Handmade at Amazon Competes with Etsy

For the past 10 years, Etsy has been a unique internet marketplace for buying and selling handmade and vintage goods. Last Thursday, however, they suddenly had a major competitor: Handmade at Amazon.

Etsy was founded in 2005 by Gallatin alumni Robert Kalin, Chris Maguire, and Haim Schoppik and now has over 50 million registered users. Items sold on Etsy include vintage items at least 20 years old and handmade items, which may be mass-produced as long as they are designed by the seller.

Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer, recently launched Handmade at Amazon. The new service provides a platform for artisans to buy and sell goods made exclusively by hand, and some of the items are available through Amazon Prime. Amazon has made its intentions of competing with Etsy clear by attempting to recruit Etsy sellers to the new site.

Amazon’s announcement of its new service on Oct. 8 caused a 4% drop in Etsy stock, and the future of the online handmade goods market is the subject of speculation by investors and Etsy users alike.

CAS junior Isabelle Adams said that she thought consumers would still visit Etsy, but that many would opt for Amazon instead.

“I’m sure there are some people that will stay loyal to Etsy, but Amazon is super convenient and everybody knows it, and they might just get more consumers based on that, which might pull from potential consumers for Etsy,” she said.

Etsy co-founder Chris Maguire declined a request for comment, citing SEC restrictions. He did, however, provide a link to a blog post that cited several reasons why Amazon may not be the formidable competition Etsy lovers feared.

According to the post, Amazon’s vetting process has been questioned due to the listing of apparently mass-produced goods and the presence of numerous copyright violations. Furthermore, Handmade at Amazon sellers noted a lack of viewers and buyers at the new site; Etsy has 1.5 million sellers while Handmade launched with just 5,000.

Amazon also costs more to sellers, charging a fee of 12% of the list price or $0.50, whichever is greater, on each sale. Etsy charges $0.20 for each listing and a 3.5% fee on each item sold.

Stern junior Juan Pablo stated that he thought the new service would be more harmful to Amazon than helpful.

“No one really trusts Amazon to sell handmade cultural things. You go to Amazon for the mass-produced things that get shipped to you because it’s convenient, you don’t go there for artisanal things,” he said.

While there is sure to be competition between the two companies, they are likely to continue to inhabit their own separate niches: Etsy’s domain is the unique, while Amazon’s is the mass-produced.

Abigail Weinberg is a contributing writer. Email her at violetvision@nyunews.com.

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