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Tech Report: Our Phase 2 Beta Marketplace Launch

Image of a person typing on a keyboard with space-age graphics representing computer windows showing handmade items and the Artisans Cooperative logo. Title text says Tech Report: Our Phase 2 Beta Launch

We’re excited to announce today the launch of our first marketplace for authentic handmade goods as a Phase 2 Beta! What this means is a progression of features from our Phase 1 Beta and an opening of the marketplace from fundraiser items to general handmade goods for all artisan member shops. In Phase 3, we will add additional features and open the marketplace to non-member artisans.

With each month that passes, we’re growing and building towards our full-featured dream machine. But as we’re still getting started, our beautifully imperfect and minimum viable Beta has a few caveats. There are some things that this site already is, and some things that it isn’t quite yet. In our Phase 1 Beta launch, Marketplace Tech Plan, and Marketplace Development Plan, we discussed our Top 10 priorities and planned rollout.

For Phase 2, these are the changes and updates we’ve made in the past two months:

  • Added product browse capabilities: product category and subcategory tags and corresponding collection and sub-collection pages
  • Created robust search and filter options, including filter by craft, production, design, artisan, membership, handmade verification, turnaround time, and more
  • Onboarded a large number of member shops and products
  • Created and tested order fulfillment, payout, and customer service systems
  • Added and tested product integration and upload tools: Shopify integration, Product Form. Added and then unfortunately had to remove the Product CSV Upload and Etsy integration tools because they had major technical problems: they are back in workshopping.
  • Wrote user guides for artisans: New Shop Set-up Guide, Add/Edit Products, and Order Management
  • Wrote policies for product listings, mature content / NSFW, and attorney-reviewed Terms of Service and GDPR-compliant Privacy Policy
  • Tested, then unfortunately had to remove an auto payout system using Stripe. This payout system would have reduced the checkout options for customers, and would have only auto-paid after an artisan shipped a product, not received an order. This was a non-starter for artisans.
  • Redesigned product pages with better information and presentation
  • Edited language in all auto-emails from the MVM back end for better reading comprehension
  • Implemented and began verifying shops for Handmade Policy compliance
  • Set up enforcement forms and compliance reporting tools for Handmade Policy, DMCA Takedown for intellectual property, and other alleged policy violations
  • Improved navigation in header and footer
  • Increased our responsibilities for sales tax collection and remittance. Implemented sales tax collection for all US states and applied for EU VAT tax in consultation with legal and accounting experts using software from Avalara.
  • Fixed small bugs and language improvements on front end and back end, and other fixes responsive to Website Feedback form submissions
  • Replaced Shop Waitlist Directory with Artisan Directory
  • Updated and expanded page content

What’s coming next in Phase 3? At the top of our priority list:

  • Stress test, expand, and improve systems so we can welcome non-member artisan shops
  • Develop an in-house sandbox for testing changes and improvements
  • More shipping options, including express and trackable “multi” shipping option
  • Improve blog post content and visibility on the website
  • Develop a plan for growth beyond the limitations of the MVM marketplace app

As this is still in Beta, we included a prominent link for “Website Feedback” in the Main Menu. Please share your thoughts and feedback on the user experience of the website! We will be making many improvements. 

In the interim, we live with the compromises. We are a handmade marketplace, crafting a handmade solution as a start-up with limited funds and time.

But as we grow, with each sale and each new member, we will improve our marketplace based on what artisans and shoppers tell us they want and need. What we have is “good” today, but we can’t wait to work with you for an even “better” tomorrow in Phase 3.

What do you think about the Phase 2 website? Please let us know by using the website feedback form or the comments below.  


About Artisans Cooperative

We are growing an online handmade marketplace for an inclusive network of creatives: a co-op alternative to Etsy.
Shop the marketplace!

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