Amazon is launching Handmade at Amazon and it invited artisans to learn more about the marketplace for handcrafted goods. Etsy sellers were abuzz, wondering how it would impact them, and they were eager to learn more.
Amazon sent an email to sellers this week telling them about the new marketplace and including a link to a form to fill out to receive updates.
Sellers discussing the news on both Amazon and Etsy forums wondered if shopper expectations about Amazon purchases would clash with the method of selling handmade goods, which is different from selling commodities. They also expressed concern about Amazon's listing process, fees, and policies.
Sellers wondered if Amazon would allow made-to-order items on the Amazon Handmade marketplace, since it would deviate from its requirements that sellers ship items out quickly. Many Etsy crafters and artisans offer customization that can take days or weeks.
One Etsy seller said Amazon was going to launch "Amazon Custom" to let sellers offer customized and personalized products - but that's something EcommerceBytes could not confirm.
That would be a big departure from its current policy in which it prohibits sellers from allowing custom listings that would require buyers to communicate with sellers before or after the purchase in order to receive the product they want.
Amazon requires in most categories that sellers include product identifiers such as UPCs. One Amazon seller said they expected that would not be a requirement on Amazon Handmade, and said, they would expect Amazon to use "offer-specific catalog pages like the collectibles categories."
Another Amazon seller was skeptical that Etsy sellers could adhere to Amazon rules, adding that Etsy does not have a vetting process. Others wondered if Amazon would keep Handmade gated, as it does with other categories such as jewelry (itself a popular category among Etsy sellers).
Not surprisingly given some sellers' dissatisfaction with Etsy's decision to broaden its definition of handmade, sellers wondered how Amazon would handle the issue and the problem of resellers.
Amazon's standards for product safety also came up in discussion, with a seller noting that Etsy doesn't get involved with product safety, but Amazon does, and guessing that a good amount of Etsy handmade items would be rejected by Amazon for that reason.
Some sellers wondered if Amazon would be interested in acquiring Etsy - there was disagreement about whether Amazon would have any interest in doing so. And of course now that Etsy is a public company, its stock price is vulnerable to competitors' actions.
Jason Malinak, author of Etsy-preneurship, highlighted some of Amazon's strengths in a blog post
but said, "don't kick Etsy to the side of the curb just quite yet."
Malinak said competition was good for sellers, and advocated they consider diversification. "My gut says that Amazon would have stricter rules for operations and acceptance into the marketplace. It might be a place for more serious sellers to operate their businesses that can accept the potential higher demands that Amazon has historically placed on their sellers."
What do you think of Amazon opening up to handmade goods?
Update: See Friday's Newsflash story. Other publications are now starting to pick up the news.