Online retail giant Amazon just launched a marketplace for handcrafted goods: Handmade at Amazon. It's "an arts-and-crafts bazaar online that squarely takes aim at a niche but growing market dominated by the Brooklyn-based Etsy," as the New York Times puts it.
Handmade at Amazon went live early Thursday more than 80,000 items from roughly 5,000 sellers in 60 countries around the world. They're launching with only 6 categories — home, jewelry, artwork, stationery and party supplies, kitchen and dining, and baby.
Crafters can sell their crocheted pants or 3D-printed succulent cozies on the new Amazon marketplace, just as they've been able to for years at Etsy, a $2bn-a-year business .
Amazon's business is a lot bigger: $75 billion in annual sales. And Amazon's is growing, while Etsy appears to be challenged. One recent change at Etsy that allowed sellers to outsource their production to others is seen by many as a move away from its maker/seller roots.
Amazon, on the other hand, promises "Genuinely Handmade." In the launch announcement, Amazon emphasizes that everything will be "crafted and sold directly from artisans."
"We only approve artisans whose products are handcrafted," said Amazon in a statement. "We are factory-free."
Them's fighting words. Is this the end of Etsy as we know it? I hope not, I love Etsy.
Here's the full Amazon press release. And here's a snip from the Times story:
Amazon will start out with six categories — home, jewelry, artwork, stationery and party supplies, kitchen and dining, and baby — Mr. Faricy said.
One distinct advantage Amazon will bring is reach. Its 285 million active customer accounts dwarf Etsy's 22 million, giving artisans access to far more traffic and potential customers.
And Amazon is also offering logistical backing to its sellers, allowing them to ship products, in lots, to one of the company's many fulfillment centers around the country. Amazon will then ship out those products as part of its Prime service, which offers members unlimited free shipping for an annual fee.
Most sellers are likely to give Amazon a bigger cut of their sales for that reach, however. Etsy charges a 20-cent fee for each item a seller lists on its site and takes a 3.5 percent cut of the sales. For now, Amazon will charge no listing fee but take 12 percent of sales, which it says covers all costs, including payment processing, marketing and fraud protection.