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A Comprehensive Review of the ArtFire Marketplace

Last updated: March 23, 2020
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ArtFire

Final Thoughts

ArtFire is an online community in the truest sense of the word. The platform is committed to showcasing and highlighting small businesses, both locally focused and around the world.

Pros

ArtFire is a smaller marketplace, but that allows them to offer community and attention that you can't get elsewhere.

  • Easy to open a shop with full e-commerce functionality
  • Great customer service, including a toll-free number
  • Passionate customer base who believe in community

Cons

ArtFire's smaller size is one of its strengths but also its biggest weakness.

  • More expensive fee structure for smaller shops
  • Not as great selection as Etsy for shoppers
  • Not as feature-rich for shop owners
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ArtFire is an online marketplace that lets craftspeople and vintage collectors sell their items to customers around the world. A competitor of Etsy, ArtFire has stood out over the last decade as a place committed to community and small business.

In this article, we’ll look at the ArtFire selling platform, both from the perspective of shoppers and shop owners. We’ll show how the site works, look at its pricing models, and then compare it to its biggest competitor: Etsy.

What is ArtFire?

ArtFire was founded in 2008 by John Jacobs and remains one of the most popular alternatives to Etsy out on the internet. A home for indie artists and collectors, ArtFire sellers list vintage items, handmade items, and even fine art for sale on the site.

The company is headquartered in Tucson, Arizona, and has made a commitment to featuring local Arizona artists and small businesses on the website, giving it both a global and extremely communal feel.

ArtFire shop owners are encouraged to participate in the online community beyond just selling things. You can see people providing feedback to other sellers in online forums, interacting with customers, and making the website more engaging in the process.

How ArtFire Works

For buyers, ArtFire works much like any other online marketplace. You visit artfire.com, and from the homepage you can either search directly for an item, or view by category to get inspired.

Wedding items are a popular category, as well as kids’ clothing and toys, but really any handmade, craft, or vintage item has a place on ArtFire. The site also lets you save items to a personalized page, meaning you can review plenty of different items or build a mood board to help plan a wedding or other event.

To use the site, it’s easiest to search for an item that you want at the top of the homepage. It looks like this:

Screen Shot 2019 12 15 at 8.36.08 PM

When you get your search results, you’ll see a bunch of items all listed that match your query. ArtFire is a big marketplace. Luckily, it’s easy to navigate through all these results.

On the right side of the page, above the results, you’ll see that you are able to sort through the items listed. You can ask for a random sorting of items or update the listing from most expensive to least expensive, or vice versa. You can also ask for new results to be placed at the top.

Screen Shot 2019 12 15 at 8.42.00 PM

You can also filter out search results to find exactly what you’re looking for. On the left side of the screen, you can set a minimum and maximum price or select whether or not you want only handmade or vintage items.

Once you’ve found what you want, you can review the item in more detail. You can look at the photos of the item, review the price and availability, and save the item to a wishlist or to review for later.

You can also scroll down to get more info on product details, shipping policies, reviews from other shoppers, and more.

Screen Shot 2019 12 16 at 10.01.00 AM

Like what you see? Want to buy? Tap the green button “Add to Cart” and it’s time for payment.

Payment

ArtFire has its own internal payment processing service and accepts most major credit cards. ArtFire also accepts PayPal. If you have a PayPal account, choosing that option will open up a new browser window, which will let you securely pay via PayPal and then process that payment through ArtFire.

When it comes to shipping fees, ArtFire allows sellers to set their own policies and prices. Some sellers offer free shipping, but not all do. Check the individual page to find out your seller’s shipping policies.

If you are shipping outside the United States, you will need to check with the seller’s policy regarding international shipping and may face a heftier price tag for that service.

Selling on ArtFire

Have a collection of vintage items? Passionate about crafting? You may want to open an ArtFire shop.

ArtFire shops can work either as a way for people to find new customers on the platform or work as a one-stop-shop for creating an entire e-commerce site. For some sellers, ArtFire can take the place of building a traditional website or setting up their own online store. They can simply build an ArtFire shop and let the platform take care of the rest.

ArtFire shops have a lot of benefits of other e-commerce shops. All items are listed and searchable on Google, so even if someone isn’t looking on ArtFire, they can find your item for sale via a standard search. All shop pages are mobile-friendly and customizable so you can showcase your items in the best way possible.

Building an ArtFire shop is easy. No need for any coding or finding a web hosting platform. Just build your site, upload your photos, and start selling. They have great support for customers and sellers.

Pricing Structure

ArtFire has a three-tiered pricing structure for sellers, depending on what type of shop you want to open.

The Standard Shop comes with a $4.95 per month fee plus a $0.23 listing fee per item that you put on the site. You also have to pay a 12.75% fee for the final selling price of the item, only payable if the item sells. Standard Shop owners can have up to 250 active listings and don’t need to sign any contracts. Their shop pages and item pages are also ad-free.

The Popular Shop costs $20 a month to operate, with no listing fee per item. You also only have to pay a 4.5% fee for the final selling price of the item. Shops can have 1,000 active listings, and they offer a bunch of other handy seller tools, including a CSV importer for batch uploading listings.

This option costs $40 a month to operate. Featured Shops can have 2,500 active listings, but the main benefit of the Featured Shop is that ArtFire promises enhanced site exposure. Featured Shops get ranked higher in search results and can be featured on the homepages of different site categories, such as Weddings or Children’s Clothes.

ArtFire vs. Etsy

person holding round black wicker crossbody bag 1117272

When looking at ArtFire, it’s hard not to immediately want to compare it to Etsy, the big name in handmade and vintage items online.

When it comes to Etsy, the power of the biggest platform has a lot of great advantages. The site looks a bit more polished than ArtFire, and shop pages can be more customized to show off branding and different items. Etsy sellers have power to offer different shipping policies for different priced items — offering free shipping if a purchase order exceeds a certain price point, for example.

Etsy also has a more consistent pricing policy, with $0.20 per item listed and a flat 5% commission fee for every sale, no matter the size of your shop. And the biggest plus in Etsy’s favor: the customer base. Etsy has a lot more users than ArtFire, and while ArtFire items are listed on Google, their shops just don’t have the reach that Etsy shops do.

ArtFire may not be as feature-rich as Etsy, but the platform has focused on community in a big way, and many customers may feel drawn to that.

For example, ArtFire lets customers filter their searches by merchant size, so if customers want to truly support small businesses, they are able to do that. ArtFire also offers better customer support, offering a toll-free phone number that people can call to talk to a real person — it’s 866-683-0994. For business owners, that kind of attention is a nice plus.

ArtFire’s smaller size can help new businesses get off the ground as well. With the size of Etsy, it can be hard to stand out in a crowded field, and the competition can be ruthless. Etsy’s search rankings are also weighted, so a few negative reviews can really hurt a shop’s viability.

We should also quickly mention Amazon Handmade and eBay, both places where you can open a vintage or handmade online store. All have passionate customers and comparable pricing structures and fees. When looking at ArtFire compared to those two, however, the same thing goes: ArtFire is smaller and can offer more individual attention because of it.

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