Amazon Disruption: Only Small, Artisan, and One-of-a-Kind Need Apply
Photo by Roman Hinex
When Etsy launched in 2005, it changed the way people shop for vintage goods and handmade products and crafts. It created a platform for artisans to reach a large customer base and gave shoppers an easy way to discover and buy unique, handcrafted items from sellers in other communities.
In 2015, a decade after Etsy made its mark (and shortly after Etsy’s IPO) Amazon introduced Handmade. At first launch, Amazon Handmade was an invitation-only program for sellers who offered handmade goods like jewelry, stationery, and party supplies. It also required that all products sold be made or altered by hand. Amazon even went so far as to order products from sellers to enforce this requirement, a method they still employ to approve applicants today.
Three years later, what started as 80,000 products from 5,000 sellers has grown to one million handcrafted items across all 50 US states and more than 60 countries.
About Amazon Handmade
Currently, Amazon Handmade is open to handmade, factory-free products crafted by small, independent artisans who make:
- Home products (which includes Art, Baby Bedding, Bath, Bedding, Clothing & Shoes, Furniture, Home Décor, Kitchen & Dining, Lighting, Patio, Lawn & Garden, Storage & Organization)
- Party Supplies
- Toys & Games
- Beauty & Grooming
- Pet Supplies
These products are showcased within five different Handmade sections where customers can shop by categories, recipient, price, occasion, or trends: Handmade Gift Shop, Jewelry, Home & Kitchen, Clothing, Shoes & Accessories and The Wedding Shop.
If your products don’t fit into these categories, don’t worry – Amazon says they're working to open up more categories in the upcoming months.
Photo by Mr&Mrs Wedding, Amazon Handmade
In 2018, over 3.5 million people searched for "handmade" on the US Amazon marketplace. Are you thinking about making the transition from selling at local markets and festivals to a broader national (and global) audience? Perhaps you want to supplement your Etsy sales?
Here are a few more details about the Amazon Handmade program.
Selling on Amazon gives small sellers access to hundreds of millions of customers every month, and millennials now hold the highest percentage of Prime memberships in the United States. With their desire for fast shipping and well-priced goods from independent and cause-oriented sellers, Amazon Handmade can be an ideal way to reach this growing customer base.
Artisans selling on Amazon Handmade can tell their story to these customers through their seller profile. This section can provide customers insight into an artisan’s history, their production method and inspiration, and access to all of their product reviews in one place.
Etsy has close to 2 million sellers and over 50 million products. While there are hundreds of millions of products available for sale on the Amazon marketplace, Amazon Handmade has a much smaller number of sellers and just around a million products listed for sale – providing sellers a big opportunity to be discovered by new customers.
Selling on Amazon means that you have access to all the benefits of their fulfillment and 2-day shipping. Some Handmade products can even qualify for Prime Now.
Fulfillment by Amazon can help you to reduce the amount of time spent packaging and shipping products. However, these shipping options are only available for non-customized products, and you may need to have a substantial amount of inventory available to utilize FBA. Artisan sellers often use this fulfillment option for customer favorites, while fulfilling less popular and customized orders themselves.
Waived Seller Fee
There is no monthly selling fee for Handmade sellers. Instead, Amazon charges a 15% referral fee per transaction that goes towards payment processing, marketing, seller support, and fraud protection. However, if you choose to fulfill and ship your products through Amazon, there will be additional fees.
Photo by Generacion, Amazon Handmade
Amazon Handmade Listing Optimization Tips
If you're interested in selling on Amazon Handmade, the next step is to apply. Once you’ve been accepted and read through the Handmade style and selling guides, it’s time to create your listings. Amazon Handmade listings are different from traditional Amazon product listings. Here are a few tips for optimization.
Product Title: Titles should be short, sweet, and represent only the main product, not specific customizations or options. Unlike other Amazon product listings, Amazon Handmade suggests you do not add additional SEO keywords to your product title.
Description: Use this section to provide your customers with an overview of the key features of your product. Here you can share details about your product and what makes it unique. This area is an excellent place to include top-ranking, relevant search terms that can help with discovery.
Photo by MignonMignon, Amazon Handmade
Images: Your product images are the most critical part of your listing. The more clearly your photos show your product and convey your aesthetic, the more customers you're likely to attract. The Main Image should show your product against a neutral background without props, distractions, or watermarks, and it should also be consistent with your title and description. Up to 8 Alternate Images should display more product details (as well as the scale), and any customization options available.
Additional Information: When shopping for handmade goods, customers want to know as much information as possible about the product and the process. This extra detail helps customers with their purchase decision, and also makes it easier for shoppers to find your product in a search. The "How your products are made" section can help you highlight materials and processes used to make your product, and it's another place to focus on keywords that help with search optimization.
Keywords: In this section, enter specific search terms that help customers find your product. These keywords should focus on product features.
Photo by Annie Spratt
Social media, notably Instagram, has expanded the audience for artists, crafters, builders, sewers, and makers. Creativity inspires this audience, and both Amazon Handmade and Etsy give shoppers a destination to find the items they can’t create themselves.
While Etsy has built a community of crafters, sewers, makers and their devotees, Amazon provides artisans with a platform and the resources to sell more products to core customers, and expand their reach to a new audience of shoppers.
The growth of Handmade in the past year is influencing Etsy’s policies and business efforts. In addition to raising their fees for sellers in 2018, Etsy made multiple changes to their search algorithm to ensure the accuracy of their search results. Account ratings, reviews, shipping prices, recency of listings, and more are now all factored into what listings show up after a customer search. In October, to kick-off the holiday-selling season Etsy began asking their sellers to offer buyer-friendly policies and free shipping. The marketplace held a sweepstakes contest with cash prizes for sellers that offered free shipping to their customers through December 10. They are rewarding sellers that continue to offer free shipping after the contest deadline with boosted search rankings on the Etsy search results pages.
While Etsy makes their changes, Amazon is working hard to make Handmade an additional destination for small, artisan-owned brands to sell and distribute their goods. Recently, the main Amazon homepage began highlighting some of these small one-of-a-kind family-focused sellers in their Storefront of the Week.
And this holiday season, five artisans gave their products away for free to pedestrians on the streets of Seattle! This promotional stunt raised awareness and gave local sellers the opportunity to share their unique gifts with new potential customers.
Amazon continues to look for new ways to help smaller sellers promote their unique brands. As the site continues to expand its reach, the extensive fulfillment network, support system, and global customer base make it an increasingly useful selling platform for entrepreneurial artists, crafters, builders, and makers.