Following sector research and an internal review, Craft Scotland has decided to suspend the Craft Marketplace enabling us to allocate resources to areas with more impact for more makers.
The Ecommerce landscape has changed significantly since support from Scottish Enterprise enabled us to pilot this project. Increasingly, makers are now selling effectively through their own online channels as detailed in our Online Selling Study, and take up for the Craft Marketplace has not been high.
Instead we are developing new online selling training through our COMPASS programme to maximise benefits to all. 41% of maker respondents stated recently (Coronavirus Maker Impact Survey) that training in online selling would be most helpful at this time.
Additionally, we are developing new website content and functionality at www.craftscotland.org. This will include articles offering practical tips, interviews and advice. Our online Craft Directory also provides an effective, high-profile way for makers and destinations to reach wider markets interested in craft.
The Craft Marketplace online selling platform was developed as a pilot, with support from Scottish Enterprise and Scotgrad. It was in development over a number of years, with specialist external support, and launched in February 2018, as appetites grew for marketplace-style online shopping. It provided a centralized selling platform, under the Craft Scotland name, and offered makers advice from an ecommerce professional.
However, take up was low. In 2019, Craft Scotland team reviewed not only the Craft Marketplace but also conducted research into wider online selling and other routes to market. This included 15 in-depth interviews (makers and craft destinations) and an online survey with 80 makers responding. The results show that the ecommerce landscape has changed dramatically in the last six years since the Craft Marketplace project was developed and launched. Makers are now more confident in selling online and are looking to coordinate their whole online shopping experience for their customers.
Customers are also looking to buy directly from the makers, as evidenced through the growth of informal selling through social media platforms like Instagram. The full findings from our research can be found in our Resources section. You may also be interested in the statistics around online selling in the Market for Craft report. The Market for Craft (2020) report, published by the Crafts Council and eight national partners including Craft Scotland, additionally touches on the growth on online selling.
We will retain the Ecommerce website development functionality, and if alternative opportunities arise in future we may review its potential alongside lessons learnt. However, our research revealed greater current need in related areas.
Makers identified that they sell more through their own website than any other platform, but that they struggle with promotion and driving traffic.
We want to help all makers develop the skills to sell online, and will use our learning to create training and resources to assist in this area. A series of COMPASS webinars on online selling will launch in September 2020 for everyone to access, in the run up to the vital Christmas selling period. Three webinars will offer practical tips, advice and interviews with makers/industry leaders who are successful in this area.
Plus, the need to support makers with marketing is regularly mentioned in our maker surveys and other feedback. We are reallocating resource to increase our digital storytelling about Scotland’s thriving craft sector. This will help grow the national and international audience for craft.
Our Communications & Digital team will also be exploring new ways to promote makers who sell online, and improving the website functionality we can offer - including the What’s On, Craft Directory and Maker Community areas. This will enable makers, and the wider craft sector, to more easily promote their activities, news and opportunities to our engaged craft audience.
We would love to hear from you if you have any thoughts: firstname.lastname@example.org.