There has been a huge divide between the international and African markets for far too long with no linking bridge. What this means is that manufacturers in the African markets are restricted in who they can sell to and how far they can distribute their products. The international market, on the other hand, is deprived of top-tier products that can only come from African manufacturers. Craftmerce is that linking bridge that connects African brands and products to international retail partners. We will explore everything you need to know about them in this article to give you a better understanding of the good job they are doing in the eCommerce industry.
1. Craftmerce has a strong team with the required technical know-how
What Craftmerce is doing is a huge project that involves several moving parts. However, Craftmerce has a strong team with the right amount of knowledge and experience. The team contains members with experience in international sales, export marketing experience, and building technology platforms. They are leveraging on these skills to grow Craftmerce into a household name when it comes to export eCommerce. The team has built a product that offers access to international markets, and handles the process of receiving payments, and logistics issues. It gives sellers easy access to increase their export market without the hassles of finding customers themselves or losing their goods to fraudulent activities.
2. They are helping African brands scale their business and increase their revenue
For African brands to increase their revenue and scale their business, they need access to the international market, as well as the local market. In the past, before African brands can display their products in the international market, there has to be some kind of tradeshow that was either sponsored by the government or large organizations. Opportunities like this don’t come very often, and it’s not sustainable for growth if these brands only rely on things like that.
Another option is for these brands to use shipping companies to send their products to international retailers. But that is also very expensive and reduces their profit margin by a lot. Cratfmerce as a solution removes all these obstacles in that they are always available to both sellers and buyers. They charge a $15 subscription fee monthly from listed sellers and a 15% commission on every sale made. Sellers get three months free before they start paying the $15 subscription fee.
This way, African brands can find their feet in the international market without spending too much, thus, allowing them to scale their business and increase their revenue. In addition, they also have the opportunity to gain recognition in international markets, without having to go to these countries themselves.
3. They are showcasing African talent to the world
Africa has so many raw materials that are unique and some brands have capitalized on them and made both everyday products and luxury products out of them. It will such a shame if the rest of the world doesn’t get to experience the beauty of these products, and with ease too. Craftmerce has created an online marketplace where buyers can go and look at all the products listed for sale and make their purchases easily. The website has a clean, user-friendly look that makes shopping an easy and fun experience. If you are not careful as a buyer, you’ll find yourself clicking ‘Add to cart’ over and over again as you discover new products.
4. They currently have brands from 13 African countries signed up
The ultimate goal for Craftmerce is to be the first stop for anyone outside Africa to shop for unique African products. Currently, there are sellers from 13 African countries listed as registered sellers on the Craftmerce website, with buyers from Canada, US, UK and Europe. The goal is to reach all African wholesales brands and have them registered as sellers under Craftmerce for anyone in any part of the world to find them. The process of buying and selling across continents will be significantly easier!
5. There is the possibility of product customization
If as a buyer, you require that a certain product be custom made for you, Craftmerce will do the work of contacting the seller to confirm that they accept custom orders and take care of the rest until you get your order. Craftmerce caters to both buyers and sellers, doing everything possible to ensure that both parties have the best experience.
6. Easy signup process
As a seller, you don’t have to jump through a lot of hoops to get listed as a seller on Craftmerce. Once you fill the Sell on Craftmerce form on the website, a team member will reach out to ask you to provide any additional information that is required. The point of the form is to help the people at Craftmerce know if your business is a good fit. You’ll be required to answer questions like what kind of shop you have, what your business sells, etc.
They are only able to take a certain number of manufacturers at a given time, so every application is looked into thoroughly to ensure that it’s a good fit for Craftmerce. The two criteria that brands need to fulfill before selling on Craftmerce are:
- Their products are not shipped from or manufactured in countries that are subject to sanctions or other economic measures affecting their sector.
- They own the product, and their business is directly involved in the design or production.
Suppose your business passes the initial stage and it’s approved as a Craftmerce seller. In that case, a Craftmerce collection page will be built for it. You will be given access to a brand portal where you can upload product images, descriptions, brand information, and anything a buyer should know about said product. If a seller has any difficulty setting up their portal, a tech support member can walk them through it. If the latter is the preferred option, the seller will have to provide either (i) their catalog and product images; or (ii) if they have a Shopify website, they could download a CSV file with the image URL and provide that. The signup itself doesn’t take time, but the time the onboarding process takes will depend on the quality of your digital assets and editorial content.
7. Both buyers and sellers are protected
Craftmerce guarantees protection for both buyers and sellers on the platform. Payment is 100% guaranteed as payment made by a buyer is held in an escrow service, and the seller gets it as soon as the buyer confirms that they’ve received their order. By doing this, buyers can be rest assured that they’ll get their orders and sellers, their money. To ensure quality control and reduce refund requests, manufacturers are required to send a picture of the final order before it is shipped out. This way, they can determine if it truly matches the product description and any other specifications the buyer asked for.
8. They only carry African brands with unique products
Craftmerce aims to feature the very best of African brands in their marketplace. As such, the selection process is rigorous and certain criteria have to be met. They welcome brands that have the following to signup as sellers;
- Are African based with unique quality products.
- Have an established online or bricks-and-mortar store open and ready for business.
- Hold a valid brands/reseller ID(also known as a sales tax identification, reseller permit, or resale certificate) or equivalent document(i.e., trade certificate).
- A registered company with a valid registration number.
They are in no way biased in their brand selection process. Everyone is given a fair chance, and as long as they fulfill all the requirements and there are open slots, they’ll be listed as a seller. Their selection process is based on direct interactions, hands-on experience with brands/manufacturers, and credible and legitimate referrals from a strong global network of organizations. Some of which include- NGOs, export promotion agencies, handmade sector associations, etc. It also helps that the founders of Craftmerce have been building direct relationships in the creative manufacturing and handmade sector for several decades. They are able to draw from this to build a community of manufacturers that best represent the African market. When they meet a new brand, the brands are made to undergo a due diligence process during which Craftmerce assesses their ability to produce with high quality and deliver on time.
To ensure that they are not supporting a brand that doesn’t adhere to labor laws, all brands have to comply with these three policies:
- No children under the age of 16 are involved in the production process.
- Appropriate standards are put in place to ensure artisan safety.
- Artisans are paid a living wage.
In addition to these, manufacturers must confirm their commitment to one or more of Craftmerce’s six core values.
- Heritage craft preservation
- Eco-friendly materials.
- Product innovation
- Sustainable Processes.
It might seem like a lot, but it’s important for building trust in the international market.
9. There are currently seven product categories listed on the website
Craftmerce only has 7 product categories for now, but they hope to expand on this as time goes on and carry a broader range of products. Manufacturers whose products don’t fall under any of these categories are encouraged to apply still so that their information will be on the record and they’ll be the first ones to be contacted when accommodation has been made for their products on the website. Wholesalers, retailers, and personal shoppers come to the website to purchase African handmade products made ethically and sustainably. Whatever the product category, it has to account for these things.
The seven categories present right now are;
- Stationary- This includes customized greetings cards, handmade journals, notecards, and more.
- Food and spices- African markets have a lot to offer when it comes to food and spices. It’s no wonder that this category is rich with products from different parts of Africa. From Swahili spices to Tigernut flour, there is something for anyone who wants to experience the African culture through food or Africans in the diaspora that miss homegrown food.
- Footwear- The website displays durable and beautiful handmade slippers and sandals for men, women, and children.
- Home and decor- This category lists throw pillows, kitchen supplies, wall decor, fragrances, bedding and blankets, decorative light pieces, and other handcrafted decorative pieces. All the products are handmade with sustainable raw materials.
- Fashion- This category is a crowd favorite. Beautiful outfits sewn with prints unique to Africa such as Ankara, Adire, Kente, etc can be shopped for on the website. In addition, handmade beaded necklaces, bracelets, etc can also be found on Craftmerce.
- Accessories- Jewelry, bags, scarves, laptop sleeves, and many more are all handmade from locally sourced materials.
- Beauty and skincare- Several African skincare and beauty brands don’t get enough recognition for what they are doing with homegrown materials. Skincare and hair care products made by local vendors are listed on the website. Afro wigs, crochet locs, etc can also be found on the website.
All products listed on the website have both their retail and wholesale price- where it applies. While these already cover a wide array of products, Craftmerce is looking to work with more vendors in the categories already listed and new ones as well.
Craftmerce is here to redefine the eCommerce market by creating a link between two different markets that have had difficulties reaching each other in past years. They will be helping small and medium-sized businesses scale their production by connecting them to international wholesalers and retailers. This will benefit the businesses and the economy of their countries as well. Another plus is that African handmade products will get showcased worldwide, gaining more popularity for a previously underrepresented market. As for the buyers in the international market, they will no longer be limited in where they can shop from as Craftmerce gives them the opportunity to try items from African countries, and with ease too.
Written by Allen Lee
Read more posts by Allen Lee