Some loved it, some hated it. Some loved it at first, and slowly grew to hate it while others decided they would hate it right off the bat, but warmed up to it later.
I’m referring to Heartsy, the groupon-esque, voucher-style discount site designed for handmade shops on Etsy, Artfire, and elsewhere.
On the surface, one might think, UGH why would an artist want to offer such deep discounts on their handmade goods?
Well, for some, it appeared to be a smart business strategy. If the seller already had their items priced at retail (meaning they could afford to do a wholesale discount of 50% or more while still gaining profit), and they had the dispensable inventory to spare (maybe even some old inventory they wanted to get rid of), they might gain some new, and even loyal customers. While some against the site argue that the people who shop on Heartsy are looking for discounts, I would disagree that such is ALWAYS the case.
Like me, for example. I liked to shop on Heartsy to get a “sample” so to speak of some sites I wanted to try for a lesser price (or risk) to see if their products were really as fabulous in real life. For example, I purchased vouchers from several bath and body shops, and found a couple that I am now a very loyal repeat customer too, because in “real life” their products ended up being these AMAZING THINGS THAT I CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT OR I WOULD SIMPLY DIEEEEEEEEEEE. You get the idea. Some others, not so much and I was thankful I was able to give they a try at a discounted price.
Other shops, didn’t deliver at all. They literally jumped ship and ran. This happened to me on >>>>3<<<< different occasions, and I was really bummed when they did. I had to get refunds for my vouchers from Heartsy, who in turn would give me credits to spend on their site. This meant even after a bad experience, I had to keep buying from Heartsy, because it was the only way to "get my money back," so to speak. It was a huge flaw in their system. But I know they had once considered only giving sellers half of the voucher cost until the orders were sent, and then they would receive the other half. This may have helped with the problem I kept running into, but sellers screamed at the unfairness of the idea for a couple of legitimate reasons. The first being that they would need the voucher money to buy supplies to make their orders in the first place, and secondly, this would mean that Heartsy would gain more profit over the vouchers that DIDN'T get used than those that did. So they dropped the idea in a heartbeat.
On Heartsy, shops had to compete for votes in order to be featured. The votes of those who had bought on the site before weighed more than those that hadn’t, and VIP member’s votes counted more than that of regular buyers. This system makes reasonable sense at first: you want to provide your counted-on buyers with what they want to buy, right? However, what this system eventually did was remove reasons for NEW buyers with NEW tastes to come in. With the same buyers voting on the same type of stuff, new, unique sellers never had a chance. I would vote on some of these sellers, but as just 1 measly buyer, I almost never got to see any of them get a shot at it.
I, too, had tried to get a Heartsy deal a couple of times. I got plenty of “yes” votes from the general public, mostly from getting my Facebook fans and Twitter followers to cast a yes vote for me, but not enough from the VIPs and frequent buyers.
With the constant repeats, many sellers signing up who were not prepared to finish their end of the bargain, and the poor reputations that began forming, Hearty had to call it quits. Of course, this does not mean the Heartsy team has packed up and left, they’ve just started putting their efforts elsewhere. Now it’s at Tophatter, an online live-auction style site for handmade. So far they had gotten a flood of sellers and are backed-up with items until eternity it seems like, but many sellers are having some good experiences and are encouraging others to give it a try.
I’ve sold 1 pair of earrings on Tophatter. I’m not sure if I need to wait until i get a positive feedback from my buyer or just wait until another slot opens up in order to try to sell another. It was a fine experience for me, but nothing to rave about. they want you to be present for the auction so you can answer any questions about your item. That means sitting in an auction while most of the other items sell, waiting for your turn. This would be okay is I had an abundance of spare time. But I’m, you know, ME, so time tends to be scarcity. The auctions do remind me of the first seller games we used to play in the Etsy chat rooms when they existed. So they bring back a bit of nostalgia.