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Etsy Gets Sellers’ Goods onto Retail-Store Shelves

The idea of Toys R Us or Best Buy carrying goods from eBay or Amazon merchants sounds unlikely. But those marketplaces’ smaller rival Etsy has found some retailers are welcoming its sellers’ goods onto their store shelves.

Why are stores like Nordstrom’s, Whole Foods and West Elm entering into relationships with Etsy to carry third-party sellers’ products? For the same reason that makes Etsy different from most other marketplaces: its focus on handmade, handcrafted goods.

Etsy has long had a partnership with West Elm, the funky home furnishings store owned by the more traditional Williams-Sonoma. West Elm has 59 stores across 25 states, 4 Canadian provinces, and some international locations. The latest joint marketing effort is a “pop-up” event being held on April 26 at the West Elm store in Toronto. Designer and editor Emma Reddington is curating items culled from her favorite local Etsy makers.

Other partnerships have seen Nordstrom’s carrying Etsy items in its At Home department as part of an “Etsy & Nordstrom Present” collaboration, and Whole Foods is selling a line of reusable totes from an Etsy designer and promoting tutorials created by Etsy sellers.

So successful has Etsy been in getting attention from retailers that it is helping its sellers expand into wholesaling, and will soon launch a wholesale platform to connect sellers with boutiques and retail stores looking to source products to sell in their stores, as EcommerceBytes recently reported.

Etsy saw the potential for bridging the online and physical retail worlds when it acquired Trunkt, a wholesale marketplace for independent brands, in 2012. Dev Tandon, co-founder and CEO of Trunkt, helped build the Etsy Wholesale platform but left the company earlier this year.

For the past 2 years, the wholesale initiative has required a lot of attention from Etsy. Presumably it thinks it can scale the effort when it launches Etsy Wholesale this summer. There are no vintage sellers on the platform at this time, but if Etsy can crack the code on adding collectibles and vintage items to the goods available to retailers, it would be quite the feat.

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
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 ina@ecommercebytes.com.