Amazon Takes On Etsy to See Who’s More #Authentic
Amazon has made its name as the Internet’s biggest site for buying mass-produced goods. Now it wants to do the same for one-of-a-kind goods.
Today Amazon debuted Handmade at Amazon, a handcrafted goods site that pits the world’s largest online retailer against the best-known artisanal online marketplace: Etsy, which started 10 years ago in Brooklyn.
The site includes more than 80,000 items from sellers in 60 countries. The products fall into six categories: home, jewelry, artwork, stationery and party supplies, kitchen and dining, and baby. Amazon is vetting seller applications to determine whether the products are indeed made by hand, and makers must outline their manufacturing process, including the tools they used. Unlike Etsy, which capitulated in 2013 and let crafters offer goods churned out by manufacturing partners, Amazon promises that everything on Handmade will be, well, completely handmade.
The move offers yet one more indication of Amazon’s ambitions as it challenges incumbents on many fronts. It’s offering access to plumbers and electricians with Amazon Home Services. It’s offering Uber-style on-demand delivery with Amazon Flex. And the company reportedly has been weighing a live online TV service.
Handmade allows the company to pursue yet another piece of the bigger e-commerce puzzle, a step on the way to its ultimate goal of owning all retail. It doesn’t hurt that Handmade plugs neatly into Amazon’s sprawling logistics infrastructure. Over the years, the company has poured money into building massive fulfillment centers near metro areas, a strategy that has taken big bites out of the company’s bottom line. Now that that structure is in place, the company is likely looking for new ways to capitalize on it.
Amazon’s logistical infrastructure could be attractive to Etsy sellers, as could its reach. Amazon has 285 million active customer accounts, easily trumping Etsy’s 22 million. Sellers will pay for it, though, at least at the beginning. For now, Amazon says it won’t charge a listing fee, but it will take 12 percent of sales, which the company says will cover payment processing, marketing, and fraud protection. In contrast, Etsy charges 20 cents for each listed item and takes 3.5 percent of sales.
So yeah, times are good not just for Amazon but for makers, who have one more outlet for selling their handmade goods. Now it’s just a matter of deciding which site has more soul.