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Artisans On Handmade At Amazon: "Surprised And A Little Disappointed"

|Includes: Amazon.com, Inc. (AMZN), ETSY

Summary

  • Amazon launched a marketplace for handmade goods last week
  • Users are concerned about their vetting processes
  • Sellers are disappointed with lower-than-expected sales

Late last week, Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) launched their widely anticipated Handmade marketplace. Taking a direct swing at market incumbent Etsy (NASDAQ:ETSY), Amazon presented their latest marketplace as a better place for independent artisans to sell their wares, promising thorough seller vetting and a large pool of potential shoppers. Many wondered if Etsy would be able to survive once the biggest fish in online retail invaded its cozy pond.

If first impressions are anything to go by, concerns about Amazon dominating the handmade landscape may prove to be unfounded. Newly minted Amazon sellers have been voicing their disappointment with the service since its launch, bemoaning a wide variety of issues.

Defining "Handmade"

Serious concerns have been raised about Handmade's vetting process. As part of its marketing blitz, Amazon stressed that its product vetting would be exhaustive and permit only truly handmade items. This ideal was called into question upon last week's launch, as numerous products appeared to be mass-produced.

Jewelry maker Ramona Hall, an online marketplace veteran, was not pleased with what she found. "(NYSE:I) saw many, many items that were clearly not handmade. Very disappointing."

Compounding this issue was the discovery of apparent copyright violations, a contentious issue on other marketplaces. Papermaker Christine Cantrell witnessed several violations. "Kind of disappointing to be looking through the site and seeing infringement already."

Where are the buyers?

One could argue that these issues don't matter if artisans are able to benefit from increased customer traffic. Amazon's claim to fame is that they're the biggest online retailer in the world with hundreds of millions of shoppers making purchases. Unfortunately, the benefits of Amazon's scale have yet to pan out for Handmade sellers.

Becky Berryman shared her experience selling jewelry on Handmade at Amazon. "I apparently only had 4 views yesterday. Even though I heavily promoted my storefront across social media and among my friends. I have had a total of 51 views, one sale, since this thing launched… Overall, I'm really feeling like the work we've been putting into this is not worth what most of us are getting out of it."

This sentiment was echoed by several sellers, some of who were confused by the marketplace's performance and wished to hear that Amazon had a bigger unveiling planned. Artist Stephanie Rogan Calcagno shared this hope. "Is it definitely a soft launch? I also assume it is… I hope so at least!"

More resistance than expected

According to its sellers, Handmade at Amazon has had a rough launch. They have a long road ahead of them if they hope to maintain a foothold in the handmade market.

Disclosure: I/we have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.