EcommerceBytes-Update, Number 226 - November 02, 2008 - ISSN 1528-6703     3 of 7

Ecommerce Collides with Handmade: An Interview with Etsy

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AuctionBytes sat down with Adam Brown of to talk about this flourishing marketplace for handmade goods. Adam talks about the site and some important things sellers should know about Etsy.

AuctionBytes: What is Etsy?

Adam: Etsy is the online marketplace for buying and selling all things handmade. You can also find unique vintage goods and crafting supplies (these do not have to be handmade, but must be tagged appropriately). We connect consumers with independent creators and designers to find the very best in handmade goods, while providing these artists with the technology and information they need to make a living, making things.

Etsy is also a large, vibrant community and gathering place for people who like to create things. We try to provide a positive environment where people can learn about the business and techniques of crafting. It's also a fun place just to shop, hang out and make friends.

We also advocate a larger idea; the handmade lifestyle. The main tenet of this lifestyle is choosing handmade over mass-produced objects whenever possible. We feel that this creates a more sustainable, environmentally and socially responsible alternative to the current economy.

AuctionBytes: What's the difference between Etsy and eBay?

Adam: Well, the only similarity is that each seller is responsible for their own shop. That's about where it ends. For starters, Etsy is geared toward the handmade. This makes it a more targeted venue if you are looking to sell items of that sort. Also, the prices of items are fixed, there are no auctions.

Also, our fees are lower, and our fee structure is more simple. There is no fee to set up a shop. To list an item costs 20 cents, that listing may include up to five pictures and lasts for four months. When the item sells, Etsy takes a 3.5% commission on the sale price. That's all there is to it.

AuctionBytes: How many registered users do you have, and how many people sell on Etsy?

Adam: We have over 1.43 million registered members to date. Of those, approximately 200,000 are sellers.

AuctionBytes: What types of sellers make a good fit on Etsy?

Adam: Any and all! We have a wide range of sellers, from full-time professional artists to creative folks who are just starting out. Anyone who wants to take an active role in the handmade movement is welcome.

AuctionBytes: Does Etsy have bulk-import tools for sellers who want to import listings from another site?

Adam: No we do not.

AuctionBytes: Does Etsy have a feedback mechanism?

Adam: Yes, both buyers and sellers have the ability to leave positive, negative and neutral feedback, along with a specific description of their experience. The feedback rating is located right under the shop name in every page of each shop. We feel like every transaction is a two way street, so both buyers and sellers should have the opportunity to be heard.

AuctionBytes: Will Etsy be promoting the vintage category?

Adam: We do promote vintage where appropriate, but essentially it is one of many categories on the site. Most of the promotion that Etsy does pertains to the site as a whole. Our main goal is to build awareness of Etsy in general, to promote one section over another does not seem fair or sensible.

AuctionBytes: What plans does Etsy have for category expansion?

Adam: We recently added a new top level category, Dolls and Miniatures. We are constantly evaluating our categories (and subcats, and sub-subcats, etc). These decisions are based primarily on our members' feedback and suggestions, and supplemented by our own research. That said, I can't say anymore! But rest assured that this is an ongoing process, and suggestions are always welcome.

AuctionBytes: Are you finding that the economic crunch is having any effect on listings and sales on the site?

Adam: Yes, but not necessarily what you would think. Actually, when the economy first began to sour in early October, we actually experienced three record breaking days in a row (in terms of total dollars sold). We have continued to experience good sales, rising numbers of listings and new memberships. We hope that the true value of handmade objects will be even more apparent this year. Not only are many things plainly affordable, but handmade items are made to last a lifetime. There is none of the built-in obsolescence that is associated with, say, most consumer electronics.

AuctionBytes: Where can people learn more about selling on Etsy?

Adam: We have a great blog called The Storque. It's a good way to learn about Etsy in particular and the handmade lifestyle in general. There are tons of seller resources there. We've recently compiled all articles concerning selling on Etsy in the Seller Handbook. That's the best place to start.

About the author:

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

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