I am often asked what makes Bits of Australia different from other online stores that also offer handcrafted gifts and products. So, I thought a blog would be a good way to answer this question and explore the growing online gift and handcrafts industry.
There are two types of business models I can see. One is a marketplace model, where a designer or seller signs up and manages their own sales through an online portal, such as Ebay, Etsy or even Hard to Find. Sellers are required to pay a membership or a percentage of their total sales in return for access to the website and it’s audience.
While Ebay offers both auction and set price selling formats, Etsy only allows a set price sale. However, in both cases it's an individual seller that manages the entire sales process so the delivery time, cost and method, customer experience and product quality is self-regulated and varies depending on each seller.
The other business type is more like a traditional shop – except its online. The products are sourced and purchased directly from sellers and then passed on to customers through a dedicated website like your see on Bits of Australia and Lark.
In contrast, Hard to Find brings the product listing, checkout and payment into one place, but uses the 'drop ship' supply chain management system where the storage, dispatch and delivery of items are managed by the individual seller or designer. While most sellers offer free shipping some charge differently and delivery times will often vary.
Bits of Australia keeps all products in one central warehouse, which means that you can purchase from a variety of designers or brands and have all items delivered and gift wrapped together and at the same time - waiving the uncertainty of waiting for individual deliveries. Our products are also able to be individually checked by our team, to make sure they meet our high quality standards, customer expectations and needs every time.
Bits of Australia offers very competitive international shipping - making it perfect for Aussies with families overseas or expats living overseas, and travellers who prefer to have their holiday gifts and souvenirs conveniently delivered to their home.
Bits of Australia is the youngest of all these popular online gift shops, running for just over a year. We are adding more great products every week and remain committed to supporting and promoting local designers and manufacturers and are a proud supporter of the Australian Made campaign.
To finish, I have compiled a quick overview of each of these four websites to help you decide where to go and why:
Shipping:free within Australia for orders over $50, International based on weight and destintation.
Good for: tourists and travelers, people looking to shop local or Australian made, corporate gifts and people looking for fun and quirky gifts
It's not easy to find Australian-made gifts and souvenirs - most are made in China! Returning home to Australia after living in the UK for 10 years, I saw the opportunity to bring together a range of quality handcrafts, homewares, fashion accessories, stationery, toys and souvenirs that are all designed and made in Australia, so I left a successful career in banking to start Bits of Australia. All items are in stock and delivered directly from Melbourne.
Shipping:free Australia wide - small fee for heavier items, International shipping varies according to each product/ supplier
Good for:people looking for fun and different products and gifts
Started by a busy mother of three from inner-western Sydney, Hard to Find hand picks products and sellers from around the world (Byron Bay to Lithuania) that are unique, quirky or ‘outside the box’. While the purchase and checkout process is managed by Hard to Find’s customer service team, items are sent directly by the seller.
Shipping:$10 standard Australian shipping or free within Australia for orders over $150 - extra shipping for bulky or heavy items. International shipping not available
Good for: design and craft lovers looking for colourful and on-trend pieces
Giving up her publishing career to pursue crafting and shopping interests, Allison Jones moved to Australia from the UK and launched the Lark online store in 2007. The Daylesford retail store opened in 2009 before moving to Ballarat in 2011 and today the site offers everything from small local makers to iconic designers like Kate Spade New York. All items are in stock and shipped directly from Ballarat.
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Shipping: varies from seller to seller
Good for:people looking for a larger range or something specific they haven’t been able to find elsewhere
Etsy started in Brooklyn New York to provide an online community where crafters, artists and makers could connect and easily sell their handmade and vintage goods. With nine offices in the US, Germany, Ireland, UK, Australia, France and Canada, Etsy has grown into a sophisticated online marketplace that connects sellers and buyers around the world, shares crafty inspiration and information and holds pop-up events.