by Carolyn Edlund
I recently had the chance to learn more about iVANZi, a new e-commerce website, and it amazed me.
As the person who authored the biggest directory in the world of places where artists can sell online, that is not an easy thing to do. I thought I had seen it all. Every business model and variation, for artists and makers of all types.
But what I learned about iVANZi is that it is a game changer. Their concept is brilliant. And nobody else is doing it.
I don’t write this lightly, because the entire purpose behind my work with artists is to help them launch and grow successful businesses, using strategies that really work. But I can say that I’m genuinely excited about the incredible opportunity this new site offers for many people with creative businesses.
In fact, what they provide could be the catalyst that allows you to explode your sales and move into a whole new marketplace.
Here are the details:
iVANZi operates their marketplace on two different levels: B2C and B2B.
The B2C marketplace allows you to sell your art or handmade products to the public (and they also sell non-handmade products). This is not a unique model; there are plenty of places online to sell retail to the public. What I like about their plan for B2C is that the selection is curated. Sellers must apply and be selected, so there is quality control. And, since they have no listing fees, no membership fees and an commission rate of only 3%, it is one of the most attractive new retail marketplaces out there.
But the B2B part of iVANZi is where it gets really interesting . . .
If you are an artist or maker who wants to scale your business, you might want to sell to retailers, who stock your products to sell to the public. That is wholesaling.
And store owners need new and exciting merchandise to offer their customers, so they want to order creative products that will sell successfully.
Sounds easy, right? You want to sell to retailers, and retailers need what you make. But it’s not easy at all. There are two major reasons why artists and retailers never connect, that can stop business growth in its tracks. They are:
Lack of Trust
Aversion to Risk
Issues for the Retailer. Retailers need new and saleable merchandise for their store, but they don’t want to invest in goods that might not sell. These days, they tend to be cautious, fearful of taking the risk of buying new lines from small producers. If the goods they buy are slow sellers, money is tied up in inventory, and the retailer ends up having to discount or write off the merchandise. They also may have trust issues on whether the artist will deliver in full and on time. Their solution might be taking work on consignment.
Issues for the Artist. Artists and makers often don’t want to consign, because it ties up inventory for long periods, and may or may not sell. They don’t trust the consignment store to put their work on the sales floor promptly, or pay them on time. And if the retailer goes out of business, inventory could be lost. The trust factor is not there, and the artist feels they are taking all the risk.
Solutions for both. iVANZi created a business model where they act as a go-between for the artist and the retailer, in some very interesting ways:
They present the artist’s collection on their site, which are easily accessed and ordered by retailers who are site members looking for goods.
They match retailers with artists, simplifying the marketing process. The artist can reach out and bring their work to the attention of retailers right on the site.
They run a “Joint Sale” program, which allows the retailer to order without risk, and the artist to ship without risk. This is based on the concept of on approval terms, where payment for the merchandise plus shipping is paid in full by the retailer to iVANZi and held in escrow. The artist ships the order to the retailer for a trial period. That period runs from 30 or 60 days, whichever the artist prefers.
If the merchandise does well, the artist is paid in full for the merchandise + shipping from iVANZi, and the retailer and artist can continue their business relationship through repeat orders. (And repeat business is what grows business, which is your ticket to increasing your income!) The artist pays a 3% commission percentage to iVANZi.
If the merchandise does not do well, the artist receives the unsold product back in good condition, guaranteed by iVANZi, plus payment for the work that did sell and shipping costs. And the retailer receives their money back from the escrow account.
The retailer doesn’t take a risk of having unsold merchandise if they make a wrong choice.
The artist doesn’t take a risk of not getting paid if they ship work to a retailer they don’t know.
And one of the best features is that the cost to get started as a seller on iVANZi, whether B2C or B2B is zero. No cost, no risk, and the opportunity to work with an e-commerce site that ensures trust and smooth transactions.
It doesn’t matter whether you already wholesale your art or handmade products at trade shows, through sales reps, online, or by calling on stores yourself. This new approach extends your reach and gives you exposure in new markets. And that is the reason that this new concept can be a complete game changer for you as a creative entrepreneur.