Amazon - The New Kid On The Handmade Block
Well now isn't this interesting! I was kind of waiting for this… Amazon saw the opening with Etsy woes I bet… and here comes competition. They are launching a Handmade at Amazon. Not much info is available but I am sure it will be competitive. Many Etsy sellers and other handmade artisans already sell on Amazon, but it is not in a specific Handmade Marketplace and you need to follow Amazon's strict rules on return policies, UPC codes and other various requirements.
But in the wake of recent Etsy woes since going public (exposure of their big success story being fake, scrutiny over lax practices when it comes to allowing counterfeit products & copyright infringement and trademark infringing products on the site, a potential lawsuit as a result of this practices and a severe dip in stock price) may have been a signal that the time is right for a major competitor to shake things up.
And Amazon already has systems in place to address IP / trademark / copyright so that is a bonus. They also require certain things from sellers to maintain integrity and this could be promising. Additionally, it appears from the initial emails that they are trying to be distinctive as to what Artisan and Handmade are defined as. All good things if you ask me.
Truthfully, I will always have some type of loyalty and gratitude towards Etsy. It is where I got my start. It is where I met many other creatives. entrepreneurs and developed some great relationships. I even spoke at an event for them. I will always champion what Etsy used to be.
But in reality, Etsy has known about the "reselling" and counterfeit or copyright infringing for as long as I have been there (which is almost 6 years). Sellers on the site have raised the issue and concerns in the forums and to Etsy directly so many times I can't put a number on it. Etsy hasn't taken any action unless the copyright / trademark owner files a takedown notice. Their stance was untouchable between safe harbor rules and being a private company. Then they went public and these things can no longer be swept under the rug. It shakes the integrity of the site to it's core in my opinion.
Etsy has a tendency and habit to stay silent. That is their known practice, while they leave sellers and merchants hanging in the throws of speculation. Spend a day in the forums and you will see what I mean. But if you weed through the conspiracy theories and rants, there are some genuine and valid concerns that Etsy just does not address publicly if addressing them at all. This has created a very love/hate and tenuous relationship with sellers toward Etsy. This can be fixed - but Etsy doesn't seem interested in fixing this.
Etsy is the known handmade marketplace powerhouse. They've never had a competitive push. Artifire, Zibbet and the many others are out there but never gained enough traction on the buying side. Sure sellers went there, but buyers didn't and that was Etsy's edge. They had the BUYER.
Well guess what? So does Amazon!
And that could be the big wake up call to Etsy as well as create a competitive handmade marketplace
While "Handmade at Amazon" doesn't exactly roll off the tongue since it is known as the place everyone goes for fast shipping and bottom dollar pricing on things, I am excited for the doors an Amazon global marketplace would open.
More details to come when I have them. I applied to be a beta seller and like Etsy themselves always say.. competition is a GOOD thing.
My biggest hope is that this type of competition forces etsy to take a look in the mirror and make changes.
So maybe ... Just maybe between the public scrutiny since the IPO and quarterly filings coupled with the Amazon handmade platform - etsy will take a minute, take a look and use this as an OPPORTUNITY to be awesome again.
Shortly after I posted this, I was pointed in the direction of an Etsy forum where a seller suggested this may in fact be part of Etsy's big plan. While I am typically not one to go for conspiracy theories and speculation, this perspective seems both interesting and plausible. Their comments are here:
"As business analysts are saying, Etsy is now a prime target for a buy-out, and there are plenty of HUGE ecommerce players with money to burn who would like to get hold of Etsy.
As they are saying in the business news world, it is way easier for someone else (Amazon???) to buy out Etsy than it is for them to start a whole new venture from scratch.
The current Amazon presence is not right for selling handmade/artisan goods, so Amazon would have a huge marketing job ahead of them to gain trust and acceptance from consumers in the handmade sector.
It would make a lot of sense for Amazon or Alibaba (or similar ecommerce businesses) to just take over Etsy. Perhaps Etsy *allowed* it's first-quarter financial return to be worse than was expected, because it sure makes Etsy attractive to the really Big Boys on the internet."