The pandemic wished for craft online marketplaces. The Czech Fler also grew

In 2013, the budding designer Maria Revaková started offering hand-sewn clothes. It did not have a store or website, so it established a profile at the Czech-Slovak online marketplace Fler, where retailers offer handicrafts.

“Fler was one of the first ways to connect with customers,” recalls the founder of the clothing brand Majoránka. It is one of more than 100,000 registered retailers in the market, which, like its competitors in the industry, is experiencing unexpected growth.

Although Revak sold most of the models on markets outside Fler, the platform allowed her to gradually develop a permanent portfolio. “Fler takes a reasonable commission for sales, so my products don’t have to be overpriced. He gave me the opportunity to earn extra money, but for me it was most important to deliver a quality product from the beginning, so every order was a school of practice, “he explains. Today, it runs its own online store, which offers dozens of women’s models, but keeps its profile on Flero active.

The story of Marjoram is not unique. A number of Czech-Slovak fashion brands started on the platform, which eventually moved to their own online and brick-and-mortar stores. Most retailers offer jewelry, fashion accessories and clothing. “People know this Fler well and trust it, so if they are looking for something locally made, their steps are there,” Revaková concludes.

The Fler marketplace, founded in 2008, now registers 123,000 registered sellers and almost 530,000 registered buyers. It records up to 140,000 visits a day, with shoppers looking at and buying 6,000 products on average during the day. The value of goods available on Flero is now approaching two billion crowns.

During last year’s pandemic spring, when most stores had to close temporarily, Fler became a lifeline for many merchants who did not have their own sites. In an effort to help others and earn extra money, some retailers reoriented themselves to sewing drapes. “In the first months of the pandemic, veils accounted for up to twelve percent of sales,” comments platform founder Jiří Kubeš.

Not just veils

Even after the wave of interest in drapes has subsided, Fler has seen a significant increase in the number of new retailers. According to Kubeš, last year’s percentage increase in sellers was about five percent.

“It sounds like nothing, but it’s really a huge number. In the thirteen years of Fler’s existence, I dare say that whoever produced something, Fler already knew before the pandemic and already sells in our country. Or he has a reason why he’s not with us. In recent years, the number of newly registered creators has been minimal. For example, in 2019, their number increased by two percent, “he explains.

The increase in the number of sellers and visitors was logically reflected in the company’s turnover. “During the last quarter of last year, ie the Christmas season, Fler recorded record turnovers. The total turnover increased by a third year-on-year, “he says.

According to Kubeš, the reasons include canceled events and markets, but also a great wave of solidarity, which led customers to buy from local creators. “Customers simply wanted to support producers who were hit hard by the pandemic,” says Kubeš.

Although the platform has been successful for a long time, it does not plan any further expansion. “We had this ambition, but west of us the markets were busy for a long time and we didn’t just want to compete with someone who was first in the market. That’s not what Fler is about. We want to help the creators succeed, and when they have where, we no longer need us, “he says.

Against all expectations

The main Western competitor Kubeš is talking about is the fast-growing online marketplace for handmade Etsy goods, whose sales have doubled in the last year. Paradoxically, when the company announced its second-quarter results, which exceeded Wall Street estimates, its shares fell by as much as 13 percent. Investors were not pleased with the forecast for sales in the next quarter, as the company’s management expected a slowdown in growth after the fading “Drape boom” and the reopening of consumer goods stores.

The predictions were wrong. In early November announced The company’s third-quarter results, which again exceeded analysts’ expectations. Sales rose nearly a quarter to $ 532 million.

“Etsy continues to grow at a healthy pace, retaining many buyers gained during the pandemic and seeing an increase in the frequency of purchases, indicating that the company’s operations are proving sustainable.” state analysts of the financial company Stifel.

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The platform numbers almost ninety million buyers, double that of last year. It recorded even greater growth in the number of retailers. It registers 5.2 million active dealers, which is 67 percent more than last year. The number of regular buyers, those who have shopped at Etsa at least six times and spent at least $ 200 during the 12-month period under review, has more than doubled this quarter.

This is not only due to the lack of goods caused by pandemic measures, but also to the offer on the market itself. In a two-year-old survey 88 percent of Etsy’s customers agreed to find products they wouldn’t find anywhere else.

The Russian equivalent of Etsy and Fleru, the LiveMaster platform, where sellers and buyers from the post-Soviet area have been meeting since 2006, also showed a jump. Almost two million people have downloaded the LiveMaster mobile application.

The platform currently numbers eight and a half million users and is still growing. Last April alone, it saw a half increase in the number of retailers compared to the previous month. It was largely related to the pandemic measures in place in Russia.

Source: by

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