- Etsy this week said that gross merchandise sales rose 19.8% to $861 million in the first quarter of 2018, compared with the same quarter a year ago. That growth was supported by 9.4% year-over-year growth in active sellers and 16.9% year-over-year growth in active buyers, the company said.
- Revenue in the quarter rose 24.8% year over year to $120.9 million, according to a company press release. Marketplace revenue grew 24.7% compared with a year ago, driven by growth in Etsy Payments, which continued to reap the benefits of a new adoption requirement for sellers in eligible countries.
- Year-over-year aggregate conversion rate growth rose for the second straight quarter, led by continued performance on mobile web, which the company said typically carries the lowest conversion rate compared to desktop and its mobile buyer app. Mobile merchandise sales rose to 54% in the quarter, up from about 51% in the year-ago period and about 52% in the fourth quarter, likely propelled by increased mobile traffic in the wider market and, to a lesser extent, continued improvements in mobile offerings for Etsy buyers.
A year into his tenure at Etsy, CEO Josh Silverman is focused on amplifying the artisanal site’s unique merchandising, and dismissed Amazon’s own effort in the space, Amazon Handmade. When Amazon launched its own craft-focused offering it was expected to negatively impact Etsy; instead, the online artisan marketplace has reported positive financial results in recent quarters and has seen its stock price rise.
After tumbling following its 2015 initial public offering and expanding its seller base to include larger manufacturers, Etsy last year slashed almost a quarter of its staff as part of a turnaround effort launched under Silverman. Now the company is focused on addressing its issues through four key initiatives: improving search and discovery; trust and reliability; marketing capabilities; and solid tools and services.
"In a world where e-commerce is increasingly commoditized, Etsy provides a differentiated experience where extraordinary goods handcrafted by creative entrepreneurs all over the world are made for you," he told analysts on a conference call Wednesday, according to a transcript from Seeking Alpha.
He doubled down on his comments later that day in an interview with CNBC’s Jim Cramer. "If you’re going to one place over and over again every day to buy all of the commodities of life, when you want something special, you want the antidote to that, you want something that feels different, and Etsy is all about 'special,' our brand stands for that," he said, according to a video posted by CNBC.
Those advantages of "the mass e-tailers," Silverman said, are price, convenience and selection — which come from being able to buy thousands of items to drive down prices and expand selection and warehousing to speed fulfillment. "Well, if you can buy 1,000 of anything, it doesn’t belong on Etsy," he told Cramer.
Silverman's sentiments aren't shared across the retail landscape. In fact they're the polar opposite of the rationale employed by Chico's FAS CEO Shelley Broader just the day before for selling on Amazon, saying in CNBC's "Power Lunch" segment that Chico’s — which designs, makes and sells its own apparel as a vertical company — can reach Amazon’s huge Prime membership without fear of competition. Many of those Prime customers are going to Chico's stores, she also said.
The lure of Amazon's huge Prime base appeals to many brands and retailers. Last month Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announced the company has more than 100 million paid Prime members globally, a statistic that analysts had been guessing at for years.