Handmade and DIY have made a comeback this year, in many different industries. Handmade clothes and jewelry are of course the most popular items in Etsy shops, but the handmade culture is obvious in technology, service, decor, carpentry and many others, too. Amazon wants to aggregate and profit from handmade culture with the inauguration of its new marketplace, uninspiredly, but fittingly, named Handmade. Amazon Handmade is a direct competitor to Etsy and wants to give Amazon and Amazon Prime customers the opportunity of browsing for unique, artisanal, handmade objects without leaving the comfort of its ecommerce platform.
Amazon is indeed one of the best and biggest online marketplaces, but Etsy is a pretty strong competitor with huge presence on social media networks like Instagram and Pinterest. The maker culture is strong online and Etsy is the way to go for anyone that wants to dabble in p2p business, so to speak. Amazon offers up a similar way of doing business, selling and buying, handmade things that aims to be a better service than Etsy.
If Amazon doesn’t feel like it has the friendly, social atmosphere that Etsy does, with its profit- and sale-oriented interface, Handmade at Amazon will be inherently different. Instead of focusing on offering customers deals and on brand recognition, Handmade at Amazon will focus on the art, artist, artistry of the DIY culture. According to Amazon VP and “overseer” of the exclusively artisanal bazaar, Peter Faricy, the new marketplace will focus on the artist when it comes to the user interface. As such, instead of displaying a lot of information about products, shipping, deals, options and such, Handmade at Amazon will display artist information and a selection of their works.
Handmade at Amazon is supposed to rely on browsing and searching for cool artisanal merch that’s unique and crafted with a lot of effort, whereas Amazon in general has been more focused on fast and cheap shopping. The company promises the experience will be entirely different and fitting for the target audience. Taking on Etsy is no small feat, but for Amazon, it won’t be too hard because it offers up convenience that Etsy doesn’t – such as a Prime Membership. Moreover, Etsy hasn’t been the same in the past few months since the platform decided it would allow sellers to outsource manufacturing – thus making Etsy users feel betrayed.
Amazon is taking advantage of that misfortune and is emphasizing that the sellers that will be part of Handmade at Amazon will have to prove that their merchandise is handmade and outsourced manufacturing will not be accepted. At the same time, sellers will have an easier way to actually get the things they make to buyers: Amazon will accept lots of their products at warehouses and will handle shipping to individuals without having the seller bother with post offices and shipping services. According to the New York Times, only Amazon Prime customers will get items from these lots, although specifics of the process have not yet been discussed.
When it comes to fees, you can imagine that Amazon will cost more for a seller than Etsy. To be a seller at Handmade at Amazon, you won’t have to pay them to list items, but the company will take 12 % of overall sales, which they say covers fraud protection, processing and marketing. Comparatively, sellers pay 20 cents to list an item at Etsy, who takes 3.5 % value of total sales. Although more expensive, Amazon has ten times as many active users as Etsy, so sellers might find the deal appealing in the long run, especially since Handmade at Amazon is only in its incipient stages, with only 6 product categories available.
Amazon is a strong commercial force in the international market, while Etsy is a fledgling in comparison. Amazon is growing very fast, branching out to various new industries and markets, and the move to Handmade is just a step in a long journey. With the hold that Amazon has on the online shopping community, the launch of Handmade at Amazon will most certainly impact Etsy presence and popularity, and most likely pretty quick. But the question remains: does corporate processing and managing get in the way of the principles behind the handmade culture? That’s for each individual to decide for themselves. In the meantime, go visit Handmade at Amazon to apply to join the 80,000 sellers already there.