Many of you have told me, "I love your jewelry! Have you thought about selling your jewelry on Etsy?" And typically I say "Yes, I have thought about it." Here are some reasons why I believe Etsy is bad for business:
Etsy's platform supplies their sellers with one generic template with the idea that one size fits all. Every store is defined by the same restrictions and there is no opportunity to differentiate your business from your competition. Personally, this is already a deal breaker because branding is an important aspect of any successful business. Aside from the brand image, clients who are shopping for well crafted and handmade jewelry deserve to have a unique and personal experience. Etsy's controlled environment does not allow for customization of the shopping experience; layouts, design, terms, policies, fees, and features can change on a whim and may not always align with the values of your brand.
Quality and Assortment
The community on Etsy is rampant with sellers who are literally selling the same product one after another. Many of the products on Etsy are made by questionable Chinese manufacturers and are not truly handmade. Etsy enables their community to tarnish the reputation of handmade jewelry. This level of neglect and carelessness takes advantage of uninformed customers who are understandably drawn to lower prices. Unfortunately, Etsy and other marketplaces create the perception that handmade jewelry should cost pennies and it has the potential to harm studio jewelers who have developed their sense of craft and design over the years.
In the images below, you can see an example of a seller on Etsy claiming her product to be a "handmade item" where the same product can be found on AliExpress (the Chinese equivalent of Amazon) for a fraction of the price.
Now, I must admit there are many hidden gems on Etsy. A good way to find the high quality products is to filter the search to display price from high to low.
As a responsible jewelry designer and small business owner, it is important to fairly compensate everyone in your supply chain, including yourself. Etsy is oversaturated with sellers that are trying to climb to the top by racing to the bottom. Essentially, people on Etsy price their jewelry so low to compete with other shops selling the same product with hopes that their jewelry shows up at the top of the search.
Sustainable business practices are important for the longevity of a brand. If the price is the only differentiating factor between a business and its competitor then the business is simply unsustainable.
The premise of Etsy's Mission Statement is ideal and wonderful. Unfortunately Etsy has grown too big that the only thing that matters to them is their bottom line. I avoid Etsy because I simply believe that my clients deserve better than shopping in an online version of a flea market. If you are looking for an alternative to Etsy, I highly recommend Squarespace.
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