Fans of artisanal and handmade items will have a new place to shop Thursday with the launch of Amazon’s answer to Etsy — a store on its site open only to artisans making hand-crafted items.
Handmade at Amazon will feature more than 80,000 items to start, from all 50 states and 30 countries, said Peter Faricy, vice president for Amazon Marketplace.
Each section on the Handmade store will have an artisan page featuring pictures and sometimes video of the work and process of the artist behind the items being sold, as well as a map showing where they’re based.
Jodi Kostelnik creates food-themed, screen-printed tea towels in her Washington, D.C., studio. She’s thrilled at the chance to reach Amazon’s huge audience.
“When I got a call from Amazon last spring, I couldn’t believe it,” she said. “They came and filmed me printing and helped me put together the packaging.”
Her storefront on Handmade at Amazon goes live Thursday. She also sells on Etsy and sees Amazon as another way to reach people who will love her slightly retro designs.
“There are so many great makers out there. Amazon’s going to be a great platform for us,” Kostelnik said.
The launch will be a win for consumers but could hit Etsy, which created an online market for handmade items a decade ago, hard.
“This is going to be a very challenging time for Etsy. For the last 10 years they’ve been the main destination for people looking to buy unique, mostly handmade gifts,” said Gil Luria, an analyst with Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles.
Etsy has been under fire for its decision in 2013 to allow sellers to use some outside manufactures.
Those frustrated sellers and buyers “didn’t have anywhere to go. Now, with the introduction of Homemade at Amazon, sellers have another venue to sell their wares,” Luria said.
In a move to broaden its reach, Etsy announced earlier in the week that it will be launching Etsy Manufacturing, a marketplace for designers and manufacturers. Manufacturers and individual makers can apply to join the marketplace, making it easier for Etsy sellers to source what the company calls “responsible production assistance.”
Handmade at Amazon is one of several niche markets Amazon has moved into over the past few years as it seeks to broaden its reach and marketplace.
Amazon Home Services, which offers handyman services, launched in March, and Amazon Collectibles and Fine Art.
The online retailer has done an excellent job of looking for new online market niches that are getting traction and then empowering its employees to build in that space.
“It speaks to the nimbleness of their culture,” said Sucharita Mulpuru, an analyst with Forrester Research.
Handmade at Amazon came as a result of customers’ desire, which the company could see from searches including words such as handmade and hand crafted, said Faricy.
Sellers must apply to join the store, providing information about the items they make and how they make them, Faricy said.
“Amazon has gone through quite a bit of due diligence. They asked the sellers to apply, they went to their websites, they even ordered some items to ensure they’re actually hand made. From the point of application, it takes almost four weeks to be vetted by them,” said Luria.
Amazon discovered many of the artisans by visiting craft fairs across the country. They’re able to access the 24/7 phone and email support for sellers for all users of Amazon’s Marketplace. “We’ve made it even simpler to use, so the artisans can focus on crafting their products,” said Faricy.
More than 600 products on the store will be eligible for two-day Prime shipping, said Faricy. Many others, because they are made-to-order, will take longer.
“But customers don’t mind waiting for products like this,” he said.
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