You All Need a Pair of Earrings!

Hello Earthlings!

You know I’ve moved to Earth very recently and while moving here I was promised to be a millionaire by selling some goods online! E-commerce is so profitable, they said. You can sell anything online, they said. And I believed them. What do I know? At the end of the day, I am just an alien. We don’t sell online goods. We don’t even have that many goods! We usually walk around naked so no one’s paying £100 for a stupid jumper or a pair of slippery shoes! Seriously, what’s wrong with your feet people?

Anyway, I have decided to open up an online jewellery store. Why jewellery you asked? Because they are shiny…

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Within many different options, I selected to proceed with Etsy, why you asked?

  1. It has a more sophisticated image when compared to its competitors such as Amazon or eBay.
  2. Pieces on Etsy are usually unique and therefore a bit more expensive but desirable.
  3. When I need a pair of shoes or a water bottle, I visit Amazon, but when I need jewellery it is always Etsy… I mean my friend… Not me… My friend. I don’t need shoes.

Being a seller on Etsy, made me realize that Etsy has its own issues.

Competition

Found in 2005, the idea behind Etsy was unique. The main aim was to create a platform for handmade items and an artisan market. Other platforms that support artisans such as Folksy or Society 6 could not even gain the attention of that amount of sellers when compared to Etsy.

It is possible to think that with its unique strategy, Etsy will be safe for a long time. However, the online world is cruel and once a business is successful, it has no luxury to stop. It has to continue creating new ideas and solutions to make the business better and irreplaceable. Well, Etsy was a bit late to do that. But Amazon wasn’t and in 2015, it introduced “handmade at Amazon“.

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Distribution

The biggest advantage of using Amazon for the sellers is the company’s huge distribution network. It is possible for the sellers to send their products to a selected Amazon fulfilment centre and then the company distributes the products to the end-customers.

Etsy sellers, on the other hand, have to deal with the distribution issues by themselves. Considering that most of the items on Etsy are handmade products that are usually made to order, producing them, sending them to the end-customers, dealing with the cancellations, returns, refunds, and postal fees are already a hard job. That is why when you read the info section of most of the Etsy stores, you will see no cancellations or refunds are accepted and sellers do not take any responsibility in regards to shipping issues. Because otherwise, they will eventually end up losing money while trying to earn some.

Shining Out

Well, if a seller cannot produce stuff like mass production, is it really possible to have some revenue in the end? Or is it really possible to be able to shine out amongst 29 million listings of handmade items and guarantee a couple of sales a month without managing your page as a real business? No. So you will manage your page like a real business but you cannot produce like a real business as you need to keep being handmade. Confusing, huh?

Trust

Amazon’s “handmade” move and “small business” move happened to be a big threat to Etsy. Other platforms were just some simple Etsy wannabes. Amazon, on the other hand, is huge. It has a lot to offer when compared to Etsy, it makes everything more convenient for both sellers and the buyers. Sellers do not have to shut down their stores while going on a holiday, or buyers do not have to deal with non-refunding policies of individual sellers.

Aware of this stuff, Etsy opened its doors to wholesalers. When Amazon invites artisans, this has a positive impact however when Etsy invites cheap wholesalers products to its artisan market, it ruins the uniqueness of the platform and ruins the brand’s soul. Most of the users are not happy either as it is no longer possible to differentiate the handmade from the wholesale product anymore.

Etsy formed local communities and started to offer marketplaces and pop up stores in different locations in order to make the sellers meet the end customers in real life. This makes sense since although the world is pretty much digitalized, people still want to see the product before actually buying it as digital photo manipulations can make everything look high quality.

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Conclusion

Before losing its popularity, Etsy could try helping the sellers when it comes to distribution, or raise the number of pop-up stores and invest some best selling local items to display them in these stores. Or at least providing some digital marketing tool, just like Shopify does, that could help sellers to create more successful digital marketing activities and increase their sales.

Although Etsy still seems to be one of the profitable examples of sharing economy,  by welcoming the wholesalers from China, and ignoring what its main audience asks for, it might be damaging its reliability.

Briefly, Earthlings, it has been 2.5 years and this Visitor is still not a millionaire – I blame Etsy for that, shame on you Etsy!- But if you Earthlings need a pair of earrings please remember to visit ShamanOxford.

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Yours,

The Visitor.

References

Amazon. (2019). What is Fulfilment by Amazon? Retrieved from: https://services.amazon.co.uk/services/fulfilment-by-amazon/features-benefits.html

Berthiaume, D. (October 8, 2015). Etsy faces big new challenge — from Amazon. Retrieved from: https://www.chainstoreage.com/news/etsy-faces-big-new-challenge-amazon/

Carney, L. (December 14, 2018). Shopify vs Etsy: Should You Sell Through an Online Store or an Online Marketplace? Retrieved from: https://www.websitebuilderexpert.com/ecommerce-website-builders/comparisons/shopify-vs-etsy/

Etsy. (2019). Etsy Made Local UK 2018. Retrieved from: https://etsy.wishpond.com/etsymadelocal-uk/

Etsy. (2019). How to Organise a Pop-Up Shop. Retrieved from: https://www.etsy.com/uk/seller-handbook/article/how-to-organise-a-pop-up-shop/43256725936

Etsy. (2019). Square. Retrieved from: https://www.etsy.com/square?ref=seller-platform-mcnav

Lutz, A. (May 27, 2015). 3 reasons Etsy is in big trouble. Retrieved from: https://www.businessinsider.com/etsy-faces-challenges-to-business-2015-5?r=US&IR=T

Rinne, A. (Dec 13, 2017). What exactly is the sharing economy? Retrieved from: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2017/12/when-is-sharing-not-really-sharing/

Tabuchi, T. (Etsy’s Success Gives Rise to Problems of Credibility and Scale. 

Tiffany, K. (Sep 17, 2018). Amazon wants to take over every aspect of shopping. Next up? Small businesses. Retrieved from: https://www.vox.com/the-goods/2018/9/17/17870176/amazon-storefronts-local-businesses-etsy-competitor

Wikipedia. (2019). Etsy. Retrieved from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Etsy

 

 

 

 

7 Replies to “You All Need a Pair of Earrings!”

  1. Dear Visitor,

    thank you for your great post.

    I have heard about Etsy before, but never bought something on the plateform. When I read that no cancellations or refunds are accepted, I can imagine that it can discourage potential buyer. But what about the seller side?

    I found this article published on the guardian blog, which is based on the experience of a seller:
    https://www.theguardian.com/money/2017/sep/14/ebay-etsy-policy-unfair-sellers

    What is Isil’s experience on selling online? Don’t you think that for sensitive items such as jewellery, you need to offer more guarantee to both sides of the transaction?

    Best wishes from Switzerland,

    Joanne

    Like

    1. Hello Joanne,

      Thank you so much for your comment and so sorry for my late reply. The article is very interesting, I have many other friends who have their own Etsy stores but I have never heard a story like that. On the other hand, managing online stores could never be as fair as we expect as Etsy is actually doesn’t see the real products. I know that even on Etsy there is a risk to get something a lot more different than what you see on the pictures. So, you never know…

      As a seller, my experience is positive for now actually. I mean I have seen a customer changing her mind four times which means she bought the products, then asked for a cancellation, rebought the very same product after I cancelled her order, and then asked for cancellation once again since she thought the bracelet would be too big for her… I also saw some other customers who asked for a refund claiming that they never received the product, when I tracked the packages, I saw that they were already delivered though. When I told them this, I never get any other reply… I also heard stories about some customers buying fancy pieces of jewellery on Etsy, using them for one night and then returning them…

      I guess it is risky for both sides and intentions are much more important than the offline world.

      Best,

      Isil

      Like

  2. Isil, Firstly, your jewellery is stunning!

    May I ask, did you ever open your business up to ‘Handmade by Amazon’ and if so, did you personally see any benefits from utilising Amazon’s distribution centres? And if you didn’t open your business up to Amazon why was that? As a side hustle, did you want the confirmation of sale before manufacturing?

    Reading your post, it seems for all the negatives that e-commerce can have, it is your only source of business. Is there a reason you have shied away from physical stores? To me ​the uniqueness of your products seem like they would sell well in small independent boutiques etc. I just wonder if you see the future of retail as only online?

    “With e-commerce on a rampage, Ballesty said ​“the challenge, then, is how to use the online factor to support physical stores, and how to push traffic from online to offline and vice versa and still make it feel seamless for customers.” Ballesty cautioned that having an online-only brand is difficult; therefore offline, which provides irreplaceable interpersonal experiences, and online stores are necessary together to support each other.” – (1) Anniemiek Ballesty vice-president of Fossil Group greater China

    According to a Forbes article (2) out today titled ‘Three Ways To Crush E-Commerce: Busting Common Misconceptions’, the biggest misconception when it comes to online sales is that you should target everyone. That just like in a physical store, it is important to know your audience and what drives their buying decisions as an opportunity to gain a competitive edge. So taking this into consideration, does Etsy’s change in business model (opening the platform up to wholesalers) and thereby devaluing their brand, make you concerned that in turn​ it will devalue your brand?

    (1) https://www.marketing-interactive.com/online-and-offline-retail-must-support-each-other-to-survive/
    (2) https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesagencycouncil/2019/02/05/three-ways-to-crush-e-commerce-busting-common-misconceptions/#5ecfd2f364da

    Like

    1. Hello Victoria,

      Many thanks for the comment and so sorry for my late reply, last week was a mess for me 😦
      I did not try to open up a shop on “Handmade Amazon” because I still believe Etsy has a better reputation when it comes to jewellery and I don’t if you have browsed the jewellery there but Etsy has a lot more to offer. Besides I never thought it as a huge business, it is just a hobby so I do not have to utilize from Amazon’s distribution centres.

      Forgive me that I forgot where in the UK you were living but here in Oxford all the jewellery stores are closing down one by one. Actually, all the independent stores are closing down. Only chains can survive here and some of them even fail sometimes. Fatface recently closed down their store, for example, so did Jones and The Pint Shop… Therefore, I never wanted to deal with a physical store. What’s the situation in your location btw?

      I think Etsy customers already knew what they are looking for while they open up the app or website. They usually search with the keywords and they have the capability to see what is unique or what is not as it is possible to see the same design on eBay or Amazon or in many other Etsy stores when an item is “made in China”. So I don’t really think it would devaluate my brand. I think Etsy should focus on not losing its advantage in the jewellery business.

      Kind Regards,

      Isil

      Like

      1. Hi Isil,

        I am definitely more inclined to buy jewellery on Etsy than on a big players such as Amazon or eBay.

        May I ask how you finance yourself? I have seen that you have a partnership with three women in Istanbul, does Etsy takes a commission on each transaction?

        Best regards,

        Joanne

        Like

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