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Etsy provokes protests with a new step away from handmade goods
October 24, 2022 – 10:15 am
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Etsy vows that handcrafted goods remain its core business as it faces new competition from Handmade on Amazon.

A jewelry maker who has sold her goods on the Etsy Inc. marketplace for five years says she finds it sad and disappointing that Etsy is offering to help sellers find manufacturers for their goods, a shift in direction for the e-commerce site known for its unique, handmade products. Her concerns are echoed by other sellers on online message boards.

“Etsy was known as that renegade, crafting atmosphere, ” says Maike Van Wijk, owner of Maike’s Marvels hand-made jewelry based in Evanston, Ill., noting that the online retailer and marketplace changed after opening its platform to vintage goods and going public on April 16.

“It’s becoming more of a buyer beware [situation], ” Van Wijk says, citing a friend’s purchase of a scarf that turned out to have been made in China. “Now, you really have to watch out. You have to carefully read the listings and make sure it’s a reputable person selling to you.”

Etsy’s new manufacturing marketplace, set to launch this fall, is accepting applications from manufacturers and individual makers in the United States and Canada to produce goods for Etsy sellers. Manufacturers must agree to a series of commitments such as high-quality customer service, running safe and just workplaces, and being willing to disclose details about their businesses and their subcontractors, Etsy says. Etsy is No. 24 in the Internet Retailer 2015 Top 500 Guide.

An Etsy spokeswoman says handmade remains Etsy’s core. “To us, handmade comes down to the principles of authorship, responsibility and transparency, ” she says.

Sellers were enthusiastic and upset this week in their posts on Etsy’s online forum, with several decrying Etsy for betraying its artisanal roots and boasting that they had been invited to join Handmade by Amazon, the e-commerce giant’s new marketplace for handcrafted goods. Some sellers praise Etsy for helping their businesses expand by hiring manufacturers who share their values for workplace-friendly and environmentally sound principles. Amazon is No. 1 in the Top 500.

Van Wijk says she has resigned herself to the commercialization of e-commerce businesses, and has yet to consider the rival Handmade by Amazon marketplace because she fears shifting her customers to another site. “It’s like Facebook and Google—it’s all about advertising and social media activity that translates to eyeballs, ” she says. “It’s commercial in the end.”

Neal Schornack, owner of Blue Owyhee Gems in Boise, Idaho, says he is concerned that Etsy’s marketplace fails to differentiate true artisans from manufacturers. He does his own stone cutting and polishing, and he crafts the silverwork onto which the gems are mounted.

Schornack has sold his goods on Etsy for five years, and the online marketplace accounts for about 25% of his sales. About 40% of his customers live in Europe.

“With a lot of outside manufacturing, the finished quality of the piece is very good, but it’s like comparing a Porsche to a Kia, ” Schornack says. “The people who buy from me want to buy something handmade by that person, want to get to know the artist, and want to have a bonding, a more exclusive experience. People who have the budget don’t have the time to sit there and look through 500 stores and try to decipher which ones are genuinely handmade by an individual artist, ” he says.

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Source: www.internetretailer.com
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