Etsy Goes Upscale with Nordstrom Collaboration
By Ina Steiner
Quirky handmade-marketplace Etsy has found its way into the upscale shops of Nordstrom, which will be featuring selected Etsy vendors in their retail stores. The partnership is part of Etsy's calculated move into the wholesale business after the acquisition of the Trunkt directory last year.
Nordstrom will feature select Etsy items in its At Home department. Etsy first worked with Nordstrom's Seattle location and then its Chicago store; San Francisco or Washington, D.C. will be next.
The "Etsy & Nordstrom Present" collaboration provides an exciting opportunity for participating sellers, according to the online marketplace, and gives Etsy and its sellers "a peek into what it takes to do wholesale with a major retailer." At the same time, "Nordstrom gets to bring fresh, unique products to their shoppers."
Growing its wholesale business is a strategic move, but not without its challenges. That's because Etsy requires its artisan sellers and crafters to hand make every item they list in the handmade category on its marketplace. While that is consistent with its culture and attracts loyal shoppers, it also limits its rate of growth. By launching a separate platform for wholesale goods, it offers sellers a way to scale their businesses and do a higher volume (though at lower prices) than on the main Etsy marketplace - meaning higher revenue for Etsy.
As we reported last year, Etsy Wholesale will have its own policies. For example, an Etsy Wholesale vendor might need to utilize third-party production of their designs and/or third-party order fulfillment in ways that are not allowed for shops in the general Etsy marketplace.
Etsy's Wholesale department has been developing relationships with buyers of all sizes, including independent boutiques, museum stores and websites such as UncommonGoods and ModCloth. Etsy announced its collaboration with West Elm in November, whose stores display items from local Etsy sellers called "Etsy for West Elm" collections.
Etsy's goal is to have buyers from retailers of all sizes use the Etsy Wholesale platform for product sourcing. And while items sold in Nordstrom and West Elm stores include Etsy-branded tags that include artists' information, sellers shouldn't expect that for regular items featured on the Wholesale marketplace.
Etsy's Vanessa Bertozzi explained that the forthcoming Etsy Wholesale marketplace will be "just the platform" where boutiques and other retailers can connect with individual artists' brands - "so in those cases, there wouldn't be Etsy hang-tags." She explained, "The Nordstrom and west elm deals are co-co-co-branding with the three parties all involved. Etsy was very much the facilitator."
Etsy will launch an invitation-only beta version of the Etsy Wholesale platform in the coming weeks to test site features. Bertozzi explained, "Soon, our team will be migrating over a selection of Trunkt lifetime members and inviting selected vendors who are experienced in wholesale. We'll be proceeding carefully to make sure the site works smoothly and that we've properly seeded the marketplace with a diverse array of quality finished goods from independent creative businesses around the world."
More information is available on the Etsy blog.
About the author:
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to email@example.com.
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