Amazon is all about efficiency. Supermaximum, hyper-fast efficiency. You order a widget you need, Amazon puts it in a box and the widget arrives on your doorstep — sometimes, in under an hour.
That’s why the Seattle-based tech giant’s latest new online marketplace, Handmade at Amazon, which launches today, is a wee bit of a head-scratcher. Can Amazon be Etsy? Can a tech juggernaut known for its focus on speed and automation successfully market itself as a place to buy all things crafty?
Amazon’s new maker marketplace features items like the Tabletop or Hanging Air Plant Terrarium, the Adjustable Love More Inspiration Ring and the “I want to ride my bicycle” letterpress card. Each item comes with a photo of the maker and a bit about the individual. For example, you learn that Angela, the woman in Indiana who makes the bicycle card, is a “lover of great design, fine coffees and strawberry licorice.”
To be included in the marketplace, items have to be made by hand. Factory-produced goods are not included. The platform is launching with more than 80,000 items.
Etsy, whose shares were down 5 percent by midday Thursday, has reason to be worried. While the company already has significant brand association with the artisanal maker movement, Amazon’s customer base — and potential exposure for makers — is much larger. Amazon has an estimated 285 million active buyers while Etsy has just under 22 million.