Practical Ecommerce

The PeC Review: Silkfair Is An Easy and Flexible eCommerce Platform

The Silkfair marketplace and ecommerce platform gives small ecommerce entrepreneurs an easy to use and flexible solution. It could have some online merchants selling in less than an hour without a single dime in out of pocket costs.

Four stars Silkfair’s market shops, which are somewhat analogous to eBay stores, are free to use (no listing fee, no set up fees) and will cost sellers just three percent of their actual transactions. The Silkfair marketplace has about 5,000 members and receives some 30,000 to 40,000 monthly visitors. Separately, the site’s ecommerce platform provides a good hosted shopping cart solution, which can be customized, for as little as $24.99 per month.

Silkfair’s concept, ease of use, and customizable, hosted cart make it a great choice for many startup businesses and earned it four out of a possible five stars in the “The PeC Review.”

The PeC Review is my weekly quest to introduce you to the products and services that I believe might help you manage and expand your ecommerce business. And this week, I was impressed with the Silkfair’s marketplace and its hosted shopping cart.

Video: Silkfair

The Silkfair Marketplace

Adding items to the Silkfair marketplace is a fairly straightforward process. Any item added is listed in Silkfair’s navigation and is included in Silkfair’s Google Base submissions. Visitors to the Silkfair site can browse your items and make a purchase using PayPal or Google Checkout.

This marketplace provides a way for new sellers to try out ecommerce and it could provide an additional sales channel for more established online retailers that simply want to expose their products on a number of sites.

As marketplaces go, I would like to see more traffic than just 30,000 to 40,000 visitors per month, but with the right items, good product descriptions, and good quality product images there is money to be made with a Silkfair market shop. And remember, the only investment is your time.

Custom Shop Is A Hosted Ecommerce Platform

Silkfair’s custom shop is a hosted ecommerce platform that addresses two major categories of ecommerce entrepreneurs. Many new ecommerce business owners fall into one of these two categories.

First, there are subject or industry experts who decide to create an online presence. An example would be the owner of a small golf shop. He or she knows the game. He or she knows the products. But he or she is by no means a web designer. He or she sells online because of her expertise in golf. Second, there are some ecommerce business owners that are web experts and decide to put that expertise to use selling something. These sorts of business owners want to put their web skills to work selling any profitable products.

These two kinds of ecommerce owners have very different needs where ecommerce platforms and shopping carts are concerned, and it is the rare solution that addresses both.

Silkfair offers the subject matter expert about a dozen well-designed site templates to choose from and provides a relatively simple interface to modify those templates. Likewise, Silkfair makes it relatively easy for a design-savvy site owner to create a highly customized shopping experience.

Both types of entrepreneurs will be happy.

Hosting for Your Domain

With the Silkfair custom shop, your own domain is hosted on Silkfair servers. Hosted solutions appeal to many business owners because it allows them to manage everything in one place. And Silkfair’s $24.99 base price is a bargain compared to comparable solutions.

Some Features Still in Development

At present, Silkfair does not have all of the features that I would like to see in a shopping cart. For example, there is no support for coupon codes, which are one of the best online marketing techniques. But the site does expect to begin offering couple-code support later this year.

Bottom Line

One way to think about Silkfair is to imagine a good hosted shopping cart that comes complete with an additional sales channel—the Silkfair marketplace. The site is friendly to new online retailers, and yet offers as much design flexibility as some licensed solutions.

Armando Roggio

Armando Roggio

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