Ithaca, NY (PressExposure) November 25, 2013 -- ArtZoco has publicly launched its e-commerce website allowing customers to directly buy products from artisans in the developing world. Artisans for the first time are managing their own online stores with no one in between: they are writing their own personal stories, shipping their own products, and receiving payments directly from their sales. Artzoco is Etsy for the rest of the world.
In a world of buzz around CSR and the trend of "giving while shopping", Vince Hartman and Julie Frieswyk, founders of ArtZoco, couldn't help but notice during their experience as Peace Corps volunteers, how little local artisans earn from selling their products internationally - typically less than 20% of the final cost of the product. Artisans lose most of their profits to middlemen since artisans are unable to sell to the consumer directly. ArtZoco was developed to solve this problem, by letting customers empower artisans through directly purchasing the artisan's handmade products, at a price set by the artisan.
"Many falsely think the reason why there are so few people selling online in the developing world is because the artisans need others to do it for them," says Vince Hartman. "The reality is that they haven't had the technology until now." "And with Microsoft recently predicting that internet users worldwide will double to 4 billion by 2020, with most of those users coming from China, India and the African continent", adds Frieswyk, "it's easy to understand how providing a space for them to sell their products, as we do in the U.S. and Europe with sites like Etsy and DeWanda, will be a powerful tool."
The website features an attractive user experience for customers to discover new handmade crafts and communicate directly with artisans through text messaging. ArtZoco already supports four languages and is designed culturally and intuitively with over a dozen APIs including automated language translation and payment withdraw services. "Our goal is to let the technology fade away and singularly focus on delivering an incredible user experience, and we continue to work tirelessly to achieve that. We do this to make sure ArtZoco is used by -- and delights -- as many people around the world as possible," notes Feifan Zhou, a co-founder and the technical director behind ArtZoco's platform.
Over 100 artisans have registered on ArtZoco, with 20 having fully completed the steps necessary to sell to the public. Artisans currently come from 4 countries - Peru, Moldova, Nicaragua, and Ukraine - and that list is continuing to grow. ArtZoco will be expanding further this winter into Latin America and Eastern Europe.