Will the New Amazon Handmade Offering be an Etsy Killer?

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Last week Amazon announced their new Etsy competitor, Handmade at Amazon. Of course, these aren’t things that are handmade by Amazon, it’s a marketplace for Amazon sellers and artisans to showcase and sell their handmade craft items. But will the Amazon handmade marketplace really do Etsy in?

The Amazonian onslaught first started back in May, when Amazon started emailing Etsy sellers with this invitation:

Introducing Handmade, a new shopping experience at Amazon

We’re offering artisans like you a first peek at Handmade, a new marketplace for handcrafted goods. While we set up shop, you’re invited to sign up for exclusive announcements as we unveil more details about this exciting new platform.

Know any fellow artisans who may also be interested in Handmade? Forward this email their way!

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Etsy sellers over on the Etsy forums started mentioning receiving this invitation, and even saying they had no idea how Amazon had gotten their email addresses {Ed. note: we can guess}.

Having wooed many Etsy sellers, and other crafty types, to Amazon Handmade, Amazon quietly created the Handmade at Amazon storefront, and when it was ready for primetime, announced it to the public. That happened last week.

In the announcement of Handmade at Amazon, last Thursday, Amazon said that it was please to announce “the launch of Handmade at Amazon (www.amazon.com/handmade), a new store featuring genuinely handmade items crafted and sold directly from artisans. With Handmade at Amazon, customers can discover artisans from around the world, and shop local from artisans based in their community with the familiar Amazon experience they know and trust. Handmade at Amazon was designed to provide customers and artisans a tailored store specifically for handcrafted items. All products available on Handmade at Amazon are factory-free and must be made by hand. Handmade at Amazon features a variety of product categories including Jewelry, Home Décor, Artwork, Stationery and Party Supplies, Kitchen and Dining, and Furniture.”

Says Peter Faricy, Vice President for Amazon Marketplace, “We have designed a custom shopping experience for customers looking for handmade items by bringing together many of the best artisans in the world, and they’re adding thousands of items daily. Knowing an item has a unique story behind it creates a personal experience that customers have told us makes owning handmade items special. Handmade at Amazon offers customers more than 80,000 quality handcrafted items from around the world, and over 30 percent can be personalized by artisans to delight customers.”

The announcement goes on to say that everything on Handmade at Amazon is “genuinely handmade”. “We only approve artisans whose products are handcrafted. We are factory-free. Customers will enjoy on-trend jewelry like modern earrings, interlocking rings necklaces and tassel statement earrings.”

However, over on the Etsy forums, Etsy sellers are saying that much of the material on Handmade at Amazon is anything but handmade.

“Well I checked it out and they already have a glut of mass produced factory pieces listed as “Handmade”,” observed one seller.

Other sellers are complaining that even though their genuinely handmade items are listed over at Handmade at Amazon, they have had not a single sale.

handmade at amazon

So, at the outset of this article, we asked whether we think that Handmade at Amazon will really be an Etsy killer, and do Etsy in?

We think not, and here’s why: some are saying that Etsy has lost its soul, and some are even predicting the demise of Etsy. It’s certainly true that Etsy is losing money (they IPOed earlier this year, and appear to have been steadily losing money ever since).

However, Etsy still has that folksy feel and charm – much more so, at least, than does Amazon. Etsy has loyal shoppers who are loyal at least in part because they feel they are buying from an individual with whom they are connecting, and who is handcrafting that item, often just for them.

Amazon, on the other hand, never had that feel, and no matter whether the Handmade at Amazon seller is, in fact, an individual, with “Amazon” wrapped around them they will never have that one-to-one personal touch feel for the shopper.

As Chad Dickerson, CEO of Etsy, explained in an interview with Forbes, “We believe we are the best platform for creative entrepreneurs, empowering them to succeed on their own terms. Etsy has a decade of experience understanding the needs of artists and sellers and supporting them in ways that no other marketplace can. Our platform attracts 21+ million thoughtful consumers seeking to discover unique goods, and build relationships with the people who make and sell them.”

And that goodwill from individual crafters and craft shoppers is something that Amazon is unlikely to be able to duplicate. While we doubt that the market is saturated, Handmade by Amazon is definitely the newest kid on a market block that is mature by many standards. Etsy was established in 2004, and the original handcrafted goods marketplace, Novica, is still going strong after almost 20 years, since 1998.

While Handmade by Amazon may be successful – even wildly successful – we doubt it will put Etsy under.

So, check out Handmade by Amazon, but if you are someone who appreciates some heart and soul in your craft shopping experience, we’re betting that you won’t turn your back on Etsy.

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2 thoughts on “Will the New Amazon Handmade Offering be an Etsy Killer?

  1. I thought the concept of Handmade at Amazon was interesting enough to apply. What they don’t tell you upfront is that, if you are an Individual seller on Amazon, you are required to “upgrade” to Professional seller. This means a minimum $39.95 monthly fee. That’s fine if you’re not struggling or starting out; if you are, though, that $40 can be an awfully big hurdle. So… thanks, Amazon, but no thanks.

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