Amazon already sells tens of millions of products. Why not a handmade, reclaimed-wood coffee table that doubles as a wine rack?
With that in mind, the Seattle-based company on Thursday launched Handmade at Amazon, a specialized storefront that promotes only handcrafted goods and the artisans who create them, a market now dominated by much smaller e-retailer Etsy. The program will start with over 5,000 artists, most from the US, and more than 80,000 listings of artwork, jewelry and other items. Handmade will only be available on the main Amazon.com site.
"We're entering this space because our customers have told us that they want it," said April Lane, Amazon's category leader for Handmade. "We get thousands of searches every day for handmade items."
Beyond Amazon's typical fare of Legos, Blu-ray discs, paperbacks and diapers, customers will now be able to shop for beaded bracelets from Ghana and art prints from Austin.
Handmade serves as yet another example of Amazon's outsized ambitions to be the everything store for everybody, and adopting any successful e-commerce model it sees along the way. The company already sells millions of mass-produced products, and it has started to focus on niche areas so it can keep expanding its inventory. The world's largest e-commerce company by sales opened two other online stores this year, Amazon Launchpad and Amazon Exclusives, which both highlight products from small, up-and-coming companies. It is also branched into services, such as its Home Services marketplace for hiring a plumber or painter that's become a new competitor to Angie's List.
Amazon's push into handmade items creates a major headache for Etsy, a specialty marketplace focused on artists' wares. Etsy's stock has been in decline since it went public in April, as the company has been accused of failing to control counterfeit sales on its site. Amazon's move into Etsy's core business, which was first reported in May, has pushed down the Brooklyn, New York, company's shares even further.
Amazon has been aggressively courting Etsy sellers, who could profit from access to Amazon's roughly 280 million active shoppers, more than 10 times Etsy's 21 million active buyers.
Etsy's counterfeiting issue and its move to allow sellers to start mass-producing items have frustrated many Etsy artists, said Wedbush analyst Gil Luria. These artists didn't have a sizable online alternative to Etsy, though.