Last week Etsy announced that they would be changing their guidelines to now allow mass produced products to be sold on its marketplace. Needless to say, many sellers on Etsy are upset about this because they feel it means Etsy is no longer an exclusively handmade community, and they are not incorrect.
But Etsy is first and foremost a company, and it has to make decisions to ensure its continued growth.
Does this particular decision affect their brand? Definitely. As a marketer, I never agree with changing one’s brand, unless it is no longer successful. But Etsy is successful, and going in a different direction can cause confusion and you risk losing customers, not gaining them.
Artisan vs Entrepreneur
There is a difference between an artisan and an entrepreneur. Some of the top sellers on Etsy are more of the entrepreneurial nature – they came up with a good idea for a product, found a way to produce it quickly, priced it competitively and sales took off. They want to keep expanding even if it means they become more hands-off. There’s nothing wrong with that, everyone has a different vision for their business, and the economy needs growing companies more than anything right now.
These shops also bring in big numbers for Etsy. If you think of the 80-20 rule, 80% of Etsy’s sales are probably coming from 20% of its shops. So, obviously Etsy cannot afford to have those shops move off the marketplace.
Therein lies the problem for Etsy. Expanding without changing the brand that made you successful in the first place.
My Solution – Divide the Marketplace, Don’t Try to Blend It
Etsy is not going to please all parties here, but maybe a better solution to consider would be dividing their marketplace (which has become quite large) into four independently searchable segments, such as Handmade, Vintage, Supplies and General Marketplace, the latter being for those who wish to mass produce.
So people would still land on the same Etsy marketplace page, but they could choose a page tab that indicates one of these sections. From within these sections, you can then choose categories such as Clothing, Jewelry, Kids, etc. This would also drastically reduce the number of listings in the Handmade category, making it easier for those sellers to be found. It will also make it easier for shoppers to find what they really want (a big mistake is to lump all buyers together; not everyone wants inexpensive goods, many want unique handcrafted items and are willing to pay for it).
It would have to be policed, and sellers not conforming to the original handmade guidelines would have to move their shop go over to the General Marketplace.
POLL: What Do You Think of This Solution? Is It a Win-Win for Everyone?
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