New Online Marketplace Offers Unique Seller Opportunities

by Carolyn Edlund

I recently had the chance to learn more about iVANZi, a new e-commerce website, and it amazed me.

 

Ivanzi Store

 

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.

 

iVANZi logo

 

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.

 

iVANZi wholesale marketplace

 

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.

 

iVANZi wholesale seller page

 

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.

 

 

Comments

  1. Patty Villanova says:

    What kind of promotion does Ivanzi do? How do potential buyers find the sellers? I have years of experience selling my work online and in brick and mortar shops. Etsy is the first place that comes to mind for many artisans. There is a huge customer base with lots of traffic and even there it’s hard to get find. There are a lot of platforms out there and it’s very very hard to get noticed. I am going to look into this, but I have my doubts.

    • Hi Patty, thanks for commenting. I also have many years of wholesaling experience as a production artist and also a sales rep, which is why when I was introduced to this concept I was so interested in what they offered. Ivanzi is now in beta; they are just ramping up and have not yet launched their marketplace. As you can tell from the article, what impressed me most was the gap that they bridged for makers and wholesale buyers, enabling them to bring new collections into the market without the fear and risk that has always been there.

      I would recommend that you go ahead and look into it. There is no cost involved, but there is potential benefit. This marketplace will not be useful for everyone. For some artists and makers, the concept can be incredibly useful. My purpose here is to bring opportunities forward to artists that can help launch and grow their small businesses.

  2. Nikola Kica says:

    I like the idea of starting without any expenses, the guarantee policy of Ivanzi and 3% commission which is almost nothing. My only question is will Ivanzi grow fast enough to be a sustainable platform? There are dozen web shops that had a good concept but did not survive long enough to be profitable… Anyway, I will reserve my store name, and hope for the best!

    • Nikola, Growing is a challenge for any new ecommerce site, so you are right to “hope for the best” – but Ivanzi has other ways to create income, such as costs for retail store buyers to belong to the site. Any artist can start now or wait and see, as they wish. Certainly with no fees to get involved, there is no risk. Just a bit of your time and effort.

  3. Thanks for passing this site on. I’ll be checking it out for sure to get more info. So, basically, IVanzi will be the one who selects what artwork they want to promote on their site. Artists will need to go through a kind of jury process. Who selects what products an artist can promote on their site? To do a deal with retailers on a trial basis, an artist will need to carry a good sized selection of these products to ship to the retailers. That costs money which many artists don’t have, nor do many artists want to carry inventory that may or may not sell. That’s a sticking point for me. It seems it’s always the artists who are taking the risks and putting out the money hoping their products will sell. The retailers really have nothing to lose. A better solution would be to connect artists and retailers then have the retailers purchase products outright from the artist through iVanzi. Just my two cents.

    • Hi Eva, Yes, if an artist is in “production” and they are set up to wholesale, they will have inventory that they can send to a retailer interested in what they make.

      But I believe your perception that the artist takes the risk and the retailer doesn’t is not true here. The retailer pays the entire cost of the order plus shipping into an escrow account when the order is placed. This guarantees that the artist gets paid. Ordinarily retailers have a lot to lose. What if they order a new line and it doesn’t sell? They are stuck with inventory they cannot move. They may have to discount merchandise and take a loss on the order. These very risks are the reason that many artists find it so hard to wholesale their lines into new stores. By removing that risk, Ivanzi enables retailers to try new lines and artists to get into new stores. The cost is actually negligible to the regular costs of wholesaling for artists, which involve going to trade shows, hiring sales reps (often a 20% commission) or doing all the legwork traveling to stores to call on them.

      You mention that a better solution would be to connect artists and retailers for a wholesale sale without the trial period. Ivanzi offers that too.

      I can only assure you that as a production studio owner for twenty years who sold wholesale to many hundreds of stores during that time – this is an innovative concept that is actually a brilliant solution for the seller and for the wholesale customer. Then again, it is not for everyone. I’m not sure whether you have ever wholesaled or not, but the artists I have personally spoken to who do wholesale were very enthusiastic about it.

      • Thanks for that input, Carolyn. I do agree with it being an attractive option by removing the financial risks on both sides, but if the product doesn’t sell, then either the artist or the retailer end up with inventory that they might not want to have on hand. It’s not an easy business either way. I’m a full-time artist now and have sold prints to local small retailers at wholesale. I’ve also been on the other end of things having owned a retail art supply store for a few years. It’s all in finding a good balance that works for both the artist and the retailer. Thanks again for sharing!

        • Eva, Regarding the issue of leftover inventory, my suggestion would be to create a reasonable order minimum and ship those. The point is a trial order, not a large one.

          As a production artist, it was essential that I had inventory – because it helped to fill regular orders. I also knew my bestsellers, and what I had to keep in stock. If a seller wanted to participate in this program, they may do well to list their bestsellers on the site, which would be in inventory anyway.

  4. I’m glad to read they are curating their shop and offering it only to American brands. Will be interesting to watch this company evolve and growth. Cheers.

  5. I’m not clear about one thing. If unsold artwork is returned to the artist, does the artist get a refund for shipping costs incurred getting the work to the retailer?

    • Hi Sharon, Thanks for askig. All shipping charges are paid by the retailer. The retailer pays the full amount of the wholesale order up front to iVANZi, who holds those funds in escrow. The artist would be paid for shipping costs (both ways) out of those funds by iVANZi, so there is no chance that the artist would not be paid for freight charges.

  6. I read the whole of this article with mounting excitement and was 8 or 9 comments in before it came to light that this is a USA only deal. Really, this should have been stated at the top of the article – as obviously no use at all for us artists who aren’t in the USA. Annoying!

  7. Hi Carolyn, I’m a semi retired professional artist. Was the Washington State Art Director for 15 years in Olympia . I have sold most of my art in Zoos and Nature parks, some in Galleries. This Ivanzi looks like it may be the outlet I’m looking for. I don’t have a web site right now but it’s in the making. If you are interested in the type f art please check it out on fine art america artist Don Winsor. I have won national awards for my work ,one top award was from the U. S. Dept. of Fish and Wildlife for a full size king Salmon painting in a nationwide contest. I have many wildlife scratch board etchings done on Clayboard with a dental pick. I have several large historical murals I painted in 5 Columbia River Dams. I hope you like my art . Please let me know if my would go well with Ivanzi . All the best, Don Winsor

    • Don, thanks for commenting – I don’t know exactly what the criteria they use are, so I wouldn’t be a good guide for whether you could sell there or not. However, they are taking seller names and emails, so you can register to apply, and they should get back to you soon about the possibilities you would have on the site. Best of luck with this!!

  8. Carolyn: I am impressed with this creative problem-solving– killing 2 risks with one solution, with details already worked out! However, it seems to be for USA artists only… might they come up with a solution for Canadian artists as well? I have worked out and documented solutions for shipping my woolen articles to USA, re the NAFTA Agreement. I went to a W/S Trade Show in Vegas with samples with no difficulty at Customs. Shipping by International Courier solved the usual time delay. Can you forward my query to iVANZi please, if possible?

    • Good question, Valentine – I don’t know whether Canadian artists will be invited soon or not, and don’t have insight into their planning. If you sign up as a seller and leave that question for them, I’m sure you would get an answer, plus you would also be on their mailing list. That’s the best way I can think of to get updates as they move forward with their concept.

  9. I do need to promote my work to a larger audience. I have been offered a few opportunities to exhibit my photographic artwork in galleries internationally. Yet, I have not had enough sales to purchase the necessary inventory needed to take advantage of these opportunities. Even with the B2B option from Ivanzi, I need to purchase the artwork first before the possibility of payment.

    • Eric, since you are not currently in production and set up to use a wholesale model, I don’t believe that iVANZi would be useful for you at this time. You might want to check out Print-on-Demand websites, which you can find in the directory on this site http://www.artsyshark.com/125-places-to-sell/

      If you start there, you can offer your work as prints (or on other products) without the risk of having to need inventory. The provider takes the order, accepts payment, creates the product, and ships to the customer. Print-on-Demand is technically a licensing agreement, which means that you as the artist would earn a fairly small portion of the cost of the item – but then again, they are doing just about all the work.

      If you start with Print-on-Demand, it may give you an idea of how well your prints will sell, or whether you might even want to offer other products, such as notecards, mugs, etc. At that time, you might want to invest in some inventory, with confidence that you have a market and can move the merchandise.

  10. Hi Carolyn,

    I read a testimonial of yours listed on Artstorefronts.com website/blog as customer who has used them in the past. Are you a current user and do you recommend them, or is that an older testimonial that is no longer current, and you now prefer Ivanzi and other online marketplaces? What do you currently use and that you would recommend to other artists? Thanks for your time, Cameron

    • Dear Cameron,

      This is a great question and I’ll be happy to clarify. Comparing ArtStorefronts (ASF) with Ivanzi is like comparing apples and oranges. ASF is an artist website provider. It’s where you would build your own art website if you wanted to supercharge it’s powers. I have an online art gallery on ASF, which is http://www.ArtsySharkGallery.com and I know their software and functionality well. It is a robust platform with many cool features. There is a monthly charge for this; it is not inexpensive.

      Ivanzi is a marketplace, not your own art website with your own URL. And, they aren’t strictly limited to art or handmade work either. Ivanzi is free to use, until you make sales at which time they take commission, and of course there is a small percent for credit card fees. You can set up a page there with your collection for sale to the public, but I would not consider it a replacement for your own website.

      Take another look at the article above, and you will see that where I think Ivanzi can really shine is with it’s ability to match wholesale sellers with wholesale buyers. This would serve production studios who want to expand their presence into retail stores around the U.S. I took a look at your website, and it appears you are a fine artist who sells originals and prints. So I think it’s unlikely that you do or that you would sell your work wholesale. And of course that would take you out of the equation with the Ivanzi Joint Sale program. However, you could list your art for sale there to the public.

      I hope that helps. The question would really be whether you are looking to replace your existing art website or not. ASF would be the replacement site if you like it’s functions. If you are looking for an additional place to sell your fine art, you could use Ivanzi without risk or any fees.

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