September 21, 2013

TAFA Market: Using Merchpin to create a virtual shopping experience!

TAFA Market

Recently I wrote a post about Selling on Etsy that got quite a bit of feedback and attention. One of the comments left by Beverly Rustica suggested that we look into Merchpin, a service that allows you to pull in product feeds from different places and display them on any site. We were sold on the idea and moved ahead to create our own marketplace!

Merchpin behaves much like an Etsy mini, but you have more control over how it displays, so you can build themes (like treasuries) and organize your products in different ways. It works seamlessly with Etsy shops, creating an easy import into a huge main catalog that can then be sorted by tags. The great thing is that we can include other TAFA members who are not on Etsy, thus being much more inclusive about who we can invite to participate. The service is not cheap, costing us $99/month to run and is quite labor intensive to set up, especially since I wanted to have lots of pages and feature different collections. Right now we have about 11 members participating and I am hoping that many more will join us.

There are a couple of downsides in using this and we are trying to figure out work arounds for them. When you click on an image, it takes you to that person's shop, leaving our site. So, it makes it hard to keep people on site to explore other pages. Another big problem is that the currency doesn't convert over to the service, so it doesn't reflect our international base. It took a lot of pressure from Etsy shops for a long time to finally get Etsy to display other currencies besides the American dollar, so it is disappointing to be back to square one on that again.

The great thing about this service is that any group of friends could band together for joint marketing efforts and display the code on their blogs or sites. We have our Team blog here, so I have added a redirect page to the Market as most of our participants will have Etsy shops. But, one wouldn't need to have a dedicated site.

We invite you to visit our TAFA Market and please share it with your friends! Comments are enabled on the Market pages, so please feel free to use them over there or over here. Sign up for our blog updates over there, too, as we will announce new shops and collections on that blog.  Lots of eye candy!

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