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Amazon lures Etsy users, brings handcrafts into the mainstream

Amazon is targeting customers of digital crafts retailer Etsy and peer-to-peer seller platform eBay with a new handmade shop available on mobile that could also produce higher sales for competitors as the ecommerce giant shines light on the category.

Mobile has paved the way for many unorthodox retailers to enter the commerce space, where digital platforms such as Etsy, thrive. Amazon is hoping to get in on the handmade merchandise game now that the facet of retail has become so popular and launched an artisanal space on its mobile application and desktop this week where users can shop products made by the seller.

“Handmade at Amazon will be a direct competitor to other craft marketplaces like Etsy,” said Ken Morris, principal, Boston Retail Partners. “As the hand crafted online category gets crowded with more choices, it is imperative that individual marketplaces differentiate their site to attract new shoppers and maintain their current loyal customers.

“From another perspective, Amazon’s entry into the handcrafted category might actually generate more sales for Etsy and other marketplaces by creating more interest in the handcraft category, resulting in a halo effect.”

Artisan growth
While handmade retail is growing in popularity, Amazon’s new addition may bring it to mainstream retail. Many shoppers who currently use Amazon may become more acclimated to handmade items, bringing the idea of artisan to a wider audience of consumers, sequentially causing handmade sellers to become more popular in general.

The mass merchant retailer is directly poaching users on Etsy through invites, which entice sellers to join Amazon Handmade. These individual sellers are also interested in increasing their customer base, so it makes sense that a large amount of them have taken to the new platform.

Amazon Handmade’s interface boasts a different experience compared to its mass merchant sectors. The experience focuses on bringing high quality images to the forefront, as handmade products are known for their aesthetically pleasing qualities.

The desktop Web site of Amazon Handmade imitates a variety of qualities from mobile, likely due to the success these types of products have had on mobile in the past. Although the new shop has a different look and feel, users still access the site through Amazon’s original Web site and mobile app.

Amazon endeavors
Amazon also leapt ahead in mobile commerce as one of the first retailers to support Apple’s universal links, a move that could drive in-application conversions and potentially siphon off sales from those not supporting the new capability (see more).

While Amazon’s Prime Now delivery service remains a top threat to retailers this holiday season, the key to maintaining sales stems from offering a multitude of shipping options on mobile applications and sites so that consumers can select the method best suited to their needs (see more).

“Amazon is an online category killer for any segment they enter,” Mr. Morris said. “They started as a online book seller, transitioned into a mass merchant retailer and are now extending their brand into personally created craft items.

“Consumers will likely care more about the actual merchandise offered on Handmade at Amazon than the company driving the e-commerce marketplace,” he said. “All marketplaces will need to focus on carving out a niche and deliver the key elements of a successful Website such as usability, search ability, social engagement, personalization, security and privacy.”

Final take
Brielle Jaekel is editorial assistant at Mobile Marketer