As a store owner, you want your products to reach as many potential customers as possible. One of the ways you can increase the exposure of your brand is by joining an online marketplace. According to stats compiled by Bigcommerce, 45% of all ecommerce sales are done through marketplaces, and when shopping online 48% of online purchasers first look at a mass commerce marketplace. Online marketplaces allow new potential fans, who might never encounter your brand otherwise, find you.
There are many different marketplaces to choose from, both large and all-encompassing, and smaller, more niche-oriented ones. Printful offers integrations with several platforms that either function as marketplaces or offer them in addition to hosting your own store. So let’s take a look at the three marketplaces that Printful integrates with: Storenvy, Tictail, and Inktale.
Note: We’re only comparing the marketplaces that you can integrate with through Printful, focusing on the smaller niche ones (Amazon is a whole different story). But don’t forget that there are other options as well, like eBay, Etsy, and others. For example, you can find out more about selling Printful products on Etsy in this blog post.
How does each marketplace position itself?
With Storenvy, you can both host your own individual store and take part in the marketplace. The Storenvy marketplace launched in 2012, so it’s been around the longest of the three. Storenvy presents itself as a place where indie brands can find their home and encounter buyers who are interested in unique products.
Tictail has been acquired by Shopify and will be shut down by April 2019.
The platform was created in 2012, and the marketplace launch followed in July 2015. Tictail lets you host your custom store on the platform, and also automatically provides you with a shop on its marketplace. Similarly to Storenvy, Tictail offers a chance for new, emerging brands to meet buyers who are looking to find the next big thing.
This online marketplace has just joined the party, having launched April 2017. Inktale’s focus is on designers who are looking to sell their artwork on print products. Unlike with Storenvy and Tictail, Inktale functions only as a marketplace – you can’t host your own store on this platform as well.
How can my products appear on the marketplace?
- Storenvy – if you have a store on Storenvy’s platform, your products will automatically be listed on its marketplace. If you don’t want your products to be sold on the marketplace, Storenvy offers the option to opt out of having your products appear there.
- Tictail – similarly, each brand that has a custom store on Tictail also has a shop on the marketplace. However, unlike Storenvy, Tictail doesn’t offer the chance to opt out of the marketplace.
- Inktale – to become a seller on Inktale, you have to create an account on the platform. The products are automatically added to the marketplace, and since there’s no option for a custom store, there’s no opt-out. But you can make your products private, hiding them from the marketplace.
What can you sell on each marketplace?
- Storenvy – you can both sell products that you fulfill through Printful or another dropshipper and products that you manufacture yourself as long as they correspond to the requirements set out in the platform’s Store Owner’s Agreement.
- Tictail – for Tictail, there’s also a list of prohibited items, but everything else is fair game. You can go with both – products offered by Printful, as well as items you fulfill somewhere else.
- Inktale – in this case, the focus is on the designs, and you can only sell on the print products that Inktale provides (like t-shirts, posters, mugs, custom phone cases, etc. – Inktale’s plan is to continue adding more as the platform grows).
What will your profits be?
- Storenvy – for each sale made on the marketplace, Storenvy collects a 10% commission fee. If the same customer later makes a purchase from your individual store, Storenvy will still collect a 10% fee – this is called a “Marketplace Assisted Sale”. But customers who purchased from your store without finding you through the marketplace don’t come with the fee. You can read more about the commission fees on Storenvy here. Storenvy stores can use Stripe or PayPal to process payments and collect earnings.
- Tictail – similarly, Tictail collects a 10% commission from sales made on the marketplace. If the same customer later makes a purchase from your storefront, the 10% fee still applies, because the buyer was originally a Tictail marketplace customer. Customers who make their first purchase on your custom store rather than the marketplace don’t come with the commission. You can find out more about marketplace fees on Tictail here. Tictail supports payments with Stripe, PayPal, and Klarna; each store has to select which option it would like to use to process payments and collect earnings.
- Inktale – Inktale doesn’t charge you any commission fees; its service fees are already included in the base product prices. The profit that you set for each product is exactly what you’ll receive when a sale is made. At Inktale, you don’t have to choose a payment processor for your account. When someone makes a purchase on Inktale, you’re profit is transferred to your Inktale Wallet. You can use the earnings on your own Inktale purchases, or withdraw them to your PayPal account when the amount reaches $25.
Tip: Take into account the commission fees collected by Storenvy and Tictail when deciding on the prices of your products. Make sure that the fee doesn’t end up eating your profit margin.
How can you get noticed on the marketplace?
- Storenvy – this marketplace has incorporated several elements from social network sites. Visitors to the site can follow your brand and “envy” (essentially “like”) the products that catch their eye, increasing your exposure. Storenvy also highlights new and trendy products on its homepage, and there is an “Editor’s picks” section as well. You can read more about getting included among the selection here. You can also take part in Marketplace Sale events that can increase your brand’s visibility. Plus, Storenvy highlights products made by various brands in their own marketing activities, including social media posts and email marketing.
- Tictail – this platform also highlights new and trendy arrivals. Here products are often grouped together according to different trends, including style trends for particular cities (your product could be more in the style of Paris or Berlin, for example). Tictail also highlights emerging brands on the website, and shares products made by different brands on Tictail’s social media channels and email marketing campaigns.
- Inktale – here again the emphasis is on your designs. Since sellers can’t submit their own photos of their products, it’s the artwork that will have to stand out to be noticed. On the homepage, there is a section that highlights some products with designs on them, as well as a “Staff picks” section, which showcases the designs only. This way buyers can find artwork that they enjoy and then decide on the type of product they’d like to have it on.
What else should you know?
- Storenvy – if you enjoy the competitiveness and the thrill of going viral, Storenvy will be the right place for you. Jump in on the latest trends that you notice emerging, or find your unique niche – Storenvy accommodates all of these needs.
- Tictail – Tictail leans towards more Scandinavian, minimalistic style that’s reflected in the appearance of the marketplace and the storefront designs as well. Tictail also has a brick-and-mortar store in New York with products made by various Tictail sellers. The selection at the store rotates regularly, but there are no hard and fast rules about who gets featured there. For example, in March, the Tictail Market sold only products made by women-owned brands.
- Inktale – Inktale’s focus is on the artists and their work, and the marketplace strives to simplify the process of becoming a seller as much as possible. This, of course, also comes with some limitations. For example, you can’t choose particular product models that your designs are printed on. However, a major perk is that Inktale handles all customer support, allowing you to dedicate more time creating new designs, promoting your brand, etc.
To sum up, here’s how the marketplaces compare to each other side by side:
Each of these marketplaces has its own appeal and focus, and it’s up to you to decide which one would suit you and your products the best. If you like the excitement and buzz of social networks, Storenvy might be the place for you. If you’re more into minimalistic appearance, you might feel at home at Tictail. Meanwhile, if you prefer a more hands-off approach and want to keep focus mostly on your artwork, Inktale will suit you just right.
Have you had any experience with selling your products on a marketplace? Feel free to share in the comments!