Amazon Handmade Marketplace Launched Overnight

The ongoing battle between Amazon and Etsy rages on.

Yesterday (Oct. 7), PYMNTS reported how handmade eCommerce merchant Etsy is making some moves on small manufacturing to fend off Amazon and its announced intention to enter the wonderful world of artisanal arts and crafts with its own handmade marketplace.

And today it looks like “D-Day” is here, as Amazon’s online arts-and-crafts bazaar officially went live at 3 a.m. ET.

Called Handmade at Amazon, the new shopping destination leads off with a lineup of about 5,000 sellers hawking their hand-hewn wares (about 80,000 items in total) in the U.S. and around the world. With its hat now visibly in the ring, Amazon is directly going after Brooklyn-based Etsy’s $2 billion a year in sales. More proof? According to The New York Times, as of May, Amazon has been sending out invites to Etsy’s artisans inviting them to apply to sell on Handmade.

In fairness, no one has ever accused Amazon of being subtle.

“You can think of it as a factory-free zone, a mass produced-free zone,” said Peter Faricy, the Amazon vice president who is overseeing Handmade.

"For the first time on Amazon, we’re going to have a picture of the artist, a little icon of what state they’re from, what country they’re from,” he said in an interview. “We’re going to launch with an experience that’s very different. Customers are going to see the difference."

Obviously, Team Etsy is not having the best and brightest morning imaginable, especially as its latest move to counter Amazon with allowing for some very small-scale manufacturing of goods has drawn ire from purists who think Etsy has, for lack of a better term, sold out its artisanal roots. The firm also faces slumping stock prices in its post-IPO period, as rising costs are eating into Etsy’s also rising sales.

Amazon’s stock, on the other hand, has been on fire in the back half of 2015 — to the extent it has edged Walmart for the largest retailer on Earth crown when measured by market cap. Amazon is also dedicated to strictly handmade — no outsourcing allowed — though those merchants are welcome to sell on Amazon, of course.

And Amazon is also offering logistical backing to its sellers. Once the merchants send the goods to Amazon, the company will in turn ship out those products as part of its Prime service, which offers members unlimited free shipping for an annual fee.

"Amazon has all the capabilities they need to make their program a big success. They have all the marketing power in the world, and they’re already so global,” said Dani Marie, chief executive of Handmade Seller magazine and author of “The Handmade Entrepreneur,” a monthly guide to selling crafts online that is independent of Amazon.

“They’re going to send sellers so much more traffic,” she said.

Facing the big challenge, Etsy remains optimistic.

"We believe we are the best platform for creative entrepreneurs, empowering them to succeed on their own terms,” Chad Dickerson, Etsy’s chief executive, said in a company statement. “Etsy has a decade of experience understanding the needs of artists and sellers and supporting them in ways that no other marketplace can."

Reaction among sellers pre-launch was mixed. Some were excited about a potential jump in traffic; others were concerned about Amazon’s fee structure; and some weren’t yet sure if they wanted to be involved in running on another eCommerce platform.

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