Etsy.com is a website that provides an online marketplace that connects people who create handmade products and buyers interested in this market. Handmade items, arts supplies, and vintage items are all listed on Etsy. By registering, a user may create his or her own seller’s shop with an individual URL based on username. Buyers and sellers may take advantage of multiple methods of payment including PayPal, personal check, money order, or a user-defined method.
Etsy was founded in June, 2005 as a community and a company. Rob Kalin, a carpenter, photographer, and painter, realized that there was no good way to market his creations online. He was looking for an online marketplace that would highlight his work and make it stand out. Along with Chris Maguire and Haim Schoppik, he created Etsy, a website dedicated to handmade objects, vintage items, and craft supplies.
There are currently more than 4.2 million users on the site, with over 400,000 sellers. Current listings number more than 5.4 million. Gross merchandise sales topped $180.6 million in 2009.
In May 2012, Etsy announced that they have a plan to expand beyond its peer-to-peer marketplace and that they have raised $40 million to put it into place.
The Etsy marketplace is all about handmade creations. Rather than list their work on sites where it would be lost among typical listings for overstocked and used items, Etsy is devoted to providing a place for unique, hand-crafted items. Buyers shopping on Etsy are looking for something distinctly unique, handmade, or vintage.
To find an item, users may search by a wide variety of criteria. Traditional categories are offered, but users may also browse by editor’s picks, location, featured items and even by color. The Time Machine search sorts items by just listed, expiring soon, and just sold. An auto scroll option with speed control makes fast browsing very easy. Buyers may also post requests for custom-made items. Artisans may bid on the projects and the buyer may accept, decline, or request changes to the proffered bid. Once a bid is chosen, the request becomes a transaction.
To register as a buyer, a username must be chosen, as well as a password. An active email address is necessary as the account will need to be confirmed prior to use. Users must also agree to standard terms of service. Confirmation email is instant and contains a link to activate the account. Once activated, a user may sign in using their username and password. There is no registration fee. To make a purchase, a buyer can simply click on the “add to cart” button, proceed to the checkout, enter shipping information, review the order and shipping charges, submit the order and complete the payment. To become an Etsy seller, a special registration is needed, along with credit card information to guarantee payment of selling fees. Each seller sets up an online shop with a unique web address within the site. Items listed in the seller’s shop are also listed in the appropriate publicly searchable category.
Sellers pay a $0.20 USD fee for each item to be listed for a period of four months. A 3.5% fee is generated from the final sale price of an item, excluding shipping. Buyers pay the cost of purchased items plus any shipping and handling costs determined by the seller.
The Internet has historically been a difficult marketplace for artisans use effectively. Etsy is similar to a public market or bazaar where sellers can highlight and sell their work as well as network with other artisans online. This allows them to broaden their customer base and to offer their work on a more global scale. It is also a great way for buyers seeking one-of-kind, vintage, or special order handmade items to find what they are looking for quickly, rather than searching amidst thousands of other items on traditional shopping websites.