|Wed Nov 6 2013 22:04:27|
Small Sellers on Etsy Intimidated by Large Jeweler
By: Ina Steiner
Anyone who witnessed the "small vs large" seller debate on eBay will be forgiven for having a feeling of deja vu upon reading some of the threads on Etsy these days. A reader sent along a link to a thread with the note, "a big multinationally-distributed manufacturer plants his foot in the Etsy forums, intimidates small sellers."
But just like on eBay many years ago, some sellers welcomed the traffic and buyers that large merchants would attract to the site. After one seller said a large merchant would flood Etsy with their products, another responded, "if they bring more people to Etsy, they will search other shops, especially other jewelry shops!"
The thread was started by the large merchant in question, QPJewellers ("Luxury handcrafted diamond and gemstone jewellery"), who wanted advice about advertising on Etsy and expressed a desire to spend more than what he supposed was a $42 limit. "Currently we spend over £350,000.00 per year on Google Adwords for our flagship store, sounds expensive but it gives a huge ROI and we're happy with that."
Many sellers responded by saying they feared such a seller would bury their own listings in search - and the debate began.
The debate may sound impossible to readers since Etsy only allows handmade goods in the handmade category - that is, if they missed the news in early October that Etsy now allows sellers to use manufacturers to make goods they themselves designed.
Another seller agreed that the large merchant might do as much good as harm. "But they are in a totally different category. They may bring customers IN that might not be able to afford their products but decide to stay and look around at the other gorgeous, more affordable offerings. It does often work both ways!"
But a seller responded, "If they flood the jewelry category, then no other jewelry will be seen. It's one thing to add a few things, but if you have pages and pages of listings, it's going to make a market that's already crowded impossible to be seen for people who are making each piece by hand, so only have a couple of pages of listings."
Another said, "I know that with the new guidelines this may be the new wave of the future. The flooding of categories and the crushing of smaller handmade shops whom cannot make hundreds of items a day. I know that life isn't a level playing field and there is competition. I guess it's a the slippery slope of how big is too big for etsy."
A former eBay user wrote, "I used to sell artisan jewelry on Ebay where there was a thriving artisan jewelry community. There were teams, private chat boards and groups of artisans - all promoted and supported by Ebay. The problem is that Ebay gave up on monitoring the listings and many of those sellers came here and brought their buyers with them. I think that started during the end of 2006 or the beginning of 2007."
She continued, "The huge, mass produced sellers were already there but segregated into their own categories and slowly but surely bled into the artisan category where they had less competition. Now the whole jewelry category is 99% mass produced 'stuff' that can be bought anywhere. There are a handful of handmade jewelers still there and some of them do well.
"I can't help but think that history is repeating itself here. Etsy, for whatever reason, has invited the big sellers/designers in and the little guy is just going to have to find another outlet because there is simply no way to compete with these large companies with huge budgets who are determined to drown out everyone else." </i>
Another seller later pointed out the importance of creating an About page where artisans could show potential shoppers that they are truly making all of the items they sell. "Fill out your about page. Once you bring buyers here, you want to make them feel confident. Most people come here looking for artisan made jewelry."
"It finally dawn on me how utterly important it will be now," a seller responded.
So what do you think? Can small sellers coexist with large sellers on an online marketplace? I'm also curious about how all this will impact Etsy's vintage sellers, if at all.