Etsy has been in the news a lot lately, so I thought I’d jump on this bandwagon and offer my two cents. If you aren’t familiar with Etsy, it is a large online marketplace for people to buy and sell handmade and vintage goods. I was once a seller and struggled to sell anything. From the six months my store was up, I learned a lot about Etsy and other sellers. Here’s a few of the things that I picked up.
- Etsy’s jewelry market is heavily saturated. It’s difficult for customers to find your bracelet out of thousands, and given that there are so many to choose from, odds are yours won’t be purchased. There’s also a lot of shops out there claiming their jewelry is handmade when it clearly isn’t and the exact same item is in another shop as well. (Here’s a necklace in one shop, and another shop is selling an exact replica.)
- There are a lot of counterfeiters on the site. I consider counterfeiting to cover a range of unfair practices. Claiming your goods are handmade when they’re actually mass manufactured. Using copyrighted or trademarked images or names (TV shows, movies, sports teams, etc.). Other sellers do it all the time, but that doesn’t give you permission to do so. Come up with some creative innuendo that won’t get you in trouble.
- It takes a long time to gain momentum. If you want to jump-start your success, open up shop a couple months before the big holiday buying season. Hopefully before it comes around you’ll have made some sales and gotten some good reviews. Then when site traffic is up for the holidays, potential buyers will see your store and the good reviews and be more inclined to make a purchase. Treat your customers nice and they may turn into repeat customers. Remember that you probably won’t become an overnight success, but keep at it.
- Most customers are looking for custom made-to-order. When someone buys something on Etsy, they’re okay with the fact that it might take a little more time for their item to be shipped. It’s worth the wait to have something unique made. This is why a lot of the successful jewelry shops offer different color and size options.
Selling jewelry online can be tough, but it can also be very rewarding. While Etsy is big and brings in more traffic than other online handmade marketplaces, its size makes it harder to crack down on counterfeiters and easier for new shops to get lost in all the noise. Note that these were only a few of the reasons that I decided to stop selling on Etsy. There were some other things that made it difficult and I wasn’t willing to take the time or effort to work them out.
Amazon has recently announced that they’re going to get into the online handmade business. I’m very interested in seeing how it compares with Etsy in terms of listing and commission fees, but I probably wouldn’t open up shop until it’s been around a few months. That way they can work out all the kinks.