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Etsy Has Cause to Worry over Amazon Handmade

Over the weekend, EcommerceBytes published a preview of Amazon Handmade shops and listings, showing for the first time what a listing looks like on the new store.

Amazon first revealed the concept of the new store to select sellers in May. It has yet to publicly launch Handmade at Amazon for handcrafted goods, but the sellers who have gained approval to participate are busy setting up and learning the new system.

Something that may give Etsy cause for concern: Amazon has figured out how to get its artisan sellers to send their buyers to Handmade at Amazon. It’s encouraging them to participate in its affiliate program. In its instructions to sellers, it includes this pitch: “you can drive traffic to your Amazon store from your personal website or social media and earn a referral fee of up to 10% through the Amazon Associates program.

All Handmade at Amazon artisans must have a Professional Seller account. The current $39.99 monthly Professional Selling Plan subscription fee is waived through August 1, 2016 for artisans – but those who sell more than 40 items in categories other than Handmade at Amazon categories in a month will not be eligible for the subscription fee waiver. In addition, artisan sellers pay a 12% Referral Fee (a minimum of 50 cents per item).

Handmade at Amazon continues to change as Amazon introduces new features, according to Miss M. Turner of PhoenixFire Designs, who said it was honor to have been selected to participate. “Handmade at Amazon is still definitely not finalized yet! It’s continuing to change and new features are being still being implemented.”

For example, Amazon only recently rolled out a feature that displays “Other items from this seller” in a seller’s listing, showing product thumbnails and titles of their other items. “Previously, a single item listing did not give any other link back to a seller’s additional products, Turner explains. “With this feature in place now, a buyer can easily see a sample of other items available from a seller when looking at a product,” she said.

Amazon has not provided an official date yet publicly, nor to sellers. On Friday, spokesperson Erik Fairleigh told EcommerceBytes the company had nothing to comment on with regard to Amazon Handmade at that point.

In addition to creating a more intimate environment that emphasizes artisans, Amazon must offer those artisan sellers tools that go beyond those available to its commodity sellers. Amazon Handmade offers three types of customizations (sellers can add up to 10 customizations in total per listing):

  • A list of up to 20 options (such as size, color, metal, and material).
  • A text-entry box (for engravings, monograms, or other custom features)
  • Number of Entry box (for custom width, height, and/or dimensions)

Sellers often worry about the requirement of many marketplaces to show their product on a white background. Handmade at Amazon requires that sellers’ main product image show only the item listed in the product title without props or distractions, and ideally shown on a white, light, or neutral background. Other images should show environment, lifestyle, product detail, or scale of product. In addition, all images must be at least 500 pixels on the shortest side (and 1000 pixels on the longest side to support zooming). Fixed a typo to show it’s 1000 pixels on the longest side.


Turner told EcommerceBytes, “As a regular Amazon buyer myself, I know how easy it is to shop on the site and I really appreciate the attention to detail Amazon has taken so far in ensuring a truly handmade marketplace. In order to even qualify, there was an extensive application requesting very specific details on my process to help validate the handcrafted authenticity of my work. I hope this will help buyers feel confident in purchasing from myself and fellow Handmade at Amazon sellers and reassure them they are getting truly maker created pieces rather than pretty pictures of Made in China items. It is my hope that with the backing of a major site such as Amazon, it will help offer legitimacy to those of us who sell truly handcrafted, artisan made items.”

More information is available in the associated blog post.

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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.