What is Tictail?
Tictail is for emerging brands, with a particular focus on fashion, art, and home decor.
It's quite similar to Zibbet, Storenvy and Bonanza, in that you can create a custom website and have your products added to their marketplace, which gives you increased visibility and a chance of making more sales. Side note: Interesting that this is a common theme amongst 4 of our top 10 Etsy alternatives. 🤔
UPDATE: Since writing this review, Tictail has been purchased, and unfortunately closed down, by Shopify. Relevant article >
Tictail review summary
- Potential for some good exposure if you're the right kind of seller for Tictail.
- Can get expensive with 10% commission fees + monthly fees for necessary add-ons to your custom website.
- Tictail's marketplace is beautiful, but their custom websites are outdated and hard to customize unless you know how to code.
Tictail review scores
- Competitiveness: 6/10
- Exposure: 8/10
- Fees: 5/10
- Flexibility: 6/10
- Handmade ethos: 3/10
Total score: 28/50
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This review is written for those wanting an alternative to selling on Etsy. So, I'll be reviewing Tictail based on the top 5 reasons people are looking for an Etsy alternative:
1. Competitiveness – Do your products have a chance of standing out from the crowd?
2. Exposure – Is there a good chance of increasing your traffic and getting more exposure?
3. Fees – How much does it cost? Is the pricing simple and predictable? More than that, are the fees fair for what's on offer?
4. Flexibility – How professional does it look, and how flexible is it to change?
5. Handmade ethos – Are they strictly for handmade, or can you sell anything there? Will you be competing against manufacturers of mass produced goods, that can easily beat you on price?
I'll give each of these elements a score out of 10, to arrive at a total score out of 50. I'll then use this score to arrive at the top 10 Etsy alternatives.
At first glance Tictail looks more like a glossy magazine. It's clearly highly curated, and kind of has a minimalist Scandinavian vibe going on. It's very beautiful and easy to spend a lot of time on the site, clicking around and exploring all of the amazing products on there.
With regards to how many stores and products Tictail has, the most up-to-date information I could find was from July 2016, stating that there were over 125,000 stores and over 2.5 Million products on the site. When compared to Etsy's ~32 Million products, Tictail's 2.5 Million sounds very reasonable.
Like most places, competitiveness comes down to what you are selling. The most popular categories on Tictail are clothing, jewelry, art and home decor. If your products come under those categories, Tictail is highly competitive. Not just because of the number of products in each of those categories, but primarily due to the high quality nature of the products you'd be up against.
Will you increase your traffic and get more exposure by being in the Tictail marketplace? You absolutely can. But, and a big-important-noteworthy BUT, is that you'll likely only get good exposure if you're at a professional level. This means an exceptional product, with an even better photo of that product. As previously mentioned, Tictail is highly curated, with the very best products bubbling to the top and the not-so-good products are buried.
Here's an example of a professional grade product on Tictail. It is always towards the top of the search results:
Visit this product, here.
Here's an example of a not-so-professional product on Tictail. It was hard to find and buried far down in the search results:
Visit this product, here.
Tictail uses infinite scroll on their search engine, which means that you can't easily skip through pages and get an easy sense of where you're at within the results. It also makes it easier for them to bury your products if it's not up to standard. Wondering if you can mix it with the pros? Check out Tictail's Bags category and be honest with yourself about whether you could compete. That's not to say you shouldn't aspire to be at this level. Use it as inspiration for your own product photography.
So, in summary for the "exposure" question, the answer is yes and no. I'm scoring this one well, as there's good opportunity for the right kind of seller. You just need to decide for yourself if you're the right kind of seller or not.
Tictail fees are quite expensive. It's free to create a website through Tictail and you won't pay any commissions on the sales made through your website. Any sales made through the Tictail marketplace will cost you a 10% commission though. 😬
I say 😬, as I know 10% is quite a lot for the real handmade sellers out there.
If you're thinking that a completely free website sounds too good to be true – unfortunately, you're right. 😔 Although it is free to create a basic website, Tictail monetizes this by getting you to add-on apps to your website. Many website builders have app stores where you can add on various features that you need, so there's nothing inherently wrong with this approach. The problem with Tictail is that some of the apps are must-have, that you can't live without if you're serious about selling online.
I feel that these apps above, as well as some others in their app store are really the entry-level cost that you should consider if you're wanting to use the Tictail website. Of course you need simple analytics to track the visits to your site, and a custom domain so that your URL doesn't have "Tictail" within it (which, is a tell-tale sign that you're an "amateur" seller), and highlighting some of your most popular products on your homepage is important too. Those 3 things alone will cost you $8.50/month. In my research I found that they previously charged $6.50 to create coupon codes! 😲 They've recently made that free, so who knows... over time, these must-haves may become free too. Check out the Tictail app store for yourself.
UPDATE: Feb 7, 2017: Tictail has launched "Tictail Plus" a membership that bundles up some basic features like hiding Tictail advertising on your website, using Google Analytics and other basic analytics. You'll also get to use your own domain name with Tictail Plus, and as such they've removed this option from the app store (formerly $1.50/month). Therefore, their fees have actually gotten worse, because now you'll need to pay $9/month instead of $1.50/month if you want your own domain name. If you're serious about selling online, you must have your own domain name, so I think this is Tictail being smart about how they can make more money from their sellers.
There's no doubt that the Tictail marketplace looks stunning. Unfortunately, your store within the Tictail marketplace isn't very customizable. Basically it shows your products and not much else. So, let's focus on Tictail's website builder instead.
There's a number of website themes for you to choose from – 17 in fact! However, I can't find 1 in the 17 that I actually like the look of. 😭 The themes are really outdated, and I'm guessing these were designed and built early in Tictail's life (they launched in 2012) and haven't been updated since. Clearly their resources are focused on the Tictail marketplace, because that is modern and beautiful. Going back to the Exposure point above, if Tictail is focusing on the marketplace, that likely means there's a good amount of sales happening there. That means it's an opportunity for you if you can afford those 10% commissions and you sell the right type of product!
The complete lack of customization is probably the most aggravating thing about Tictail. To sum it up quickly, Tictail allows you to customize your store about as much as FaceBook lets you customize your page. – Nathaniell, One More Cup Of Coffee
If you don't like the theme's look and feel and you want to change things like colors and layout, I have good news and bad news. First, the bad news... If you don't know how to code, you won't be able to make any changes - at all - to your site. But, the good news is, if you know how to code, or have a really generous friend that knows how to code, you can make changes to the styling of your site and even add extra pages to your site.
The ability to customize the code was the saving grace for Tictail's flexibility. Otherwise it would have scored very poorly.
Products sold on Tictail don't have to be handmade. That means if you sell handmade products, it's going to be hard for you to compete on price as your competitors are likely using manufacturers. Tictail is creative focused and caters towards independent brands, so I've given them a few points for this reason.
In conclusion, Tictail is a good option for you if you're selling clothing, jewelry, art or home decor. But remember, these categories are highly competitive, so in order to stand out you have to have an exceptional product and professional photographs of that product. Unless you're at a professional level, your products won't be seen and you won't make any sales. Whilst Tictail is free to join and setup a basic store, you'll pay Tictail 10% of your sales + the fees from PayPal/Stripe etc. So, you'll need to calculate if you can afford those fees according to your margins.
Tictail has finished up with a score of 28/50, which ranks them 5th in the top 10 Etsy alternatives list.