Etsy – the social marketplace for handcrafted goods

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Do you know Etsy?
Well, if you are into handcrafted items that reflect your personal style and can barely be found among the mainstream retailers, this is your place – as a seller and as a consumer. Or simply to get inspiration.
Etsy was launched in 2005 as an e-commerce website that focused on handcrafted items. A clear opponent to the shiny, fast-paced online fashion shops, etsy focused on the products with a more personal note, handcrafted by people like me and you. Etsy quickly became the place for all those undiscovered artisans who so far only had three possibilities to merchandise their goods:
1) open up a local shop – which often times was too big a step in terms of the fix costs or
2) sell their stuff on ebay. Well yes, you surely reach a big audience on ebay, but only if they find you. And often times ebay was not the appropriate platform for such goods since these were not yet brands that gave you a certain reference of quality but instead you simply had to hope the product is as good as it looked on the photos. However, the advantage of ebay is that it offers a gigantic marketplace and you are only charged if you sell anything.
3) open up your own online shop. This may make a lot of sense and costs should today be quite easy to control. However, here again, you may also have to invest into ad spending in order to assure people will find you. The web is huge and confusing.

I remember speaking to friends about the problems young German designers have when they try to sell their dresses, costumes, etc they had to design and create as part of their fashion design university curriculum. It takes a lot of effort and then in the end they ended up without an adequate marketplace to sell it. After some research, I found dawanda which does exactly this: sell unique products from small-scale producers, very often handcrafted. So there was no need to come up with such a marketplace since it already existed. And since Etsy was founded in 2005 it soon also entered the German market of course supported by what had by then already become a strong brand and the synonym of a marketplace for handcrafted uniques.

Today, 7 years since its foundation, Etsy has more than 15 million registered members and more than 875,000 registered sellers who have found on Etsy their personal storefront to sell their goods. And customers found an online marketplace where they can spend hours browsing through unexpected products from all over the world and also sharing them with their friends via facebook, twitter or pinterest. Since e-commerce projects can easily (well compared to traditional business models, I do know what an online rollout means!) be rolled out in numerous markets, Etsy is today present in more than 150 countries. That’s what you call a head start.

One thing I’d like to add: Since Etsy not only sells handcrafted items but also antiques or vintage products, this marketplace also profits from the current trend to invest in such goods. In a different product category such as cars we do see a very strong trend towards youngtimers and oldtimers which is clearly reflected in price increases of up to 10% per year.

Here is some insight into the technical side of Etsy and how it harnesses SlideShare (a little bit promotional though):

Peugeot eröffnet Webstore

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In nur wenigen Schritten zum eigenen Wunschauto!
Peugeot hat diesen häufig verwendeten Claim ernst genommen und in der digitalen Welt umgesetzt. Im neuen Webstore bietet Peugeot ab sofort die Möglichkeit an, das neue Auto online zu kaufen.

Im ersten Schritt wählt der Kunde aus über 4.500 verfügbaren Modellvarianten, die aktuell bei Peugeot Händlern verfügbar sind sein Wunschauto aus. Dabei kann die Suche regional eingeschränkt werden, so dass nicht gleich ein Händler ausgegeben wird, der vielleicht im ganz anderen Ende Deutschlands liegt. Anschließend vereinbart man – ebenfalls online – einen Termin mit dem Händler, der eben dieses Auto aktuell im Angebot hat und trifft sich schließlich ganz klassisch beim Händler vor Ort um das Auto Probe zu fahren und wenn alles passt auch zu kaufen. Insgesamt eine tolle und auch bequeme Art der Kaufanbahnung.
Schön wäre es, wenn man ein passendes Auto gefunde hat, dass man dieses auch über die etablierten Social Media Kanäle mit seinen Freunden, seiner Frau oder gar seinen Kindern teilen kann. Aktuell geht dies nur über eine Emailfunktion.

How Amazon controls the World..umm Ecommerce I mean

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Amazon is a good friend just like Google. They brought to us a totally new level of shopping ecommerce and access to information in an instant and operating systems that can compete with those of Apple. At the same time they receive a lot of critique for being too dominant and gathering too much personal information.
I am one of those who rather praise the enormous success and the numerous benefits these giants brought to us customers. But as we all know marketing messages are only one side of the story. Please go through these slides to get an impression of what all Amazon is today. And everytime you are surprised about facts you did not know, keep in mind that aside from all the records, Amazon is still very often being criticized for not being successful enough by analysts… the Hidden Empire

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How consumers shop online

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Ever wondered how consumer really behave when shopping online?
If you are running your own ecommerce website you can invest a great deal into web analytics. Analyzing visitors paths, conversion rates and visitor loyalty can provide interesting insights. Still it may be really hard to get definite information. Changing IP addresses, inexact origins due to electronice data processing centers and all the common inconveniences of web analytics make it hard for online retailers to analyze their customers behavior.

McAfee Secure now came up with a white paper that summarizes the results of the analysis of 163 million consumers who completed a total of 2.52 million transactions. The results are stunning. And they prove what we already know from real life shopping: We love to promenade through the inner city stores monitoring all the interesting products and comparing prices before we finally come to the obviously bet decision based on the information we have gathered. The same happens online. Consumers do not shop at once (except for spontaneous purchases). The average online shopper is in no hurry. Of course not, as stocks online usually last some time and there is barely any fear someone else might grab the last item available. The average online shopper of those 163 millions shoppers surveyed take their time – on average up to two days – between first visiting a website and finally purchasing a product.

What happens within those 33 hours and 54 minutes? Well, nothing extraordinary. Consumers compare prices elsewhere, read test results and consumer reviews, ask their peers about the product and gather recommendations from other users. An ever growing source of information are social networks and the entertaining social media presences of brands. They may lack elaborate information but they provide a good impression of a brand’s character and its fans. Some ecommerce websites even allow shopping together making use of social media technology. We call it social commere. Paul Marsden, an expert in this field defines social commerce as follows:

Selling with social media – the use of social media in the context of e-commerce (Source:

What are the implicatios of this analysis for online retailers?

Well in order to assure that shoppers really shop with you instead of finding another place to get the product of their desire, you might want to assure this: clarity / good usability, transparency in terms of costs, shipping and handling, warranty, product details and of course the reputation consumers have of you! You know, price is not everything. Simply treat your customers the way they expect it. And for your own sake, always keep an eye on costs. The best service in the world is useless if it costs you too much and eventually ruins your business. Then customers with a service issue will sadly have to find out that only some months after they bought your products your business went bankcrupt….

For a more detailed list of advice, please see a really good article on this here:

Trends im Social Commerce by Hediye Evsan

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Facebook's eCommerce Plans

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Inspired by an article by Paul Marsden on socialcommercetoday, I thought about facebook going social commerce and about Paul’s statements in his article.

I suppose a universal payment system on facebook is a must not an option. Performance of facebook has in recent months been fairly poor from time to time, so an additonal source of income would certainly help cover the enormous maintenance costs and hopefully improve performance. Just as back in the days when fb was a really lean community. I keep wondering if maybe fb is not growing at too fast a pace.
But you are perfectly right that commerce will have to go where the potential buyers are – either in terms of ad placements or cleverly integrated into portals. And I am also dead sure that Amazon will move closer to facebook. At the end of the day people want convenience. Why leave your web 2.0 home facebook to go shopping at or elsewhere with all the numerous different logins? Instead, you could stay among your peers and even virtually shop together. This is actually what many of us already do using online stores and discussing products via MSN and Skype.
If you ask me, that will be the next step. Commerce will be social just as in real life.

As to performance – yeah right, it might slow down again if you embedd Amazon et al.