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Tue July 30 2019 20:05:14

Amazon Shows Why Search Disadvantages Handmade Goods

By: Ina Steiner

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Getting exposure in search results is really hard for online sellers, whether they're trying to get products found on Google, eBay, Etsy, Amazon, or elsewhere. But the challenge is much greater for sellers of handmade or crafted goods compared to sellers of commodity items, according to Amazon.

A patent filing helps explain why this is so. 

Sites like Amazon, eBay, and Etsy use historical sales data as an indicator of relevancy. For searches for "engagement ring," the marketplace will generally show rings that have a history of selling well - a problem for a unique ring that can only sell once.

In its patent filing, Amazon explains:

"Unfortunately for artisan sellers, they may sell individual products in relatively low volumes, and relevancy formulas may rank their product listings near the bottom of the search results. Fungible products that are offered by many sellers may have much higher collective sales volumes, thereby resulting in high rankings in the search results." 

(Fungible = interchangeable.)

The filing also describes the unique way shoppers may search for artisan goods compared to commodity items:

"When a user would like to have a product custom made, the focus may be on identifying a particular seller rather than identifying a stock product offered by the seller. That is to say, the capabilities of the artisan seller may be evaluated by the search user, rather than the user merely selecting a particular product. Thus, the most relevant product of a given artisan seller may be a worthy example of the artisan seller's capability in lieu of an exhaustive list of repertoire examples."  

While the bad news is that things are difficult for artisan sellers on ecommerce platforms, the good news is that Amazon has identified some of the challenges and is looking to technology for solutions. 

Presumably this would impact any items that are unique, not just handmade and hand-crafted goods - vintage items and antiques come to mind.

Etsy CEO Josh Silverman recently pointed to a related problem with marketplace search algorithms when he explained Etsy's new "cushion to couch" strategy. To use the above example of a search for engagement rings, less expensive rings might appear above pricier rings in search results - but that might not be what's best for the shopper. 

Etsy is working to change that, as we reported on the AuctionBytes Blog in May.

Online marketplaces use many criteria to determine the order of listings shown in search, some of which may have lingered for decades unchallenged.

Are online marketplace executives doing enough to understand search and to identify potentially unintended consequences of complex search algorithms? Or do you think there's a danger in tinkering with search - in other words, the old, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" premise?



Comments (11) | Permalink

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Perminate Link for Amazon Shows Why Search Disadvantages Handmade Goods   Amazon Shows Why Search Disadvantages Handmade Goods

This user has validated their user name. by: The End

Wed Jul 31 04:54:42 2019

I am on pages 1 - 4 in the google search for various iterations of my product.
My business name, product style, and sites to get my product, ALL show up immediately.
If people are : selling dime a dozen widgets, are middlemen, or are inattentive to their placement via SEO, you're "gonna have trouble right here in River City".
STUDY how to make google search your friend.

Perminate Link for Amazon Shows Why Search Disadvantages Handmade Goods   Amazon Shows Why Search Disadvantages Handmade Goods

This user has validated their user name. by: Life During Wartime

Wed Jul 31 10:33:05 2019

The difficulty in finding artisan items in a sea of mass made products doesn't really apply to antiques and vintage.  Shoppers searching for player piano rolls, Lustroware plastics, or a particular pattern of Depression glass are using specific keywords to find those items.  

Amazon doesn't seem to have a lot of vintage items, but the ones that are there -- and matched my search terms -- were easy to find both in Google searches and searches on Amazon.

Etsy is a different story.  About a decade ago, a portion of the seller community decided it was bad for their businesses to include the maker or pattern/product name in their listings because they felt it was discouraging hipsters from buying.  Etsy vintage sellers are still leaving out product/pattern names and makers out of their titles, tags, and even descriptions in keeping with this idea.  So if you are searching for, say, Jeannette Shell Pink glass, typing that in the search box will turn up only a portion of this pattern listed on Etsy.  The rest can only be found by searching for ''pink milk glass'', which turns up a bunch of contemporary (less than 20 years old) products that shoppers have to wade through.  This is something that the sellers did to themselves.

Perminate Link for Amazon Shows Why Search Disadvantages Handmade Goods   Amazon Shows Why Search Disadvantages Handmade Goods

by: Flying Childers This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jul 31 17:30:37 2019

Just another example of how American artists and craftsmen are getting screwed by platforms like Etsy.
The algorithms don't write themselves.  They are written by company employed "humans" who know how to manipulate search so that the company can make the most money.

They don't really care about the sellers and it's offensive for Josh to pretend otherwise.  He's there for one reason only- to make money for himself and the shareholders.

It doesn't have to be like this.  Maybe a little less greed and the artisan sellers could have their work show up.

Incredible that anyone would blame the SELLERS for this problem.  What is it?  Stockholm Syndrome?

Perminate Link for Amazon Shows Why Search Disadvantages Handmade Goods   Amazon Shows Why Search Disadvantages Handmade Goods

This user has validated their user name. by: Life During Wartime

Wed Jul 31 18:43:00 2019

Flying Childers sez:  ''Incredible that anyone would blame the SELLERS for this problem.  What is it?  Stockholm Syndrome?''

No one is blaming the sellers of art and artisan items.  It's the vintage sellers -- whose items mostly come with their own recognized keyword phrases, making SEO easier -- who have chosen to leave relevant info out of their Etsy listings.   ''Mit der Dummheit kämpfen Götter selbst vergebens.'',  

Perminate Link for Amazon Shows Why Search Disadvantages Handmade Goods   Amazon Shows Why Search Disadvantages Handmade Goods

by: Coolstraps This user has validated their user name.
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Thu Aug 1 07:20:14 2019

I sell on Amazon (not the Handmade section) and I don't think it's possible to optimize SEO for handmade items given how Amazon's and Google's search algorithms work  Artfire was actually great for that but when they removed their musical instrument accessories categories, my sales there declined dramatically and I ended up leaving.

One of the problems on Amazon is that handmade sellers make so few of a particular item that there's no immediately visible feedback once the item is sold out. Reverb.com has all the feedback in one place, not on the particular item, so people can see your reviews even if an item is sold out. That can't happen with the way Amazon is set up unless someone REALLY hunts for it-- and they won't.  

Number of listings also affects search and handmade sellers are, again, at a disadvantage. My 100's of items cannot outweigh a commercial producer's 1000's of items. Also, commercial producers, at least in my case, can still call their items "handmade" because, technically, they are even if it's in a mass production environment. I just think handmade sellers will always have a harder time competing against commercial sellers. That's why we have to make products that are so unique and impressive that we build a patron base not dependent on search algorithms. .

Perminate Link for Amazon Shows Why Search Disadvantages Handmade Goods   Amazon Shows Why Search Disadvantages Handmade Goods

by: Chicago48 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Aug 1 08:10:32 2019

One way around that is for AMZ to buy an Etsy-like craft site.  There's one Artfire.  AMZ on its own is just not equipped for handcrafted sales.  The whole site is just tooooo big and the search doesn't accommodate handcrafts.

Perminate Link for Amazon Shows Why Search Disadvantages Handmade Goods   Amazon Shows Why Search Disadvantages Handmade Goods

by: wayward girl This user has validated their user name.

Thu Aug 1 13:40:57 2019

I'm wondering why ArtFire has such horrible reviews. I'm looking for the best site to sell vintage and handmade goods. Any help out there please?

Perminate Link for Amazon Shows Why Search Disadvantages Handmade Goods   Amazon Shows Why Search Disadvantages Handmade Goods

by: Sierra This user has validated their user name.

Thu Aug 1 17:01:18 2019

I've sold on Etsy since 2006, and on Amazon Handmade since it launched in 2015.

My sales on Amazon Handmade have always been few and far between. For a long time, I thought this was due to Amazon's ''sales rank'' feature which gives a better ranking to items which sell more often. Etsy has been incorporating something similar for several years, yet my Etsy orders are up 13% YOY and my Etsy revenue is up 51% YOY!

Amazon has approximately 10 times as many active users as Etsy. While there are obviously more shoppers looking for handmade on Etsy, I think if Amazon put some effort into promoting Handmade, my sales could skyrocket!  

Perminate Link for Amazon Shows Why Search Disadvantages Handmade Goods   Amazon Shows Why Search Disadvantages Handmade Goods

by: Whatever This user has validated their user name.

Thu Aug 1 17:23:56 2019

I make alot of my product and pretty much anything I have manufactured or hand made is found on page 1 of any google search so I'm not buying into this 100%/  That being said being on page 1 doesn't mean jack as far as selling that item.  I dominate page 1 for my seller id all the way to the bottom of page 1 and that doesn't mean your going to sell.  Here's what's moving these days - High end (the rich still have money) and very low end - like $10 because the rest of America is broke buy needs a shopping fix and $10 will get them that little surprise is coming in the mail. AND mark my words 2020 won't be much better till the election is over.  I'm old - this aint my first rodeo - been there done that.

Perminate Link for Amazon Shows Why Search Disadvantages Handmade Goods   Amazon Shows Why Search Disadvantages Handmade Goods

by: Whatever This user has validated their user name.

Thu Aug 1 17:29:08 2019

"One of the problems on Amazon is that handmade sellers make so few of a particular item that there's no immediately visible feedback once the item is sold out."

Have any of you actually searched on Amazon's handmade? It's pretty danged hard to find something actually made by hand among all the chinese crap.  Problem with no sales is that many buyers once they get there and see all the commercial junk are turned off from page on and just leave.  If Amazon ran a REAL handmade category it could be different but it is what it is. was for me anyway - never went back when I saw what was happening.

Perminate Link for Amazon Shows Why Search Disadvantages Handmade Goods   Amazon Shows Why Search Disadvantages Handmade Goods

This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Thu Aug 1 19:03:36 2019

@wayward girl - Do an internet search for the best place to sell vintage and handmade. Names that keep coming up in my searches are eCrater (yeah! that's the only place I sell); Dawanda; Zibbet; Made It Myself; Folksy (if you reside in the U.K.), Supermarket; Spoonflower; and iCraft.



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