkout, 2CheckOut, Authorize.net, Nochex, WorldPay, Protx and Ikobo. Hopefully Revolution Money Exchange will offer a direct payment gateway soon.
Sellers can also indicate other payment methods are accepted, like credit cards or money orders. In such cases, the seller would contact the buyer with payment instructions.
Shops on the Go…
With our Shop & Go widget, you can bring your store with you everywhere so that buyers can browse and search your store right from the widget.
Not just a showcase, this fully functional shopping cart allows shoppers to shop and checkout their purchases right from the widget… on your web pages.
This is so exciting because it means you can add your store to your website, put it on your blog, add it to Facebook and all the other social networks… anywhere and everywhere.
That’s a lot of free exposure!
Take a peek…
And there’s so much more…
Global seller message – add a note to all listings instantaneously… like discounts, specials and contests;
Store vacation feature;
Digital downloads available for immediate and private delivery of digital goods;
Buyer feedback with comments only… item details are kept private;
Add store to favorites and be advised of new items for sale.
Most importantly, when you have a suggestion or a need… I listen.
So there’s more on the way!
How have your structured your seller pricing?
We believe in offering the same tools to all members.
Whether you choose the free basic package or decide to upgrade, you can list as many items as you wish for free, participate in all community forums and groups, be elligible for the editors pick showcaseor the weekly featured store on the home page.
Our basic store and basic listing is free… always will be. There is no limit to the number of items and the basic listing includes all the basics: gallery picture, Buy Me & Make an Offer, choice of two listing categories, subtitle, digital downloads, scheduled listings and auto-relisting. Items can run from one week up to 30 days to keep them fresh and visible in categories and searches. All items are submitted to GoogleBase daily. A small 2.5% selling fee applies only to sold items.
Listing upgrades are available for under 25¢ for sellers desiring more visibility and exposure: bold, category featured and home page plus featured. The upgrade is for the term of the listing… whether it’s just one week or the whole month.
An all inclusive featured store is available for just $5.00 a month… no add-on or hidden fees. All upgrades and selling fees are included. That’s less than 17¢ a day for all the frills.
You can view our fee chart online at…
What else should we know?
My name… it’s Samantha.
Pleased to meet you.
Stay tuned over the next weeks as I will be profiling more artisan handmade selling venues with interviews and giveaways from the site owners. You can find this site’s traffic rank according to Alexa here
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