How can I take my super small retail business online?
June 4, 2013 5:03 PM   Subscribe

I sell Mexican arts and crafts, alpaca, shell jewelry, hand painted shell bobble heads, all made by indigenous people in Mexico (I'm a Mexican american immigrant, and I import a small amount of crafts every year), I'd like to use facebook, or a website, or internet to sell my jewelry to a wider audience, but I'm a very beginner and need ideas and guidance. So far I have just been doing craft shows for many years, but I'd like to make more money hopefully enough to live off of.
posted by kikithekat to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Having a store set up on Amazon, eBay, Etsy, or some combination of the three would not be a bad idea. You probably don't want to be dealing with any credit cards yourself, and those three sites provide big audience and are designed to be easy for sellers.

You should also have a business site, maybe just one attractively-designed page with some picture thumbnails (that expand to really nice pictures), your contact information, craft show schedule, and links to buy online.
posted by 4th number at 5:14 PM on June 4, 2013 is what you are looking for. Its an online marketplace that specializes in handmade or vintage items.
posted by lovelygirl at 5:16 PM on June 4, 2013

If you're selling new things made by others, Etsy is actually not what you're looking for. If you make your own stuff you can definitely sell it there, but it's not for import items. eBay or Amazon might be better for that kind of thing.
posted by therewithal at 5:31 PM on June 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Since these items are made by people who aren't running the shop, it wouldn't really be a good fit for Etsy. See the Etsy guidelines:
With the exception of Vintage and Supplies, categories on Etsy are for handmade items. Handmade items must be created by the seller operating the Etsy shop (or a member of that shop).

You may not list handmade items that you (or a member of your shop) did not create. This is considered reselling and is not permitted.
But there are alternatives to Etsy with more relaxed rules, like Bonanza or Artfire, and there's the option of building your own storefront with Shopify or similar.

Here's a recent question with a bunch of comments about Etsy that may be helpful.
posted by dreamyshade at 5:32 PM on June 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

I have "square register" for my phone to run credit cards. Also, My sister and uncle make some of the products.
posted by kikithekat at 5:34 PM on June 4, 2013

I think it could fit within Etsy's guidelines to sell the products made by your family members - see the rules for Multiple people using a single account (collective shops):
There are three scenarios, outlined below, in which multiple people who know each other may use a single Etsy account...Shop Management Help: Someone helps a friend or family member in the same household or shared physical space manage their Etsy account.

If your shop is a collective, you must comply with all of Etsy's policies, including these additional policies specifically for collectives...The shop's About page must fully disclose accurate information about each person, their role in the Etsy shop and the relationships between the members of the collective. Etsy may ask for additional information and require that the shop comply with additional requirements.
posted by dreamyshade at 5:41 PM on June 4, 2013

You could set a site at Square Space. It is supposed to be very easy to set up a site there.
posted by COD at 5:51 PM on June 4, 2013

Here are the best online storefronts that require no technical know-how: Shop Locket, Shopify, the already-mentioned Etsy, Store Envy, and for pre-orders, Celery. Any of these will give you a complete storefront that plays well on mobile. For $10 a year you can register a domain name and redirect it to your storefront so people can go directly to

I recommend using multiple storefronts because there is a bit of promotion built-in, just because you will be listed in their store directory.

Spend all the money you can spend on gorgeous photos of your products but be careful about licensing - you want all online rights and a lot of professional photographers are less than forthcoming about this. If you don't have the money for professional photography, learn product photography and invest in really good lighting (you can get used but reliable professional equipment at B&H).

Start reading about SEO and online marketing. A lot. Expect this to take up to 50% of your time.

Good luck!

(Post your stuff on MeFi projects!)
posted by rada at 9:15 AM on June 5, 2013

« Older Can you put siding over Formstone?   |   Best Wagner recording on Spotify? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.