01 March 2010

The Perfect E-Commerce Venue for Handmade: Part 2 - To Jury or Not To Jury

One of the biggest hurdles facing handmade venues is how to keep out merchandise that violates the terms of use. Even with a juried system, unless each and every listing is carefully vetted by the site admins, there is likely to be an ongoing battle against illicit items. Knowing that, I am interested in hearing from sellers who create art and handcrafted products whether you would rather have a strictly juried system, or an open system where accounts are auto-approved, or whether you feel that the answer lies somewhere in between.

A few possible scenarios:

  • Full jurying - Shops and listings are juried for both content and quality. Not all artists and makers of handmade will be approved, even if their art and craft meets the official definition of handmade. This type of venue is concerned not only with offering handmade artisanal products, but with a certain aesthetic and level of skill.
  • Partial jurying - Shops are required to submit virtual examples of their products and listing descriptions prior to account approval, but only to substantiate that the shop will be in compliance with the TOU, and not so much for quality or skill. After initial approval, shopowners list at will with no further admin intervention, unless there is a reported violation.
  • Administrative approval with a non-refundable deposit - Shop applicants submit a one-time deposit along with their shop application. Upon approval, they may begin listing at will. After a pre-determined probationary period, if a shop is found to be fully compliant, the deposit will be applied toward the monthly bill. Shops not in compliance will forfeit the deposit and lose their accounts.
  • Open membership - Shops are not individually approved and listings are not pre-screened for compliance. Shopowners are self-policing and admin will not intervene without a violation report. (While all venues must be prepared to handle illicit listings as they arrive, an open membership system in particular must have a strong, efficient, and effective anti-violation program in place to aggressively combat content violations. This will be explored in greater detail later in this series under Preserving Venue Integrity.)

There are pros and cons to all of these systems. I look forwarding to hearing from others what you feel are the strengths and pitfalls that are likely to accompany each type of venue, and which you, as creators/makers, feel is best suited to the handmade movement. Feel free to propose and discuss other venue types as well.

Also, to include buyers in the discussion, I'm curious whether those shopping for handmade items prefer to shop where content and quality is strictly controlled, or where there is a varied representation of both products and skill-levels - or if such considerations even come into the equation at all when making a purchase.

No comments:

Post a Comment

absit iniuria verbis - let injury by words be absent