Amazon announced it is expanding Handmade at Amazon, its online storefront featuring “genuinely handmade” products, to Germany, France, Italy, Spain and the U.K., enabling consumers in those countries to peruse more than 30,000 items from European artisans.
“Since launch, we’ve received feedback from customers and artisans around the world that they want a Handmade at Amazon store in their local marketplace,” said Steve Johnson, director at Amazon, in a press release from the e-commerce giant.
The U.S. site for Handmade at Amazon, which launched late last year, now boasts more than 500,000 craft products. Amazon said it also will support Prime two-day shipping service of thousands of items from U.S. vendors.
For several years, Etsy had its own little empire as a handmade and craft marketplace, one that few other e-commerce companies, for whatever reason, seemed interested in challenging. Even as Amazon went global with its flagship site and pressed into ventures like its line of Fire devices, it didn't seem interested in conquering the craft market.
That all changed last year with the launch of Handmade at Amazon. And while the company in the past has been somewhat cautious about expanding into foreign markets, it is by comparison rushing into Europe with its Handmade site, bringing it into five Old World markets less than a year after its U.S launch.
The move makes it clearer than ever that Amazon wants to go toe-to-toe with Etsy, which already has expanded into Europe through actions that included the 2014 acquisition of French marketplace A Little Market.
Amazon claims an edge in having genuine handmade products, rather than crafts that are in some cases mass-produced, something which Etsy allowed on its site as it looked to grow and help its sellers meet demand. But as Amazon looks to beat Etsy at its own game, it may need more than that ability to troll Etsy about what really defines "handmade."
Will Amazon be able to leverage its customer base and success outside of artisanal product sales? Etsy reportedly has 40 million items for sale from 1.7 million sellers, and boasts 26.1 million buyers. Amazon, meanwhile is bragging about its fast ramp-up to have 500,000 handmade products for sale. It has a way to go to match Etsy on that front, but Amazon overall has hundreds of millions of customers (244 million as of 2014 and growing). If it can lure a few of those over to its Handmade storefront and keep pressing to make more products available for sale, Etsy may have a fight on its hands.
Etsy probably knows this, although it hasn't admitted it publicly. But Etsy has been investing in new technology and other efforts that can help it become a more efficient and more valuable site for bother sellers and buyers. Just this week in fact, it announced the acquisition of Blackbird Technologies, a startup that can contribute artificial intelligence to Etsy product search capabilities. Amazon may be hot on its tail, but Etsy is still moving forward.