Learn all About Etsy: An eCommerce Site Analysis

4 min. read
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Etsy.com occupies a unique spot in the eCommerce marketplace. It represents a community of artists dedicated to selling their handcrafted works and vintage collectibles online. As you might guess, there are more than a few online entrepreneurs that fit into this category.

Moreover, this selfsame community has made a decent accounting of itself, quickly becoming one of the biggest e-commerce powerhouses through the efforts of its millions of independent sellers.

Today, we'll talk about the exact nature of Etsy's economic impact, how best to position yourself to sell your wares on this platform, as well as the benefits and downfalls of doing so.

A Brief History of the Etsy Platform

As briefly mentioned, the purpose of Etsy is selling specialized vintage/homemade products. Launched in 2005, the site has enjoyed a fairly swift rise to prominence. This was due in no small part to the seller-friendly efforts of the site's creators.

In fact, what initially garnered a great deal of attention for Etsy was the consistent addition of tools designed to aid in acquiring exposure for Etsy sellers. In 2007, these efforts aimed at functionality began to pay big dividends. Ever since, Etsy has been climbing the traffic ladder and increasing its transactional value to nearly $USD 1 billion per year.

Today, the site has more than a million active shops and operates in more than 200 countries across the globe. Additionally, the platform has over 25 million unique visitors per month, and in excess of 1.1 billion page views over the same time period.

As you can tell from the graph below, Etsy consistently draws nearly 10 million unique monthly visitors throughout the year in the US alone. The monthly traffic also undergoes a steep incline as the holiday retail boom season ramps up.

Like other companies involved in e-commerce, Etsy is drowning in data while also trying to leverage the surplus. As such, the site analyzes all client traffic on the platform in an effort to figure out visitor intentions and priorities while browsing Etsy.

Factors that Define Etsy in the eCommerce Marketplace

Etsy occupies a unique and artsy position as far as e-commerce sites go. Because of this perception, the site works very hard at maintaining a healthy level of aesthetic appeal. The interface itself is very attractive. Laid out in a grid with high quality product photos, the site's flow is obvious, functional, and undoubtedly alluring.

In addition to providing an enjoyable browsing experience for the clientele, Etsy allows for product bookmarking. This allows for easy access to a user's favorite items and it creates a social shopping experience within the site itself.

Etsy is also big on brand stories that show the difference between Etsy stores, helping clients to differentiate between the individual personalities behind the storefronts. It does this because Etsy believes building a consistent yet diverse brand will help in meeting customer expectations, and enhance the platform's overall credibility.

Etsy Strengths

Etsy has one main advantage over competitors, and that is it's undeniable uniqueness. The fact that its product selection is made up of craft goods and homemade products sets it apart from many other major online retailers awash with duplicate listings.

Another major strength is the vetting process required to actually sell on Etsy. Not just anything can be approved and this greatly bolsters public perception. Accordingly, Etsy listings are viewed as far less generic and therefore it's less likely customers already own the products. This perception of rarity produces higher subsequent demand.

Etsy is also extremely popular on social media. In fact, at a time, the site's Pinterest account was the second most followed brand on the social network. 

If you were looking to leverage this shareability, it would probably be a great idea to invest heavily in product photography.

Etsy Weaknesses

There's no light without some shadow, so we have to take a look at some of the not so encouraging Etsy attributes as well.

The first thing to realize is that not many people make a ton of money on Etsy. On average, Etsy sellers usually are highly educated, but have lower than average incomes. In fact, 52 percent of sellers have college degrees, but only have a median income of $44,900, which is 10 percent lower than the US national average. However, the fact that it is a median income softens the statistical impact.

Less encouraging are the following statistics:

  • More than a quarter of Etsy sellers earn less than USD $25,000 per year.
  • 74 percent of Etsy shops self identify as "businesses," but 65 percent of that number make less than $100.
  • 83 percent of Etsy sellers are running their businesses alone, indicating that they aren't making enough to hire employees. 
  • Of the remaining 17 percent who are running their businesses with more than one person, 75 percent use pro bono labor from a friend or family member.

So despite large macro numbers, (i.e., $895 million per year in sales) only a select few are actually making a decent living by selling on Etsy. However, the same can basically be said for virtually any other business model.

As it turns out, artsy talent can't be a viable business model on its own. Not without some marketing savvy to back it up.

Despite the gloomy stats listed above, Etsy is still one of the best platforms available for capitalizing on creativity and distinctiveness to create a rapport with the market. And while you have the threat of high levels of competition, you can be assured of your product's viability so long as it's uniqueness is up to snuff.

What sort of selling experiences do you have on Etsy? Share your thoughts in the comment section.

About the author
George Drennan

George is a writer specializing in eCommerce and marketing. With his expert knowledge, he has created lots of content for SaleHoo, and has over 10 years of hands-on experience working on campaigns and strategy for leading brands. With a data-driven approach, he empowers companies to stand out, drive targeted web traffic, and generate sales.

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