Amazon surprised the Internet last week when it announced the launch of Handmade — an Etsy competitor that will sell handcrafted goods via its e-commerce site. According to the online giant, more than 80,000 products from about 5,000 artisans in more than 60 countries will be featured. Handcrafted wares will debut across several categories including jewelry, home, kitchen, artwork, stationary and furniture.
Making no apologies for its bold entry into the artisanal market, Amazon hit hard at the competition days before the official launch with a poaching strategy that was delivered via email. According to the Wall Street Journal, sellers received invites from Amazon a few days before the official launch, asking them to apply to Handmade.
Through Handmade, customers can shop genuine, factory-free, artisanal products that feel both local and uniquely global. Armed with prime shipping options, a database of 285 million customers and not to mention $75 billion in sales, Amazon's new platform is attractive for sellers looking to expose their business to new audiences.
“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,” said Peter Faricy, VP for Amazon Marketplace.
“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 report also noted that 26 percent of sellers on the site had no other form of paid employment before selling on the platform, leveraging their online shop as a way to earn additional income. With the low barrier to entry, setting up shop for a stay-at-home mom or homemaker (38 percent of this demographic, according to Etsy), is as simple as completing the seller application and uploading photos.
As American consumers continue to invest their dollars in high-quality, American-made products, the influence of women makers will continue to evolve. Areas of opportunity for e-commerce platforms that make entry into the marketplace simple can begin to offer unique financing models and training to help women scale their businesses. Despite women launching businesses at a faster rate than men over the last decade, barriers to capital and investment for women owners still remain.
Amazon, Etsy and smaller competitors can uniquely develop scalable solutions beyond the platforms themselves to empower and invest in women makers. Providing access to capital could spell long-term adoption of their systems.
Becoming a seller on Amazon's Handmade:
Sherrell Dorsey is a social impact storyteller, social entrepreneur and advocate for environmental, social and economic equity in underserved communities. Sherrell speaks and writes frequently on the topics of sustainability, technology, and digital inclusion.