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October 9, 2015

Amazon To Challenge Everyone’s Favorite Art Retail Website.

Painting by Dean Russo inside the Artist's Studio,See-ming Lee, Flickr

Globally popular Amazon is launching a direct rival for Etsy, called Handmade.

This comes on the heels of Etsy going public, and not with positive effects.

Amazon’s own artisan-crafted merchandise, sold via sellers much like those on Etsy, will differ in that Amazon’s wares will be in search engines alongside mass-produced items, something Etsy prides itself on not doing.

That said, Etsy’s standards have recently changed, allowing for more wiggle room of what is defined as “handmade” on Etsy. To keep business booming, Etsy has partnered with small-scale manufactures, making some wonder if Etsy has already sold out anyway.

Still, independent sellers are crucial for the current success of Etsy, as well as for Handmade—and they’ll be given a short-term opportunity to try out Handmade, since Amazon is waiving the monthly fees until next summer. In other words, Amazon is directly rivaling not only Etsy’s consumers, but also its sellers.

Amazon has lured many people with its Prime offer. My family honestly uses Prime for its kids’ television shows as well as to buy things that I normally would have to run to the store for, like diaper wipes for instance.

I know I’ll get flack for this—for admitting to using Amazon—but I know a lot of people like me: people who support and seek out indie business while also using the largest internet-based retailer in the United States.

Recently, I’ve commissioned rings from a childhood friend. My daughter and I, just yesterday, received the matching ruby and sterling silver rings I had asked her to make. In short, I value locally crafted items like jewelry and, honestly, I often ask people I know in real life and don’t even use Etsy that much because of this.

Regardless, Etsy is popular and has about a ten-year lead on Amazon’s Handmade. Still, will sellers move over to Amazon, even though its percentages will be higher for them, simply because they’ll have access to Amazon’s expansive global base? Only time will tell, but it seems probable if not likely. After all, “simple” things like marketing are a huge incentive for smaller sellers and new start-up businesses.

Yet Etsy has a following because I think people really do want to support small business—and most Etsy sellers are women, so this directly supports small, female-owned business.

And it’s precisely small businesses and Etsy’s formatting around them that has created Etsy’s main advantage—Etsy makes communication between buyer and seller easy, whereas anyone who has ever contacted Amazon knows what a nightmare that can be.

Personally, as someone who tries as hard as I can to support local businesses and small business in general, but also, frankly, as someone who will admit to using Amazon too—I don’t know if I’ll use Handmade.

I do know I won’t say that I’m definitely not going to.

Are you an Etsy seller or Amazon or Etsy consumer? Leave your thoughts on this in the comments below.

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Relephant read:

Boycott Amazon?

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Author: Jennifer S. White

Editor: Khara-Jade Warren

Image: See-ming Lee/ Flickr

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